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2018 World Cup Qualifying: Messi returns for Albiceleste in Belo Horizonte

Reporter: Mike Fox 丨 CCTV.com

11-10-2016 15:47 BJT

Argentina find themselves in an unusual position going into their world cup qualifier game with Brazil on Thursday. The Albiceleste are 6th in the CONMEBOL group, five points off their opponents who top the table, but with a fully fit Lionel Messi returning for the match in Belo Horizonte, they will fancy their chances.

To Brazil fans, Belo Horizonte still brings back painful memories. The scene of their 7-1 thrashing by Germany in the world cup two years ago is still fresh in the minds of everyone involved with the Samba Boys. But under new boss Tite, Brazilian international football has undergone a resurgence and they now sit top of the South American qualification group to reach Russia in 2 years time. The arrival of Argentina with a fit Lionel Messi available for selection will be the toughest for 55-year-old's Brazil team coach since he took the reins in June.

"I hope that Lionel Messi does not have his best day, because it's something that happens a lot in our lives, no matter how hard we work. There's days when you are not at your best and I hope this game will be his day. It will help us a lot. But if he is at his best, we will try to neutralise him, play against him without fear. We are not scared to face him," said Dani Alves, Brazil defender.

Argentina have their own problems to worry about. They sit outside of the automatic places to qualify and one place below the play-off spot. There is still a long way to go in the campaign for but the uncharacteristic struggle from the 2-time champions has worried some and they need to bounce back from their one nil defeat to Paraguay to get the fans back on side

"We will play to win, because we need the three points. We need to leave this position that is not good to be in. We will look for a great game, push for the three points because we are desperately need it. We will also respect the fact they have great players," said Enzo Perez, Argentina midfielder.

In order to do so they will need to become the first team to defeat Brazil in a qualifier at home.

"It's a derby. Both them and us have great players, very skillful players. It will be a great show and, hopefully, we can secure the three points," said Julio Buffarini, Argentina defender.

Also in action is Columbia who host 5th placed Chile who will be without Alexis Sanchez through injury. Uruguay welcome Ecuador to Montevideo while Peru travel to Paraguay. Venezuela go up against Bolivia who's progress has been stunted after they were deducted 4 points for fielding an ineligible player.

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