RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil, currently at a worst-ever 18 in the FIFA world rankings, will aim to edged back up after their two initial friendly matches in the spring.

One reason for the five-times world champions’ slide far distant from top spot has been the fact that, as 2014 World Cup hosts, they are not playing maintstream competitive football.

Matches in the World Cup preliminary tournament and the regional championships – in Europe, Asia, Africa – carry greater weight in computing nations’ places in the ranking. Brazil have played not only friendlies but against weak nations such as China and Iraq.

New manager Luiz Felipe Scolari will make his managerial debut when Brazil come to play England at Wembley on February 6 at the start of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

The Brazilian confederation confirmed at the weekend that they will then play Italy in Geneva on March 21. This friendly comes exactly three months before Brazil and Italy meet again in the Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup warm-up tournament.

Scolari insisted, on his appointment three weeks ago, that he wanted to play the strongest possible opposition in the run-up to the World Cup though he understood that some fixtures were dictated by sponsorship demands.

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