SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has projected that Argentina will be the most likely opponent if the hosts can make it all the way to the World Cup final.
Scolari said Thursday he and his staff analyzed the tournament’s bracket and predicted the two South American powers will meet in the July 13 final.
“From our analysis, the final we see happening is Brazil on one side and Argentina on the other,” Scolari said at the team’s training camp outside Rio de Janeiro.
The coach did not say specifically how they got to that conclusion, but noted that he is hoping the predictions are right because having two of football’s traditional powers face each other in South America would be one of the event’s great finals.
“Hopefully that will be the final,” Scolari said. “It would be a South American final, with great players, a lot of quality.”
The rivals cannot meet at the World Cup at least until the semifinals. If both teams finish first in their groups, they can only face each other in the final at the Maracana Stadium.
“I don’t want to see Argentina being eliminated in the first round or the second round,” Scolari said. “I want to see Argentina playing its football as usual.”
The coach, a world champion in 2002, was quick to remind everyone that his main concern is about the Brazilian team.
“I have to get Brazil to the final,” he said. “After that, whichever team gets there, it won’t really matter. I have to make sure my team is in the final.”
Brazil and Argentina have faced each other four times in World Cups. The only Argentine victory came in the round of 16 at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when Diego Maradona and Claudio Caniggia secured a 1-0 result.
Brazil won 2-1 in the second round in 1974 and 3-1 in the second round in 1982. The rivals drew 0-0 in the second round in 1978, when the Argentines hosted the tournament and won the title.
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