With both Argentina and Ecuador securing their World Cup places through qualifying, the teams are now free to meet in an international friendly in the United States.
Argentina comes into this game No. 3 in the FIFA rankings, while Ecuador is a respectful 22nd. Argentina absolutely cruised through South American qualifying, losing just two games en route to finish atop the qualifying table, while Ecuador finished fourth and avoided a playoff against Jordan only by having a superior goal difference to Uruguay.
Now the teams will meet in a nice mid-season tune-up. Let's break down this South American clash.
When: Saturday, November 15 at 8 p.m. ET (1 a.m. GMT)
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Watch: beIN Sport; beIN Sport Play; BT Sport 1 (U.K.)
Argentina will be without their leading man in this contest, Lionel Messi, as the magical forward is likely to be out of action until January with a hamstring injury.
Of course, with Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Erik Lamela named to the squad, among others, the Argentines aren't exactly lacking for firepower.
And being able to play without Messi against a quality opponent seems more relevant than ever, with the diminutive superstar suddenly seeming injury prone after the past two seasons.
Ecuador is certainly quality. Led by Manchester United's Antonio Valencia, this is a team that doesn't possess nearly the firepower Argentina brings to the table but plays very well together as a team. The question for Ecuador in both this game and in Brazil will be how the team performs away from home, where the side was virtually unbeatable in qualifying.
The team hasn't traveled nearly as well, however, a major storyline for a country hoping to turn some heads next summer.
The talent disparity is clear: The Argentines travel better and Ecuador's best player, Valencia, can only do so much from his position on the wing. Add it all up and Argentina seems like the clear favorite here.
Sure, the game doesn't matter. Sure, the team will be without Messi. But it only takes a quick look at the roster to see that, on paper, this is a matchup Argentina should handle easily.
The Argentines win, 3-1.
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