PERU are taking on Argentina in a massive World Cup qualifier in Lima.
Lionel Messi and co have seven points from their first three matches while the hosts are in desperate need of a result having recorded a draw and two losses so far.
- Sadly Peru vs Argentina is not live on TV in the UK.
- Viewers in the US can watch via DirecTV pay-per-view or stream with Fanatiz.
- Peru XI: Gallese, Corzo, Santamaría, Abram, Trauco, Aquino, Yotún, Carrillo, Cueva, Flores, Lapadula.
- Argentina XI: Armani; Montiel, Martínez Quarta, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Paredes, Lo Celso; Nico González, Messi, Lautaro Martinez
The national anthems are being sung in an empty Estadio Monumental.
Lionel Messi doesn't sing along and appears deep in thought.
In contrast the Peruvians are belting their anthem out!
The teams are just about to come out for this huge game in Lima!
ANOTHER FINE MESS
Lionel Messi will have been content with Argentina's seven-point haul from three games but quite keen to improve his own goal tally.
The Albiceleste captain has scored just one in their opening three World Cup qualifiers – a penalty at home to Ecuador.
SIX OF THE WORST
Sadly for Peru, the most memorable meeting between these two teams is probably the most shameful.
Back in 1978, the two sides met in the World Cup second group stage in Argentina with the World Cup hosts needing to win by no fewer than four goals to qualify for the semi-final ahead of Brazil.
With 20 minutes to go before the match, Argentine military dictator Jorge Rafael Videla entered the Peruvian dressing room with Henry Kissinger and had a brief but ominous word with their players.
He said: “Gentlemen. I just wanted to tell you this game tonight is one between brothers, and in the name of Latin American brotherhood, I am here to share my hopes that things turn out well.
“Latin America is watching you.”
He then read a letter from Peru's dictator Francisco Morales-Bermudez, speaking of cooperation between the two nations.
Peru promptly went on to lose the match 6-0 and Argentina to win the World Cup.
The first picture of Lionel Messi warming up in Lima is in.
THE BEST POLICY
The Argentina team is in and Lionel Scaloni has been nothing if not honest.
The Albiceleste boss has picked the exact XI he named in his press conference.
FOUR-CE OF NATURE
Argentina may well see tonight as a great opportunity to pick up some points with a brutal run of games to come after Christmas.
Lionel Messi and co face fierce rivals Uruguay at home and Brazil away in the March round of fixtures.
Then they take on Colombia away and neighbours Chile at home in a June round that will take place the week before the Copa America, which they co-host with the Colombians.
Brazil go into half time against Uruguay with a 2-0 lead after goals from Arthur and Richarlison.
And while no Argentine would ever want to see Brazil win, as results stand they would remain third behind Ecuador even in the event of a defeat in Lima tonight.
Follow all the action from Uruguay vs Brazil right here…
Argentina go up against one of their own tonight in the shape of Peru manager Ricardo Gareca.
The Boca Juniors legend made 20 appearances as a striker for the Argentine national team between 1981 and 1986, scoring five goals.
And as a manager he came into his own with Buenos Aires side Velez Sarsfield, leading them to three Argentine Superliga titles.
LION IN WAIT
We are still waiting for the Argentina team.
But as Lionel Scaloni has already announced it we are just waiting to see whether he named the real team in his presser or whether it was all mind games.
The Peru team is out with Edinson Flores captaining the side in the absence of Jefferson Farfan.
Gianluca Lapadula of Serie A side Benevento makes his first start for Los Incas after switching nationality from Italy to play for his mother's country.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
Two of Argentina's biggest rivals are currently facing off in one of tonight's other World Cup qualifying fixtures.
Uruguay and Brazil are currently goalless but it has been a frantic start in Montevideo.
We've got all the action from Montevideo right here on SunSport.
HEAD TO HEAD
While Argentina did struggle with Peru in the last qualifying campaign their head-to-head record is overwhelmingly superior.
The Albiceleste have not lost to the Peruvians since a 2-1 defeat in the 1997 Copa America quarter-final in Bolivia.
Moreover, they have won nine of their 13 meetings since then.
In total, Argentina have won 33, drawn 14 and lost just seven against Peru.
LAST TIME OUT
Argentina were unable to beat Peru in either of their World Cup 2018 qualifying matches.
The Albiceleste drew 2-2 in Lima before being held to a 0-0 draw at La Bombonera in a huge penultimate match of the last campaign.
That game saw both sides go into their final matches with their World Cup hopes hanging by a thread.
However Argentina qualified with a Lionel Messi hat-trick in Ecuador while Peru won their play-off with New Zealand 2-0 on aggregate.
OUT ON A LIM
There was speculation that this game wasn't going to go ahead at all this week.
This was not due to coronavirus but due to protests in Lima and the rest of Peru following the ousting of the country's president by its parliament.
Martin Vizcarra was impeached after being accused of taking bribes however his successor fared no better, resigning after just five days having seen the sheer size of the public opposition.
HOLD THE LINE
We are awaiting line-ups for this World Cup qualifier but the Argentina starting XI should be in little doubt.
Boss Lionel Scaloni told his pre-match press conference: “The team is confirmed.
“We will go with Armani; Montiel, Martínez Quarta, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Paredes, Lo Celso; Nico González, Messi and Lautaro Martinez.”
Argentina travel to Peru for a crucial World Cup qualifier.
Lionel Messi and co are well positioned at the moment, having won two of their last three games.
But they were unable to maintain their perfect record after VAR controversy prevented a victory at home to a Paraguay side who frustrated the life out of them.
Messi was stunned when Paraguay’s Angel Romero escaped a red card for a challenge that looked more like a kangaroo kick and left Exequiel Palacios with a fractured spine.
And the Argentine captain’s fury only grew when he had a goal ruled out by VAR for a foul up the other end of the pitch.
Peru’s need for a result meanwhile is arguably greater than Argentina’s.
They were comfortably beaten 2-0 away at fierce rivals Chile last time out and a 2-2 opening day draw away to Paraguay remains their only point.
The Peruvians however might have wished this fixture had occurred later in qualifying so it could be played out in front of their partisan crowd.
No fans will be at the Estadio Monumental in Lima for this one.
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