AP – Lionel Messi has few barriers yet to break in football. One of them will be in reach tomorrow, when Argentina visits Brazil in a South American World Cup qualifying match.
The 36-year-old Messi has scored 31 goals for Argentina in World Cup qualifying encounters, but none of those came against Brazil, home or away. He has five goals against the archrival, all in friendly matches.
Brazil’s football confederation said all 69,000 tickets for the clash at the Maracana Stadium are sold. Both teams will play after defeats in the previous round; the locals lost 2-1 at Colombia and the World Cup champion was defeated at home 2-0 by Uruguay.
Many Brazilian fans are keen to watch Messi in a match that could be his last in Rio de Janeiro playing for Argentina. In the same arena, the star lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany, and beat the host in the decider of the 2021 Copa America.
Argentina leads the 10-team South American qualifying group with 12 points from five matches. Uruguay is second with 10 points. Colombia has nine and Venezuela eight. Brazil will host the World Cup champions in fifth position, with seven points.
Ecuador, Paraguay and Chile have five points each. Bolivia has three and Peru one.
The 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada will include 48 teams, meaning direct entry for the top six teams from South America.
The seventh-place team can earn a berth in an intercontinental playoff.