Jorge Sampaoli takes charge of Argentina for the first time when they face South American rivals Brazil in a showpiece friendly on Friday.
Here, we look at the main talking points ahead of the match in Melbourne.
A NEW ERA UNDER SAMPAOLI
The new manager, who quit Sevilla last week to take over the national team, has already admitted that the result of this match is secondary as he attempts to revive the fortunes of his ailing home country. He needs to hit the ground running as he is tasked with rescuing a potentially-disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign while developing a successful system which could compete should they make the finals.
Friday will provide a stern test and give him a first opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a squad bereft of confidence and form following just six victories from their opening 14 qualifiers.
Sampaoli has suggested he is prepared to emulate Lionel Messi’s club side Barcelona in order to get the best out of the 29-year-old. Speculation based on early training sessions hint that Argentina’s captain and record goalscorer will be deployed just off the front in a 3-4-2-1 formation with Gonzalo Higuain as the main striker and his Juventus team-mate Paulo Dybala in the other supporting role.
Messi, however, will not have much time to adapt to any tactical tinkering from his new manager. He is expected to miss the follow-up friendly with Singapore on Tuesday due to his forthcoming wedding, meaning the next time he could pull on the blue and white stripes of his country will be before the important qualifier with Uruguay at the end of August.
Brazil boss Tite has taken a strong squad to Australia but there are still some notable absentees, including Roberto Firmino, Dani Alves, Marcelo and star striker Neymar. The absence of the Barcelona forward – who has hit 52 goals across 77 caps – could reduce Brazil’s attacking threat significantly, but it may also present an opportunity for Manchester City attacker Gabriel Jesus.
Despite injury setbacks, the 20-year-old former Palmeiras man was in inspired form for City this season. He managed seven Premier League goals in just eight starts and has already made a strong start to his international career, striking five times in six appearances.
HOW FRIENDLY WILL IT BE?
The result of the match may have little significance but try telling that to supporters of these two football-mad nations. A bitter rivalry exists between the near-neighbours and they will be keen to claim the bragging rights following their meeting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Brazil currently have the edge on their opponents.
They top the FIFA world rankings – with Argentina in second – as well as being the only country apart from hosts Russia to have already wrapped up qualification for next summer’s World Cup. With fiercely competitive players such as Chelsea defender David Luiz and Sevilla’s Gabriel Mercado on the pitch, there could also be a few tasty tackles.
FIRST CAPS FOR LANZINI AND JEMERSON?
The match could see a number of international debuts. Argentina have named nine uncapped players in their squad, including West Ham playmaker Manuel Lanzini, who ended last season with eight Premier League goals. Brazil, meanwhile, could introduce two new players.
Manchester City’s £35million goalkeeper Ederson will probably not feature having left the squad for the birth of his daughter, but 24-year-old centre-back Jemerson may be given game time after impressing during Monaco’s Ligue 1 title success and run to the Champions League semi-finals.
Provided by Press Association
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane says he is ready to succeed Wayne Rooney as England’s long-term captain.
England manager Gareth Southgate has eased Manchester United forward Rooney, 31, out of the picture and says he will decide who captains his side on a match-by-match basis.
He has praised Kane’s “leadership qualities” and despite only being 23, the Spurs hotshot says he is ready to carry the responsibility that comes with the armband.
Asked if he thought it might be too soon for him to take on the captaincy, Kane replied: “For me personally, I don’t think so. I’ve been captain for Spurs a few times. You wear an armband and it gets built up a lot to be a captain.
“It is a fantastic thing, but in this team — and in this day and age — there should be more than just one leader out there.
“For me, I don’t think it would (be too early), but that is a matter of opinion really.”
On Southgate’s praise, he added: “It’s fantastic to hear. Any player growing up as a footballer dreams of being England captain one day and I am no different.”
Injuries mean Kane has not played for England since the 1-0 win in Slovakia last September that was to prove the one and only game of Sam Allardyce’s ill-fated reign as manager.
Having sat out England’s last six games, he is due to make his first appearance under Southgate in Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow.
Kane scored 29 goals to win the Premier League’s Golden Boot for the second year running, but he is desperate to improve an England record of five goals in 17 games.
“Club football, you are in a rhythm all the time,” said Kane, who scored seven goals in his last two games of the season for Spurs.
“You are playing week in, week out, but for your country, it’s not like that. You meet up every now and then. But it’s something I have got to get used to.
“I want to get back playing, hopefully get back scoring. If I score maybe a hat-trick at the weekend and a couple in the next game (against France on Tuesday), the ratio might not look so bad.
“As a striker, you can always change that. Five in 17 isn’t a terrible record, but it is something I want to improve. Hopefully that can start at the weekend.”
New manager Jorge Sampaoli says he is looking to superstar Lionel Messi to revive Argentina’s World Cup fortunes starting with Friday’s friendly with Brazil in Melbourne.
Sampaoli has been installed to kick-start the two-time world champions’ ailing South American campaign where they lag outside the automatic qualifying positions in fifth spot with four games left.
Argentina will square off with Brazil before a capacity 100,000 crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground ahead of their crucial next qualifier in Uruguay on August 31.
Sampaoli, who is Argentina’s third coach during the current World Cup campaign after Gerardo Martino and Edgardo Bauza, said he valued Messi’s commitment to get his country to next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.
Jorge Sampaoli: "The important thing is that Messi is surrounded by capable players. I spoke to him yesterday and he's very excited."— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) June 1, 2017
“I’m very thankful that the best player in the world cut short his vacation in China and was able to travel here for a friendly,” Sampaoli told reporters on Thursday.
“He has the will to participate and drive Argentina to the World Cup, so he’s very much involved toward these goals.
“The things that he’s done for the team, especially this time round, are really valuable.”
“I really hope that the abilities that he shows as a leader and as a player will help Argentina improve.”
Sampaoli wants to use the Melbourne match to see Messi and Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria work together.
“They are very good players, individually, and these friendly games give us the opportunity to test their compatibility and see how well they can work together,” Sampaoli said.
“They’re both great players and we have great expectations. I believe that they will be able to help the team.”
Jorge Sampaoli: "The call for Mauro Icardi is related to the performance in his team." pic.twitter.com/mDZwLVwPmO— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) June 2, 2017
But Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi, recalled to the Argentine squad for the first time since 2013, is in doubt for Friday’s match with a thigh injury.
Sampaoli said he was keen for Icardi to at least play a few minutes “but unfortunately the doctor is not on the same page”.
“So it doesn’t matter how strongly we want him to play if the medical advice is to the contrary. We’re hoping for a miracle in the next 24 hours for him to be able to play at least a few minutes.”
Despite the match being classified as a friendly, the former Sevilla manager said his players were committed to show how well they can play, particularly against their arch-rival.
“They want to play very strongly to demonstrate that they really value coming here as a team and there’s also the aspect of playing a very strong rival team,” he said.
Brazil, who have already qualified for next year’s World Cup, are without their talisman Neymar but Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho said they were hellbent not to lose their edge against Argentina.
“Brazil and Argentina is never a friendly, everybody wants to win and we know how important this is being a classic,” Fernandinho said.
“We need to continue in our rhythm, but Argentina has a new coach and he had really good work with Chile and Sevilla. This is more motivation for them.
“To lose would be different for us because we haven’t lost under (coach) Tite, but we are prepared if we do.”
Apart from Fernandinho, his teammate and rising star Gabriel Jesus, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva and Chelsea’s David Luiz are in the Brazil squad.