Argentina's Player Silence Rings Louder Than Ever Ahead Of Crunch Qualifiers
With World Cup tickets about to go on general sale, the only two matches off limits are the final and Argentina-Iceland.Read More
With only six matches remaining in South American World Cup qualifying, Argentina face the very real possibility of having their dreams dashed by Chile for the third time in three years. When Chile and Argentina take the field Thursday night in Buenos Aires, it will almost certainly be with both sides out of the automatic qualifying places.
If Colombia defeat Bolivia in Barranquilla, they’ll leapfrog both Argentina and Chile in the table, sending Chile to fifth and Argentina to the disastrous standing of sixth — out of the World Cup.
What follows will be 90 minutes of nerve-wracking football for the two-time World Cup champions. Under fire boss Edgardo Bauza says it best: “Defeating Chile will be fundamental. And I don’t care how it is achieved, as long as it is achieved.”
Lionel Messi and his compatriots simply must deliver, but they are all still silent on the matter. The decision to boycott the media following Argentina’s 3-0 win over Colombia has continued. With players angry over accusations made regarding Ezequiel Lavezzi, they refused to talk to reporters at the airport, and Messi and Javier Mascherano have done the same after arriving from Barcelona.
The good news for Argentina is that Chile’s midfield boss Arturo Vidal will miss this match through suspension, and defender Gary Medel remains questionable with a thigh strain. However, Alexis Sanchez, who according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was in “an absolutely terrible state” following an ankle injury against West Brom, is fit to play.
Playing a draining match against a fierce rival is then compounded by the complexity of Argentina’s game against Bolivia five days later. They’ll travel to the formidable altitude of La Paz’s Estadio Hernando Siles for another tricky match.
Argentina’s remaining four matches include difficult trips to Uruguay and Ecuador. They still control their own destiny, but the margin for error has evaporated.