Tuesday, 10 February 2009

[Azzurri] Lippi ready for "the derby of the world"

Italy coach Marcello Lippi is viewing tonight's match against Brazil as more than just a friendly, labelling it "the derby of the world".

Italy trainingThe mouthwatering clash pits the two most successful sides in world football, with nine World Cup trophies between them, against each other in London.

It is a game which sees the current world champions and four-time winners take to the pitch against five-time world champions Brazil.

And Lippi cannot wait to take his place in the dugout in front of a sell-out crowd at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium and millions more spectators worldwide.

"Italy against Brazil is true football," Lippi said in the pre-match press conference on Monday night. "It's the derby of the world.

"It will be a really top-level game. Brazil are football but we won the World Cup in 2006 and we deserved it."

Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Alberto Aquilani, Gianluca Zambrotta and Antonio Di Natale all returned into the 23-man squad following injuries that kept them out from the last match.

But the Azzurri will have to do without Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini who picked up an injury last week.

Brazil will also be without several key players for the clash, and Ricardo Kaka became the latest to drop out when it was announced the AC Milan star had sprained his foot against Reggina on Saturday.

Lippi admits it is a bonus for his side, but is well aware of the strength in depth of Dunga's squad.

"For me it's the first time against Brazil and the only regret I have is that we are playing only 48 hours after the league games and that's obviously not the best way to prepare for a match like this.

"We know each other very well. They have a lot of skill, a lot of quality.

"It's true they will be without Kaka, but they have so many great champions such as (Alexandre) Pato, Ronaldinho, Robinho and so many others.

"Technically Brazil are the strongest international side in the world.

"In 2006 they were favourites for the World Cup. This game could be a great boost for us for this year, where we play the Confederations Cup."

The squad gathered in Milan on Sunday night and held a training session at the San Siro on Monday morning before departing for London in the afternoon. A second training session took place at a wet Emirates Stadium in the evening.

Lippi believes Brazil have changed somewhat under Dunga saying: "Traditionally they play attacking football but now many of them are in Europe and they have coaches who prefer solidity at the back, much like Dunga himself.

"Neither Brazil or Italy play like they did years ago. We're more attacking now, they're more defensive."

The head-to-head tonight, which kicks off at 1945 UK time (+1hr for Italy/CET), is the first meeting between the two nations since 1997 when they played out a thrilling 3-3 draw in the build-up to the 1998 World Cup in France.

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