Argentina will seek to maintain their unbeaten start to CONMEBOL World Cup 2022 Qualifying when they welcome Peru to Buenos Aires on Thursday.
Lionel Scaloni’s side eased to a 3-0 win over Uruguay during their most recent battle, while their visitors suffered a disheartening defeat to Bolivia.
Being held to a goalless draw in Paraguay was hardly the ideal way for Argentina to kick off their October fixtures, but the quality of the Copa America champions truly came to the fore against Uruguay on Sunday during a resounding 3-0 success.
Lionel Messi and Rodrigo De Paul put Argentina two goals to the good before the break, and Lautaro Martinez would complete the rout with a strike of his own just after the hour mark, but the day belonged to the record-breaking six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Messi’s 38th-minute opener – an unconventional one at that – marked his 80th international goal, seeing him become the first South American to hit that landmark as the records keep stacking up for the 34-year-old during the final stages of his career.
As one of two teams in CONMEBOL Qualifying still with their unbeaten record intact, Argentina occupy second spot in the group – six points behind leaders Brazil, whose winning streak came to an end last time out – and a comfortable route to Qatar 2022 is on the cards for Scaloni’s side.
Victory over Uruguay marked their third clean sheet in succession in World Cup Qualifying, and their unbeaten run across all tournaments now stands at 24 games as they seek to avoid a first home defeat since October 2016 in midweek.
In contrast, Peru were unable to keep the momentum going from their 2-0 win over Chile a few days before travelling to an out-of-sorts Bolivia, who marched to a 1-0 victory despite going down to 10 men on home soil.
Fourteen minutes after being introduced as a substitute, forward Henry Vaca was given his marching orders for Bolivia, but his namesake Ramiro Vaca also came off the bench to strike the game’s only goal in the 82nd minute, a surprising statistic given that 32 shots were fired over the course of the contest.
Twenty-one of those efforts were on Bolivia’s side, though, with Peru’s lack of defensive discipline seeing them fall to a sixth defeat from 11 World Cup Qualifying battles as they lie seventh in the standings – five points adrift of the automatic qualification spots.
With only two wins to boast from their last seven in all tournaments, the chances of Ricardo Gareca’s Peru making it back-to-back appearances at a World Cup Finals are slimming, and they travel to Argentina on the back of four successive defeats away from home.
Three of the last five encounters between Argentina and Peru have ended level, but the Copa America winners eased to a 2-0 win during the most recent fixture in November 2020, while the visitors have not beaten their upcoming opponents since 1997.
Argentina World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Argentina form (all competitions):
Peru World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Peru form (all competitions):
We say: Argentina 2-0 Peru
Scaloni will certainly be tempted to shuffle the pack for this game, but Argentina should still possess too much quality for their counterparts this week.
La Albiceleste are almost always unplayable at home, while Peru enter this game on the back of a confidence-sapping defeat, which sets the stage for Messi and co to extend their side’s unbeaten run to 25 games here.