The Rio de la Plata Derby is the best it's been in decades, with Uruguay having enjoyed more recent success than Argentina. The Uruguayans were the best placed South American side at the last World Cup and won Copa America last year on Argentinian soil. They started the qualifying cycle looking like the continent's strongest team, but they've faltered recently, while Alejandro Sabella's men have come into top form.
It appears that an Argentina manager has finally figure out the best way to assemble a squad behind Lionel Messi. With two pivot midfielders behind him, a striker in front of him and two players flanking him, Messi has played his best football in an Argentina shirt while playing for Sabella. He's third in goals scored in CONMEBOL qualifying and is directly responsible for much of Gonzalo Higuain's six-goal haul.
Uruguay have been stellar when they have a healthy team, but less than impressive when missing any of their key players. Their starting XI can compete with anyone in the world, but it's not surprising that a nation of just 3.3 million people does not have a lot of depth. The good news for them is that they're finally injury and suspension three, and their preferred front three of Edinson Cavani, Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez should start the match.
The key man to watch on either side is Diego Lugano, the Uruguayan captain and central defender. He was once among the most consistent and reliable defenders in the world, but age appears to have caught up with him. If he's not anticipating every Higuain run and every Messi through ball perfectly, his lack of physical ability will be found out.
Match date/time: 8 p.m. ET, Friday
Venue: Mundialista Mendoza, Mendoza, Argentina
TV: beIN Sport (U.S.)