Lionel Messi’s Argentina head to Sao Paulo to take on arc-rivals Brazil in the ongoing CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup Qualifiers tournament. Both sides are unbeaten in the qualification round so far and are almost guaranteed to secure a berth in the World Cup to be held in Qatar next year, given the strength of their squads.
The fixture between Brazil and Argentina is one of the most awaited contests between any two footballing nations and a star-studded lineup makes the game a must-watch.
As the Selecao gear up to take revenge for the 1-0 loss in Copa America finals to their archrivals, here’s our preview of Brazil vs Argentina World Cup qualification fixture.
Argentina head to the Neo Química Arena on the back of a dominating 3-1 victory over Venezuela on Thursday.
In his first match since making the shift to Paris Saint-Germain, Lionel Messi has struggled on the field. He was limping a bit throughout the night and any potential injury will be a huge setback both for Argentina and for the Parisians.
Lautaro Martinez, Joaquin Correa, and Angel Correa filled the void left by Messi as Lionel Scaloni’s efforts to create a well-rounded squad are starting to come to fruition.
The arrival of Premier League players into the squad has boosted La Albiceleste. Cristian Romero joined a solid defensive lineup that already boasts of Nicolas Otamendi and German Pezzella.
In the middle, Giovani Lo Celso impressed alongside Rodrigo De Paul, and Angel Correa is more likely to start after his performance on Thursday.
If Lionel Messi is declared fit for the game, he is expected to start at the front along with Lautaro Martinez. Angel Di Maria is expected to take up the third spot, but Paulo Dybala is also a potential starting option.
Brazil continued their perfect start to the World Cup qualifiers, winning seven out of seven fixtures with a narrow 1-0 victory over Chile.
The Selecao are dealing with a depleted squad as Liverpool’s Fabinho, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva, Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus, and Everton’s Richarlison are forced to miss the international fixtures this week due to coronavirus restrictions imposed by UK.
But Brazil’s lead player and No. 10 Neymar was available for the game, and his shot at goal was converted by Everton Ribeiro to score the only goal of the game.
With a lot of stars missing from their lineup, Brazil are forced to field a full-strength starting XI, leaving little room for substitutes or injury replacements.
Gabriel Barbosa has been a worthy companion to Neymar and Vinicius Junior at the front while veteran defenders Dani Alves and Marquinhos provide some degree of comfort to the young Weverton at the back.
Tite is likely to stick to the same starting XI and hope for the best against a much stronger Argentina.
HEAD TO HEAD
The rivalry between Brazil and Argentina has been ranked at the top of international football rivalries consistently. Besides numerous on-field and off-field incidents, both sides boast of the highest average Elo rating over their histories, leading to intensely competitive matches. The Battle of the Americas – be it a friendly or a competitive fixture, attracts international attention.
Brazil have won 43 of the 108 fixtures between both sides, with Argentina winning 40. Argentina hold the upper hand in competitive fixtures – with 20 victories over the Selecao in 50 encounters.
In World Cup Qualifiers, Brazil have won four of the eight matches played including a 3-0 victory in the 2016 Qualifiers. On the other hand, Lionel Messi’s Argentina have won their last two encounters against Brazil – including a 1-0 victory in the finals of the Copa America this year.
WHAT TO EXPECT
A depleted Brazil will face a well-rounded Argentina on Sunday, taking a little bit of competitiveness out of the fixture. Argentina have shown that they can perform well against a much stronger Brazilian lineup with ease earlier this year and the lack of Premier League players is going to hurt the Selecao.
A depleted Brazil nevertheless are not pushovers and the availability of Neymar can give Tite numerous options to contain Argentina. Argentina have failed to register victories over much-weaker sides in Copa America and Tite will be keen to take advantage of their shortcomings.
While Lionel Scaloni will not settle for anything less than a repeat of the Copa America final performance, Tite’s men will be more than happy to come out with the scores levelled. Expect Argentina to win the fixture with a narrow margin against a weaker Brazilian lineup.
Brazil Predicted XI (4-3-3): Weverton, Danilo, Marquinhos, Eder Militão, Alex Sandro, Lucas Paquetá, Casemiro, Bruno Guimarães, Gabriel Barbosa, Neymar, Vinicius Junior.
Argentina Predicted XI (4-4-2): Emiliano Martinez, Nahuel Molina, German Pezzella, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico, Angel Di Maria, Rodrigo De Paul, Giovani Lo Celso, Guido Rodriguez, Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez.
When: Monday, 6 September 2021, 12:30 AM IST
Where: Corinthians Arena, São Paulo.
Where to Watch: All matches of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, including Brazil vs Argentina will be streamed on Sony Sports Network channels. All matches will also be streamed live on SonyLiv.
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