June 18, 2013
Argentina faces Venezuela today
Leaders Argentina will host Venezuela today at 9pm at the Mo-numental stadium in Buenos Aires for 11th round of the South American World Cup qualifiers following the summer break. Colombia will replace Ecuador in second if they beat Bolivia in Barranquilla.
Matchday 11 of the South American qualifiers for the World Cup Brazil 2014 marks the return of the competition following the summer break and the start of the last push towards next year’s world finals.
For the teams populating the lower regions of the table, who have little margin for error, it is virtually a point of no return. In contrast, the situation is far more promising for Argentina and Colombia, who have the chance to cement their positions in the top three, while second-placed Ecuador, who have no game today, will stay in the direct qualification slots come what may.
Leaders Argentina will put their excellent form to the test against Venezuela at 9pm in Buenos Aires, their first game in the capital for nine months and where they have not lost a qualifier since the fateful 5-0 defeat to Colombia in 1993.
The visitors, who are currently on course to reach the world finals for the very first time, are the only side to have beaten Argentina in this qualifying competition so far, though Alejandro Sabella’s men appear to have put that 1-0 defeat in 2011 behind them. The only question hanging over the group leaders is how they will respond to the absences of the injured Sergio Agüero and the suspended Ángel Di María.
In yesterday’s practice session, Argentina’s first team was: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Federico Fernández, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo; Fernando Gago, Javier Mascherano, Walter Montillo; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Colombia will replace the resting Ecuador in second if they overcome Bolivia in Barranquilla. Boasting James Rodríguez, Radamel Falcao and Teófilo Gutiérrez in their ranks, José Pekerman’s side are a much-vaunted attacking unit, though their stats at the back are also impressive. Having conceded just six goals to date, and only one in their last four games, “Los Cafeteros” have the second-tightest defence in the competition.
Level with Venezuela and Uruguay on 12 points, Chile, who visit Peru, are still very much in the hunt for a direct qualification place, but can afford few slip-ups at this stage of proceedings. Their form has been promising under new coach Jorge Sampaoli, however, and their last qualifying visit to Lima, made in 2009 under Marcelo Bielsa, also bodes well, that game ending in a 3-1 win for the visitors.
Herald with fifa.com