Mexico and Italy face off in their Confederations Cup Group A opener hoping to lay a marker down...
"A flurry of five frustrating stalemates during this unbeaten stretch tells its own story, with two of those 0-0s arriving in their two fixtures before this contest."
Best Bet: Back Under 1.5 goals @ [2.9]
Mexico v Italy, Sunday 20:00, BBC Three, Match Odds: Mexico [3.4], Italy [2.38], The Draw [3.3]
Italy always make formidable opposition on the international tournament scene and, with coach Cesare Prandelli promising to take this competition very seriously, expect no different from the Euro 2012 finalists at the Confederations Cup.
Having suffered only one loss in their last 11 outings, to France back in November, it's obvious that the Azzurri will make stubborn opposition for Mexico.
The disappointing draw against minnows Haiti prior to this match which witnessed the Italians letting a two-goal lead slip away, can be partly attributed to their less experienced players being given a chance.
If anything, it's their lack of a killer instinct that Prandelli will be looking to rectify in these World Cup auditions, having seen his side draw four of their last six games, only triumphing over small fry Malta and San Marino in 2013.
Meanwhile, CONCACAF Gold Cup holders Mexico have only ever beaten their UEFA rivals once in 11 previous attempts, though that solitary victory did arrive in their last meeting in 2010.
Like Italy, their major problem is their inability to finish teams off in recent times, having recorded an incredible eight draws from their last nine matches as part of an unbeaten run now stretching to 13 games.
Mexico's gruelling schedule has seen them partake in three World Cup qualifiers in eight days and, with only four days' grace before this clash at the Maracana, Italy's fresher legs should see them pip it.
While El Tri's defensive record is outstanding, having only conceded twice in six games, the same cannot be said for their attacking prowess. A flurry of five frustrating stalemates during this unbeaten stretch tells its own story, with two of those 0-0s arriving in their two fixtures before this contest.
Having already mentioned the Mexicans Fort Knox-like defence, which has only been breached by Nigeria in their last six games, it's unlikely that Italy will rack 'em up. If the favourites are to shade this match, then it's likely to be by the odd goal and this makes the 1-0 scoreline the most tempting.