I just watched an insurance ad in Spanish. I have no idea what happened. Maybe for the best.
Kickoff should be…soon.
Updated at 7:29 p.m. EST
Alisson; Emerson, Marquinhos (c), Gabriel, Carlos Augusto; Gabriel Martinelli, Rodrygo, Raphinha, André, Bruno Guimaraes; Gabriel Jesus
Vinicius Junior, now injured, and Renan Lodi are the only ones missing from the starting lineup lost against Colombia a few days ago. Gabriel Jesus and Carlos Augusto are the substitutes.
Martinez; Molina, Acuna, Romero, Otamendi; De Paul, Lo Celso, Fernandez, MacAllister; Alvarez, Messi (c)
Changes from their 0-2 loss to Uruguay, their first qualifying setback: Acuna replaces Tagliafico, Lo Celso replaces Gonzalez.
Updated at 7:03 p.m. EST
In the world today…
I was lucky enough to find myself in front of a television just in time to see the trade targets of Greece and France. Final score: 2-2, first spot in France’s record. Greece still finished third in the group and must go through the playoffs.
This is also the fate that awaits Wales, who needed a combination of favorable results and did not get them.
The most interesting match of the next six hours will take place in Mexico City, where Mexico trails Honduras 0-2 after the first leg of the Concacaf Nations League. This game immediately follows this one.
Updated at 6:50 p.m. EST
Welcome to a crucial World Cup qualifying match between first-place Argentina and fifth-place Brazil, where…
…wait…does ranking matter?
CONMEBOL, the South American federation, has the simplest and fairest qualification system. No comparison of finalists in disparate groups. No draw creates a “Group of Death”. No “playoffs to advance to the group stage that determines who goes to the playoffs.”
Ten teams. Double round robin. That’s it.
It’s a fair format. It’s also quite forgiving.
Brazil is therefore currently in fifth place, facing not only its eternal rival, Argentina, and historically accomplished countries like Uruguay and Colombia, but also Venezuela. Without a three-point penalty against Ecuador, Brazil would also be behind.
And they would always be on track to qualify for the next World Cup, which will feature a mind-boggling 48 teams.
Even if things were truly horrible, Brazil would have almost two years to resolve the problem(s). The final matches of this competition will take place in September 2025.
So if you just watch Messi and Gabriel Jesus without paying attention to the standings, you can be forgiven. After tonight, we will be a third of the way through our 18 rounds. Then, in a few years, if the Earth is still intact, Argentina will almost certainly be in the World Cup, and Brazil will almost certainly be there as well.
Enjoy this match for what it is: a little more meaningful than a friendly, a little less meaningful than a Copa America or World Cup qualifier.
Updated at 7:04 p.m. EST
Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s a little more on the role of a certain Lionel Messi in tonight’s match:
Lionel Messi felt many different emotions at the Maracanã. It was in Brazil’s iconic stadium that he suffered his biggest career defeat: the 2014 World Cup final. The defeat sparked heavy criticism that shook the Argentine talisman for years. But it was also in Rio that he won the Copa América in 2021, his first title with the national team and which opened the way to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Two years after winning the South American title, Messi returns to the Maracanã on Tuesday for a World Cup qualifier at the perfect time. Faced with a Brazil in crisis, lost and full of instability since its elimination in Qatar, Messi could win his final coronation, with the recognition and applause of rival supporters in what is one of the greatest classics of world football.
“It would be an achievement for Messi to be acclaimed in Brazil. It’s a match at the Maracanã, a world classic,” says former Brazilian left-back Adriano, who played with Messi between 2010 and 2016 at Barcelona.
“I would approve if that happened. It would truly honor his career. It would be historic. Even though he is Argentinian, it is recognition for what he represents in world football.
You can read the entire article here.
Updated at 2:35 p.m. EST