International WC Qualifiers: Argentina have some tough nuts to crack...

WC Qualifiers: Argentina have some tough nuts to crack to qualify for Russia 2018

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Argentina and Lionel Messi aren’t in the most comfortable of positions when it comes to WC Qualifiers for 2018. In fact, if it ended right now, we wouldn’t see the famed Argentinians in Russia.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom, particularly since there’s nearly 10 matches yet to be played over the course of the next year or so, but this particular international break is pivotal for Argentina. They play Brazil on the 10th (this Thursday) and Colombia on the 15th. Brazil is top in the CONMEBOL WC Qualifying standings, with 21 points. Plus, the game’s in Brazil.

Colombia will also provide a stern test of Argentina’s grit and ability, as they are never an easy team to face, much less beat, on their day. Obviously, the one good thing about all this is that Argentina has Messi back. The little magician came back during the last international break after a calling from coach Bauza, which I can only presume included plenty of phrases such as “we are very sorry”, “please, we beg you, Lionel”, and lastly, “we need you”.

They do indeed need Messi to shine. Though judging by the fact that he went to Brazil on Neymar’s private jet, I would be squirming somewhat uncomfortably thinking of how he’s going to play in this game.

Argentina fans will be relieved to see Messi back with the national team. But how will he fare in this game up against his club teammate Neymar’s Brazil? (Photo by DOUGLAS MAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

The SuperClasico has always been a feisty and physical affair, and a great rivalry to watch as a neutral. The two South American nations on show have possessed GOAT candidates quite frequently over the last century; whether it was Diego Armando Maradona or Pelé, Zico or Batistuta, the rivalry, with the squads combined together throughout the past century, will give you the greatest footballers to have ever grazed the beautiful game. (Not to undermine Europe, but c’mon. Who’re we kidding here?)

There’ll be fights and cards and brutal tackles on show on Thursday, as will there be flicks, back-heels, and overhead-kicks (or attempts at them). Recent results suggest that the scoreline will be pretty close. And Messi will undoubtedly be criticized (and booed, most likely) again if Argentina manage to lose. But, this time, he won’t mind.

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