(Photo : Reuters)
Argentina will look to book a spot in the 2014 World Cup when it takes on Ecuador in the CONMEBOL qualifiers on Tuesday.
Lionel Messi's squad currently sits atop the CONMEBOL standings with 25 points in 12 matches; in the last two World Cup qualifiers, 25 points have been enough to qualify. The top four teams in the confederation book passage to the World Cup finals next summer. Argentina currently has a nine point lead on the fifth place Venezuela.
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The Argentines are coming off a 0-0 draw against Colombia. Messi came on in the second half as a sub and was largely ineffective throughout the match.
"I'm not well. Today I could play a little but I wasn't sure how my leg was going to respond," Messi said after the game. "We spoke about it before the match with the coach and decided that it would be best to come on for a while in the second half."
Ecuador currently sits in third place in the CONMEBOL standings with 20 points. However, the team needs to reverse its current trend of losing matches. The Ecuadorians are coming off a 1-0 loss against Peru; days earlier the team was trounced 4-2 by an understaffed German side.
Ecuador and Argentina faced off on June 2, 2012 in Buenos Aires. The hosts won 4-0 in that match. However, Ecuador has won every single qualifying match at home and will look to do the same against its superior rivals.
Prediction: Argentina relies heavily on Messi's magic to make the offense click. Look for Ecuador to play a fine game. However the two sides will ultimately fight to a 1-1 draw.
Start Time: 5 PM EST
TV: beinSport USA