Try as Chile and his teammates might, Lionel Messi remained on course to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. When they get there, Messi’s teammates and the opposition might get the better of him, but tonight was not their night. Messi converted a penalty after a soft call in the box and Argentina hung on for a 1-0 victory in Buenos Aires.
Colombia almost offered Argentina a massive lifeline before they’d even taken the field by leaving it until the 83rd-minute to take the lead against lowly Bolivia in Barranquilla. However, James Rodriguez converted the follow-up after his initial penalty was saved, and Colombia secured a vital three points.
James remains very much on the periphery at Real Madrid, scoring only two goals in La Liga this season, but he’s a faultless captain when it comes to leading Colombia.
Chile and Argentina will meet for the fifth time in just two years later today, but each encounter has been extremely memorable in its own right. Tonight, with both teams fighting tooth and nail for 2018 World Cup qualification, will be no different. Let’s take a look back at the previous four encounters between La Albiceleste and La Roja.
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.
For the United States, injuries to DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson have severely limited the team’s strength in the wide areas. Meanwhile, Mexico must do without Marco Fabian, Jesus Corona, Giovani dos Santos, Hirving Lozano and Javier Aquino — as well as the continued absence of Paul Aguilar.
But their squad for upcoming qualifiers against Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago in the Hex demonstrates their embarrassment of riches when compared to the rest of the region.
It’s June 2004, and England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has just confirmed his squad for EURO 2004 in Portugal. The 23-man team is highlighted by 18-year-old Everton sensation Wayne Rooney. Aston Villa forward Darius Vassell, although an injury doubt, has been named in the squad at the expense of 21-year-old Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe.
USMNT manager Bruce Arena has announced his 24-man squad for vital World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama at the end of March. This represented the first opportunity for Arena to include European-based talent, but it’s clear that he’s also given a fair shake to the MLS players that impressed during January camp.
Brazil will travel to Montevideo, Uruguay for a clash between the top two sides in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying without David Luiz, the Chelsea center half and captain of Brazil’s 7-1 capitulation to Germany once again omitted from Tite’s latest squad announcement.
Luiz has been in great form for club this season, helping Chelsea to the top of the Premier League table with a defense that’s allowed only 19 goals in 26 matches. However, Luiz hasn’t appeared for Brazil since last March, and Tite has ignored him since being placed in charge of the Seleção last June.
Remember Ronaldo's really bad haircut at the 2002 World Cup? The one he would have never lived down if Brazil hadn't won the tournament and if he hadn't won the Golden Boot with eight goals? Apparently there was a reason for it.
Here's what Ronaldo told ESPN Brazil: