Rio de Janiero

Soccer: Italy land in Brazil for Confederations Cup

Azzurri set for friendly against Haiti on Tuesday

Soccer: Italy land in Brazil for Confederations Cup

Rio de Janiero, June 10 - Italy landed in Rio de Janeiro on Monday to take part in the 2013 Confederations Cup. The Azzurri will have their first training session in Brazil later on Monday ahead of a warm-up game on Tuesday against Haiti, the gate revenue of which will go to help the Caribbean island's ongoing reconstruction effort after the earthquake it suffered in 2010. Cesare Prandelli's men have their opening Confederations Cup match against Mexico at Rio's fabled Maracana stadium on Sunday. Italy are in the same Confederations group as North American champions Mexico, hosts Brazil and Asian champions Japan. Italy have qualified for the Confederations Cup as Euro 2012 runners-up because European champions Spain already had a slot as they are the world champs. 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. So Prandelli has told his side he wants them to take the competition seriously this time. The Azzurri are top of European qualifying Group B for next year's World Cup in Brazil with 14 points from six games, four more than second-placed Bulgaria, after Friday's 0-0 draw away against the third-placed Czech Republic. "I love Brazil," Italy forward Mario Balotelli, who was sent off in Prague on Friday, said via Twitter after the team landed in Rio.

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