Argentina - Venezuela live online: international friendly 2019
Follow all the action from the Metropolitano in Madrid as Leo Messi returns for Argentina vs Venezuela in a Copa América warm-up.
Argentina vs Venezuela live online: latest updates
Argentina vs Venezuela live online: match preview
The major news surrounding the friendly between Argentina and Venezuela at Atlético Madrid’s Metropolitano stadium is the return to international action of Leo Messi after a nine-month absence but there are plenty of side-narratives to the game as well, not least the fact that the Albiceleste have been held by the Vinotinto in both of their most recent encounters.
Messi’s return coincides with all South American sides’ limbering-up proper for the 2019 Copa América and the choice of opponent on Friday evening is no accident despite being played on European soil. Messi’s lack of a major international triumph is the only stick left with which to beat his claim to be the greatest player of all-time, and the tournament in Brazil provides the perfect stage for the Barcelona star to tick that particular box.
Due to the decision to move the Copa América to coincide with the Euros, Argentina will have another crack in 2020 but there is a sense that a “golden generation” is coming to an end and Lionel Scaloni, who replaced Jorge Sampaoli after Argentina’s disappointing World Cup campaign, will seek to deliver glory at the first time of asking, not least because his contract runs until the end of the 2019 edition.
It is notable that Scaloni omitted the likes of Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ángel di María (through injury), Nicolás Otamendi and Éver Banega from his current squad, but it is likely that is merely to have a look at some up-and-comers before Brazil rather than a Joachim Löw-style cull of the old guard.
Among the uncapped call-ups in the Argentina squad are Lisandro Martínez, Gonzalo Montiel, Federico Zaracho, Iván Marcone and Domingo Blanco, while Darío Benedetto will get his chance to shine up front, as best he can under the considerable shadow of Messi.
Rafael Dudamel’s side have been drawn against the host nation at the 2019 Copa América and will relish the opportunity to test themselves against a nation of Argentina’s resources. The presence of Bolivia and Peru in Group A will give the Vinotinto confidence they can progress to the latter stages again, having reached the quarter-finals twice and the semis once over the course of the last decade.
There will be a few familiar faces on display in the Metropolitano for Spanish observers, with Espanyol, Elche, Peralada, Gimnástic, Cádiz and Huesca all represented – and therein lies the enormity of the task Dudamel faces. Draws against Japan and Iran in Venezuela’s last two games are a fair indication of where they lie on the global scale but Dudamel does have game changers in the form of Salomón Rondón, who has been in fine form for Newcastle of late, while 19-year-old Jan Carlos Hurtado and Atlanta United’s Josef Martínez are ones to watch.
Old heads Tomás Rincón, Roberto Rosales and Luis Manuel Seijas will provide a solid, experienced shield in front of the sticks, where either Wuilker Faríñez or Rafael Romo will be tasked with halting Messi and co as Venezuela seeks just a second win in their last 25 games against Argentina.
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