Brazil (+210) at Argentina (+130), Draw (+220)
Arguably the biggest rivalry international soccer will take center stage today when Argentina and Brazil meet in the third fixture of the South American World Cup Qualifiers at Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires.
The two age-old rivals didn’t square off in 2014 World Cup qualifying as the host nation, Brazil, got an automatic entry into the tournament. This time around, both squads will have to earn a spot in Russia 2018 the hard way.
While both were assumed to be shoe-ins to qualify, neither has looked its best through two matches. Argentina, in fact, have yet to win and are still without striker and Ballon d’Or favorite Lionel Messi (knee). The Albiceleste have actually yet to score a goal and are currently 7th in the qualification table after losing at home to Ecuador (2-0) and drawing (0-0) in their visit to Paraguay.
For coach Gerard “El Tata” Martino, anything but a win against Brazil could end up in his dismissal. And he isn’t downplaying the team’s chances without the Little Wizard.
“It is not good for the team to depend on Messi,” Martino said in a pregame press conference. “It is not fair to fall back on the creation of our play around one single player. We have had good matches without Messi. It is no justification that his absence translates to poor performance.”
Brazil also began their road to the 2018 tournament with a loss, falling 2-0 in Chile. But they were able to rebound the next time out, picking up a 3-1 win at home over Venezuela. Their three points are good enough for fifth at the moment, one point behind Paraguay and three back of Uruguay, Ecuador, and Chile, all of whom are a perfect 2-0-0 so far.
While every manager in the world would rather play Argentina sans Messi, Brazil’s Dunga knows that Argentina cannot be overlooked.
“Independent of any result, this classic match is always tough,” the manager stressed. “Playing against them is a championship in and of itself, and we have to prepare for it in the best way possible. [This matchup] is different from other matches, because when we win it is business as usual, but when we lose we have to live with the pressure.”
Unlike Argentina, Brazil will have their top striker back today. Neymar, who missed the first two games of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers due to his expulsion from the 2015 Copa America, will look to provide instant offense for the Selecao.
Neymar leads Spain’s La Liga with 11 goals in as many matches. He scored a brace against Villarreal on the weekend that put Barcelona at the top of the standings for the first time this season.
Surprisingly, the last competitive game between Brazil and Argentina was back in 2009 when the Brazilians won 3-1 in Buenos Aires as part of 2010 World Cup qualifying. Since then, they have met in seven friendlies, with Brazil holding a 3-2-2 edge. Brazil also took the most recent of those, winning 2-0 on a pair of goals by Diego Tardelli.
All said, Brazil comes in on better form. But with the game taking place in Argentina, a win will be hard to come by. The draw looks like the best option on the board, especially given Argentina’s current offensive woes.
Pick: Draw (+220).
(Photo credit: Sebástian Freire (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)
OnlineGambling.LV brings you the best online gambling sites to make sure your experience is as safe and profitable as possible. Whether your gambling interest is out bluffing your opponents in No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, playing Vegas-style casino games like slots or roulette, or sports betting on who’s going to win the next Super Bowl, or a combination of all three, you will find the best online gambling site to suit your needs. Our expert online gambling site reviews will help you find out who’s got the best odds, games, cash bonuses, deposit options and payouts, customer service, and a whole lot more. Welcome to OG.LV, and may the odds be ever in your favor!