How would you like to have Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero at your disposal in the attack? Or how would you like it if you had to attempt to stop that devastating offensive trio?
That's the hand Argentina will be holding when they face Chile on Tuesday, and the hand Chile will have the misfortune of trying to slow down. Oh, and it gets worse for Chile, as Rex Gowar of Reuters notes:
Missing three defenders through suspension after Friday's 3-1 loss to Ecuador in Quito–their second loss in a row–Chile have struggled to make their all-out attacking game work and have lost their way after making a promising start to the qualification.
Away wins in Bolivia and Venezuela in June put Chile top of the nine-nation group, but poor player discipline has already undermined coach Claudio Borghi.
Argentine Borghi has had to watch the last two defeats from the stands as part of a four-match suspension for insulting the referee during the victory in Venezuela.
Meanwhile, Argentina hasn't lost in seven matches, with six wins in that span. Higuain and Messi—who is fresh off a two-goal, one-assist game against Uruguay—are tied atop Conmebol's scoring sheet in South American World Cup qualifying with six goals apiece.
Oh, and Argentina beat Chile 4-1 in qualifying a year ago.
So let's quickly review:
- Chile will be without Pablo Contreras, Arturo Vidal, Osvaldo Gonzalez, Claudio Bravo and Humberto Suazo.
- The Chileans are in the midst of a two-match losing streak.
- Despite the injuries to key defensive players, the Chileans still play a pressing and attacking style, extremely dangerous against an offensive juggernaut like Argentina.
- Albiceleste is playing some of its finest soccer at the moment.
Are you starting to see how this game could get out of hand quickly for Chile?
All is not lost here. Midfielder Gary Medel is set to return. Forward Alexis Sanchez hasn't been in his best form of late for Chile, but he's capable of quickly notching a goal or two if given space. And this is home game for the Chileans, which is always an advantage in matches like this one.
Still, it's hard to see given this matchup and a dearth of missing players for Chile how this game won't become a goal-fest for Argentina. Messi alone could be good for a few scores.
What may save the Chileans is that Argentina, firmly atop the group in qualifying, can live with a tie. The Argentinians may not come out with the killer instinct, knowing they don't really need the three points.
Then again, even if they are less assertive, Chile's attacking style could lead to numerous and juicy opportunities on the counter-attack for Argentina. With a trio of world-class attackers—and we haven't even mentioned Angel Di Maria—Argentina can turn the slightest of advantages into the largest of leads.
Sorry Chile, but you're in trouble here. Look for a convincing Argentina win, 3-1.
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