On Thursday evening in Montevideo, South America’s oldest foes lock horns once again and while Uruguay and Argentina’s historic rivalry gives added significance to every meeting, the latest installment raises the stakes even further as World Cup qualification is on the line.
Only four rounds remain in the marathon that is South American qualifying and while Uruguay currently occupy third with Argentina sitting outside the automatic qualifying places in need of a playoff in fifth, only four points separate Colombia in second and Ecuador in sixth.
Three points for either side would edge them closer to a place in Russia; defeat would make things rather uncomfortable with only three games remaining.
“It’s a decisive match. A bad result against Uruguay will force us to take (all) nine points,” Jorge Sampaoli warned in his press conference on Tuesday.
Sampaoli’s appointment as Argentina coach has given La Albiceleste a lift at a point when the squad and playing style had stagnated under the dour Edgardo Bauza while South America’s early pacesetters Uruguay have kept faith in Oscar Tabarez and his small, experienced group, losing their last three World Cup qualifiers, conceding nine goals in the process before shipping a further six in June’s two friendlies.
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Argentina probable starting XI: Sergio Romero; Gabriel Mercado, Federico Fazio or Javier Mascherano, Nicolás Otamendi; Marcos Acuña or Lautaro Acosta, Lucas Biglia, Guido Pizarro, Ángel Di María; Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala; Mauro Icardi
Uruguay probable starting XI: Fernando Muslera; Martín Cáceres, José Maria Giménez, Diego Godín, Gastón Silva; Nahitan Nández, Matías Vecino, Álvaro González, Cristian Rodríguez; Edinson Cavani, Luis Suárez
One of the oldest international rivalries in world football, Argentina’s 3-2 win in Montevideo in 1901 might be in the history books as the first official meeting but an annual match between teams from Buenos Aires and the Uruguayan capital was organised to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday in 1888.
Competition between the two nation’s only intensified with the birth of the Copa América and Uruguay defeating Argentina in the 1928 Olympic final but since those early successes, La Albiceleste have enjoyed the upper hand in the clásico – winning 89 of the 192 meetings to Uruguay’s 59.
Last six meetings
September 2nd 2016, World Cup qualification
Argentina 1 (Messi)
June 16th 2015, Copa América
Argentina 1 (Agüero)
October 15th 2013, World Cup qualification
Uruguay 3 (Rodríguez, Suárez, Cavani)
Argentina 2 (Maxi Rodríguez (2))
October 12th 2012, World Cup qualification
Argentina 3 (Messi (2), Agüero)
July 16th 2011, Copa América
Argentina 1 (Higuaín)
Uruguay 1 (Pérez)
Uruguay won 5-4 on penalties
October 14th 2009, World Cup qualification
Argentina 1 (Bolatti)