Lionel Messi and Neymar are coming to Australia. We repeat: arguably the greatest footballer of all time and the greatest current Brazilian player are both coming to play at the MCG in June in a full-strength match between Argentina and Brazil.
That's right. The number one and number two ranked football teams in the world will play right here in Melbourne on Friday, June 9, and they're bringing their big guns.
Whoa. There are lots of really big things in Australia (Uluru, the Reef, the Giant Prawn) that are NOWHERE NEAR AS BIG as this. South Americans call this match-up the "SuperClasico de las Americas". We think we'll call it the "YouBloodyRippero".
So why is it happening? The match has been 12 months in the making, and was first mentioned in the press in December. At a Friday morning press conference, Victorian Sports minister John Eren did what Victorian politicians do, touting the event as a "win for the world's liveable city".
You've got to give them credit. Victoria make these big things happen. Usain Bolt is in town right now, and the city has hosted many more big football clashes than Sydney in recent years.
Indeed, Liverpool set its largest ever attendance record anywhere in the world when in played at the MCG in 2013. Who'll ever forget the chilling rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'?
The "YouBloodyRippero" match will take place a year before the next FIFA World Cup in Russia, and while it will technically be a "friendly" (a match that doesn't count towards any particular tournament), both Brazil and Argentina can be expected to take it seriously, rather than as an exhibition match.
The two teams rarely face each other outside of World Cup qualification matches or Copa America finals matches.
Tickets will be available on the 21st of February.
ABOUT LIONEL MESSI
- The Argentine is 29 and plays his club football for Barcelona.
- After almost single-handedly taking his country to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final, he quit national duties. But he recently decided to play for Argentina again.
- He's the only player to win Ballons d'Or -- the award for the world's best footballer. (The Ballon d'Or was superceded by a different FIFA award in 2016 but that's a whole different story.)
- He can do anything. That's the thing you really need to know. Lethal anywhere near goal, he is also the most silky smooth player you'll ever see. Messi sees moves before they happen. He is all football brain, all sublime skill.
- The Brazilian is 25 and plays his club football alongside Messi at Barcelona.
- His real name is Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior but they just call him Neymar. Or sometimes Neymar Jr.
- Neymar was THE man as Brazil won its first ever gold medal in men's football at he Rio Olympics. It was his free kick which opened the scoring in the final against Germany, and his penalty which sealed the match.
- Neymar is a brilliant forward whose footwork is as good as his finishing. Though just 25, his 50 goals is already the fourth most for his country.
ABOUT THE BRAZIL vs ARGENTINA FOOTBALL RIVALRY
- They've played 107 times. The ledger reads Brazil 44 wins, Argentina 38 wins, with 25 draws.
- Brazil has won five FIFA World Cups (the most ever). Argentina has won two.
- Argentina currently sits a precarious fifth in the South American qualification zone for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Only the top four progress automatically. The fifth-placed team faces the Oceania winner.)
- This Melbourne match won't count for World Cup qualification points, but it'll count for confidence. And pride.
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