World Cup Qualification – Brazil vs Argentina

World Cup Qualification continues around the globe this week, and highlighting the action in South America is the match between first place Brazil and sixth place Argentina.

Match: Brazil vs Argentina

Region: South America Qualifying

Date/Time: November 10, 2016 / 6:45 PM EDT

Location: Estadio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte

3-Way 1×2 Lines:
Home: +105
Away: +290
Draw: +235

Handicap/Spread Odds:
Home: -0.5 +105
Away: +0.5 -125

Total Over 2.5:
Over +130
Under -150

Most Recent W. Cup Qualification Meeting:

On November 13, 2016 the two teams played to a 1 – 1 Draw in Argentina in the third round of South American qualification.

Current Team Record/Points in Qualifying – Position

Brazil – 6 – 3 – 1 – 21 Points – 1st
Argentina – 4 – 4 – 2 – 16 Points – 6th

Brazil and Argentina square off at Estadio Mineirão for the second time in South American World Cup Qualifying. Matchday 11 gets underway around the South American landscape on November 10. Only eight matches remain in South American qualifying, and both clubs find themselves in completely different situations entering the round.

Brazil

Brazil sits perched atop the table with 21 points, while Uruguay trails them by a mere point with a similar 6 – 2 – 2 record. The Pentacampeões lost their opening match of qualifying 2 – 0 to Chile, and have now reeled off nine straight qualifying matches without a loss through 10 rounds of action.

The Brazilians lead all qualifying teams with 23 goals scored through 10 rounds, and are currently tied with Uruguay in goal differential at +14. Gabriel Jesus leads the team in scoring with 4 goals in qualifying, with Neymar and Willian following close behind with three tallies each. Jesus and Willian accounted for both goals in Brazil’s most recent 2 – 0 win over Venezuela, in the match played on October 11 in Venezuela.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker is trying to prove that big stage isn’t above him. The failure to escape out of group stage in the 2016 Copa America has many asking if he is the answer going forward in net. Alisson is currently playing as a backup keeper at AS Roma, and has yet to make an appearance for the Italian outfit.

As a result of the early exit at the Copa this past July, manager Dunga was asked to take his belongings and leave the team, so now Adenor Leonardo Bacchi (Tite) has his opportunity to make an impression in Brazil. Tite has had an extensive career as a manager, dating back to 1990 when he took on his first assignment at Guarany de Garibaldi.
Tite was originally expecting to take over the Brazilian team when the announcement that Dunga had been awarded the gig. Tite immediately took a full season off to study the game and become a better manager, and is coming off his third stint with Corinthians in Brazil’s Serie A league.

Argentina

The much-anticipated return of THE Lionel Messi will most likely be the biggest story of this match.

Messi, as we know, announced that he will no longer be participating with the national team after the loss in the finals to Chile at the 2016 Copa America. Constant bantering from former legend Diego Maradona about the lack of success for Argentina on the big stage, ultimately led Messi to retire from the Argentinian team.

Messi and Higuain are expected to start, while Sergio Aguero is likely to be on the bench. Aguero missed a crucial penalty kick in Argentina’s last match, which resulted in a 1 – 0 loss to Paraguay, a match played in Argentina by the way. Argentina were down 1 – 0 early in the match, and the second half chance from the spot could have at least salvaged a potential draw.

Argentina will gladly accept Messi’s help in getting back to the big stage because, as of now, Argentina will not even be appearing at the World Cup in Russia if they don’t right the ship. Sitting in sixth place and tied with Chile at 16 points, scoring has been the big challenge through qualifying. Argentina has a mere +2 goal differential, scoring 11 while giving up nine goals thus far.

Luckily, Messi made the decision to return to the national team just in time to get them back in position for Russia. Putting team over personal pride, Messi will always have to live up to a higher standard, until he leads Argentina to hardware. Leading Barcelona to La Liga titles in Spain, Champions League titles and the like will never be compared to winning on the international stage.

The relationship between Higuain and Messi is always circulating at major media outlets, and some blame the lack of ‘partnership’ as to why Argentina has yet to earn a title since 1993 in any competition.

How will this effect the confidence of Sergio Aguero? It could certainly have an impact, especially after missing a penalty shot last match that could have at least given Argentina a point from their 1 – 0 loss last time out vs Paraguay. Now Sergio finds his way to the bench to make room for the biggest name in the game. We are pretty sure that the fans of Argentina will take it! Ironically, it was Messi who missed his PK chance in the Copa America Centenario Final that potentially cost Argentina the title, and Aguero indeed buried his chance. Chile won the shootout 4 – 2 to earn their second Copa title in back-to-back years.

Final Analysis & Predictions:

Analysis:

Argentina obviously needs this result. With only 24 possible points left to obtain, and currently sitting outside the top five in the table, Argentina could possibly not even appear in Russia.

Imagine a World Cup without Argentina in it?

Brazil, Uruguay and Ecuador know that the return of Messi means that Argentina just became the most dangerous club in qualifying again. Chile and Argentina are both tied with 16 points, and have Paraguay trailing them both by a single point.

It has essentially become an eight-team race for the five positions that are awarded progression. The top four clubs will automatically advance, and the fifth place team will have to endure a playoff scenario. That scenario would feature the fifth-place South American team, against the fifth-place Oceania Zone team in a home and home series.

Brazil has two big reasons to want this home win. Three points puts them nicely in control at the top of the table with seven matches remaining after this week. Secondly, they can keep Argentina outside of the playoff position for another round, to leave Messi wishing he had stayed retired.

Prediction/Play:

The return of Lionel Messi is undoubtedly going to impact this match however, and for Argentina it obviously could not have come at a better time.

Would Brazil love to keep Argentina out of the World Cup? You bet your ass they would!

Even though the line features a touch of juice, the -125 action on Argentina to cover the +0.5 is too good to leave unattended. A draw or win for a desperate Argentina club is the play, simply out of necessity.

Argentina +0.5 @ -125 is your prediction for this match.

About EJ the Rainmaker

EJ Garr has been a freelance sports writer and handicapper for more than 20 years. He appeared as a featured writer in Beckett's Magazine for the 2014 World Cup. An experienced radio host, he also lends his voice to the radio shows on the Sports Palooza Radio Network, which includes a weekly segment dedicated to the NY Cosmos.

About EJ the Rainmaker

EJ Garr has been a freelance sports writer and handicapper for more than 20 years. He appeared as a featured writer in Beckett's Magazine for the 2014 World Cup. An experienced radio host, he also lends his voice to the radio shows on the Sports Palooza Radio Network, which includes a weekly segment dedicated to the NY Cosmos.

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