Brazil, Argentina eye road hurdles in World Cup qualifiers

SAO PAULO (AP) - Brazil and Argentina didn't have any major problems in the opening round of the South American World Cup qualifiers. Both expect a different story on Tuesday than at home.
Brazil beat Bolivia 5-0 in Sao Paulo on Friday but will travel to Peru, a team that qualified for the last World Cup and drew 2-2 against Paraguay in Asuncion.
Argentina beat Ecuador 1-0 but are wary of Bolivia in La Paz, 3,600 meters above sea level. Bad memories abound. Argentina lost there in 2009 with 1: 6 and in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with 0: 2.
However, the most anticipated game of the evening will take place in Santiago, where co-leaders Colombia take on Chile, who aim to lose 2-1 to Uruguay in Montevideo.
The games will take place in empty stadiums due to coronavirus restrictions and CONMEBOL has convinced most local authorities to lift the quarantine measures on incoming players.
The home defeat to Bolivia didn't impress the Brazilian fans. Peru in Lima puts coach Tite to the test, who will find out if his new defensive midfield duo of Casemiro and Douglas Luiz will face better opponents.
After Roberto Firmino scored a brace, he gained momentum to stay in a position originally intended for Gabriel Jesus, who was unable to come to South America due to injury.
Neymar trained on Sunday and showed that he has recovered from back pain that worried him.
The Brazilian Confederation said Monday that 36-year-old defender Thiago Silva will be the captain in Peru.
The Peruvians can't rely on their main striker, the injured Paolo Guerrero, but André Carillo's brace against Paraguay gives the team some confidence that they can challenge Brazil in Lima.
Argentina was anything but impressive against Ecuador at the Bombonera in Buenos Aires. Coach Lionel Scaloni's team scored only two goals in the entire game. Lautaro Martinez and Lucas Ocampos have done little to help Lionel Messi who may have to play with them again.
Forward Paulo Dybala, who was expected to play against the Bolivians, has not traveled due to stomach problems. And Sérgio Aguero, Messi's favorite partner up front, is injured.
Midfielder Marcos Acuña is unlikely to play due to a right leg injury. Exequiel Palacios and Nico Domínguez are his potential substitutes, although Scaloni has not yet confirmed his starting line-up.
The coach said Monday he had question marks about how his players would fare at height.
“Until we're on the pitch, we won't know how everyone will react. That's why we arrived two days earlier, ”said Scaloni on Monday. “It is clear that we need players who are 100%. And the one who isn't, we need to talk to him. "
Bolivia rested some of its players to save them for Argentina in La Paz. Political tensions between local clubs and the new leadership of its national football association continue to affect Bolivia.
Chile are still upset over a handball that could have been a penalty for Uruguay when the game drew 1-1 in Montevideo. Seconds later, the hosts scored the winner, which Chile's coach Reinaldo Rueda complained about in a press conference on Monday.
"We have a social responsibility to make as few mistakes as possible. We know what it means now to live without football," said Rueda. "We can't talk about things that aren't in the game and that unfortunately happened there."
Complaints about Paraguayan referee Eber Aquino and his colleagues at Video Review have contributed to Chile's serious injury problems over the past few weeks. Rueda lost seven players ahead of the Uruguay game, including some of his main defenders like Gary Medel, Erick Pulgar and Guillermo Maripán.
The number of injuries exacerbates the stroke of luck in Chile and the failure to reach the 2018 World Cup after a generation that has won two Copa Americas in the past decade.
Colombia will be a little rested after beating Venezuela 3-0, all goals in the first half. Coach Carlos Queiroz had the luxury of putting strikers Luis Muriel and Juan Cuadrado on the bench in the 59th minute. Playmaker James Rodríguez and Zielmann Duvan Zapata followed in the 74th minute.
Also on Tuesday, Venezuela will host Paraguay and Uruguay will be in Ecuador.
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