Argentina completes its current stretch of matches with a friendly against Guatemala after a pair of frustrating draws in World Cup qualifying. The Albiceleste would like to end on a high note before heading into a summer break.
As it stands now, Argentina is still in very favorable shape in CONMEBOL qualifying. It sits atop the nine-team group with five matches left to play. Still, the team will want to showcase far better form leading up to Brazil next summer.
Guatemala was eliminated from World Cup contention last year. It finished third in a CONCACAF group in which only two teams advanced. It was a disappointing setback for the side. The Chapines are coming off a scoreless draw with Belize.
What's your prediction for the friendly?
Let's check out all the key information for the friendly, along with some players to watch and a match prediction.
Where: Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, Guatemala
When: Friday, June 14 at 10 p.m. ET
Watch: Gol TV
Live Stream: Gol TV Mobile
Guatemala Player to Watch: Minor Lopez
Even though veteran striker Carlos Ruiz was recalled for the match after previously stepping off the international stage, Guatemala still needs to find somebody to lead the attack in the future. Lopez has enough talent to be the guy.
The 26-year-old forward has six goals with the national team. He plays for Deportes La Serena in Chile at the club level and has shown a good combination of work rate and finishing ability. Guatemala is just waiting for him to step up.
Facing a stout Argentine back line will be a terrific test for him. Assuming he plays alongside Ruiz, he should get some space to operate as the Albiceleste focus on the more accomplished player. He must show why he deserves attention, too.
Argentina Player to Watch: Angel di Maria
Most of the focus is placed on the attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuaín for Argentina. Lost in the shuffle is Di Maria, who plays a vital role in making sure that dangerous group gets good scoring opportunities.
The Real Madrid playmaker is coming off a campaign in which he tallied seven goals and 10 assists in La Liga and Champions League play. His ability to read a defense and deliver pinpoint passes makes him a nightmare to defend when he's in top form.
Argentina has far too much attacking talent to get held to one goal over two matches, as it did in the recent qualifiers. Di Maria must help spark the Albiceleste offense with a dominance performance in the midfield against a shaky Guatemala group.
Matchup to Watch: Guatemala defense vs. Argentina attack
Messi was a second-half substitute in the draws with Ecuador and Colombia, which helps explain the lack of production up front. His status for tonight's match remains up in the air, but he was training on the grounds leading up to the friendly.
PICTURE: Messi training at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala earlier today. pic.twitter.com/2ppG4IylkJ— Messi Stuff (@MessiStuff) June 13, 2013
How many goals will Argentina score?
If Messi doesn't draw the start, the onus will once again fall to Aguero and Higuain. The striker tandem doesn't lack talent, having scored a combined 38 international goals, but the chemistry just hasn't been there without the Barcelona superstar leading the way.
The Albiceleste should benefit from playing a Guatemala defense that hasn't been forced to deal with offensive firepower like they will in this match. Argentina will take command early, control the pace and earn a friendly victory.
Argentina 3, Guatemala 0