Hosts Brazil have been drawn alongside Italy, Japan and Mexico in the tougher of the two groups for next year’s Confederations Cup.
With Italy having impressed on their way to second at the European Championships, Brazil will have a genuine threat to finishing top in Group A, while Japan and Mexico have the ability to shock the hosts and qualify for the semi-finals at the Confederations Cup.
In Saturday’s draw, Spain were placed alongside Copa America champions Uruguay and shock Oceania Cup winners Tahiti in Group B, with those countries to be joined by the winner of next year’s African Cup of Nations.
But Brazil, who have yet to convince in the lead-up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, will need a strong performance at the Confederations Cup to get their demanding fans onside.
New Brazil head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari knows his side will face a tough task in their group.
Japan, who won the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, made the round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, although a 4-0 loss to Brazil in October shows they still have some work to do before they face the South American heavyweights in the opening match on June 15, 2013.
Reigning CONCACAF Gold Cup champions Mexico should have plenty of confidence against Brazil having defeated them 2-1 in the final of this year’s men’s Olympic football tournament.
While that competition is predominantly for Under-23 players, Brazil’s senior squad is generally built around their Olympic side, potentially giving Mexico the upper hand ahead of the Confederations Cup.