Messi-led Argentina finalize preparations for Paraguay

Buenos Aires, Oct 6 (EFE).- Argentina’s national soccer team held a third and final practice here Wednesday ahead of a World Cup qualifying match against Paraguay, a training session in which superstar Lionel Messi seemed to be in peak form.

During an initial 15-minute stretch that was open to the media, the Paris Saint-Germain forward and Albiceleste captain could be seen smiling and apparently in optimal condition.

On Tuesday night, Argentina’s soccer association said all of the players’ coronavirus tests came back negative and that head coach Lionel Scaloni has the entire roster at his disposal going into that South American Soccer Confederation (CONMEBOL) World Cup qualification match.

After the session unfolded smoothly, Scaloni said in a virtual press conference that he still has not decided who will initially take the field for Thursday night’s game because some players have minor injuries.

He added, however, that the starting 11 will be almost identical to the side that played in the Copa America final in July, when Argentina topped Brazil 1-0 for their 15th title.

Emiliano Martinez will likely start in goal, with Gonzalo Montiel, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi and Marcos Acuña in defense, Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes and Giovani Lo Celso in midfield and Angel Di Maria, Messi and Lautaro Martinez in attack.

Argentina departed Wednesday afternoon for Asuncion for their match against Paraguay at Defensores del Chaco Stadium at 8 pm local time (2300 GMT) Thursday.

The Albiceleste will then host Uruguay on Sunday in a postponed Matchday 5 contest and then receive Peru on Oct. 14, with both of those matches to be played at Antonio Vespucio Liberti Stadium in Buenos Aires.

Even with a game in hand, South American giants Brazil and Argentina are in first and second place, respectively, in CONMEBOL’s World Cup qualification standings with 24 points and 18 points, respectively.

They are followed by Uruguay (15), Ecuador (13), Colombia (13), Paraguay (11), Peru (8), Chile (7), Bolivia (6) and Venezuela (4). EFE


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