Lionel Messi has shaken off his injury worries and is in form for Tuesday’s chalk match between Argentina and Brazil, but Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar is ruled out with a thigh injury.
Messi missed PSG’s last two games with a knee problem and was not fully fit in the 45 minutes he had time against Lille before that, but to the club’s dismay he traveled with Argentina and had 14 minutes from the bench against Uruguay on Saturday.
“He was physically fit the other day and in the end we decided it was best for him to play for a few minutes so he could get a feel for it and he is confirmed to play tomorrow,” said Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni. of the game (via ESPN).
“It will be a very difficult match. They are the team leading the qualifiers and they are already ready for the final.”
Brazil have six points ahead at the top of their World Cup qualifying group and they will try to expand it when they face Argentina, but they will have to do it without Neymar after the winger complained of pain in his left thigh.
A statement from Brazil said: “Neymar Jr. said he was unsure of the situation and as there is not enough time to conduct additional tests, the Technical Commission decided to rest the player who will not travel with the team to San Juan, the site of Tuesday’s match against Argentina. “
Neymar has had a productive World Cup qualifier so far and led his nation’s points list with seven goals in his nine matches.
Selecao has an incredibly comfortable position in the group and has already secured its place in Qatar. The top four teams automatically qualify, and there is currently an 18-point gap between themselves and Colombia in fifth place, which is closer to the bottom than the top.
Things are almost as rosy at club level for Neymar, whose PSG team is ten points ahead of the top of Ligue 1, even though it was not even very impressive this year.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team will return to club life with a visit from mid-Nantes on Saturday, but whether Neymar will be fit enough to play remains to be seen.