Confederations Cup Preview: Brazil v Japan
By Football News
The Confederations Cup begins on Saturday as hosts Brazil face Japan, who are fresh from topping their FIFA World Cup qualification group.
The tournament provides an appetising precursor to next year's FIFA World Cup finals and the opening game will undoubtedly showcase the attacking talent of both teams.
Brazil have selected an attack-heavy squad and will be looking to the likes of Neymar, Hulk and Oscar to carve up the Blue Samurai's back four, which is light on star power, with the exception of Inter Milan full-back Yuto Nagatomo.
They will not be at full strength, however, with long-term Tottenham transfer target Leandro Damiao withdrawing from the tournament following an injury to his right thigh.
The Japanese are not short on creative quality either with Shinji Kagawa coming off an impressive debut season with Manchester United, winning the Premier League in the process.
Kagawa will line up on the left and look to cut inside, linking up with Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki as Japan's best chance of finding a way past Julio Cesar.
The Brazilians are fresh from a 3-0 friendly win over France, their first triumph over Les Blues for 21 years, while Japan were victorious against Iraq in their final World Cup qualifier.
Japan will be happy with a point against the hosts and are likely to have to work hard to exit a tough group that also includes Italy and Mexico.
After taking out the last two Confederations Cups in 2009 and 2005, three-time winners Brazil will be expected to kick off their campaign with a win in front of their home fans.
The locals will not be the only ones with their eyes on this game as the whole world scrutinises the ability of modern-day Brazil to host a major international tournament ahead of the main event next year.