Soccer: Italy treating Brazil friendly as World Cup test
Chiellini to miss match with ankle problem, doubtful for Malta20 March, 18:35
Indeed, the midfielder said he and his teammates are treating the game as a major test ahead of next year's World Cup.
Italy have lost only one competitive match since coach Cesare Prandelli took over in 2010, the 4-0 defeat to Spain in the final of Euro 2012.
But the Azzurri's tradition for 'not showing up' for friendlies has continued under Prandelli. They have lost seven out of the 13 non-competitive matches played under him and won just three.
Pirlo said this will not be the case when four-time world champions Italy take on five-time world champions Brazil.
"The game against Brazil is important, we'll be taking on a great side in a match that everyone would like to play in," the Juventus playmaker told reporters.
"You don't take on Brazil every day, it's not a normal match.
"It may turn out to be fundamental for our development and to be able to understand where we are at in view of the Confederations Cup (later this year) and the World Cup (in 2014 in Brazil)".
Prandelli said this week that he wants his side to take this June's Confederations Cup as a serious test.
The Cup, which takes place the year before a World Cup in the host nation and features the world champions and the continental champions, is not considered a major tournament.
But Italy's failure at the 2009 Confederations Cup proved to be a foretaste of the then-holder's embarrassing group-stage exit at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. "Italy often do not play well in friendlies," added Pirlo.
"We are never our best (in them), but this time we'll try to do well, in part thinking of the fans. This Italy team is coming on and I think we are among the top 10 (in he world)". Prandelli has rejuvenated the Azzurri since taking over and got them to play an attractive attacking style that contrasts with the nation's traditional defensive approach.
Pirlo is one of the few veterans from Italy's 2006 World Cup-winning team still in the national team.
Italy, who have qualified for the Confederations Cup as Euro 2012 runners-up because Spain already had a slot as they are the world champs, are currently fifth in FIFA's world ranking, while Brazil are a lowly 18th. "They (Brazil) are the best national team in the world in purely technical terms," Prandelli said.
"Nevertheless, we'll have the courage to play with our youngsters and our ideas. We have to dispel the image we have.
"It's not a question of catenaccio, but of renewal." Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini will miss Thursday's friendly and is doubtful for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier in Malta because of an ankle problem, the national soccer federation said Wednesday.
In the final training session before the Azzurri left their base near Florence for Geneva on Wednesday, Prandelli tested a strike pairing made up of AS Roma's Pablo Osvaldo and Mario Balotelli, who has scored seven goals in six appearances since joining AC Milan in January.
In the practice match he fielded Roma's Daniele De Rossi with Juve trio Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Emanuele Giaccherini in midfield.
The back four was made up of Napoli's Christian Maggio, Juve duo Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, and AC Milan full back Mattia De Sciglio. De Sciglio's Milan teammate and fellow full back Ignazio Abate was rested as a precaution because of a muscle strain.
Italy lead European World Cup qualifying group B with 10 points from four games, four points more than second-placed Bulgaria.