The task facing both Asian champions Japan and three-time world champions Italy is clear cut in Recife at the Confederations Cup.
An Italian win, on the heels of Sunday’s success over Olympic champions Mexico should propel the Azzurri into the semi-finals, while also ending the Blue Samurais’ interest in this event.
In going down 3-0 to the Brazilians in the opening match, Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japanese showed the effects of a long, yet successful, qualifying World Cup campaign - they only arrived 72 hours after seeing off Iraq in the Gulf. They also showed - AS Zaccheroni tacitly admitted - that they are at this stage a work in progress with 12 months to plan next year’s assault.
“What we must not do is repeat the mistakes of the Brazil game,” said Yasuhito Endo. “But don’t judge us on that game.”
Italy enjoyed a beach volleyball session earlier after their win over Mexico although Balotelli, criticised by coach Cesare Prandelli for his booking, did not show.AFP