Argentina will take on Peru this Friday in a World Cup qualifier knowing it already has a spot in Brazil locked up. Meanwhile, Peru has already been eliminated from advancing.
That leaves this match as a battle to build momentum and make a statement. Not that Argentina can make much of a statement in this one, but it certainly wants to keep things going in the right direction.
With 29 points, Argentina leads the CONMEBOL; however, the top spot is still up for grabs. Colombia trails by three points. This should ensure a quality effort from Argentina despite the fact the squad is not at full strength.
They will have to do that while playing without their two top goal scorers, Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain.
When: Friday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. ET; 12 a.m. BST
Where: Buenos Aires
TV: Al Jazeera Sport HD1; Canal 7 TV Publica
Live Stream: beIN Sport Play (subscription required)
Odds: Argentina -450, Peru +1100, Draw +500
Top Storyline: How will Argentina look without Messi?
Argentina relies heavily on Lionel Messi—as well they should. However, it's not like the team lacks talent behind him.
Even without Higuain, Alejandro Sabella is not hurting for firepower. He can turn to quality players like Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria and Paris Saint-Germain's Ezequiel Lavezzi.
I expect this to be more than enough punch to beat Peru. However, this can also be an opportunity for these guys to assert themselves and learn to play without Messi. This will strengthen Argentina as a team when their talisman does return.
Prediction: Argentina 3, Peru 1
Peru has been sinking. Two straight losses to Uruguay and Venezuela ended its hopes of returning to the World Cup. It would be nice to see them take something positive by sneaking a win in here. However, that's not likely.
Argentina will be looking to lock down the top spot in its group and will take control of this match from the get-go.