Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Prediction: Argentina vs Chile

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: bet365

The finalists of last two editions of Copa America find themselves in a somewhat difficult situation ahead of decisive battles in the South American Zone of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Argentina head into the high-profile clash eager to get revenge on Chile for back to back defeats in Copa America finals, but it is La Roja who are in better spirits at the moment.

Argentina

For the first time after quite a while, Argentina managed to reach the finals of three successive major competitions, but the fact they failed to lift a single trophy in the process means they are now even worse off than a couple of years back. After losing to Germany at the 2014 World Cup final, los Albicelestes were somewhat unfortunate to suffer two defeats to Chile after penalties at the Copa America 2015 and Copa America 2016, so no wonder they are now very motivated to try and finally defeat La Roja. That is easier said than done when we look at the team’s performances under Edgardo Bauza, with Argentina taking just two points from four successive qualifiers before finally returning to winning ways against Colombia. The boss is probably one of just a handful of coaches who would play Lucas Pratto as their first choice forward when also having Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero at their disposal, but the new Sao Paulo proved his worth playing for the national team and his style of play is well suited to the likes of Leo Messi and Angel Di Maria, meaning he could get another chance to shine. Seeing as how they currently occupy play-off positions, Argentina can be trusted to adopt an attack-minded approach, although they will have to be wary of Chile and their swift counter-attacks.

Team News

Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta misses out through a muscle problem, but Paulo Dybala may be available for selection.

Manchester United full-back Marcos Rojo is expected to start in the heart of defence alongside Nicolas Otamendi, while Sevilla stopper Gabriel Mercado should play on the right hand side.

Chile

Chile have seriously raised their profile over the last few years and the players did well to ensure one of the most talented generations in the country will never be forgotten. Back to back Copa America trophies will go a long way towards cementing La Roja as one of the best South American sides, but now it’s time to try and repeat or better the results from the 1962 World Cup, when they achieved a third-place finish. Chile first need to secure their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and while they currently occupy the final automatic qualifying berth, it has to be noted that sides like Argentina and Colombia are breathing down their necks. This is why it is incredibly important not to lose at Estadio Monumental on Thursday and the good news is La Roja head to the highly anticipated clash in very good spirits. Chile are unbeaten in their last three qualifiers, having defeated Peru and Uruguay at home, while playing out a goalless draw with Colombia. The problem is that two of their three key men are carrying injury at the moment, but Juan Antonio Pizzi hopes both Alexis Sanchez and Gary Medel will be able to play through the pain and face Argentina.

Team News

Taking into account their incredible motivation to represent the national team, we can expect both Alexis Sanchez and Gary Medel to start, while it remains to be seen whether Eduardo Vargas will keep his place given the poor run of form.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Chile beat Argentina in 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals
  • La Roja have never beaten Argentina on the road in a WC qualifier (D2 L5)
  • Los Albicelestes failed to score in two of last three qualifiers
  • Argentina kept four clean sheets in last five home games
  • Sanchez and Medel both doubts for Chile

Conclusion

With a World Cup qualifying berth at stake, chances are we will witness a nervy affair at Estadio Monumental. Chile have problems up front as Alexis Sanchez is again carrying injury, while Eduardo Vargas is struggling for form, and with Argentina not exactly firing on all cylinders, we expect to see a low-scoring game.

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 3/4

Bookmaker: bet365

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