Brazil vs. Argentina

October 16, 2018

King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Kickoff: 2:00 PM EDT / 3:00 PM BRT / 6:00 PM GMT

US TV/Streaming: BeIN Sports

Expected Starting Lineup: Alisson; Danilo, Miranda, Marquinhos, Filipe Luís; Casemiro, Arthur, Renato Augusto; Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Neymar (C).

Match Notes: 

  • This has the potential to become a particularly sour FIFA date for Brazil. After a thoroughly drab performance in a 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia, playing similarly against Argentina would leave a bitter taste in many mouths (and likely result in a less favorable scoreline). That’s without mentioning the flak the CBF has taken for arranging to play these friendlies in Saudi Arabia, and thus allowing the kingdom to use the Seleção to legitimize themselves at a time when they’re under fire for a slew of human rights abuses. There’s a chance Brazil ends up facing a fiasco both on the pitch and off, the likes of which we’ve not seen since, uh… [checks notes] the 2018 World Cup.
  • This match is being billed as the semi-annual playing of the Superclássico das Américas, and thus will end in a penalty shootout if the game is tied after 90 minutes.
  • Argentina are missing many of their best-known attackers, including Lionel Messi, Ángel Di Maria, Sergio Agüero, and Gonzalo Higuaín. Of course, none of these players ever performed nearly as well for Argentina as they did for their clubs, so Los Hermanos might reap the benefits of fielding a set of younger, hungrier, but hardly less dangerous players in their place. Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi are likely to start, and they have a host of bright young forwards to bring in off the bench.
  • Tite has really boxed himself in with his selections. By putting Coutinho on the wing, this squad has Fred as the only midfielder who regularly plays vertical passes to the forwards, but after a dire performance against Saudi Arabia, he’s apparently lost his starting spot to Arthur. I would much rather have seen the Barcelona boy take Renato Augusto’s starting spot, but given that Fred has the physical presence of a sheet of poster board, that would likely have made the midfield too vulnerable. As it is, I worry that we’ll see Arthur and Renato spend most of the game passing between themselves rather than feeding the forwards—or that Renato will slow down the play every time Arthur tries to speed it up.
  • Honestly, why not try a double pivot of Casemiro and Fabinho?
  • We’re persisting with the Coutinho-on-the-wing setup, which I still support, but this time Roberto Firmino will be up front. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think this system is one in which Firmino can succeed.
  • Danilo will start at right-back after barely playing since the injury which took him out of the World Cup. That’s what you call a recipe for success!
  • My prediction: Brazil 1-0 Argentina. We’ll eke out a win over an Argentine side that’s still very much in transition, not really looking to build further once we take the lead. Beating Argentina is always satisfying, but I expect this will be the sort of game we leave thinking that we could, and should, have made a much bigger statement.