Messi faces off with Suarez in World Cup qualifiers
Lionel Messi is back for Argentina. And Luis Suarez is expected to return for Uruguay.
The two Barcelona teammates should be the focus on Thursday in South America’s most high-profile World Cup qualifier.
With four rounds of qualify- ing remaining, Brazil has already advanced to Russia and leads the group with 33 points. The fivetime World Cup winners are followed by Colombia (24), Uruguay (23), Chile (23), Argentina (22) and Ecuador (20). Peru and Paraguay have 18 points, and little chance to advance. Bolivia and Venezuela have been eliminated.
In addition to Brazil, three more teams will claim the remaining automatic berths, and one more South American team could also reach Russia in a playoff.
URUGUAY-ARGENTINA. Mes- si is back from a one-game ban for insulting a match official. It was originally four matches, but the Argentine soccer association appealed successfully.
That’s good news for coach Jorge Sampaoli, who will be on the bench for his first official game in charge. Without Messi, Argentina lost to Bolivia 2-0 in its last qualifier in March.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez also needs Suarez. He has a rightknee injury, which Tabarez said will be evaluated in the run-up to the match. /