In a rematch of this summer’s Copa America final, Brazil and Argentina will square off on Sunday in World Cup Qualifying action.
The visitors secured the title with a 1-0 victory in Brazil, but the hosts sit in the better position in the qualifying group with a perfect record from their seven games.
Brazil were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup at the quarter-final stage, as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Belgium, and they will be keen to return in style next year.
The Selecao bounced back by winning the Copa America the following year, defeating Peru 3-1 in the final, before they started the new World Cup Qualifying campaign in style with consecutive wins over Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador and Paraguay.
That led them into this year’s Copa America tournament, and Tite’s men looked relatively strong throughout, battling their way to the final with hard-fought wins over Chile and Peru, only to fall short on home turf to Sunday’s opponents in the final.
In their first competitive game since that loss, Brazil picked up their seventh straight World Cup Qualifying win on Friday, as Everton Ribeiro netted the only goal of the game in a 1-0 away victory over Chile.
They will now look to extend that to eight consecutive victories and gain revenge on their major rivals for the Copa America defeat, when they welcome Lionel Scaloni’s men to Sao Paulo.
After a draw against Chile in their opening game, Argentina kicked into gear in the Copa America, completing the group stage with victories over Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia to top the group and book a quarter-final tie with Ecuador.
Rodrigo De Paul, Lautaro Martinez and Lionel Messi all got on the scoresheet in a 3-0 thrashing in that game, before heroics from Emiliano Martinez saw them triumph in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw with Colombia in the semi-final.
That saw them meet rivals Brazil in the final, and La Albiceleste stood strong to defend a 1-0 lead throughout the game after Angel Di Maria’s early opener to earn their 15th Copa America title.
After winning three and drawing three of their opening six World Cup Qualifiers, Scaloni’s side returned to action with a 3-1 away win over Venezuela on Friday.
While it took La Albiceleste a while to break down their hosts, Lautaro Martinez eventually put them ahead on the stroke of half time, and Joaquin Correa and Angel Correa netted second-half goals to make their position comfortable before Yeferson Soteldo hit a consolation goal from the penalty spot for their opponents deep into injury time.
After the disappointment of a round-of-16 exit in the 2018 World Cup, they will be keen to strengthen their position to reach next year’s tournament, with the chance to reduce the gap between themselves and Brazil to just three points with a victory.
We say: Brazil 1-1 Argentina
While Argentina may have the advantage of their English-based players, compared to the Selecao’s long list of absentees, it will still be a major task to win on their travels.
We see the two sides playing out a draw that suits both, as Brazil will be keen to return the favour following the Copa America, while ensuring their robust system limits an exciting Argentina side’s chances.