Brazil v Argentina preview: 5 key talking points

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Fierce South American rivals Brazil and Argentina go head-to-head on Saturday at the National Stadium in… Beijing. Why? Well, we’re not entirely sure, but it promises to be a thrilling encounter between two of the greatest football nations nevertheless.

For Brazil, this represents an opportunity to restore some national pride following their shambolic World Cup exit. The 7-1 defeat to Germany will never be forgotten, but under the management of Dunga, the mission is on to win back the hearts of the Brazilian public. And what better way than recording a victory over the oldest and fiercest rivals?

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Five key talking points

Here are five of the key talking points ahead of the international friendly, which gets underway at 13:05 GMT on Saturday.

1. Will the match go ahead?

Well, the biggest talking point is whether the match will even go ahead. There are currently serious doubts because of smog in the Chinese capital.

Authorities in Beijing have issued an orange pollution alert - the second highest level - and if there’s any risk to the health of the players, staff or supporters then the friendly could be postponed on the day.

2. Can Brazil stop Lionel Messi?

But, all going to plan, the game will go ahead. And the big question Brazil will be asking themselves is: how can we stop Lionel Messi this time?

The Argentina captain has been a constant thorn in the side of the Brazilian national team over the years. Last time the world’s greatest footballer lined up against the Seleção, in a friendly in back in June 2012, he scored a quite remarkable hat-trick in a stunning 4-3 win in New Jersey.

Brazil know that in order to stop Argentina on Saturday, they must stop Messi.

3. Is it possible for Brazil to play attractive football under Dunga?

One of the major criticisms of Dunga’s first spell in charge of Brazil was the dour, lifeless football he encouraged.

Brazil, known for their beautiful style of play, abandoned their magical samba style in favour of blood, sweat and tears.

Quite simply, Brazil were a pain to watch under Dunga the first time around. But, in fairness, he tends to get results and he’s already managed to record back-to-back 1-0 wins - over Colombia and Ecuador - after the CBF appointed him to sort out the mess left by Luiz Felipe Scolari.

4. Will we witness another Di Maria masterclass?

In point two, we said that Brazil must stop Messi to stand any chance of beating Argentina. While true, it’s possible that they may also need to stop Angel di Maria.

In Tata Martino’s first match in charge of Argentina - and La Albiceleste’s first game since losing the World Cup final - Di Maria produced an extraordinary individual display against world champions Germany to inspire the South American nation to a stunning 4-2 win.

Since then, Di Maria has been lighting up the Premier League on a weekly basis with his new club, Manchester United, whose supporters will tune in expecting to see some more magic from their £59.7 million signing on Saturday.

5. Can Neymar continue his phenomenal goalscoring record?

Every time Neymar pulls on that famous yellow shirt of Brazil he seems to score. He’s just 22 years old but is already the Seleção’s sixth top goalscorer, with 36 goals in 56 games, which is a truly remarkable achievement.

At this rate, the Barcelona sensation will comfortably end his career with more international goals to his name that the iconic Pele, who scored 77 goals in 92 appearances.

Neymar and Messi are now great friends - but the world stars will be doing their utmost to outdo each other in Beijing this weekend.

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