Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 11/10
The new edition of Superclasico takes place at the same venue where Brazil suffered an embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi, but the Selecao head into the high-profile clash in confident mood having won last four qualifiers. The same cannot be said of Argentina, who are currently outside of qualifying positions, but los Albicelestes hope the return of Lionel Messi will be just the boost they need to turn things around.
Following the embarrassing exit from both the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Copa America Centenario, the national team chiefs had no choice but to sack Dunga and appointed Tite as his successor, which could prove one of the best decisions they ever made. Granted, any serious coach would have brought improvement to the Selecao following Dunga’s disappointing reign, but we don’t think there are a lot of those who would have enjoyed a better start than the former Corinthians boss. Tite has led Brazil to four straight victories in the 2018 World Cup qualifying, where his side scored 12 goals and conceded just one, as the new boss perfected the 4-1-4-1 system previous tested by Dunga. The impressive run of results not only saw the Selecao climb to the top of the South American Zone of World Cup qualifiers, but helped the country restore faith in the national team after a number of disappointing performances. Manchester City starlet Gabriel Jesus is now the first choice centre forward and he has already bagged 4 goals in as many appearances for the national team, while Liverpool hotshot Philippe Coutinho has finally nailed down a regular starting berth, playing on the opposite side of Barcelona superstar Neymar. Brazil now need to prove their worth in the intense clash with arch rivals Argentina, but they are definitely in a better position than the opponents ahead of kick-off.
There have been no major changes to the squad for Argentina and Peru, as David Luiz, Oscar, Rafinha and Luiz Gustavo continue to miss out.
Casemiro is unavailable through injury, but Douglas Costa is back, although he is unlikely to start with Philippe Coutinho and Neymar expected to start on the wings.
Argentina national team cannot seem to catch a break as a number of star-studded squads has failed to end a 23-year wait for a major title. After losing three successive finals at the 2014 World Cup, 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America, Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi decided to retire from international duty, probably realising that he would never lift a major international trophy. The highly rated footballer was eventually persuaded by new boss Edgardo Bauza to come out of retirement, and he scored the winner on his return against Uruguay. However, Messi missed next three qualifiers, where Argentina could only take two points in total, thus slipping to sixth in the overall standings, so it goes without saying that they are in desperate need of a morale-boosting win. Defeating red-hot Brazil on the road will be no easy task given the shape they are in, and it is clear that unlike his Selecao counterpart, Edgardo Bauza will need some more time to make this team his own. If we also consider the fact that it has now been 26 years since Argentina won on Brazilian soil, los Albicelestes have every right to dread the trip to Belo Horizonte.
Lionel Messi is back after missing last three qualifiers through injury, but Paulo Dybala, Marco Rojo, Ezequiel Garay, Augusto Fernandez and Nicolas Gaitan are all unavailable.
Valencia midfielder Enzo Perez is expected to start at right-back and his main task will be to prevent Neymar from making an impact.
Key Factors to Consider
- Argentina last won on Brazilian soil in 1990
- Brazil won last five home games vs Argentina
- Both teams scored in five of their last six meetings
- Brazil won last four World Cup qualifiers
- Argentina are winless in last three
While Brazil have enjoyed an excellent start under Tite and head into the Superclasico in great spirits, Argentina have largely struggled since Bauzo took over and we don’t think that even Lionel Messi will be able to help them avoid six straight defeat in away matches with the Selecao.
Verdict: Home win
Best Odds: 11/10