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Brazil v Italy Confederations Cup preview

Anybody who reckons Italy can do to Brazil tomorrow what they did to Japan on Wednesday night – win 4-3 – can have a whopping 200/1 with Coral.

The Confederations Cup had started brightly enough, but the Italy-Japan clash in Recife was not only the best game of the tournament so far, it was one of the most engrossing and entertaining Internationals seen for many a year, greatly appreciated by a large noisy crowd.

Italy demonstrated great resolve to come back from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 and then, after they had been pegged back again, clinch a late winner.

But the final scoreline hardly tells the full story. For long periods of this second Group A encounter, Italy were given the runaround by a Japan outfit giving a more than passable impression of Spain. Inspired by Honda and Kagawa, the Asian team fully deserved their half time lead and after they had gone behind in the second half, absolutely battered the Italian defence, smacking the woodwork three times and having a goal disallowed before Giovinco stole it for Italy on the break.

Japan’s Confederations Cup adventure may be over, but they will be worth keeping an eye on when returning to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup – they are most unlikely to win it (Coral go 150/1), but judged on this performance they could go a long way.

Italy will not beat Brazil tomorrow unless they raise their game. Mario Balotelli is difficult to shackle on his day – and has there ever been better dispatcher of a penalty? – and of course the Azzurri possess skill and grit in abundance.

But Brazil are simply a better team; tough and well-organised, but also audacious and capable of match-winning magic at any moment. Coral make them 7/10 favourites to win this (4/1 Italy, 13/5 the draw) and top the group to set up a semi-final meeting with the runners-up from Group B next Wednesday. Italy might again let in a few, but this time without serious reply: 3-0 (12/1), 3-1 (14/1) or 4-0 (28/1) are quite feasible outcomes.

The hosts have impressed this past week as much as Spain have and there is still next to nothing between the Big Two at the head of the outright market. There’s many a slip, and all that, but football fans around the world are already licking their lips at the likely prospect of a Brazil-Spain final on Sunday week.

Neymar, their extremely gifted new superstar, has already lit up the tournament with two exquisite goals and looks the real deal. Coral make him 5/4 to score at any time tomorrow, 5/1 to score first or last, 7/1 to net twice or more and 25/1 to notch a hat-trick.

Written by Jon Freeman