IT'S a cold, wet, miserable Wednesday evening in November. The skies are dark by tea-time and there's a whirring chill zipping through the air as we gear up for another bitter winter. Brilliant.
What better time then than to head off to the sun-baked beaches of Doha for one of the biggest clashes in world football – Argentina v Brazil.
Turn up the heating to 11, bung on your best baggy shorts, pap a deckchair in front of the telly and throw toilet rolls around the living room as ESPN host coverage of the glamour friendly between the South American rivals. It'll almost be like you're there.
Brazil are positively bouncing into the Qatar tie (organised as an advert for the nation's World Cup 2022 bid) with a new regime – both politically and at the head of A Selecao – in its infancy. There's been a promise of a return to the free-flowing, samba-style we've missed since the drudgery of Dunga rolled in like the greatest killjoy in football villainy.
The buck-toothed, grinning ingenuity of Ronaldinho is back in a bright yellow shirt for the first time since April last year. Despite this blast from the past, new boss Mano Menezes has signalled his intentions from the outset. The side will use the experience and talents of creative forces like the AC Milan star at the starting grid but there will be a strong focus on exciting, young, fresh-faced Brazilian talent from here on in.
The fact that guys in their prime like Robinho, Dani Alves and Ramires are now considered veterans of the squad means we're looking at a side being built from the ground up in time for the next World Cup on home soil.
Inter Milan winger Coutinho will take part while future star Ganso is still struggling with injury. A scan of the rest of the squad will bring a series of names that, from the outset, may seem a little less than thrilling. Lucas of Liverpool is hardly Garrincha but he's being afforded the opportunity to prove himself. I can't say I'm much of a fan but one man to get excited about is Neymar.
The waif-like 18-year-old Santos star has the world at his feet. Bags of tricks, flicks, pace and a maturity beyond his years has made him one of those most sought after talents on the planet. In fact, Chelsea's pursuit of the youngster has landed them in hot water with FIFA with his Brazilian club unhappy with their attempts to steal him away.
Earlier this year he racked up 27 goals in 29 starts and helped lead his side to the Campeonato Paulista title with 14 goals in 19 games. Prolific.
He's played just once for Brazil, netting on his debut in the friendly clash with the USA back in August, but he has all the attributes to be the leading figure in 2014
Argentina, on the other hand, are recovering from an exhausting campaign under Diego Maradona. Full of incident, fall-outs, obscenities and shocks, there's rarely been a dull moment for the Albiceleste in the last two years.
New boss Sergio Batista has the task of calming the fiery expectations, massaging egos and dulling the heartaches of another failed World Cup campaign. He's also set to rebuild but has already rectified some of Maradona's mistakes by recalling Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso (who is out of tonight's clash with injury).
Batista will also be without the Milito brothers, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Walter Samuel – so be careful when picking goalscorers.
However, the promising Palermo starlet Javier Pastore – last week claimed to be better than Ronaldinho by his club – will play a play in a dynamic midfield three that also includes Javier Mascherano and Ever Banega.
I expect an open, end-to-end game between these two sides as they look to take the bragging rights into next year's Copa America. For both countries to score look at 4-5 with bet365 while over three goals pays at 2-1.
Lionel Messi, who has never beaten Brazil with the senior Argentina side, has to be among the favourites to net and he's 11-8 with bet365 to score anytime or 15-2 for two or more.
Neymar for Brazil is 5-2, extrabet while Robinho is 11-5 at bet365.