Italy forward Pablo Osvaldo could face the country of his birth in today’s international friendly against Argentina as the two old rivals meet for the first time in 12 years.
World Cup hosts Brazil will attempt to keep the momentum going after their FIFA Confederations Cup win in June when they visit Switzerland in another of the nearly 50 friendlies being played on the first international date of the season.
There are also several neighborly clashes, with England meeting Scotland at Wembley in London, Belgium hosting France in Brussels and Sweden entertaining Norway in Stockholm.
Other teams will be traveling much further, including world and European champions Spain, who face an exhausting round trip to steamy Guayaquil to play Ecuador, and Uruguay, who travel half way around the world to visit Japan.
Victor Genes will make his debut as Paraguay’s fourth coach in only two years as the South Americans visit Germany in Kaiserslautern.
Beleaguered Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre badly needs a win against Ivory Coast in New York following his side’s disappointing Gold Cup exit against Panama, while the US visit Bosnia in Sarajevo.
Italy’s meeting with Argentina in Rome is the pick of the crop.
The two teams met in four successive World Cups between 1978 and 1990, the last of those games ending in a heart-breaking semi-final defeat for hosts Italy when a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina won on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Their only meeting since then was Argentina’s 2-1 win in Rome in 2001, when Osvaldo was still a teenager living in Buenos Aires.
Osvaldo, who has scored three goals in eight appearances, has been recalled by Italy for the match, having previously fallen foul of coach Cesare Prandelli’s code of ethics.
The 27-year-old was dropped from the FIFA Confederations Cup squad after getting into a public row with AS Roma interim coach Aurelio Andreazzoli during the Coppa Italia final against SS Lazio in May.
Born in Buenos Aires, Osvaldo was raised at Club Atletico Huracan, where he made his professional debut and moved to Italy as a 20-year-old to join Atalanta BC.
He qualified to play for Italy through his great grandfather.