Brazil take on Argentina at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in their last match during the present international break.
Brazil have hardly broken into a sweat in their matches after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. A streak of three clean wins over somewhat subdued opponents have seen the Samba Boys recover from their heartbreaking loss to Belgium in the quarter-finals in Russia.
Argentina, on the other hand, are trying to usher in a new era within the National Team. Lionel Messi is still on a hiatus while Lionel Scaloni has chosen to hand the new generation some experience under his temporary charge, with Pablo Aimar his assistant.
Brazil face their first true test after the World Cup, albeit only to an extent, as Tite will be aware that they face an Argentina devoid of their most precious jewels. Lionel Scaloni will hope the gen-next provides the nation with some cheer and a positive result over their fiercest rival.
We take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Tite is likely to ring in the changes and restore his key stars in the starting eleven, starting with the spot in goal. Ederson will make way for Alisson. The defence should also see changes. Fabinho hasn’t played much at club level and would have welcomed the minutes he received against Saudi Arabia. But, Danilo should return to the starting lineup.
The central defensive pairing should also change, with Pablo likely to make way for Miranda. Fred will likely drop to the bench, with Philippe Coutinho being deployed in the withdrawn role within the three-man midfield. In the Manchester United star’s place, Richarlison should come in to be a part of the attacking trio.
Neymar and Gabriel Jesus are likely to retain their spots in attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Danilo, Marquinhos, Miranda, Alex Sandro; Renato Augusto, Casemiro, Coutinho; Richarlison, Jesus, Neymar
Lionel Scaloni has so far persisted with a 4-1-4-1 formation and we are likely to see him deploy the troops out in the same manner on Tuesday. Sergio Romero should retain his spot in goal for Argentina after the Manchester United star started and kept a clean sheet in their 4-0 win over Iraq.
There are a couple of new faces that have really made an impression at the back for Argentina. Fabricio Bustos has made the right-back slot his own while German Pezzella has been equally impressive in central defence. The two should retain their spots at the back, with Nicolas Otamendi and Nicolas Tagliafico completing the back four.
Leandro Paredes will act as the deep lying playmaker for Argentina, with a four-man midfield in front of him. Giovani Lo Celso should be one of the two central midfielders, with Eugenio Meza, Franco Vazquez and Roberto Pereyra vying for the other spot. Meza should get the nod ahead of the two.
Paulo Dybala should start out on the right, with Eduardo Salvio set to take the field on the left. Giovanni Simeone and Lautaro Martinez have both impressed in front of goal. But, for the match against Brazil, we should see Mauro Icardi start upfront for Argentina, with Lionel Scaloni likely to give the Inter Milan striker a chance to impress.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Romero; Bustos, Pezzella, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Paredes; Dybala, Meza, Lo Celso, Salvio; Icardi
1. Brazil currently lead Argentina in the head-to-head record, with 44 wins to their name, compared to Argentina’s 39 while 28 of their matches have ended in draws.
2. The winning side in the last two fixtures have managed to keep a clean sheet.
3. Brazil have won each of the 3 games against Argentina where Neymar has been on the scoresheet.
4. Sergio Romero is the highest capped player to be called up for Argentina during the international break. The Manchester United stopper is two appearances away from joining Angel Di Maria and Oscar Ruggeri at 6th on the list of most capped players for the Argentina (97).
5. Argentina and Brazil are both yet to concede in their 3 international friendlies they have each played after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Player to Watch
The spotlight will definitely be on the Inter Milan striker, as far as the Argentine National Team is concerned. The start of a new era has been sprightly for Argentina, but they need a natural goalscorer to replace Lionel Messi, with the Barcelona icon not really clearing his international situation so far.
Icardi was hard done by during the World Cup. With a new management at the helm, the Inter Milan captain can show just why he should have been on the plane to Russia. With the Argentine starting lineup also lacking in experience as far as international appearances are concerned, Icardi will have to lead on the pitch and guide the young guard.
Before the new manager comes in, Icardi would love to lay down his marker to become a mainstay within the international squad.
Brazil 2-1 Argentina
Brazil’s defence has looked impregnable so far after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But, that could also be chalked down to the difference in stature of the teams they have been facing, perhaps to build some confidence after a disappointing World Cup campaign.
Despite a somewhat subdued Argentine side, there is still plenty of quality within the potential starting eleven to pose a threat to Brazil on Tuesday. Giovani Lo Celso will be the focal point of all creative things in the midfield for Argentina and the result might depend on his success in playing through his attacker(s) and managing to evade the presence of Casemiro.
Expect Brazil to concede their first goal after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But, Tite’s men should have this in the bag by full time.