Lionel Messi will take center stage once more this week as Argentina take on South American rivals Venezuela in their 2014 World Cup qualifier.
La Selección currently sit on top of the CONMEBOL standings after their nine matches so far, with Venezuela back in fourth spot on 12 points. And with Colombia and Ecuador not far ahead of the away side here, expect La Vinotinto to put up a serious fight here as they try to close that gap.
Argentina will know that a win puts them in a very strong spot to pick up a qualification spot for Brazil, and they know that a loss could see them lose their lead in the group. They'll be desperate to avoid that happening here, especially in front of their home fans, so expect them to come out strong.
It should be a classic match between two South American superpowers at their best. Read on to find out all the need-to-know information as well as a full preview.
Date: Friday, March 22, 2013
Start time: 8 p.m. ET
Venue: El Monumental; Buenos Aires, Argentina
According to Live Soccer TV, coverage of this World Cup qualifier will be shown throughout the United States via beIN Sport en Español and beIN SPORT.
Premier Sports will show coverage throughout the United Kingdom whilst LiveSport.TV will also show the match—regardless of where you are in the world.
CONMEBOL Qualifying So Far
Argentina have lost just one qualifying match so far, and it came back in 2011 at the hands of their upcoming opponent, who beat them 1-0 at home.
Since then, La Selección have scored big wins away from home against Colombia and Chile, plus wins at home over Uruguay and Ecuador.
They'll be looking to build on that form that's seen them go undefeated in their seven CONMEBOL qualifying games with another strong result in this one.
However, given the strong form that Venezuela have shown in the tournament so far, they'll certainly be a tough side to break down here and won't be easy for Argentina. Especially not if they can recapture their form from 18 months ago when they beat La Selección.
La Vinotinto have picked up strong results away from home through the CONMEBOL qualifying so far, with draws against both Uruguay and Colombia. That form has been mixed with poor results against lower teams in Peru and Paraguay, so it will be interesting to see how they fare here.
(Image captured via FoxSoccer.com)
Key Storyline to Watch: Venezuela's Away Form
Playing at such a daunting venue such as El Monumental, against one of their biggest rivals, Venezuela's away form will be key to their chances here.
If they are not overcome by the crowd and the dominance of their opponents early, then later on in the game, they should see plenty of chances come their way.
Argentina have allowed goals in all but one of their qualifying games so far and could be found wanting against a swift counterattack. Which, given they'll be doing most of the attacking, could work in the favor of La Vinotinto as they try to find a way through Argentina's defense.
Venezuela have only won once away from home in the qualifiers so far, but they have been very strong in their two respective draws. Look for their away form here—in a very daunting stadium—to be very key in the final score and result.
It's hard to see the home side losing this one, given all that's at stake for their spot in the group and their subsequent qualification for the 2014 World Cup.
Argentina have been very strong so far in the competition, and whilst Venezuela have a number of strong players and will set up well in defense, they'll struggle to answer the attacking threats that the home side throw at them in this one—starting with Lionel Messi.
Expect the little genius to again be at his best here and drive La Selección forward, where they'll no doubt find goals against the Venezuelan defense.
Argentina's defense will again come under questioning, with a soft goal conceded to the away side, but in the end, it will have little affect on the final score. Argentina will cruise to victory and maintain their lead on top of the group as a result.
Final score: Argentina 4, Venezuela 1
What do you think will happen in this 2014 World Cup qualifier?
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