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Preview: Venezuela vs. Argentina - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's World Cup Qualifying - South America clash between Venezuela and Argentina, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Argentina will begin the upcoming round of World Cup Qualification fixtures with a trip to Venezuela on Friday, as they look to continue their unbeaten start.

Lionel Scaloni's men have collected 12 points from their opening six games and come into the latest set of games on the back of securing the Copa America title in the summer, while their hosts sit on just four points, having lost four of their six matches.

Match preview

Argentina's Lionel Messi and teammates celebrate winning the Copa America on July 10, 2021© Reuters

Argentina had a strong start to the World Cup Qualifying campaign last year, as victories over Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru and draws with Paraguay, Chile and Colombia have seen them move onto an impressive tally of 12 points from six games.

Following that impressive run, Lionel Scaloni's men headed into the Copa America as one of the pre-tournament favourites, and while they drew the opening game with Chile, La Albiceleste quickly improved to cruise through the group stage with consecutive wins over Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia.

Their first-placed finish saw Argentina book a quarter-final tie with Ecuador, and Rodrigo De Paul, Lautaro Martinez and Lionel Messi all got on the scoresheet in a dominant 3-0 win to book their spot in the final four, before their semi-final clash with Colombia went to a penalty shootout, as Luis Diaz drew La Tricolor level after Lautaro Martinez's early opener.

Inspired form from Argentina stopper Emiliano Martinez saw Scaloni's men prevail and meet tournament favourites Brazil in the final, and they stood strong to see out a 1-0 win after Angel Di Maria's 22nd-minute opener to earn a 15th Copa America title.

La Albiceleste will now turn their attention back towards qualifying for the World Cup, as they aim to continue their unbeaten run and move further away from the chasing pack.

Venezuela coach Jose Peseiro during the match on June 13, 2021© Reuters

Venezuela come into the latest round of group fixtures in a different situation, as they aim to put a string of results together to climb up the table towards the qualification spots.

La Vinotinto suffered three straight defeats at the beginning of their qualifying campaign last year, as they fell to Colombia, Paraguay and Brazil, before bouncing back in impressive fashion with an eye-catching 2-1 victory over Chile.

While they would then suffer a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Bolivia, Venezuela did well to hold Uruguay to a goalless draw in their most recent group game, before they headed into the Copa America.

Under the management of Jose Peseiro, La Vinotinto failed to impress at South America's elite tournament, as they crashed out at the group stage with just two points to finish at the foot of Group B.

Now in a new era under the temporary charge of Leonardo Gonzalez, they will hope to lift the mood and reverse their fortunes with a strong run of results in this round of international games, starting with what would be an eye-catching result against the Copa America champions.

Venezuela World Cup Qualifying - South America form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Venezuela form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D

Argentina World Cup Qualifying - South America form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D

Argentina form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their second goal on June 28, 2021© Reuters

Venezuela's squad was badly hit by a coronavirus outbreak at the beginning of the Copa America, but they have close to a full crop of players available for this round of fixtures.

That will see star forward Josef Martinez return to the side, while record goalscorer Salomon Rondon has also been called back up after he was left out in the summer.

Midfielder Tomas Rincon will lead his nation, having made over 100 appearances on the international stage, and he could be joined by the likes of Romulo Otero and Junior Moreno in the middle.

Wuilker Farinez performed commendably between the sticks at the Copa America, and he will continue to be the first-choice stopper behind the back line containing the likes of Roberto Rosales and Mikel Villanueva, while 22-year-old Nahuel Ferraresi has impressed in several loan spells in the Portuguese top flight and could be trusted in the defence.

Argentina will be led by talismanic forward Lionel Messi, who joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona in the summer.

He will be joined in a dangerous front line by the likes of Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez and Paris Saint-Germain teammate Angel Di Maria, while Sergio Aguero has missed out on the squad through injury.

Tottenham Hotspur pair Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso and Aston Villa duo Emiliano Martinez and Emiliano Buendia have all been granted permission to fly from England to join the national side, and Martinez will likely start between the sticks while Romero and Lo Celso could play key roles in defence and midfield respectively.

Lo Celso thrived in a midfield trio with Paris Saint-Germain's Leandro Paredes and Atletico Madrid star Rodrigo De Paul for large portions of the Copa America, and Scaloni could continue to deploy all three in the centre.

Venezuela possible starting lineup:
Farinez; Rosales, Ferraresi, Villanueva, Velazquez, Chancellor; Otero, Rincon, Moreno; Martinez, Rondon

Argentina possible starting lineup:
E Martinez; Montiel, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna; Lo Celso, Paredes, De Paul; Di Maria, Messi, L Martinez

SM words green background

We say: Venezuela 0-3 Argentina

On a high from the Copa America glory, we see Argentina continuing their momentum with a fairly routine victory on their travels.

While Venezuela will look to park behind the ball and limit the visitors' chances, Scaloni has plenty of attacking talent in his ranks, and they should have more than enough to put La Vinotinto to the sword.

Top tip

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Venezuela's Josef Martínez celebrates scoring their first goal with Romulo Otero and Jefferson Savarino later disallowed after a VAR review on June 8, 2021
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Venezuela Copa America preview - prediction, fixtures, squad, star player
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