With the World Cup in Russia looming, both Brazil and Argentina are closing in on qualification. If they qualify, it would be the last time that either player plays for their national team.
The world cup winners is a term used to describe the teams that will win the World Cup. Brazil and Argentina are close in on the title, which could be Neymar, Messi’s last.
Neymar has said that Qatar 2022 will be his last FIFA World Cup appearance. It will very certainly be Lionel Messi’s last match. And, based on South America’s qualifying campaign, the duo have every right to fantasize about finishing on a high note.
Both Brazil and Argentina are still undefeated, are on the verge of securing their World Cup spots with a few rounds to go, and can now focus on building a team for Qatar.
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Argentina has discovered its sweet spot. Their undefeated streak now spans 23 matches, dating back to the 2019 Copa America semifinals, and in an excellent 3-0 victory against Uruguay at home, they demonstrated that they are a squad that understands precisely what they are attempting to accomplish.
They fielded the XI that has played the greatest football throughout the undefeated run, with Lautaro Martinez fit and Nicolas Gonzalez filling in for Angel Di Maria. Gonzalez plays wide on the left, enabling the midfield triangle of Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul, and Giovani Lo Celso to stay close together and weave passing patterns, allowing Messi to enter the game.
The game-winning goal was a combination of luck and strategy; Messi’s cross into the area was targeted for Gonzalez’s diagonal run. However, Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal was fooled by the bounce, and the ball bobbled inside the far corner. Soon after, Lo Celso found Messi again — their understanding is crucial to the club — and a deflected ball fell to Martinez, whose scuffed shot was perfectly placed for De Paul to push in. The Argentine midfield created space and took advantage of the repercussions by playing close together and pressuring the Uruguayan goal.
Another eye-catching cameo occurred in the second half, with the midfield combining in a counter-attack. In the second half, Messi supplied De Paul on the right flank, and Martinez turned in his low centre at the far post.
The game had turned into a show for the Buenos Aires fans at this time, and more goals might have been scored. However, the game might have gone in a different direction. With three centre-backs, Uruguay came to defend, drew Argentina forward, and surged into the gap. They had limited possession but the better of the opportunities for almost a half-hour. On the counter-attack, left wing-back Mathias Vina provided a supply line for Luis Suarez, who came near three times. He delivered a fantastic acrobatic left-footed volley on one of them. It deserved a goal, and it seemed to be one until Emiliano Martinez made the save low to his right.
Martinez made his international debut for Argentina just a few months ago. It’s difficult to see an Argentina squad without him. For decades, the Aston Villa goalie has been Argentina’s greatest goalkeeper, instilling confidence in a defense that does not often inspire it. Goals may make or break a game. Martinez did all he could to guarantee that the game-winning goal came from the opposite end. His rise adds to Argentina’s confidence in its ability to compete in Qatar.
After Brazil’s 2-2 draw with Colombia, Neymar hinted that the 2022 World Cup might be his last. Getty Images/Guillermo Legaria)
Brazil has a plethora of excellent goalkeepers to select from. This month, Alisson has been the top choice. With little loss of quality, either Ederson or Weverton, the two keepers employed in the campaign, may step in. Brazil has only allowed three times in ten rounds of CONMEBOL qualifying after another clean sheet. Some of it is down to Marquinhos, the excellent centre-back whose judgment and quickness of recovery make defending seem simple. Brazil, while being defensively tight, always has a chance against any opponent.
The 0-0 stalemate in Colombia on Sunday means they have lost their perfect record, but it also moves them closer to the magic number of 28 points, which has traditionally been sufficient for automatic qualifying. They have a six-point advantage against Argentina. It might be claimed, though, that their former competitors are closer to achieving the perfect mix. Tite, Brazil’s coach, has made personnel and formation adjustments. The good aspect is that he is considering alternatives, but the bad aspect is that he is unsure of his best side.
The emergence of Leeds United winger Raphinha, who came off the bench and ignited the game against Venezuela last Thursday, has been a huge positive for Brazil in this month’s games. Brazil has discovered a player in the form of a winger with pace, talent, vision, and set-piece ability. With Antony, another replacement winger, doing well on the left side, Brazil has a plethora of wide-area alternatives.
Attacking via the center, on the other hand, is more difficult. Gabriel Barbosa of Flamengo has been given a longer run, but he has yet to demonstrate that he can replicate his club form at a higher level. Neymar and Lucas Paqueta seemed to be developing an intriguing relationship, which was hinted at during the last Copa America. Brazil were unable to turn possession into goals due to Neymar’s unusually poor performance, but respect must be given to Wilmar Barrios, the anchorman in a Colombian midfield that seemed like it was about to be overrun.
After that, Brazil and Argentina drew closer to Qatar. The five teams behind them in the standings, from Ecuador in third place through Peru in seventh, all failed to win. Colombia, in fifth place, was the only squad to escape loss. Apart from Argentina, the bottom three placed first in the round.
Venezuela was due some good fortune, and they took advantage of Ecuador’s youthful team’s mistakes to win 2-1. It’s almost likely too late to rescue Venezuela’s election campaign. Bolivia, which defeated Peru 1-0, and Chile, who defeated Paraguay 2-0, may yet hope. Both teams are back at home in the following round on Thursday, where three more points would put them in contention.
As a result, several South American clubs may still consider themselves in contention for a spot in Qatar following round 11 of the season. Messi, Neymar, and his Argentine and Brazilian colleagues, on the other hand, have every right to believe that they will not only be at the World Cup, but that they will be able to have an effect in the finals.
The 2018 world cup is the most anticipated sporting event in the world. With Brazil and Argentina leading the pack, many are predicting this could be Neymar and Messi’s last World Cup.
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