In a World Cup qualifier match-up, Brazil will take on Argentina in Buenos Aires on Thursday, reprising their Superclasico de las Americas rivalry. Argentina will miss the trio of their attacking stars, including Lionel Messi who’s out with a knee injury.
Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero and Carlos Tevez also joined the best player of the world in the injury list. Tevez joined Argentine side Boca Juniors from Juventus.
“When we lose, there is Messi dependency, and when we win, you do not talk about that,” Argentine coach Gerardo Martino said.
“The loss of Messi is important. The absence of players more accustomed to scoring also makes it more difficult to reach the goal. Against Paraguay we failed in our finishing, we had five or six clear chances to score.”
The World Cup finalists are also plagued in the defensive third as they will miss Pablo Zabaleta and Ezequiel Garay. A defeat against Ecuador at home followed by a goalless draw against Paraguay has stifled Argentine progress in the Latin American qualifiers. Though it’s a long way to go to Russia’2018 for every team in the group and lots of ups and downs are expected.
More concerns are in for the Argentine coach as he is up against a man in supreme form. Martino was Neymar’s coach when he left Santos for Spanish giants Barcelona. In Messi’s absence, Neymar has netted 11 goals in 10 La Liga games.
“If we look at the ranking by numbers and statistics, Neymar is superior right now,” Brazil coach Dunga said.
The match shall kick off at 7 p.m. EST and will be telecast live on beIN Sports.
D: Roncaglia, Otamendi, Funes Mori, Rojo
M: Biglia, Mascherano, Banega
F: Di María, Higuaín, Lavezzi
D: Dani Alves, Miranda, David Luiz, F. Luis
M: Elias, Luiz Gustavo
Willian, Neymar, Douglas Costa