Torrential rain has delayed the latest edition of one of the world’s great rivalries, with Argentina and Brazil forced to wait an extra day to face off in World Cup qualifying. The Superclásico de las Américas had been scheduled to take place on Thursday at River Plate’s El Monumental stadium, but a deluge of rain throughout the day in the Argentine capital left the pitch waterlogged and, judged officials, incapable of being played on. Instead the two rivals will now go head to head on Friday at 9 p.m. local time.
The fixture remains pivotal for both teams, having made shaky starts to qualifying. Argentina have just one point from their first two matches, after stunningly losing at home to Ecuador for the first time ever and then only drawing at Paraguay.
Lionel Messi missed both of those matches through injury, and the Barcelona star remains on the sidelines. The 24 hours delay in the fixture with Brazil won’t be nearly sufficient to get Messi back available, while fellow forwards Sergio Aguero, of Manchester City, and Boca Juniors’ Carlos Tevez are also still out.
In contrast, Brazil have their talisman back at their disposal. A suspension incurred at this summer’s Copa America meant that Neymar was unavailable as Brazil kicked off their quest to make it to Russia in 2018. And his absence was felt as Dunga’s team sunk to a 2-0 defeat at the home of South American champions Chile. Brazil, however, recovered to beat Venezuela to leave them with three points from two rounds of fixtures in the continents grueling qualifying campaign.
With Ecuador having already moved onto nine points from three games and Chile having the opportunity to do likewise later on Thursday, the pressure will be on both Argentina and Brazil to emerge with a positive result when they finally get underway. The postponement means both teams will have one day less to prepare for their next World Cup qualifiers, schedule to take place next Tuesday. Argentina will visit Colombia, while Brazil will be at home to Peru.
Argentina and Brazil have only ever met six times in World Cup qualifying, all since South America moved to its current format, where all 10 teams face off on a home-and-away basis, for the 1998 World Cup. Just once in that time has one of them managed a win on the road, that when Brazil beat Argentina 3-1 in Rosario in 2009.
The man in charge of the five-time World Cup winners that day was current coach Dunga, who took the reins of Brazil for a second time after their humiliation at the 2014 World Cup. Dunga’s success against Argentina extends beyond that victory six years ago, having also guided the Seleção to victory against their fiercest foes in the final of the 2007 Copa America, and most recently in a friendly in Beijing last year.
Rescheduled Kickoff Time: 7 p.m. EST
TV Channel: beIN Sports
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) November 12, 2015