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FIFA Confederations Cup

Friends turn foes, Zagallo weighs in

Thiago Silva of Brazil leads out his team-mates
© Getty Images

The first semi-final of this FIFA Confederations Cup is an all-South American affair, with inaugural world champions Uruguay taking on record FIFA World Cup™ winners Brazil. While the tournament hosts stormed into the last four following victories in all three Group A games, La Celeste had to settle for second spot in Group B after losing by the odd goal to reigning world champions Spain.

The matchBrazil-Uruguay, Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte, Saturday 26 June, 16:00 (local time) The duel*Thiago Silva (Brazil) - Diego Lugano (Uruguay) *

Both centre-backs are responsible for keeping a tight backline in their respective teams, a tough task considering the tendency of South American sides to opt for all-out attack. Each will have their work cut out, as Neymar, Hulk and Fred have been scintillating for A Seleção, while Diego Forlan, Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez pose an equally potent threat for Uruguay. Luiz Felipe Scolari and Osacar Tabarez will each be relying on their defensive cornerstones as they plot a route to the final.

Team-mates and coaches alike value the loyalty and commitment both Thiago Silva and Lugano bring to their sides, while their professionalism and uncompromising tackling have made them fan favourites too. The similarities should come as no surprise, as the duo both lace their boots for Paris Saint-Germain and are likely to do so again next season. “He was a great team-mate at PSG,” Thiago Silva said of his opposite number. “We’ve established a wonderful friendship. He’s back now after his loan spell in Malaga, so we’ll be able to play together again.”

The absenteesAndres Scotti (Uruguay) - suspended
The expert’s view Mario Zagallo:“Uruguay have grown together as a team over the last few years. They’ve played together for a long time now and they’re very organised. That said, I still think Brazil are the favourites as they’ve shown huge improvements at the Confederations Cup and are playing fantastic football.”

The factFIFA has held anti-discrimination days at each of its major tournaments since 2001, with the aim of raising global awareness of the need to overcome racism and other forms of prejudice. Prior to today’s first semi-final at the FIFA Confederations Cup, the respective team captains will read out an anti-discrimination message. Both sets of players and the match officials will then give another message in the middle of the pitch to further highlight football’s anti-discrimination stance.

“Football has an important and far-reaching role in society and the message the sport sends out reaches a huge audience,” said former Ghana international Anthony Baffoe. “We’ve come a long way and I’m very happy and thankful for the pro-active and focused way FIFA approaches its anti-racism and anti-discrimination programmes. However, the programmes themselves cannot win the fight. As a society we need to pull together in order to banish the issue from our communities once and for all.”

The anniversaryExactly ten years ago, on 26 June 2013, the semi-final of the FIFA Confederations Cup between Cameroon and Colombia kicked off in France. 75 minutes had been played in Lyon’s Stade Gerland before the world witnessed a truly shocking incident. Standing alone, Cameroon’s Marc-Vivien Foe suddenly collapsed on the pitch with heart failure and died a short time later in the medical centre. This year’s 'Festival of Champions' marks the tenth anniversary of Foe’s death.

The birthdaysDoctor Khumalo (South Africa), 46 - played at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1997

Felipe Melo (Brazil), 30 - won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009

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