Brazil and Argentina return to World Cup qualifying after chaos

Both South American heavyweights saw their clash being abandoned for failure to follow COVID-19 regulations.

Brazil's Neymar (L) and Argentina's Lionel Messi talk at the FIFA World Cup Qualifier, which was later abandoned because of flouting COVID-19 protocols.   -  AFP

Leader Brazil and second-placed Argentina will return to action in World Cup qualifiers as fallout from the chaos of their suspended game on Sunday continues.

Just minutes into their match on Sunday, a Brazilian health official entered the pitch to remove four Argentina players he considered should be in quarantine due to COVID-19 protocols.

RELATED | Brazil vs Argentina, CONMEBOL FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Match abandoned for failure to follow COVID-19 regulations

FIFA has opened an investigation, and football bodies of both countries have questions to answer.

Third-place Ecuador visits Uruguay, while Colombia faces Chile in encounters that could be key for the teams' chances to go to Qatar next year.

Brazil has 21 points and Argentina has 15 in seven matches.

Ecuador (13), Colombia (12) and Uruguay (10) follow, but they've all played eight matches.

And sixth-place Paraguay will take on bottom-of-the-table Venezuela. The four best-positioned teams will secure a spot in the next World Cup. The fifth place will play in an international playoff.


Wednesday's training in Recife hinted that Brazil will start with the same lineup that played less than 7 minutes against Argentina on Sunday.

Weverton, Danilo, Éder Militão, Lucas Veríssimo and Alex Sandro; Casemiro, Gerson, Everton Ribeiro and Lucas Paquetá; Neymar and Gabriel Barbosa.

Defender Marquinhos was expected to play at the Arena Pernambuco after a one-match suspension against Argentina.

But the Brazilian Football confederation concluded it would be safer to release him from duty.

READ | Brazil, Argentina, CONMEBOL blamed for chaos by health agency

Right-back Danilo was the first Seleção player to speak about Sunday's chaos. That was still on the minds of players for the match against Peru.

“We had no feeling that the match wouldn't take place," Danilo said.

"We were always sure it would. But my opinion about that being a no show or not is irrelevant."

"CBF's legal department has all the leads, evidence to make the best decision. We have to turn the page, think about Peru.”


Argentina managed to bring four Premier League players — those involved in the mess in Brazil — for these three qualifiers, unlike other teams of the region.

But they were gone as of Monday including three starters from the Brazil match: goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez, defender Cristian Romero and midfielder Giovanni Lo Celso.

Coach Lionel Scaloni said Wednesday they were all released two days earlier because they were worried about their clubs.

READ | Premier League clubs could face sanctions if they play South American players

He said coaches and national football bodies will meet to find a solution before the October qualifiers.

“These situations should not happen again. Those kids have shown their will to play, but we should not put them in these difficult situations."

"They have to come with their minds clear, with no concerns of that kind,” said Scaloni, who did not name their replacements against Bolivia.

Argentina also lost Martinez' substitute in goal. Franco Armani is out due to a knee injury.

Argentina will have extra support of 17,000 fans in the stands of the Monumental Stadium.

It has been 20 months that local stadiums have been emptied by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will be Argentina's first home match since winning the latest Copa America — its first major title in 28 years — in July.

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