World Cup Qualifiers: Argentina vs Brazil Ends in a Stalemate
By: Aviral Sharma
Lionel Messi’s Argentina booked their place for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, last Thursday, with a draw against arch-rivals Brazil led by Messi’s friend and club teammate Neymar. Messi now has one last shot at world football’s most prestigious title.
The match, held in Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan, saw the Argentine captain, who is recovering from a knee injury, almost score in the later stages of the match. Still, an in-form Alisson between Brazil’s posts snatched away any possibilities.
Brazil, who had already qualified on November 11, played with a more attacking attitude and could have also made sure victory was in their hands were it not for the spirited efforts of defender Nicolas Otamendi. Unfortunately, what turned out to be an extremely physical and rough game was only made worse when Otamendi elbowed opposing winger Raphinha in the 35th minute. Surprisingly, the move did not garner any response from Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha.
Brazil coach Tite sounded upset with the refereeing. “It is simply impossible not to see Otamendi’s elbow on Raphinha," he said. “Was that going to decide the match? I don’t know. It was a great match, but there is an element (missing) that should be equal for both teams.”
Argentina's Scaloni agreed both teams had few opportunities but focused on his team's direct entry to Qatar. “This year was magnificent. We won Copa America, qualified for the World Cup, and we are on an unbeaten streak,” he said, about his team's 17 wins and 10 draws since the 2019 Copa America semifinal against Brazil. “To qualify so early, in such tough qualifiers, it is something to be proud of.”
Brazil and Argentina continue to lead the standings of qualifiers. Both the teams are undefeated in qualifying matches, and Argentina continues its unbeaten streak to 27 games across all games and still counting.
The 2022 World Cup will be taking place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18, 2022. This will be the first World Cup to be held in an Arab country (and only the second in Asia after 2002, hosted by Japan and South Korea), and it would be the first to be played in winter.
The 2022 WC will also be the last one to be played with 32 teams. From 2026, 48 teams will be scheduled in the tournament, which will be hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
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