Argentina - Uruguay Preview: South American heavyweights face off in qualifying clash
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
By Daniel Edwards
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 favoured starting XI, kicking off in Mendoza with three forwards. The Manchester City man replaces Ezequiel Lavezzi alongside Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain; team-mate Pablo Zabaleta, meanwhile, also comes back into the fold for Hugo Campagnaro on the right.
A number of absences means that Oscar Tabarez has had to make several changes to his preferred line-up. 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 Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani all start, but the Napoli striker is expected to play in a more withdrawn role on the right hand side of midfield, in an effort to counter the Albiceleste's notorious attacking threat.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 football outside of the British Isles, the first game taking place on May 16 1901. That clash, played in Montevideo, was won 3-2 by the away team.
- The Albiceleste hold 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 neighbours. 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 quarter-final 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 are in first place with 14 points and Uruguay in fourth with 12. The other two spots are filled by Colombia and Ecuador, who take on Paraguay and Chile respectively.
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Top 3 Predictions
Argentina 3-1 Uruguay
- 21.11 %
Argentina 0-1 Uruguay
- 20.09 %
Argentina 1-2 Uruguay
- 10.43 %
|World Cup Qualifying - Conmebol (WCQ)||Oct 16, 2013||Uruguay 3 - Argentina 2|
|World Cup Qualifying - Conmebol (WCQ)||Oct 13, 2012||Argentina 3 - Uruguay 0|
|Copa America (CA)||Jul 16, 2011||Argentina 1 - Uruguay 1|
|World Cup Qualifying - Conmebol (WCQ)||Oct 13, 2009||Uruguay 0 - Argentina 1|
|World Cup Qualifying - Conmebol (WCQ)||Oct 11, 2008||Argentina 2 - Uruguay 1|
|Mar 5, 2014||Romania 0 - Argentina 0||FR|
|Nov 19, 2013||Argentina 2 - Bosnia 0||FR|
|Nov 16, 2013||Ecuador 0 - Argentina 0||FR|
|Oct 16, 2013||Uruguay 3 - Argentina 2||WCQ|
|Oct 12, 2013||Argentina 3 - Peru 1||WCQ|
|7||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
|-||Enzo Nicolás Pérez|
|-||Juan Manuel Martínez|
|1||Néstor Muslera Micol||Goalkeeper|
|-||Sebastián Fernández Miglierina|
The City man was sorely missed against Peru, and reunited with Messi and Higuain will give the Albiceleste a new dimension in attack as they look to make home advantage count.
There have been big question marks over the veteran defender in recent months, and he needs a captain's performance against international football's best attacking trio to keep Uruguay in the game. Will also provide a stellar option from set-pieces.
Uruguay are never an easy prospect for their neighbours across the Rio de la Plata, but a combination of poor form and key absences should mean Argentina have enough to record a narrow victory in Mendoza.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed