Argentina will travel to face Bolivia in the South American World Cup Qualifiers with nothing but victory in mind.
When Argentina last traveled to Estadio Hernando Siles, lying at 3,6370 m. (1,1932 ft.), Lionel Messi and co. suffered a 6-1 defeat, Argentina’s worst defeat in last 68 years. Debates raised whether a football game should be held at such high altitude. However, nothing has changed to this date as Argentina will face second-from-bottom Bolivia in qualifying group in this important match.
In their last game, Argentina labored a much-needed victory against Chile in Buenos Aires. The game ended 1-0 as a Lionel Messi penalty goal did enough to get all three points to propel the Albiceleste to the third position of the qualification table.
Despite the better position in the table, qualification will not be a walk in the park for Edwardo Bauza’s men as there are five teams within a three-point gap from the second to sixth position. With 30 points at the top, Brazil is almost certain to be selected for the World Cup. So, the remaining three automatic spots and one playoff spot will be a knife-edge battle between Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, and Chile.
In the game against Chile, Argentina played Sergio Aguero as a No. 10 but the forward struggled massively. Coach Edwardo Bauza’s initial plans were to play Paulo Dybala in that position but his injury meant the Manchester City forward played in the creative role.
Sergio’s struggles meant Messi had to drop deep and pull the strings in midfield. La Pulga did well winning vital possessions, distributing long balls, taking on players, and scoring the winning penalty. It was too much for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner as he had to carry Argentina singlehandedly, and this is the reason why he performs lesser for the Albiceleste than for Barcelona. The coach must find a solution if Argentina is to qualify smoothly and challenge seriously in the coming World Cup.
As expected, Messi has been called up for Argentina's qualifier against Bolivia. This will be his 118th appearance with the national team. pic.twitter.com/82UGRQeWRI— Messi Moments (@LeoMoments) March 26, 2017
Team News: Argentina
Sergio Aguero is expected to play in center forward role as Higuain is suspended for the trip to Bolivia. Ever Banega is likely to play in the No. 10 role in the starting lineup.
Argentina: Predicted Line-up (4-2-3-1)
Romero – Mercado, Mori, Otamendi, Mas – Mascherano, Biglia – di Maria, Banega, Messi – Aguero
Team News: Bolivia
Bolivia suffered a 1-0 defeat against Colombia in their last game. The team was on its way to earn a point but a late goal from James Rodriguez ended their chance to take anything from the game.
Manager Angel Guillermo Hoyos is expected to stick with the same lineup against Argentina.
Bolivia: Predicted Line-up (4-5-1)
Lampe – Cuellar, Raldes, Coimbra, Aponte – Morales, Bejarano, Melean, Justiniano, Jose Sagredo – Martins
Bolivia vs. Argentina: Head-to-Head
Total games: 27
Bolivia wins: 6
Argentina wins: 16
Bolivia vs. Argentina: TV Schedule and Channel
In the U.S., the match will be live on beIN SPORTS CONNECT U.S.A., beIN SPORTS en Espanol, and fuboTV. For other regions, the TV schedule can be found in the link here.
Bolivia vs. Argentina: Prediction
Argentina is favorite for this game as Bolivia is far behind the quality this Messi-led team possesses. Despite their struggles against Chile and difficult physical conditions, Argentina should win this game straightforward.
Final Prediction: Bolivia 1-3 Argentina
Betting Tips and Odds
- Bolivia win: 31/10
- A draw: 13/5
- Argentina win: 17/20
- Under 2.5 goals: 5/6
- Over 2.5 goals: 5/6
- Both teams score: 8/11
- Both teams fail to score: evens
The odds were provided by Paddypower.
Key Stats to consider
- Bolivia has won just one of their last seven World Cup qualifying matches.
- Bolivia has conceded six goals in their last three matches.
- Argentina has been victorious in their last two matches.
- Argentina has kept a clean sheet in their recent two matches.
The Bolivia vs. Argentina stats were provided by Soccerway.
[Featured Image by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images]