There is so much hype going into the Brazil versus Argentina match that it is tough to even decide where to begin. Arguably the most heated international derby on the planet, every time Brazil and Argentina meet it’s a special occasion. This Thursday’s match, however, has some extra plot elements that make this particular encounter a unique and spicy affair.
Men's World Cup
The United States kicks off the hexagonal round of FIFA World Cup qualifying with two of the most difficult matches they’ll face on the road to Russia. On Friday, the USA host Mexico at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Four days later, they face Costa Rica at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica.
The Hex kicks off on November 11 in Columbus, Ohio with the big one: the United States versus Mexico. El Tri manager Juan Carlos Osorio has announced his squad for that match and their trip to Central America to play Panama four days later.
While Osorio had the luxury of naming largely experimental squads for September’s final fourth round World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador and Honduras, as well as their October friendlies against New Zealand and Panama, the Colombian has named his strongest possible side in an attempt to end the Dos a Cero spell.
For Argentina, a nightmarish World Cup qualifying campaign somehow managed to grow worse outside of an international break. In early September, Bolivia had managed to gain an unlikely 0-0 draw with Chile and a 3-0 victory over Peru in CONMEBOL qualifying. However, FIFA have ruled that Bolivia fielded an ineligible player in both matches, defender Nelson Cabrera, resulting in automatic 3-0 wins for both Chile and Peru.
Mexico has previously stated its desire to host the 2026 World Cup, a tournament that will almost certainly be given to the CONCACAF region, but now it's getting serious.
Following CAF in 2010 (South Africa), CONMEBOL in 2014 (Brazil), UEFA in 2018 (Russia) and AFC in 2022 (Qatar), FIFA has all but promised the tournament to North America.
In recent times, the rule changes FIFA have implemented have been with regards to self-examination; changing their own internal processes in the face of ongoing investigations and claims of corruption. On the footballing end of the spectrum, president Gianni Infantino has been trotting out his plan to kill the World Cup with a 48-team edition. Beyond the influence of Infantino, it appears as though Australian rock band AC/DC are the biggest catalyst for change in the international governing body.
What is there to say about the England National Football Team and their governing body that hasn’t already been said? England is, well, a joke. With an underwhelming nil-nil draw marking the start of the Gareth Southgate era, are we simply looking at the next Steve McClaren in charge of the Three Lions?
Right now, the Italian national side does not have an identity. On paper, drawing a match with Spain and winning against Macedonia might seem perfectly acceptable, but those who watched the games will know that there’s trouble afoot.
Spain should have won by a comfortable margin but consistently shot themselves in the foot when it came to actually putting the ball in the net. Italy were bad and deserved to lose.
Few would argue against major international tournaments being the biennial highlight of the footballing calendar. They’re a marketing groups’ wet dream; hundreds of millions worldwide tuning in on their official World Cup Samsung 60’’ flat screens to watch Pepsi and Coca Cola adverts interspersed with 45-minute segments of the very best in the game representing their motherlands at the highest level.