Chile and Argentina lock horns once again in the South American World Cup Qualification fixture at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago on 24th March 2016.
After four matches each in the qualification stage, Chile are 4th in the table with 7 points, while Argentina are 5th with 5 points. Both teams come into the match in a similar kind of form after finding it hard to win matches in recent times.
Chile after bagging back-to-back wins in their first two fixtures, 2-0 against Brazil and 4-3 against Peru, settled for a 1-1 draw against Colombia before a 3-0 humbling by Uruguay.
Argentina on the other hand fell to an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at home to Ecuador in their opening fixture, which was followed by back-to-back draws, 0-0 against Paraguay and 1-1 against Brazil, before finally getting 1-0 win against Colombia.
• Chile are on a two match win-less run, before they went on for a 7 match winning streak.
• Argentina were without a win in 4 matches prior to the 1-0 win over Colombia on November 2015.
• Lionel Messi missed all the four World Cup Qualifying matches due to injury.
Chile: Team News
Jorge Valdivia and Charles Aranguiz will miss the match due to respective injuries, while Eduardo Vargas and Arturo Vidal are suspended.
The rest of the key players like Arsenal winger Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona goal keeper Claudio Bravo and Inter Milan’s Gary Medel are set to start for Chile against a feisty Argentina.
Chile Expected Starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Bravo – Mena, Jara, Medel, Isla – Diaz, Fernández Gonzalez – Francisco Silva, Beausejour, Alexis Sanchez – Pinilla.
Argentina: Team News
Tata Martino has called up a number of key players for this clash and Barcelona ace Lionel Messi is set to start in his match of the qualifying campaign. There is no place for Boca Juniors duo Carlos Tevez and Fernando Gago, but Ezequiel Lavezzi has been called up despite playing his stint in China.
Manchester City stopper Otamendi and Juventus striker Dybala are doubtful for this match, while Valencia midfielder Enco Perez is sidelined due to his muscle injury.
Villarreal defender Mateo Mussachio is called up and could start here if Otamendi doesn’t pass fitness test in time. The biggest surprise in Tata Martino’s squad is the inclusion of Rosario Central left-back Javier Pinolla, who last played for the national team nine years ago.
Argentina Expected Starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Romero – Rojo, Funes Mori, Mussachio, Mercado – Mascherano, Biglia – Di Maria, Banega, Messi – Higuain.
Chile vs Argentina: Head-to-Head Stats
The teams have met each other on 18 occasions and there were 10 wins for Argentina, while 4 were won by Chile and the rest 4 were draws.
The last meeting between the two sides was in the Copa America Final of 2015, while Chile lifted the trophy by winning it 4-1 on penalties after scores were tied at 0-0 at full playing time.
Chile vs Argentina: Prediction
Juan Antonio Pizzi hasn’t made a good start to his managerial job at Chile national team after taking over from a highly popular Jorge Sampaoli. Without a win in their last two matches, the former Barcelona player will be hoping that his key player Alexis Sanchez will fire in this difficult fixture.
Argentina have the best attack in the world at the moment and will be confident with the return of Messi and an in-form Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain. Chile won’t be intimidated by this and they will believe they can win this one and will be highly motivated on the back of the Copa America triumph a year ago.
This is a tough one to call with both teams wanting to win and if Messi can reflect the kind of form he is displaying with Barcelona, they might well edge this.