Argentina can all but secure their place at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil with a win in tonight’s qualifier against Colombia at Monumental Stadium in Buenos Aires.
However, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella was still waiting on the eve of the game to see whether Lionel Messi would be fit enough to take his place in the starting line-up.
The Barcelona star hardly featured for his club towards the end of the season because of a hamstring injury, and while he was named in the squad for this month’s qualifying double-header against the Colombians and Ecuador, a decision was only due to be taken on his fitness in yesterday’s training session.
“His leg is okay. He looks quick and capable of taking on defenders, but we need to see how fit he is after so long without playing,” Sabella said of Messi, who has played in his country’s last 32 matches.
If Messi does not start, Roma’s Erik Lamela and Walter Montillo of Brazilian club Santos are both potential replacements, but there is still a fearsome amount of quality available to Sabella, with Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain likely to start in attack.
Group leaders Argentina are four points clear of Ecuador and five ahead of third-placed Colombia, whose attack will be led by Radamel Falcao.
Coached by Jose Pekerman, the Argentine who took his native country to the 2006 World Cup, Colombia are looking to qualify for the finals for the first time since France ’98.
“We are not scared of Argentina. Our players are all performing well for their clubs just now and that gives us confidence,” said Inter Milan midfielder Freddy Guarin.
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