Argentina's World Cup Qualifier in Doubt as Lionel Messi Faces Uncertainty Vinicius Jr Set to Return for Brazil.

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Argentina’s World Cup Qualifier in Doubt as Lionel Messi Faces Uncertainty Vinicius Jr Set to Return for Brazil.

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Lionel Messi, at 36, rejoined the World Cup champions following a recovery from injury, making a second-half appearance for Inter Miami in Major League Soccer on Saturday.

Argentina’s manager, Lionel Scaloni, stated that he plans to have a discussion with Messi about the potential risk of including him in Thursday’s South American World Cup qualifier against Paraguay, considering his ongoing recovery from injury. The star forward, who previously played for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, has been grappling with an injury sustained during international duty last month.

“We still have one more training session, and it’s crucial for him… I need to consult with him and ensure we’re confident he can start. He looked promising. Based on that, we’ll determine the rest of the lineup,” Scaloni remarked.

Scaloni also emphasized the importance of considering Argentina’s upcoming match against Peru in Lima, just five days later.

“What gives us reassurance is that if he isn’t fit to play, whoever takes the field will perform just as effectively. That’s the primary concern,” Scaloni affirmed.

Messi, Argentina’s all-time leading scorer with an impressive 104 goals, played a pivotal role in securing their third World Cup victory at Qatar 2022.

In the event of Messi’s absence against Paraguay, Scaloni is inclined to rely on Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez to team up with Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez in the forward line. Alvarez, 23, has had a stellar start to the season, solidifying his position alongside Erling Haaland in City’s starting lineup, contributing six goals and four assists across various competitions. Meanwhile, Martinez boasts even more impressive stats, having netted 10 goals in eight Serie A matches so far this season.

“They’ve already started together,” Scaloni noted of Alvarez and Martinez. “I’m open to various options. It’ll depend on the match. It wouldn’t pose a problem. They have different styles, but they can play.”

Scaloni will be without another World Cup winner, Angel Di María, who is currently in recovery from an injury. Nico Gonzalez is expected to step in as the veteran’s replacement once again.

Argentina has secured victories in both of their qualifiers thus far and shares the top position in the standings with Brazil, each with six points.

Paraguay has amassed one point from their initial matches and currently holds the sixth spot, the final position for automatic qualification for the 2026 World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

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On Thursday, Brazil is set to host Venezuela in Cuiaba, with the ‘Vinotinto’ team currently holding three points after a 1-0 victory against Paraguay and a close 1-0 loss to Colombia.

Brazilian midfielder Casemiro emphasized that they won’t underestimate their opponents, who are eager to secure their first-ever appearance in the global finals. Speaking at a news conference, the Manchester United midfielder stated, “It’s going to be a challenging match. Venezuela has its merits, with numerous players plying their trade in Europe, and they possess quality players. The key here is respect.”

Casemiro also highlighted the unpredictability of football, stating, “Football is one of the few sports where the favorite doesn’t always come out on top… and in South America, there are no easy games.”

Before the match, Brazil’s interim coach Fernando Diniz received positive news regarding the full recovery of forward Vinicius Jr from injury, and he is expected to start against Venezuela. Vinicius, at 23 years old, has been gradually regaining his fitness after suffering a leg injury in late August. He notably contributed with goals for Real Madrid in their recent victories over Napoli in the Champions League and Osasuna in La Liga.

Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus praised Vinicius Jr’s contributions, stating, “Vinicius is vital for his club, as well as for the national team. And he is still very young. He made a comeback from injury, scoring goals and assisting Real in winning matches. He’s truly remarkable.”

Following the match against Venezuela, Brazil will travel to Montevideo to face Marcelo Bielsa’s Uruguay on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Venezuela will be hosting Chile.

In addition to this fixture, Thursday will also witness other exciting games, including Colombia hosting Uruguay, Bolivia taking on Ecuador, and Peru visiting Chile.

Reference:

www.thenationalnews.com

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