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Brazil v Argentina: Messi returns as new coaches take charge of old rivalry

Brazil and Argentina lock horns on Thursday with Lionel Messi back in the fold. Brazil hope to exorcise their Belo Horizonte demons in their first game at the venue since their 7-1 humbling by Germany in World Cup 2014.

After missing three games during his brief international retirement and subsequent comeback, Messi returns to the visitors' side and will line up against Barcelona teammate Neymar, who gave Messi and Javier Mascherano a lift to Belo Horizonte in his private jet.

It's been more than two years since Brazil hosted the infamous semifinal in the south-eastern city and Renato Augusto says his side are keen to move on.

"We can't put more pressure on those that were there," the midfielder said. "A win would be good to take the weight off a bit. We discussed it at the Olympics (where Brazil beat Germany) and obviously now that the game is at the Mineirao it will be back again. But we have to look to the future and not to the past."

Brazil have impressed since Tite replaced Dunga as head coach, moving up from sixth place to first in South American qualifying since the new man took over in June. Bayern Munich's Douglas Costa is among those to have thrived under Tite, comparing him to his club boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Fußball WM 2014 Halbfinale Deutschland Brasilien

The semifinal defeat in 2014 is one Brazil want to forget

"They do well because they deal well with the athletes, they are very human," Costa said. "They like this exchange with the players in the dressing room, they listen to us. That is their biggest virtue."

The transition has been somewhat trickier for the opponents. New Argentina boss Edgardo Bauza has struggled without his talisman, Argentina picking up just two points from the trio of qualifying games since Messi scored in a 1-0 victory over Uruguay.

The slump in form leaves Bauza's side in a precarious position - they are sixth in a South American World Cup qualifying section that has four direct qualifiers and one play off place. Midfielder Lucas Biglia is grateful for the timing of Messi's return.

"We are happy that Messi is back. We know how much he can give and it would be great to win here," the Lazio man said. "Brazil is the ideal rival to get us on track."

Biglia may believe the men in yellow are ideal opponents but the history books suggest otherwise. Brazil have never lost a home World Cup qualifier and they have won three and drawn one of their four previous games against Argentina at the Mineira stadium where Thursday's game will be played.

mp/msh (AFP/AP)

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