Argentina captain Lionel Messi is fit again and will start their World Cup qualifier at home to Brazil on Tuesday but Neymar will miss out for the visitors after feeling pain in his thigh, the teams announced.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made similar comments ahead of their last game, a 1-0 win over Uruguay on Friday, although Messi only appeared for the final 14 minutes of the match.
Argentina are second in South America’s 10-team qualifying group, six points behind Brazil, who are the only team from the region to have secured their place at Qatar 2022 so far.
Scaloni repeated that Messi, 34, had recovered fully from the knee and hamstring worries that kept him out of Paris St Germain’s last two games and was ready for one of the biggest matches in the South American calendar.
“He was physically fit the other day and in the end we decided that the best thing was for him to play a few minutes so that he could get a feel for it and he is confirmed to play tomorrow,” Scaloni said of Tuesday’s match in San Juan.
Beside Neymar, Brazil will be missing the suspended Casemiro, who could be replaced by Fabinho. Coach Tite also expects to test other players after beating Colombia 1-0, possibly using Matheus Cunha up front instead of Gabriel Jesus.
In September, the qualifier between the teams was suspended after seven minutes because Argentina broke COVID-19 protocols. FIFA still has not announced what it will do with that match. “I regret that match did not take place,” Tite said Monday, speaking before Neymar’s injury was announced. “(Tuesday) is a World Cup match for us, like the Colombia match was. Everything else will be secondary due to the greatness of this encounter.”