Brazil are already the first South American team to secure a direct spot in the FIFA World Cup 2022. Second-placed Argentina are nearly there, too. (More Football News)
Anyone thinking Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers match between the teams will not be decisive hasn’t considered how much pride will be at stake in the region’s superclasico.
Copa America champion Argentina are determined to upstage Brazil and show Lionel Messi he has a decent shot next year of winning the only trophy missing in his career. Victory in front of home crowd could also mean, pending other results, securing qualification for FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Brazil are aiming to complete the best South American qualifying campaign in history, although coach Tite is still expected to continue experimenting with his lineup with an eye on the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Only 25,000 fans in San Juan, in Argentina’s northwest, will be at the stadium to watch the teams play a full game for the first time in this edition of FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers. The first encounter was stopped after seven minutes of play in September by Brazilian authorities enforcing protocols in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brazil lead FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers with 34 points, six ahead of Argentina. Both teams have completed 12 games, one fewer than the other eight teams in qualifying.
Ecuador remain third with 20 points, while Chile, Colombia and Uruguay have 16 points. Peru are back in contention with 14 points, two more than Paraguay and Bolivia and seven more than Venezuela.
The top four teams in South America earn direct entry to the FIFA World Cup 2022. The fifth-placed team goes into an intercontinental playoff for a spot in the premier event.
Also on Tuesday, Bolivia will host Uruguay, Colombia take on Paraguay, Venezuela face Peru and Chile play Ecuador.
ARGENTINA VS BRAZIL
Argentina can secure a FIFA World Cup 2022 spot if it beat Brazil and if two of three other teams — Uruguay, Chile and Colombia — fail to win.
The toughest part of Argentina’s night will surely be beating the undefeated Seleção.
Lionel Messi is being spared for the match against Brazil because of a knee injury that stopped him from playing some matches for his club Paris Saint-Germain and also for most of Argentina’s 1-0 win against Uruguay last Friday.
The derby against Brazil is always a major contest, and thousands of fans in San Juan stood in 2-mile long lines to get tickets. Hotels in the region are full. Confidence is high among fans to see a team that has not lost any of its 26 latest matches.
Brazil will also have a key player missing, with midfielder Casemiro suspended after the 1-0 win against Colombia. He will likely be replaced by Fabinho. Coach Tite is set to continue making changes to his lineup, possibly with Matheus Cunha replacing Gabriel Jesus up front. Eder Militão will also take the place of Thiago Silva.
Seleção right-back Danilo said the team needs to continue developing despite already earning a direct entry to FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Another target for the squad, he said, is to top the 43 points that Argentina earned to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.
“This is Brazil vs. Argentina, there is every ingredient of a global derby of two teams with great players, amazing skill and a lot of history,” Danilo said in a news conference. “Our objective is to go there and win three important points.”