Argentina lock horns with Ecuador on Tuesday night in a crunch World Cup qualifier that could put Jorge Sampaoli’s side in real danger of missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1970.
Little to Play For
Sitting in eighth place in the standings and five points behind their Tuesday rivals, Ecuador have little to play for when they welcome under-pressure Argentina to the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa in the Ecuadorian capital Quito. Despite the apparent lack of a competitive edge, the forthcoming game against one of the greatest football nations in the world is a morale boost in its own merit and we should definitely expect to see Jorge Celico’s men given their absolute best against Argentina. The numbers do not speak in their favour, however, with Ecuador losing five World Cup qualifiers on the trot. The reverse game earlier in October 2015, however, saw Ecuador win 2-0 and will be extremely motivated to inflict a double blow for Leo Messi and co. Ecuador are coming off from a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chile in a game that could have seen them gain a valuable point. Second-half sub Ibarra levelled the score for Ecuador a minute after his introduction, but Celico’s men still fell short as lack of concentration and focus saw them concede with five minutes from time through Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez.
Michael Arroyo will be the only absentee for the upcoming clash against Argentina due to his red card against Chile.
Argentina in grave danger of missing out on World Cup
Seventeen games into the South American World Cup qualification Argentina sit sixth in the standings. With 25 points to their name, Sampaoli’s men are on terms with fifth-placed Peru and only one point adrift of Colombia and Chile. Heading into the crunch qualifier against Ecuador, the Argentines face a real threat of missing out on a World Cup for the first time in almost a century. Leo Messi and co. have already arrived in Ecuador to prepare for the Tuesday match and to put the frustrating goalless stalemate with Peru behind them as soon as possible. Argentina lacked luck and fortune last time out and will most certainly be hopeful their hard work will pay off this time around. It won’t be easy given the fact the game will be played at altitude which is known to create plenty of problems to rivalling players. Sitting at 2,782 meters above sea level, the Estadio Olimpico Atahualpa will provide a genuine test to Leo Messi and his teammates. Argentina lost two of their three visits to Ecuador and it’s fair to say that the conditions will once again play a vital part in the match.
Sergio Aguero misses out due to a broken ribs injury he sustained in a car crash. Argentina has struggled in attacking department and Jorge Sampaoli is likely to recall Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi up front ahead of Dario Benedetto who was a surprise inclusion last time out.
Argentina never finds it easy against Ecuador at home and this game is unlikely to be any different. The last five matches between these two rivals proved to be low-scoring affairs and goals might be the best option to go by for this game.
Top pick: Under 2.5 goals 1.95 (19/20) @Bet365
Alternative pick 1: Argentina 1.45 (5/11) @10Bet
Alternative pick 2: Leo Messi to score – yes 1.88 (7/8) @Unibet