Argentina host Bolivia at Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes in Cordoba for their sixth round fixture of South American qualifiers for World Cup Russia 2018.
Argentina have now managed back-to-back wins after failing to win their first three matches in qualifiers are are 5th in the table after five round. Bolivia are 9th in the table with 1 win and 4 defeats in their five matches and have a tough task against an invigorated Argentina football team.
Argentina: Team News
Messi have returned to the squad in the match against Chile for the first time in the qualifying round and his influence was evident as the Albacete fought back from a goal down to grab a vital 2-1 away win.
Angel Di Maria and Gabriel Mercado scored the goals on the night and both are expected to retain their place in the starting eleven.
Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi is a doubt and his club team-mate Martin Demichelis could take his place. Javier Pinola, who is making a return to the national squad after a 9 year absense is also expected to start replacing Funes Mori.
Ever Banega and Lucas Biglia will keep their place in the center of midfield, while Matias Kranevitter makes way for Barcelona veteran Javier Mascherano.
Gonzalo Higuain, who is in terrific form for Napoli could replace Sergio Aguero to partner Di Maria and Messi in the attacking front.
Argentina Expected Starting Line-up (4-3-3):
Romero – Pinola, Demichellis, Rojo, Mercado – Banega, Mascherano, Biglia – Di Maria, Messi, Higuain
Bolivia: Team News
Bolivia have lost 4 of their five matches in the qualifying round and a 4-2 win against Venezuela was their only positive in the campaign so far.
There is much pressure on head-coach Julio Cesar Baldivieso as he will be without 5 players due to suspensions and injuries in the trip to Cordoba.
The team captain Edward Zenteno is suspended, while Leonel Morales is injured. Dustin Maldonado and Alberto Pinto are dropped due to coaching decision, while mid-field player Damian Lizio returned to Brazil because of the birth of his son.
Changes are expected and Bolivia will be forced to deploy an extreme defensive formation against an attack minded Argentina.
Bolivia Expected Staring Eleven (4-5-1):
Carlos Lampe – Marvin Bejarano, Ronald Eguino, Luis Gutierrez, Fernando Marteli, Diego Bejarano – Jhasmani Campos, Danny Bejarano, Samuel Galindo, Martin Smedberg – Yasmani Duk
Argentina vs Bolivia: Head to Head Stats
- The teams have met on 18 occasions, Argentina 11 wins, Bolivia 4 wins and 3 draws.
- The last two meetings between the two sides have produced 12 goals, all by Argentina; 7-0 in September 2015 and 5-0 in June 2015.
- Argentina are unbeaten at home in 9 matches against Bolivia, winning 8 and a draw in their last meeting.
Argentina vs Bolivia: Prediction
Argentina will not take anything less than a win here and Gerardo Martino has made it clear that he is targeting full points to make up for his team’s early slump. At the same time, Bolivia are on a poor run since the Copa America 2014 and the latest injuries and suspensions have made the team weaker.
This is the kind of matches Argentina must win fairly easy, and back them to score 3 or more goals as they have scored 12 goals against Bolivia in the two matches in 2015.