Messi & Co. can consolidate their place at the top of the CONMEBOL standings - and take revenge for that Copa America elimination - if they overcome the continental champions.
Zabaleta, Garay, Fernandez, Rojo
Gago, Mascherano, Di Maria
Messi, Higuain, Aguero
M. Pereira, Godin, Lugano, Caceres
Cavani, Gargano, Arevalo, Gonzalez
The return of Sergio Aguero following an injury-enforced absence against Paraguay and Peru means that coach Alejandro Sabella can once more pick his favored starting XI, kicking off in Mendoza with three forwards. The Manchester City man replaces Ezequiel Lavezzi alongside Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain; teammate Pablo Zabaleta, meanwhile, also comes back into the fold for Hugo Campagnaro on the right.
A number of absences means that Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez has had to make several changes to his preferred lineup. Midfielder Diego Perez is injured and will be replaced by Walter Gargano, while Alvaro Pereira serves a suspension and sees his place on the left filled by Martin Caceres. Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani all start, but the Napoli striker is expected to play in a more withdrawn role on the right hand side of midfield, in an effort to counter the Albiceleste's notorious attacking threat.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Argentina vs. Uruguay is the oldest fixture in international soccer outside of the British Isles, with the first game taking place on May 16, 1901. That clash, played in Montevideo, was won 3-2 by the away team.
- The Albiceleste holds the upper hand, historically speaking. Of the 221 official and friendly matches between the rivals, Argentina have won 99 compared to 66 for the Celeste.
- It is Oscar Tabarez's men, however, who boast more titles: a total of 19 Copa America triumphs, Olympic Games and World Cup trophies.
- This may be Alejandro Sabella's first match against the Uruguay team, but he is no stranger to the Rioplatense neighbors. As assistant to Daniel Passarella, the coach was on the bench for two years between 1999 and 2001.
- Argentina and Uruguay last met in the quarterfinal of the Copa America back in 2011. After a 1-1 draw at the final whistle, Carlos Tevez's penalty miss meant the Celeste progressed to the last four.
- Liverpool striker Luis Suarez currently shares the distinction of top scorer in the World Cup qualifying competition. 'El Pistolero' has netted six so far, four of which came in a resounding victory over Chile in Montevideo.
- Gonzalo Higuain, meanwhile, matches Suarez's scoring with six goals from his side's seven matches. That includes a goal in each of the Albiceleste's last three competitive outings.
- Friday's combatants currently make up two of the four teams that would go directly to Brazil at the end of the campaign. Argentina is in first place with 14 points, and Uruguay is in fourth with 12. The other two spots are filled by Colombia and Ecuador, who take on Paraguay and Chile respectively.