The main goal of leading Brazil this week is to beat Colombia and secure an automatic spot in next year’s World Cup in Qatar with plenty of free time in qualifying in South America.
For Argentina, runner-up, Lionel Messi’s physical fitness is the most worrisome before traveling to Uruguay.
Messi traveled to Argentina, but due to a knee injury, he was unable to participate in two matches for his club Paris Saint-Germain.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni did not give any hints as to whether Messi will play or, if he does not, who will be selected as a substitute.
Brazil has 31 points and Argentina has 25 in 11 games – their September duel was bizarrely suspended due to COVID-19 protocol violations. FIFA will decide what to do about it. The next three places are occupied by Ecuador (17), Colombia (16) and Uruguay (16), but they all played 12 matches.
The top four South American teams get direct access to next year’s FIFA World Cup. The fifth-placed team advances to the intercontinental playoffs for a spot in Qatar.
Brazil’s victory at the NeoQuimica Arena in Sao Paulo on Thursday will put Coach Tite’s team 18 points ahead of the fourth-placed Colombia squad with just five games ahead. The Colombians are the only team to have tied the Selecao in the current edition of qualifiers.
Some math combinations allow Argentina runner-up to hope for a straight spot with a win over Brazil next week in San Juan, but the Copa America champion will have to beat Uruguay in Montevideo on Friday to have any chance of achieving that result. … home fans.
Three more matches will take place in the South American qualifier Thursday, including Ecuador, where Venezuela will be in last place, and in Peru against Bolivia.
Eighth-placed Paraguay will face sixth-placed Chile in a match that could almost end hopes of one of them qualifying. Guillermo Barros Skelotto makes his debut as head coach after Paraguay fired Eduardo Berizzo in October.