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Argentina predicted lineup vs Brazil – 2026 World Cup qualifier

Argentina travel to the home of fierce rivals Brazil on Wednesday wounded by the nation’s first defeat as world champions.

In the wake of a deserved 2-0 defeat at home to Uruguay – under the stewardship of former Argentina manager Marcelo Bielsa – Lionel Messi admitted: “We never felt comfortable.” The World Cup-winning captain added: “We struggled to find ourselves and our game.”

Since Brazil knocked Argentina out of the 2019 Copa America semi-finals, Saudi Arabia are the only other nation to defeat Lionel Scaloni’s side. “None of us likes to lose,” the Argentina boss calmly reflected post-game, “but we have to turn the page, think about what’s coming and correct it.”

Here’s the lineup Scaloni may deploy to put things right.

Lionel MessiLionel Messi

Lionel Messi could not steer Argentina to victory against Uruguay / Marcos Brindicci/GettyImages

GK: Emiliano Martinez – Uruguay’s Ronald Araujo was the first player to score against Martinez in an international match since Kylian Mbappe‘s hat-trick in the World Cup final.

RB: Nahuel Molina – The lucky soul on the end of Messi’s mesmeric through ball against the Netherlands in the World Cup quarter-final has not scored another goal for his country.

CB: Cristian Romero – Hailed by Messi as “the best defender in the world right now” earlier this year.

CB: Nicolas Otamendi – One of just eight male players to amass a century of caps for Argentina, only Messi and Angel Di Maria boast more than Otamendi in the current squad.

LB: Marcos Acuna – “It’s hard to get the words out of him,” Scaloni once said of the left-back, “but when he does [talk], it’s because he says the right thing.”

CM: Rodrigo De Paul – The heavily inked midfielder wanted to bring an end to his body art. “I think I’m going to stop,” he said last year. “Unless I become world champion.” De Paul now has a tattoo of the World Cup final date etched onto his neck.

CM: Alexis Mac Allister – One of Argentina’s poorer performers against Uruguay, swallowed up by the press. If the Liverpool midfielder is dropped, Guido Rodriguez or Leandro Paredes offer more pedestrian alternatives.

CM: Enzo Fernandez – No player boasted more touches, passes or tackles than Fernandez in the World Cup final.

RW: Lionel Messi – The first time Messi ever came up against Brazil, former Manchester City forward Elano scored a brace in a 3-0 win. Plenty has changed over the subsequent decades.

ST: Lautaro Martinez – If Julian Alvarez is overlooked, Scaloni can turn to Inter‘s royally in-form Martinez, who already boasts 14 goals in 16 club games this season.

LW: Nicolas Gonzalez – The Fiorentina wideman lost the first game of his international career against Uruguay.

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