Brazil’s Copa rematch with Argentina poses quite a few World Cup questions

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9 weeks after the ultimate of the Copa America, Brazil and Argentina meet one another as soon as extra after the Albiceleste took residence the continental crown.

There is no such thing as a title at stake this time. That is the eighth spherical of South America’s World Cup qualifiers. And the match is more likely to have little influence on who makes it to Qatar. With a 100% file within the marketing campaign thus far, Brazil have come shut to creating certain of their place even earlier than the motion reaches the half manner stage. And one thing must go very badly incorrect for Argentina to be drawn into the dogfight. Even so, Sunday afternoon’s conflict in Sao Paulo is a vital event — and never simply due to the depth of the historic rivalry. Not even as a result of Lionel Messi may grow to be the best scoring South American of all time. The Argentine has 76 targets to his identify. The good Pele, who left the stage nearly precisely 50 years in the past, completed with 77. May Messi select this match to equal and even over-take the file?

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However even that is secondary to the principle theme of the match, highlighted on the eve of the sport by Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.

“I do not suppose it is related the place you end within the qualification desk,” Scaloni stated. “What’s necessary is the way you arrive on the World Cup.”

Brazil versus Argentina serves as a take a look at of the pretensions of the 2 South American giants in Qatar little greater than a yr from now. It’s the kind of high-octane, high-pressure encounter with high quality opposition that would happen within the knockout levels of the World Cup. Brazil, after all, go into the match with out eleven of the gamers they referred to as up — the 9 Premier League gamers who weren’t launched, plus two who had been recalled by their golf equipment in Russia.

The relative passivity with which Brazil have gone together with this actuality has numerous explanations. One, maybe, is a notion that extra flies are caught with honey than with vinegar, and {that a} spirit of cooperation with the European golf equipment can be wanted. After which there’s the place within the standings. Brazil can afford to experiment, to take a look at different choices, to make the perfect of an undesired scenario. Furthermore, among the lacking gamers had been unlikely to have seen motion, and the others might be changed.

First-choice keeper would seemingly have been Ederson of Manchester Metropolis, with Liverpool‘s Alisson pushing him shut. However of their absence, Weverton of Palmeiras is a splendid deputy. The case of centre-back Thiago Silva can be addressed shortly, whereas few have mourned the shortage of Manchester United midfielder Fred. And the three up entrance — Richarlison, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus — would all have been in competition to start out. However none of them is seen as indispensable, and followers had been very happy to see native hero Gabriel Barbosa of Flamengo given an opportunity.

There’s each a constructive and a adverse spin on the lacking gamers. One is that Brazil have such enviable energy in depth that replacements can simply be discovered. The opposite is that there’s a lack of real, indeniable world-class expertise. Neymar matches into this class, however who else? The goalkeepers, sure. Casemiro, maybe, though some are beginning to query the mobility of the Actual Madrid central midfielder. Centre-back Marquinhos? Doubtless. The Paris Saint-Germain participant is a type of defenders from the discreet college, so good that generally he can move unnoticed. He would stroll into any nationwide staff on the planet. However he won’t be a part of Brazil’s lineup on Sunday. A yellow card picked up late in Thursday’s 1-0 win away to Chile guidelines out Brazil’s most necessary defender.

Brazil, then, can be with out each the centre-backs who performed in opposition to Argentina within the remaining of the Copa America. It could effectively have been a mistake to play Thiago Silva in that recreation. The Chelsea veteran has inevitably misplaced a few of his tempo. At membership degree he’s used in the midst of the again three, the place he can function in diminished area. It was noticeable throughout the Copa that at any time when he performed, Brazil discovered it more durable to press in midfield as a result of he sat deep. Angel Di Maria’s title successful aim got here from this very scenario, when Rodrigo De Paul was given time to select the move.

The logical growth was to proceed with the speedy Eder Militao alongside Marquinhos. Each had been wonderful in opposition to Chile. However now the absence of Marquinhos throws large duty onto Militao. So what does Tite do? The veteran Miranda has been recalled for the primary time for the reason that 2018 World Cup. Does Tite belief his expertise? Or does he give a debut to the youthful and faster Lucas Verissimo of Benfica?

There are choices the coach has to take with the form of his assault, too. The Chile efficiency was not spectacular, and, together with the Copa, it leaves Brazil having scored simply three targets within the final 4 video games. Would possibly it’s the proper time to take a look at Matheus Cunha? The brand new Atletico Madrid signing is a real centre-forward, who may have the ability to push again the Argentina defensive position and open up area for Neymar.

Though they’re six factors behind within the desk, Argentina look extra settled, with a mannequin of play primarily based round an intricate circuit of midfield passing. Scaloni has variations — the full-backs might be roughly attacking, and he can range from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, with the inclusion of Di Maria — the formation he selected for the ultimate of the Copa and for Thursday’s 3-1 victory away to Venezuela.

The extra attention-grabbing questions listed here are particular person quite than collective. Argentina will hope to welcome again Tottenham’s Cristian Romero after suspension — simply three months after his debut already thought to be the first-choice centre-back. How good is he? How susceptible may Nicolas Otamendi, his defensive associate, be at this stage in his profession? Can Brazil discover an attacking mix, and in that case can Argentina defend in opposition to it? These are large questions, legitimate not only for 90 minutes in Sao Paulo, but additionally for the World Cup in Qatar.

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