Brazil to host Uruguay; Argentina rise in qualifying

SAO PAULO (AP) — It’s been a while since Brazil had a home crowd advantage.

The Brazilian team will have home fans in the stadium for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began when it hosts Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier tonight.

Brazil lead South American qualifying with 28 points and Argentina has 22 from 10 matches. Both have completed one less game than the other eight teams in the competition after their encounter last month was suspended after seven minutes due to health protocols.

Second-placed Argentina, led by Lionel Messi and Rodrigo de Paul, will seek to consolidate its rise when it takes on Peru just five days after trouncing Uruguay 3-0.

Ecuador and Uruguay have 16 points, but the Ecuadorians have more wins and hold third place. Colombia is fifth with 15 points. Paraguay is three points behind in sixth place, followed by Peru (11), Chile (10), Bolivia (9) and Venezuela (7).

BRAZIL vs URUGUAY

If Tuesday’s training in Manaus counts, Brazil coach Tite will test three new starters against Uruguay. Right-back Emerson Royal will replace Danilo, defender Lucas Verissimo will replace Marquinhos and winger Raphinha will take the place of Gabriel Barbosa.

A win will give Brazil 31 points, which is more than every team that qualified to the World Cup in fourth position since the current format was put in place in 1998. The Seleçao will have at least another six matches in qualifying. About 10,000 fans are expected to attend the match at the Arena da Amazonia.

ARGENTINA vs PERU

A win against Peru will put Argentina and Lionel Messi very close to a World Cup spot, which is much different from the team’s experience in recent editions of South American qualifiers.

Coach Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina will seek another convincing victory in front of home fans to maintain its momentum since the latest Copa America title in July.