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September 01, 2006

Brazil vs. Argentina, the most atractive game in England

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Amazingly, Brazil's exhibition football derby against Argentina in London is proving more popular with fans than England's opening qualifier for the 2008 European Championship.

According to a close source, all 60,000 seats for the Sept. 3 Argentina-Brazil contest at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium sold out within a week of going on sale. Indeed, Andrew Ager, a spokesman for Pitch PR, which is promoting the game said so. England's game with Andorra a day earlier at Manchester United's Old Trafford has so far sold 49,000 tickets.

We msut consider that Argentina and Brazil, with seven world titles between them, both recruited new coaches after exiting the World Cup at the quarterfinal stage. Barcelona's Champions League-winning duo Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi will be among the players on display in the squads' first meeting on English soil.

"In Brazil when we play Argentina it is like we are playing in a World Cup final," Brazil coach Dunga admitted. We must keep in mind that he has lifted the World Cup as captain in 1994. "We have something to prove to the fans of Brazilian football."

In fact, the teams have met four times in the World Cup, with Brazil winning twice, Argentina once and one match drawn.

The game has been organized by Swiss-based sports rights agency Kentaro AG, which will share matchday revenue, estimated by the Guardian to be around 2 million pounds ($3.8 million), with Arsenal Football Club and the federations of each nation. The British Broadcasting Corp. is showing the game live at 4 p.m. local time.

It's important to mention that the match will provide a global showcase for Arsenal's 357 million-pound stadium. The club's switch from its 38,000-seat Highbury ground after 93 years is expected to raise annual revenue by as much as 50 million pounds, helping the club compete with the spending power of clubs such as London rival Chelsea.