While section leaders Uruguay enjoy a well-earned rest day, misfiring Argentina have another chance to rediscover their form on Matchday 4 in the South American qualifying competition for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014™. Impressive in their opening game against Chile, Alejandro Sabella’s side were surprisingly undone by Venezuela in October and then held by unfancied Bolivia in Buenos Aires last Friday, results that will give Colombia cause for confidence when the two meet in Barranquilla.
FIFA.com previews that game and the three other matches on Tuesday’s card as the race for places at Brazil 2014 continues.
Last week’s lacklustre 1-1 home draw with Bolivia has heaped even more pressure on Argentina. If their final training session prior to departing for Barranquilla is anything to go by, coach Sabella will be making a series of changes in a bid to rectify the kind of errors that saw Martin Demichelis gift the Bolivians their goal in Buenos Aires, with Pablo Guinazu, Federico Fernandez, Rodrigo Brana and Jose Sosa seemingly poised to start. The home side require a reshuffle of their own. Midfielder Fredy Guarin ended Friday’s game against Venezuela with a leg injury and will be sidelined along with the Atletico Madrid duo of Radamel Falcao and Luis Perea.
Another coach with a point to prove is Chile’s Claudio Borghi, who has seen his side fall to heavy defeats to Argentina and Uruguay in what has been a problematic campaign so far. Victory at home to Paraguay will help steady the ship, although Borghi’s opposite number Francisco Arce will be just as anxious for three points following La Albirroja’s similarly inconsistent start, which has included defeat to Peru, a last-gasp draw against Uruguay and a timely victory over Ecuador last week. The Paraguayans will be without left-back Richard Ortiz, who picked up a serious leg injury in Friday’s win in Asuncion.
Now lying sixth after that reverse, the Ecuadorians return to their high-altitude Quito fortress, hoping to make the most of home advantage when they entertain Peru. Beaten 4-2 by Chile on their last excursion and hovering just above the bottom of the table, the Peruvians have been following a special diet in a bid to combat the rarefied atmosphere of the Ecuadorian capital, which sits 2.850 metres above sea level.
Heartened by their display in Argentina, which earned them their first point in the group, Bolivia are aiming to repeat Friday’s heroics when they take on Venezuela in San Cristobal. Last in the group, Gustavo Quinteros’ side need to get in among the points to stay in touch with the teams above them.
Player to watch
Lionel Messi (ARG)
Argentina’s continuing travails have put the world’s greatest player in the spotlight once again. The Barcelona star has yet to spark in the qualifying competition and turned in an off-key performance against Bolivia, a game in which he missed the kind of chance he would normally gobble up for his club.
Did you know?
Bolivia have happy memories of their previous FIFA World Cup qualifying encounters with Venezuela. Indeed, some of La Verde’s biggest victories in the CONMEBOL tournament have come at the expense La Vinotinto, including respective 7-0 and 7-1 home and away wins on the road to USA 1994.
What they said
“We’ll be aiming to control the game better than we did against Peru. We know Chile are a strong side and we need to stay tight on them and deny them space, especially on the flanks,” Paraguay coach Francisco Arce.