Lionel Messi has shaken off his injury concerns and is fit for Tuesday’s crunch tie between Argentina and Brazil, but Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar has been ruled out with a thigh injury.
Messi missed PSG’s last two games with a knee problem and was not fully fit the 45 minutes he managed against Lille before that, but to the club’s dismay, he travelled with Argentina and managed 14 minutes off the bench against Uruguay on Saturday.
“He was physically fit the other day and in the end we decided that the best thing was for him to play a few minutes so that he could get a feel for it and he is confirmed to play tomorrow,” said Argentina chief Lionel Scaloni ahead of the game (via ESPN).
“It’s going to be a very difficult game. They are the team that leads the qualifiers and they are already through to the finals.”
Brazil sit six points clear at the top of their World Cup qualification group and they’ll be looking to extend that when they face Argentina, but they’ll have to do so without Neymar after the winger complained of pain in his left thigh.
A Brazil statement read: “Neymar Jr said he felt insecure about the situation and as there is not enough time to carry out complementary exams, the technical commission decided to rest the player who will not travel with the team to San Juan, location of Tuesday’s game against Argentina.”
Neymar has enjoyed a prolific World Cup qualification campaign to date, leading his nation’s scoring charts with seven goals in his nine outings.
The Selecao are in an incredibly comfortable position in the group and have already secured their place in Qatar. The top four sides qualify automatically, and there’s currently an 18-point gap between themselves and fifth-placed Colombia, who are closer to the bottom than the top.
Things are almost as rosy at club level for Neymar, whose PSG side are ten points clear at the top of Ligue 1, despite not even being particularly impressive this year.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side will get back to club life with a visit from mid-table Nantes on Saturday, but whether Neymar will be fit enough to feature remains to be seen.