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Uruguay 0-0 Argentina 2018 World Cup qualifier: match report


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Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifiers - Uruguay v Argentina - Centenario stadium, Montevideo, Uruguay - August 31, 2017. Argentina's Lionel Messi and Uruguay's Cristian Rodriguez in action. REUTERS/Carlos Pazos
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Uruguay 0-0 Argentina: match report

Luis Suárez made it back from injury in time to line out against Argentina at Estadio Centenario on Thursday night but neither he or his Barcelona teammate, Lionel Messi, could find the net in a poor game of football by any standards.

In Jorge Sampaoli's first competitive game as the manager of Argentina, his fingerprints were all over the display to begin with and while the defenders looked slightly uncomfortable to start, they settled into their roles and Lionel Messi started to pick Uruguay apart slowly but surely.

He was involved in Argentina's best move of the game when he dropped his shoulder, leaving two Uruguayans in his wake, before linking up wth Paulo Dybala only to see his left-footed shot saved by Fernando Muslera. It became increasingly clear that it would be Messi, and not Sampaoli's tactics, that would be the difference if there was to be one on the night.

Uruguay, on the other hand, saw there best chance caused by their own goalkeeper, Sergio Romero, who parried a shot by Alvaro Gonzalez that Edinson Cavani almost pounced on only for the play to end with a poor shot by Matias Vecino.

In a game that promised plenty, the fans weren't being given the display they expected but there was time still for things to heat up.

It never happened though.

The biggest news of the night might have been Luis Suárez limping off with what may be a recurrence of the knee injury he was rushed back form in order to play in tonight.

With chances few and far between, Uruguay seemed comfortable enough with how things were starting to pan out as they remain third and with second place in sight. (Colombia drew with Venezuela and Chile lost to Paraguay.)

To even suggest there were half-chances would be a stretch. Javier Pastore played a ball to Mauro Icardi and he went down under pressure from Diego Godín but the replays showed there was nothing in it. Meanwhile, the battle in the trenches raged on.

It ended 0-0 after a dour 90 minutes and Jorge Sampaoli has plenty to consider ahead of a game against bottom side Venezuela next week. Uruguay travel to play Paraguay, who are coming off a 3-0 victory over Chile and will be a tough nut to crack.

Uruguay vs Argentina live stream online: latest news

Uruguay vs Argentina live stream online: match preview

Argentina travel to the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo to face Uruguay (Friday, 01:00 CET) in what is a not quite a must-win game but one that Jorge Sampaoli’s side certainly can’t afford to lose with the Albiceleste sitting in fifth in the Conmebol standings with four games to play. Finishing the qualifying tournament in that position will not represent disaster for Argentina – a likely final qualifying hurdle of New Zealand, who play the Solomon Islands in the OFC final, awaits whoever misses out on automatic access to Russia 2018 – and Sampaoli has had to contend with the car crash that he inherited from Edgardo Bauza.

A 1-0 victory over Brazil in Singapore in June suggested the former Sevilla coach had steadied a listing ship against the only side to have already automatically booked their place in Russia but Sampaoli faces a task to see his own side through after Argentina slumped to a 2-0 defeat in Bolivia and scraped past Chile 1-0 courtesy of a Leo Messi penalty in the last round of fixtures.

Argentina play already eliminated Venezuela - who have picked up just six points in a wretched campaign - Peru and Ecuador in their final three fixtures, with the latter two sitting behind Sampaoli’s side on 18 and 20 points respectively. Peru held Argentina in Lima in the reverse fixture while Ecuador were victorious in the opening round of fixtures in Buenos Aires. Sampaoli will not be eager to take his side to the Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa on the final match day needing a win. Victory in Montevideo could, pending other results, take Argentina up to second.

Uruguay

The big question mark facing the home side is whether Óscar Tabárez will risk Luis Suárez – and incurring the wrath of Barcelona – in a game that also represents a roll of the dice for Uruguay, who are just a point ahead of Argentina and level with Chile and travel next to face a dangerous Paraguay side on the opposition’s turf.

The Barça striker injured his knee during the Spanish Super Cup and has not featured for his club since but nonetheless answered the call of his country and may feature. "He has shown signs of recovery that have rather surprised us," Tabárez said.

Even if Suárez does not make the side, Tabárez has Edinson Cavani fit and firing to lead the line. The PSG striker has scored in every Ligue 1 game so far this season and is the qualifying stage’s top scorer with nine for his country.

Argentina

Midfield enforcer Éver Banega is suspended for Sampaoli’s side and the Argentina boss may opt to go with a three-man defence as he did against Brazil and in a 6-0 drubbing of Singapore in June’s friendlies. Sevilla’s Guido Pizarro is the most obvious like-for-like replacement for Banega but Sampaoli will trust his attacking instincts to take the game to Uruguay.

Sampaoli took the decision to leave Gonzalo Higuaín out of his squad, suggesting he will seek a fluid forward line with Leo Messi and Paulo Dybala operating behind Inter’s Mauro Icardi.

Argentina have managed just six wins in their 14 games so far and were further hamstrung by a Court of Arbtitration for Sport ruling imposing a points deduction against Bolivia for fielding an ineligible player during a 0-0 draw with Chile in September 2016. That result was later adjusted to a 3-0 win for Sampaoli’s former side, who he led to Copa América glory at the expense of Argentina in 2015,allowing Chile to leapfrog the Albiceleste into fourth - but that will serve as scant balm to the wound of failing to qualify if Argentina slip up on the pitch again.

"Now we have to play catch-up to get to the World Cup," Sampaoli said after the ruling was announced on Tuesday.

Uruguay vs Argentina live online: possible line-ups

Uruguay XI: Muslera; Maxi Pereira, Giménez, Godín, Lemos; Vecino, González, Sánchez, Cebolla Rodríguez; Cavani, Suárez.

Coach: Óscar Tabárez

Argentina XI: Romero; Fazio, Mascherano, Otamendi, Pareja; Pizarro, Pastore, Di María; Dybala, Messi, Icardi.

Coach: Jorge Sampaoli

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