Argentina will be without Carlos Tevez as well as Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero for their crunch World Cup qualifier against Brazil on Thursday.
South America’s footballing giants clash in a competitive fixture for the first time since 2009 in Buenos Aires this week, with both having made slow starts to their qualifying campaigns.
Gerardo Martino’s Argentina have taken just a point from games against Ecuador and Paraguay, while Brazil overcame Venezuela last time out after losing to Copa America winners Chile in their opening match.
Messi missed both of Argentina’s first two games due to a knee injury, and Martino will once again have to make do without his captain and talisman against Brazil, while Aguero is also sidelined with the hamstring injury he picked up against Ecuador.
Boca Juniors star Tevez would likely have come into Martino’s starting line-up, but a knee injury has ruled him out too.
However, one player who is fit and in fine form is Paris Saint-Germain forward Angel di Maria, and he is hopeful of getting Argentina’s qualifying campaign up and running.
“I am very happy with how I am playing in Paris, both in the league and the Champions League,” he said. “Hopefully I can continue that with the national team.
“We are missing important players, especially Leo and Kun [Aguero].
“We will try our best to get the three points here [against Brazil] and also there [in Colombia]. It is possible [to get six points].
“We need good results in these two upcoming matches. Getting points is going to be very important for qualifying.”
While Argentina will be without key men Messi and Aguero, Brazil welcome their captain Neymar back after his four-match suspension following his sending off against Colombia at the Copa America.
Neymar has been in breathtaking form for Barcelona recently, scoring 10 in his last seven appearances – including an outrageous goal-of-the-season contender against Villarreal on Sunday.
Neymar’s predecessor as skipper, PSG defender Thiago Silva, has again been overlooked by coach Dunga, but Orlando City veteran Kaka keeps his place ahead of Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho.
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