Lionel Messi has score to settle with Brazil in World Cup qualifiers
The Argentine superstar now at Inter Miami has scored 31 goals during qualification rounds for FIFA’s international showpiece, but Brazil stand out.
Rio de Janeiro is a city that will always evoke fond memories for Lionel Messi. The trophy drought he experienced with the Argentine national team came to an end precisely at this famous venue, one that he and his teammates will return to on Tuesday when they face Brazil. Ángel di María’s goal is something that will remain etched in the hearts of Albiceleste fans, a Copa América title that had such a significant importance for Messi for the first time at the senior level.
Messi vs Brazil: a score to be settled
Nevertheless, the Maracanã stadium has yet to witness the best version of the former Barcelona hero. Messi still has an outstanding debt to settle having not managed to score against Brazil in South American World Cup Qualifiers.
That same venue has another memory for the Argentine star. In 2014, Argentina reached the final of the World Cup, poised to claim enemy territory, but a goal from Mario Götze in extra-time ultimately buried the hopes of the South Americans.
Argentina-Brazil : limited pre-World Cup history
Despite the fact that both teams have faced each other on more than 100 occasions, the reality is that Brazil against Argentina has very little history in qualifiers for FIFA’s big competition, and for a fairly obvious reason. It wasn’t until France 1998 that the ‘all-against-all’ format was adopted in CONMEBOL.
For that World Cup, Brazil secured automatic qualification as the reigning world champion. This meant that it was not until the qualifiers for Korea-Japan 2002 that both teams faced each other for the first time in a qualifying match for a World Cup.
Out of 10 matches between them since then, the balance favours the Verdeamarelha. The Brazilians have four victories, three draws, and two defeats, in addition to the suspended match in Sao Paulo, which ended up being declared null and void, in the sixth round ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Argentina is expected to arrive in Brazilian territory in the late hours of Monday, 20 November. Prior to that, Lionel Scaloni’s team had a closed-door practice on Sunday, aiming to fine tune and address the errors from the match against Uruguay.