Chile: It’s a veteran-filled team as usual for the Chileans with eight players aged 32 or over. There will be key minutes for guys such as Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel and Alexis Sanchez, but do keep an eye on Bren Brereton. The England-born Blackburn Rovers striker has made an impressive impact with three goals in nine games for the national team. He’s been on absolute fire with his English club, scoring 20 goals in 24 Championship games, and he’s expected to see significant minutes here.
Argentina: There are some big names missing, and none are bigger than that of Lionel Messi who just returned to action with PSG after testing positive for COVID-19. Also missing is stud defender Cristian Romero, but those two centerpieces being absent provides opportunities for some others as Lionel Scaloni looks for depth. River Plate rising star Julian Alvarez, who is expected to join Manchester City, could get some significant minutes off the bench in place of Lautaro Martinez. Additionally, Aston Villa midfielder Emiliano Buendia is in line for his first cap. In defense, expect it to be Nicolas Otamendi and probably German Pezzella.
The Argentina national team is already qualified for the 2022 World Cup, but they’d love to contribute to one of their rivals missing out as they travel to Chile on Thursday. The reigning Copa America champs are 8-5-0 and in second place in the table, while the hosts are one of six teams separated by four points and competing for just two spots. Chile enter the day at 4-4-6 and a point behind fifth place.
Argentina will be looking to extend their unbeaten run across all competitions to 27 matches when they travel to Calama to face Chile for their World Cup 2022 CONMEBOL qualifier on Friday. The hosts, meanwhile, will be hoping they can bounce back from defeat last time out with a victory and climb back into the top four. La Albiceleste remain six points behind Brazil at the summit, but a 12-point gap now separates them from fifth-placed Peru, who have played a game more, which means they are guaranteed to finish in the top four.
Lionel Scaloni will have been impressed with his team’s defensive resilience at the backend of 2021, as they kept clean sheets in each of their last six matches, winning four games in the process. Argentina have, however, conceded in their last two meetings against Chile which both finished as 1-1 draws – their most recent clash in the Copa America group stage was the only game Scaloni’s men failed to win on their way to lifting the title.
La Albiceleste have had mixed results when playing in Chile, as they have won, drawn and lost two games each in their last six visits. With the hosts seeking to improve on their poor start to their qualification campaign, Argentina cannot take them lightly on Friday if they wish to extend their unbeaten record to 27 games across all competitions.
After a disappointing start to their qualification campaign, winning only one of their first 10 matches, Chile bounced back with maximum points from their next three fixtures, with their victory against Venezuela in between home and away wins against Paraguay. However, La Roja suffered another setback as they were beaten 2-0 at home against Ecuador last time out, missing the chance to climb into the top four.
After the visitors took the lead in the ninth minute through Pervis Estupinan, the dismissal of star midfielder Arturo Vidal four minutes later proved costly for Martin Lasarte’s side as they struggled to pose a threat in the final third, and they eventually conceded a second in the 93rd minute thanks to Moises Caicedo. That result means Chile have dropped to sixth in the standings, but they are only one point behind Colombia in fourth so there is still hope of booking their place in Qatar.
However, their final four fixtures include Friday’s opponents Argentina, as well as group leaders Brazil and Uruguay, so they will need to be on top of their game if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top four. Chile have failed to win any of their last five internationals against Argentina, but the point they claimed in the reverse fixture last year will provide Lasarte’s men with some belief of securing a positive result on home soil.
NAME: Chile – Argentina
DATE: 28 Jan 2022
TIME: 00:15 UTC
VENUE: Municipal de Calama, Calama, Chile
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