BRAZIL superstar Neymar returns from suspension to face an injury-hit Argentina on Friday, as South America’s qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup resumes with a showdown between the continental rivals.
Neymar was forced to sit out Brazil’s opening two qualifiers last month – a 2-0 defeat to Chile followed by a 3-1 victory over Venezuela – following his four-match suspension at the Copa America in June.
But the talismanic striker is now back and available for Brazil as the five-time world champions head to Buenos Aires to face an Argentina side who took only one point from their first two games.
Argentina suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Ecuador in their opening game and then laboured to a goalless stalemate against Paraguay in Asuncion.
Those results have piled the pressure on beleaguered Argentina manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, whose position had already come under scrutiny after his star-studded side’s failure to win the Copa America.
Martino’s preparations for Friday’s showdown at the Estadio Monumental have been thrown into turmoil by an injury crisis which has deprived him of an array of attacking talent.
Captain Lionel Messi had already been ruled out after suffering a long-term knee injury in September.
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is also unavailable, while Carlos Tevez is rated as doubtful after suffering a knee problem. – AFP