South American giants Brazil and Argentina will resume their rivalries on Friday as they gear up to take on each other in a friendly in Saudi Arabia.
One of the age-old rivalries in international football will take centre stage at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on Friday, as Brazil and Argentina face off against each other for the 111th time in a friendly encounter.
Since winning the Copa America earlier in the year, Brazil have found their form on the downslide. Indeed, Tite’s side have failed to win even one of their four matches since beating Peru in July (D3 L1). In their last month’s assignment, the Selecao played out back to back 1-1 draws against Senegal and Nigeria and will be keen on ending the year on a strong note.
Argentina, on the other hand, are on a five-game unbeaten streak since their defeat to Brazil in the Copa America semi-final (W3 D2). La Albiceleste came back to hold European heavyweights Germany to a 2-2 draw last month in a friendly, before thrashing Ecuador 6-1. Manager Lionel Scaloni will be hoping that his team continue their solid run of form and hand their arch-rivals a defeat on Friday.
Ahead of this enticing match-up between two of the biggest footballing nations, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both sets of teams.
Team News & Tactics
There are a number of notable absentees for Brazil heading into the game as star man Neymar is still sidelined after picking up an injury during the last international break. Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson Moraes is also ruled out as is Ajax forward David Neres, while the likes of Dani Alves, Fernandinho, Marcelo and Douglas Costa haven’t been called up by manager Tite.
Real Madrid starlet Rodrygo Goes, who has been in sensational form of late, is one of the six uncapped players in the squad along with Aston Villa duo of Douglas Luiz and Wesley. Tite is likely to go in with a more experienced lineup against Argentina though, and will probably hand some of the new stars a debut in the next game against South Korea.
Starting in goal for Brazil ought to be the fit-again Alisson Becker, while the established partnership of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos should line up as the two centre-backs. Occupying the full-back slots for the Selecao against Argentina should be the Juventus duo of Danilo and Alex Sandro.
Casemiro has been one of Real Madrid’s most consistent performers this term and is likely to edge out Fabinho for the holding midfield slot on Friday. Arthur Melo will occupy one of the two remaining slots and look to dictate play with his passing, while his former Barcelona teammate Philippe Coutinho will provide the forward thrust and creativity.
Richarlison has been in good form for Everton and will push for a start here. However, Tite is likely to go in with Gabriel Jesus and Willian on the flanks with Roberto Firmino through the middle in an all-Premier League attacking lineup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Danilo, Silva, Marquinhos, Sandro; Arthur, Casemiro, Coutinho; Willian, Firmino, Jesus
Argentina will welcome back talisman Lionel Messi to the fold for the first time after he served out a three-month ban imposed on him in lieu of his comments post the summer’s Copa America. Another senior pro, Sergio Aguero, is back in the squad for the first time since the summer’s tournament.
Arsenal’s second goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has also been called up by manager Lionel Scaloni for the friendlies against Brazil and Uruguay. PSG duo Angel Di Maria and Mauro Icardi miss out, however. Scaloni is likely to mirror Brazil’s formation and set his team up in a 4-3-3 as well on Friday.
Two-time capped Boca Juniors goalkeeper Esteban Andrada is likely to get the nod under the woodwork for La Albiceleste. He will be shielded by a backline comprising of Juan Foyth and Marcos Acuna as the full-backs with German Pezzella and Nicolas Otamendi partnering up at the centre. No place for Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo in the starting XI.
Leandro Paredes ought to be the defensive midfielder for Argentina against Brazil. He will be joined in the three-man midfield by Sevilla’s Lucas Ocampos, who has two goals in two international appearances and Rodrigo De Paul, with Tottenham star Giovani Lo Celso missing out.
Up ahead in attack, Lautaro Martinez has been in terrific form for club and country, but is likely to be held back on Friday as Scaloni might opt to field a star-studded front three comprising of captain Messi, senior striker Aguero and Juventus superstar Paulo Dybala.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Andrada; Foyth, Pezzella, Otamendi, Acuna; Ocampos, Paredes, De Paul; Messi, Aguero, Dybala
- Brazil and Argentina have clashed on 110 occasions in the past. The Selecao have a slight upper-hand when it comes to head-to-head record, having won 46 of those matches, while their rivals have come out on top 39 times (D 25).
- Brazil have enjoyed a superior record in the last six meetings between the two nations as they have won four while Argentina have picked up just one victory (D1).
- Brazil are currently on a four-game winless streak since their Copa America triumph in July. The last time they went on a longer winless streak was between November 2003 and May 2004, when they drew five games on the bounce.
- Argentina, on the other hand, are unbeaten in their last five matches since the Copa America defeat to Brazil – their longest such run in two years.
- Brazil have managed to keep four clean sheets in their past six matches against Argentina, who have had one shut-out in those games.
Player to Watch
The last time the Barcelona talisman took the field for his national team, it ended on a disappointing note as he was sent off against Chile in the Copa America third-place playoff. After which, Messi made some controversial comments leading to a three-month ban in international football.
Now that he is back in the fold after serving out his ban, the Argentine captain will be looking to make an immediate mark and fire his team to a victory on Thursday. The little magician has been in fine form for Barcelona recently and Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni will be hoping that he carries that to the international stages as well as they look to end the year on a strong note.
Brazil 2-1 Argentina
While it is true that Brazil’s form has nosedived since their Copa America triumph earlier in the year, there is no denying that they possess a more well-balanced and well-rounded outfit than their rivals. Argentina though, have been in very good form heading into the contest and will further be buoyed by the returns of Messi and Aguero.
As always, the contest between these two rival nations will be played with an edge despite it only being a ‘friendly’. And despite Brazil’s stuttering form of late, their recent record against Argentina has been very impressive and as a result, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting them to eke out a narrow victory against their rivals on Friday in Saudi Arabia.