A bolt of lightning hit the plane carrying the Italian players on their way to Geneva on Wednesday. Fortunately for all on board there were no injuries, although players and staff were understandably shaken up. Come game time, Cesare Prandelli's side will be hoping lightning doesn't strike twice. The Azzurri haven't beaten the Selecao since Paolo Rossi netted a hat trick in a 3-2 victory en route to winning the 1982 World Cup.
In the six meetings since the Italians' trophy triumph, Brazil have definitely had their number. After knocking Italy out of the 1984 Olympics, the South Americans outlasted them on penalties to win the World Cup ten years later. The last time these teams faced off, Brazil won 3-0 in the Confederations Cup - a competition which will bring both teams together once again in three months time.
Now looks as good a time as any to be facing the Samba boys. Brazil's current placing of 18th in the FIFA World rankings is the lowest since their inception. A pair of 2-1 defeats to England and Argentina preceded by a 1-1 draw with Colombia is hardly ideal preparation for the 2014 World Cup hosts.
Italy have made a solid start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, with ten points out of a possible 12. They lost 2-1 to France in a November friendly, but salvaged a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands last month.
Cesare Prandelli is expected to rely on a heavy Juventus and AC Milan contingent in a 3-5-2 lineup. Giorgio Chiellini misses out with an ankle injury, so Andrea Barzagli could partner Leonardo Bonucci and Inter's Andrea Ranocchia in front of Gianluigi Buffon. Andrea Pirlo looks certain to anchor a midfield containing Claudio Marchisio and Riccardo Montolivo, with Stephan El Shaarawy likely to partner Milan teammate Mario Balotelli up front ahead of Roma's Pablo Osvaldo.
Luiz Felipe Scolari has already named his side in an attacking 4-3-3 formation. Hulk, Fred and Neymar form the front three, with youth player Fernando the surprise inclusion alongside the recalled Hernanes and Chelsea's Oscar in midfield. Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Filipe Luis form the backline, while former Inter Milan shotstopper Julio Cesar retains his place between the sticks. Silva could make way for Bayern Munich's Dante should the PSG defender fail to recover from a minor muscular injury.
Lucas Moura, Paulinho and Ramires are all out injured, but Kaka is back in the squad in place of Ronaldinho. The Real Madrid man has to be content with a place on the bench, although Scolari has promised he will feature at some point.
Match Date/Time: Thursday 21st March 2013 8:30 p.m. local, 2:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Stade de Geneve, Switzerland
TV: RAI Uno (Italy) beIN Sport en Espanol, beIN Sport (U.S) ITV4 (UK)