As 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers continue, there is some real drama going on in the CONMEBOL gorup where Argentina are gearing up for Chile, eager to exert revenge after back-to-back Copa America disappointments.
Argentina looking for revenge
Edgardo Bauza is under pressure as one of the crucial matches in the South American World Cup qualifying division approaches. Argentina head into the Chile clash sitting in fifth place in the standings with 19 points to their name after 12 rounds. Having lost the Copa America final at the hands of Chile for the second time in a row, Argentina got back to the World Cup qualifiers with a 1-0 triumph against Uruguay, but their form was short-lived as Albicelestes embarked on a disappointing run which saw them pick up just two points out of four matches. The 3-0 win over Colombia last time out would have lifted up the spirits a bit, but Argentina will need to improve their form significantly if they intend to grab three points at the Estadio Monumental on Friday. Argentina boss Edgardo Bauza has received some criticism for his team selection as he kept pushing Sao Paulo striker Lucas Pratto in front of his more illustrious players such as Gonzalo Higuain, but his decision seems to have been paying the dividends as the 28-year-old got on the score-sheet last time out against Colombia.
Pablo Zabaleta is the only injury problem for the hosts as the Manchester City defender struggles with a muscle problem. Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain are raring to go and could be given a starting role as Bauza is facing one of the biggest challenges thus far in the qualifiers.
Chile looking to frustrate Argentina again
La Roja have become Argentina’s kryptonite of sort with back-to-back victories in the finals of Copa America. Consecutive titles at the coveted competition have helped Chile raise their profile seriously over the past couple of years as Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men are on a right path towards becoming one of the strongest South American football forces. Chile travel to Argentina looking for three points that would help them climb the ladder in the COMNEBOL group and close the gap behind Uruguay and Brazil. Chile are currently level on points with third-placed Ecuador and only three behind Uruguay in second which is why La Roja will be highly motivated to grab a win. They travel to Argentina in high spirits following three straight qualifier triumphs over Peru, Colombia and Uruguay, respectively. Their fine form continues with friendly victories against Croatia and Iceland and Pizzi’s charges are keen to extend their unbeaten run to six in a row.
Arturo Vidal misses the highly-anticipated clash through suspension, whereas there is a slight doubt over the availability of Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez who complained of his ankle. Key midfielder Marcelo Diaz also misses out through injury.
Chile travel to Argentina in great form but with a couple of important selection issues which could affect the end result. Argentina are determined to get their revenge for successive Copa America defeats and with a World Cup qualifying place at stake, it all points out this will be a close-knit contest.
Top pick: Argentina 1.55 (11/20) @WilliamHill
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score – No 1.80 (4/5) @BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Leo Messi to score anytime 1.95 (19/20) @Betfair