South American World Cup qualifiers will see two of the biggest teams in the world, Argentina and Chile, clash with each other in Buenos Aires on Friday.
This will be the first time Lionel Messi and co. face Chile after their Copa America Centenario final loss in July 2016. The game was decided on tie-breaker as it ended without a goal after 120 minutes of football. Argentina suffered the same fate which they endured in Copa final 2015, losing the game in penalties.
In the World Cup 2018 qualification table for Latin America, Chile currently stands on the fourth place with 20 points, with Argentina just a place below carrying 19 points. As the first four places finish in the group means an automatic qualification for World Cup Russia 2018, both teams will go out to beat each other in this clash of the titans.
One of the major news before this contest is the media blackout the Argentina team has done in recent months. After one of the squad members, Ezequiel Lavezzi, was accused of smoking marijuana in the national team camp during the Copa America Centenario by the Argentina press, the team has united to shun media, reported by Marca.
Team News: Argentina
Paulo Dybala will return to Turin in few days he won't play Argentina's game against Chile & Bolivia. [Fabrizio Romano] pic.twitter.com/x3OHlhBBU2— Forza Juventus (@ForzaJuve2017) March 21, 2017
The bad news for the Albieceleste is the injury to their young striker Paula Dybala. The Juventus hitman will miss this clash as well as the game vs. Bolivia due to an injury in his left thigh.
However, the presence of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, and Sergio Aguero means manager Edwardo Bauza should not lose any sleep over the loss of the explosive forward.
Team News: Chile
For Chile, their biggest concern will be the availability of Alexis Sanchez as the Arsenal forward is not fully fit after injuring his ankle in his latest game. He has joined training session with the team. However, it is unclear if the coach plays him in this crunch clash. There is no doubt what Sanchez, the best player in the Copa America Centenario 2016, wants to do this Friday, as evident by his latest Instagram post that was captioned, “To fail is not to try.”
A post shared by Alexis Sanchez (@alexis_officia1) on
Goalkeeper: Romero, Guzman, Andujar
Defenders: Fenes Mori, Mas, Mascherano, Mercado, Musacchio, Otamendi, Rojo, Roncaglia
Midfielders: di Maria, Banega, Acuna, Biglia, Buffarini, Perez, Pizarro
Attackers: Messi, Aguero, Correa, Higuain, Dybala, Lavezzi, Pratto
Goalkeepers: Bravo, Toselli, Herrera
Defenders: Isla, Diaz, Jara, Mena, Opazo, Roco, Medel
Midfielders: Aranguiz, Beausejour, Gutierrez, Hernandez, Vidal, Silva, Orellana, Pulgar
Attackers: Castillo, Paredes, Sanchez, Valencia, Vargas
Argentina: Predicted Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Romero – Mercado, Mori, Otamendi, Mas – Mascherano, Biglia – di Maria, Banega, Messi – Higuain
Chile: Predicted Starting Line-up (4-3-3)
Bravo – Isla, Medel, Zara, Beausejour – Vidal, Diaz, Hernandez – Sanchez, Vargas, Castillo
Argentina vs. Chile: Head-to-Head
Total games: 16
Argentina wins: 10
Chile wins: 3
Argentina vs. Chile: Prediction
It is clear that there is no absolute favorite for this tie. Chile vs. Argentina has provided us much competitive matches in recent years.
Quality wise, Argentina has some better players on the individual level. They have, arguably, the best player in history, and some other world-class players such as di Maria, Higuain, Mascherano, and Aguero. But Chile has an organized team, and on their day they can beat any team in the world.
Argentina will have the home advantage, which will likely decide the tie in their favor.
Final Predicted Score: Argentina 2-1 Chile
Betting Tips and Odds
- Argentina win: 4/9
- A draw: 3/1
- Chile win: 11/2
- Under 2.5 goals: 4/5
- Over 2.5 goals: 10/11
- Both teams score: evens
- Both teams fail to score: 8/11
The odds were provided by Paddypower.
Key Stats to consider
- Argentina has won just two World Cup qualification games out of six since the Copa America Centenario final defeat against Chile.
- Argentina has conceded eight goals in all of their recent five matches.
- Chile is unbeaten in the last three World Cup qualification matches.
- Chile won its last two games in the China Cup against Croatia and Iceland.
The stats were provided by Soccerway.
Argentina vs. Chile: Live Streaming
The Argentina-Chile big match will be streamed live online through the link provided here. The live streaming link will be updated just before the kick-off.
[Featured Image by Elsa/Getty Images]