Argentina seek morale-boosting win over Brazil

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina will look to end a run of five matches without beating Brazil when South America's big two renew their rivalry in a friendly in Qatar on Wednesday.

The Argentines last beat Brazil 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires in June 2005, since when they have lost four and drawn one conceding 13 goals and scoring a mere two.

But coach Sergio Batista will look at a different statistic, no doubt, his Olympic team's emphatic 3-0 victory over Brazil in the 2008 Beijing Games semi-finals.

Former Barcelona team mates Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho will meet again in Doha having faced each other at the Olympic Games where the Argentine ace inspired Batista's team to the gold medal.

Ronaldinho, overlooked by Brazil's 2010 World Cup coach Dunga, has been recalled by Mano Menezes who has overseen three friendly wins since he was handed the task of preparing his country's team to host the 2014 finals.

Menezes said recently Argentina were better prepared for the match since he was carrying out a major overhaul in personnel and tactics with Brazil whereas Argentina were not much changed from the World Cup side coached by Diego Maradona.

Batista would differ with the later part of Menezes's opinion since he has sought better balance to an Argentina side crushed 4-0 by Germany in their World Cup quarter-final in Johannesburg in July.

The 1986 World Cup-winning former midfielder has recalled Javier Zanetti in order to play with full backs rather than converted central defenders and added more company for Javier Mascherano in midfield with the likes of Esteban Cambiasso and Ever Banega.


However, Cambiasso is out injured as are two of his centre-backs, Walter Samuel and Gabriel Milito and strikers Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. He has recalled Porto central defender Nicolas Otamendi, one of the makeshift fullbacks who floundered under Maradona.

Menezes's defence will face their sternest test yet against the likes of Mess and Gonzalo Higuain after their clean sheets in friendly wins against the United States, Iran and Ukraine.

Injury has also deprived him of two of his new young guard, striker Alexandre Pato and midfielder Paulo Henrique Ganso, so much will be expected from a new partnership of the experienced Ronaldinho and 18-year-old Santos striker Neymar.

Batista, in three matches as interim coasch before being confirmed this month, oversaw wins against Ireland and world champions Spain before his side lost 1-0 away to Japan last month.

Probable teams:

Argentina - Sergio Romero; Javier Zanetti, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Burdisso, Gabriel Heinze; Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Javier Pastore, Angel Di Maria; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain

Brazil - Victor; Daniel Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Andre Santos; Ramires, Lucas, Elias, Ronaldinho; Robinho, Neymar