They have seven World Cup titles between them and a rivalry as storied as any in soccer.
Brazil and Argentina meet in a World Cup qualifier tonight in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, with plenty of national honor on the line.
"I would trade first place in the standings to beat Brazil," Argentina Coach Marcelo Bielsa said. "To beat them, as visitors, would be etched in the people's memory."
Argentina leads the South American group with 11 points in qualifying leading to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Brazil is third with nine. Paraguay, in second with 10 points, lost at Bolivia, 2-1, yesterday, while Chile won at Venezuela, 1-0, and visiting Peru shocked Uruguay, 3-1.
"It's a special classic for us," said Brazil captain Cafu, a veteran of three World Cups. "It would be stupid to deny it. Beating the Argentines is always special."
Argentina is trying to redeem itself after the 2002 World Cup when it played abysmally and was eliminated in the first round.
"If we win, we have a magnificent opportunity to once again receive the public's warmth," striker Hernan Crespo said.
"It could help us regain credibility," added Pablo Aimar, another World Cup veteran. "A lot of time has passed, but I think nobody has forgotten our failure."
Brazil will be without Ronaldinho, a key to Brazil's attack in its triumphant 2002 World Cup campaign. The FC Barcelona star hurt his leg and was cut from the squad, along with injured defender Luisao. Rivaldo, with no club, hasn't played recently and wasn't named to the team. The "Three Rs" are down to one: Ronaldo, of Real Madrid. Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said Ronaldinho would be replaced by high-scoring striker Luis Fabiano.
Argentina will be missing defender and captain Roberto Ayala, who is suspended. His replacement is defender Gabriel Heinze, who has limited experience on the national team.
"Don't forget: We're world champions," Brazil's Roberto Carlos said.
-- From News Services