Both Brazil and Spain are in action on Sunday and as two of the favourites for the World Cup, will be keen to lay down a marker.
The Selecao take on Croatia, while Spain have an equally winnable game against Switzerland. With Russia 2018 less than a fortnight away, it seems worth asking the question as to who is the best equipped for the tournament?
The Selecao were brilliant in qualifying, topping the famously arduous South American group and much of their success was down to boss Tite. The 57-year-old has found a lovely blend of skill and pragmatism and his methods seem a far cry from Luiz Felipe Scolari’s four years ago.
It is no surprise that the five-time champions are favourites for the tournament, although Neymar’s condition when he returns from an ankle injury could be a deciding factor.
Speaking of Brazil’s number 10, despite the doubts over his fitness, this is Neymar’s tournament to take the next step.
A controversial first season at Paris Saint-Germain is behind him and a big summer of speculation is ahead. Shining in Russia will only boost his profile.
The 26-year-old scored four times on home soil in the 2014 edition and as a man who loves the big stage, he could well shine this summer.
La Roja were horrendous in defending their title in Brazil but Julen Lopetegui has injected a fresh vibrancy into the squad since taking over after Euro 2016.
A kind Group B draw means reaching the knockout stages should be a formality but Argentina may well be waiting in the last eight. La Albiceleste are by no means insurmountable and a last-four appearance could well be on the cards for the Iberians.
Andres Iniesta has had a glittering career filled with defining moments but the most iconic is arguably his extra-time goal that saw his country crowned world champions for the first time in 2010.
Russia 2018 will be his fourth and final World Cup before swapping Barcelona for Japan and it would be fitting for the maestro to go out doing what he does best: assisting his team-mates.
The pair will not meet each other until the final but on paper, it is the Brazilians who have the edge, especially having beaten the hosts in Russia already this year.
Both have their merits though and are sure to have plenty to say about the outcome of this summer’s tournament.
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