Preview: Argentina vs. Paraguay - team news, lineups

Argentina will be looking to make it three wins out of three in the CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup qualification when they play host to Paraguay on Friday at the Estadio Alberto J. Armando.

The visitors are also undefeated from their opening two matches, having drawn with Peru and beaten Venezuela so far.

Argentina have made a strong start to qualifying - as expected - but the two-time World Cup winners have not dispatched their opponents with ease by any means.

Lionel Scaloni's men had to rely on a Lionel Messi penalty to get over the line against Ecuador on matchday one, and Argentina were given a scare early on against Bolivia as Marcelo Martins broke the deadlock for the hosts in the first half.

However, Argentina soon turned the tie around as goals from Lautaro Martinez and Joaquin Correa spared Scaloni's blushes and propelled La Albiceleste to their second win on the bounce.

Argentina have not failed to qualify for the World Cup finals since 1970 and their path to 2022 should be relatively simple, with Brazil the only other side to record two victories from their opening two games, although Argentina are currently behind their rivals in the standings on goal difference.

Avoid defeat against Paraguay and Argentina will have gone 10 games unbeaten - with Scaloni's men winning four of their last five in all competitions - but Paraguay have held their own and cannot be underestimated heading into matchday three.

Despite achieving their best ever result in the World Cup in 2010 by reaching the quarter finals, Paraguay have failed to qualify for the summer tournament since, with the Albirroja faithful hoping that it is a case of third time lucky for their side ahead of 2022.

Eduardo Berizzo's men currently occupy a spot in the top four - which would see them advance to Qatar automatically - although it is still very early days as qualifying will not finish until March 2022.

However, Paraguay have given a good account of themselves in the opening stages as they played out a 2-2 draw with Peru before beating Venezuela, with Gaston Gimenez the hero of the hour for Berizzo as he netted an 85th minute winner in that encounter.

Whilst Friday's visitors may not feel all that confident of extending their unbeaten run to three matches against a formidable Argentina outfit, Paraguay have a clash with bottom-of-the-table Bolivia to come next Tuesday and will certainly be eager to take maximum points from that one.

That being said, Argentina are winless in their last three against Paraguay - drawing two and losing one - with La Albiceleste once again relying on a Messi spot-kick to take a share of the spoils in last year's Copa America showdown.

Argentina World Cup Qualifying - South America form: WW
Argentina form (all competitions): DWWDWW

Paraguay World Cup Qualifying - South America form: DW
Paraguay form (all competitions): LDWDDW

Due to an issue in a sensitive area, Juventus forward Paulo Dybala has been forced to withdraw from the Argentina squad, while fellow attacker Sergio Aguero has not recovered in time either.

Angel Di Maria is back in the fold, but Argentina's injury list keeps piling up as La Liga duo Juan Foyth and Marcos Acuna will both miss out as well.

Emiliano Martinez has been rewarded for his stellar performances for Arsenal and Aston Villa with a call-up, and the goalkeeper will be hopeful of earning his first cap for the national side.

As for Paraguay, goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez has failed to recover in time for November's fixtures, which should see 36-year-old Antony Silva tasked with keeping the formidable Argentina attack at bay.

Fellow shot-stopper Gerardo Ortiz initially made the squad but the uncapped 31-year-old will play no part this month owing to reported COVID-19 cases at his club, Once Caldas.

Premier League pair Miguel Almiron and Fabian Balbuena are both included, with the Newcastle United man set to start on the left-hand side, but Balbuena may have to make do with a spot on the bench.

Argentina possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Montiel, Otamendi, Martinez Quarta, Tagliafico; Paredes, De Paul, Palacios; Messi, Martinez, Ocampos

Paraguay possible starting lineup:
Silva; Espinola, Gomez, Alonso, Arzamendia; Gimenez, R. Rojas, Villasanti; A. Romero, Lezcano, Almiron

Source: SportsMole / 


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