Crunch World Cup qualifiers for FC Barcelona's South Americans

Crunch World Cup qualifiers for FC Barcelona's South Americans

Uruguay host Ecuador with a record-seeking Suárez in their ranks, while Neymar Jr and Brazil pose a difficult challenge for an Argentina in big need of points

Luis Suárez, Neymar Jr, Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano are all in action today as the marathon group stage in the Conmebol qualifying zone for the 2018 World Cup in Russia gets back under way.

Uruguay v Ecuador

At Estadio Centenario, Montevideo (8.00pm local time)

First up is Suárez and Uruguay, who will be looking to maintain their impressive 100 per cent record on home turf, where the celeste have scored 14 and conceded none. The side coached by Óscar Washington are just one point behind leaders Brazil and a win today would really start putting distance between them and the other main challengers.

But their guests, Ecuador, are having a fine qualifying campaign of their own, and are currently third in the group.

An added target for the Barça striker is the fact that after matching Hernán Crespo's all-time record of 19 goals in South American qualifiers in the previous game, a 2-2 draw in Colombia, he will now set an outright record if he scores again.   

Brazil v Argentina 

At Mineirão, Belo Horizonte (9.45 local time)

Later on comes one of the biggest clashes in international football, as Brazil return to the stadium where they lost 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 semi-finals, this time to face an Argentina team that needs points badly.

After Chile benefitted from a walkover due to Bolivia having fielded an ineligible player, the two-time world champions would not even make the playoff as things currently stand.

And winning in Brazil is never easy. In fact, in the three previous campaigns in which they have featured, Messi and Mascherano have yet to experience a win this fixture, which has seen two Brazilian wins and one draw.

The game also brings the fascinating circumstance of Messi and Neymar Jr featuring on opposing teams for what is, somewhat surprisingly, the first time ever in a competitive international - as we analyse in further detail here.

Força Barça
Força Barça

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