Argentina is embarking on a risky journey to the capital La Paz to face its host Bolivia in the second round of the South American qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while Brazil seeks to confirm its strong start when it hosts Peru.
It is true that the balance of direct confrontations tilts in favor of Argentina with 26 wins, compared to seven defeats and five draws, but Argentina always suffers when it visits Bolivia at the Olympic stadium, “Hernando Siles”, at an altitude of 3600 meters.
Argentina lost twice in the last three trips to La Paz without tasting the taste of victory, including a historic loss 1-6 in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers led by coach Diego Armando Maradona on April 1, knowing that it lost the last match between them in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers when it fell with a double A clean in La Paz in the 14th round led to the sacking of coach Edgardo Bautsa and the appointment of Jorge Sampaoli in his place.
Argentina’s recent victory over Bolivia goes back to the year 2005 in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, when they beat them 2-1, knowing that they won only three occasions in La Paz in the history of the confrontations between the two teams.
In 2007, the International Federation had taken a decision to ban playing on all stadiums above 2,500 meters above sea level, citing “medical reasons, and protecting players and referees”, before retreating from its decision one year later due to large protests from the affected federations, especially in South America, most notably the Bolivian Union (La Paz -3600 m) and its Colombian counterparts (Bogota-2600 m) and Ecuadorian (Quito -2800 m).
Argentina was forced to change its strategy regarding playing in La Paz, as it had previously generally waited for the last minute to arrive in the Bolivian capital to play matches so that the players would not suffer from the slow effects of the scarcity of oxygen, this time it decided to land in La Paz on Sunday in order to adapt better.
Argentina will enter the match after its difficult and unconvincing victory over Ecuador in the first round with the goal of its star and captain Lionel Messi, who admitted after the match, saying, “It is a complicated year for everyone,” adding, “With the national team, we are trying to give people a feeling of joy with this victory in a difficult situation.”
Argentina hopes to exploit the shaky morale of Bolivia’s players after the humiliating loss to Brazil by five clean in the first round, but it is well aware of what awaits it in front of a team seeking to reach the world wedding for the first time since 1994 in the United States.
Bolivia is counting on its stadium to fulfill its dream, for which its Venezuelan coach, Cesar Farias, relied on the strategy of playing with two teams in the South American qualifiers: the first for the away matches, and the second for the home matches featuring players with experience and expertise to play at this size above sea level, most of them belong Bolivian clubs play in high-altitude stadiums such as Bolivar and The Strongest in La Paz, and Deportivo Jorge Wilstermann in Cochakamba, which rise 2,800 meters above sea level.
Brazil to confirm
Brazil is seeking to confirm its strong start when it comes to Peru on Wednesday, after honoring it with a five-straight run to Bolivia in Sao Paulo.
Brazil hopes to repeat its victory in its last visit to Lima in the qualifiers for the World Cup 2018, when it came out with two clean goals in the twelfth round.
The two teams met three times last year, including twice in the Copa America finals in Brazil. The landlords won twice: 5-0 in the first round, and 3-1 in the final, before Peru scored a 1-0 moral victory in an international friendly match in Los Angeles. American.
Brazil has the weapons needed to win the second consecutive victory, led by star Neymar, who shined remarkably against Bolivia with two assists, and a record number in dribbling was 18 out of 23 attempts, according to the Statistics Institute “Sofaskor”.
Neymar surpassed the previous record of Wolverhampton international striker Adama Traore (16).
But Peru will not be an uphill moment for Neymar, Felipe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, especially after forcing Paraguay to draw 2-2 in the first round.
The second round will witness a heated summit between Chile and its guest, Colombia.
Colombia hit hard in the first round when it crushed its home country Venezuela by 3-0, while Chile lost its host Uruguay 1-2 with a goal scored by Valencia striker Maximiliano Gomez in the last minute.
Ecuador aspires to exploit the soil factor when it hosts Uruguay, and the same is true for Venezuela against its host Paraguay.