Messi, doubtful starter for Argentina; Vinicius back with Brazil for World Cup qualifying
Lionel Messi is once again a doubtful starter for Argentina in the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Paraguay.
The Argentina captain scored in the opening 1-0 win over Ecuador, but missed the 3-0 win over Bolivia last month due to muscle pain which also ruled him out of several Inter matches Miami in MLS.
The world champions are due to host Paraguay on Thursday in Buenos Aires.
Vinicius Jr. missed Brazil’s first two matches in South American qualifying but is back in the starting lineup after recovering from injury. The Seleçao will face Venezuela in Cuiaba.
Argentina and Brazil are 2-0 in qualifying for the 2026 World Cup after their victories last month. Continental archivists are scheduled to meet in November.
Colombia sits third in the 10-team standings with four points. Uruguay and Venezuela have three points each, followed by Paraguay, Peru and Chile with one point each.
Ecuador did not record a competition point despite winning 2–1 over Uruguay on 13 September. Ecuador started the qualifying tournament at -3 after being deducted points by FIFA for falsifying the birth information of defender Byron Castillo, of Colombian origin. origin.
The upcoming World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada will expand to a 48-team format, meaning direct access to the top six teams in South America. The seventh-placed team will compete in the Intercontinental Playoffs for a spot.
Other matches on Thursday include celebrations for Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay after FIFA’s decision to award those three countries the opening matches of the 2030 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
Argentina vs. Paraguay
Messi, 36, missed four MLS matches for his club as well as the US Open Cup final. He played 10 minutes Saturday in Inter Miami’s 1-0 loss to Cincinnati. Tuesday’s training suggested he would face Paraguay, but it was unclear whether he would start or come off the bench.
Coach Lionel Scaloni did not indicate who would replace Messi if he did not leave. He will also have to make other selection decisions, including whether to start Nicolás Tagliafico or Marcos Acuña at left-back, or Julián Álvarez or Lautaro Martínez in attack.
Argentina will not count on Ángel Di María, who is recovering from an injury. Nico González is expected to replace the veteran again.
Paraguay’s new coach, Daniel Garnero, will make his debut against Argentina. He took over from Guillermo Barros Schelotto last month after the first two qualifiers.
Garnero, 54, Argentine like Schelotto, has coached several Paraguayan teams since 2016 and has shown his preference for more balanced teams in a country where defending is considered an art.
“We have to play smart, use our coach’s strategy for this match and take a point. And why not three? » said defender Junior Alonso. His hopes are not false; Argentina have failed to beat Paraguay in the last two editions of South American World Cup qualifying.
Brazil vs. Venezuela
New Brazil coach Fernando Diniz showed in training on Tuesday that Vinicius Jr. is fully recovered from his injury and will start against Venezuela in the city of Cuiaba. Raphinha started on the right wing in the first two matches but is now injured.
The 23-year-old Vinicius’ status at home has grown since the last World Cup, while he continues to flourish at Real Madrid.
“Vinicius is important for his club, he is important for the national team. And he’s just a boy,” striker Gabriel Jesus said at a press conference. “He came back from injury scoring goals and helping Real win games. He’s just awesome.
Renan Lodi, also absent due to injury, should be replaced by Guilherme Arana.
Richarlison is expected to start against Venezuela despite his lack of goals for the national team. His most recent goal for Brazil came in the 4-1 victory over South Korea in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar.
Also on Thursday, Colombia will face Uruguay, Bolivia will host Ecuador and Chile will face Peru.