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Plenty at stake for Germany and Brazil

sports Updated: Aug 08, 2011 11:10 IST
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Although European clubs have condemned the August international friendlies as a waste of time, there is plenty at stake in Wednesday's first clash between Germany and Brazil for six years before a sellout crowd of 54,000 in Stuttgart.

Both coaches are eager to pit their teams against strong opponents in one of around 50 friendlies being played around the world on the first international date of the new season and one that the European Clubs Association (ECA) wants abolished.

Elsewhere, Germany's former coach Juergen Klinsmann makes his debut in charge of the United States, less than two weeks after being appointed.

His side will start by attempting to avenge their 4-2 CONCACAF Gold Cup final defeat to Mexico in June which led to the sacking of his predecessor Bob Bradley.

Other high profile clashes include Italy-Spain in Bari, England-Netherlands at Wembley and Japan-South Korea in Sapporo, all on Wednesday.

One of Africa's biggest rivalries will be played out at English second tier club Watford on Tuesday where Ghana meet Nigeria.

Ghana have won their last three matches against Nigeria, knocking them out of the 2008 and 2010 African Nations Cups as well and beating them 4-1 in a friendly in London four years ago. The Super Eagles had won the previous five meetings before that.

France, meanwhile, host Chile, South America's most entertaining team, and will attempt to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games.

Last year, the ECA, representing 197 of Europe's biggest clubs, protested bitterly at the August friendly date, which takes place before many domestic leagues have even kicked off.

ECA president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge described the matches as "nonsense" games and said the international calendar had to be re-designed with input from the European clubs.

Since then, relations between the ECA and soccer's governing body FIFA have soured further and, with the Copa America having been played in July, clubs are hardly likely to be happy at having to release players again.

German champions Borussia Dortmund, already angry at an injury to Paraguay forward Lucas Barrios in the Copa America, are now upset that midfielder Shinji Kagawa will travel to Japan and back for his team's game.

For Brazil coach Mano Menezes, who has rejected requests from local clubs Santos and Corinthians not to pick their players, Wednesday's match will be an important part of his team's World Cuop buildup.

The 2014 hosts will spend the next two years playing friendlies and are eager to produce a performance which will make their supporters forget their Copa America quarter-final elimination at the hands of Paraguay.

"These games are a necessity as we will not be playing any qualifiers," he said. "We have to make up for this by playing against top opposition."

"We need to give our players experience in matches of this standard, and this is ideal for our needs."

His opposite number Joachim Loew may also be happy for a real test after winning seven straight Euro 2012 qualifying matches in a group where his side are streets ahead of the rest.

The same goes for Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, who have also found things rather too easy in their qualifying groups.

The latter pair both have 100% records and Italy have dropped only two points in six games.

"These are matches with a lot of prestige at stake and England are one of the best teams in the world," said Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk.

"They have a lot of potential with players who are all active in the strongest league in the world."

At least two other coaches will be making their debuts in addition to Klinsmann.

Nikos Nioplias will be starting out with Cyprus at home to Moldova and Victor Piturca, who replaced Razvan Lucescu in June, starts his third spell in charge of Romania in San Marino.

The match has been hastily arranged match after Romania's original opponents Argentina pulled out following the sacking of coach Sergio Batista in the wake of the disappointing quarter-final exit in the Copa America.