The first four matches of the CONMEBOL qualification tournament for the 2018 World Cup have seen some surprising results, including seeing both of the Copa America finalists from last summer out of the automatic qualification places. Chile sit in fifth with just seven points from four matches, with Argentina one place and two points behind them.
While it's still early in the qualification process for South American teams, the mediocre starts for both La Roja and La Albiceleste leave their teams both needing a win in a bad way as they square off in Chile. These two teams have the ability to put on an incredible match even in a meaningless friendly, but when there's so much on the line like there is in this match, we could be in for a real treat.
player manager -- Juan Antonio Pizzi
This is Pizzi's first match in charge after replacing the beloved Jorge Sampaoli, and just what's going to happen next is something of a mystery. Pizzi's managerial history is a bit mixed, with a fair amount of success managing in South America but only achieving mediocre results with Valencia during a tumultuous time for the Spanish club. He did well with Leon in Mexico before taking the Chile job, but managing a national team is another matter entirely. How he's going to handle this team, and guide them against a major opponent like Argentina, is entirely up in the air and will bear close scrutiny.
Key Argentina player -- Lionel Messi
Who else could this be, really? Messi is the heart and soul of this Argentina side, and when he plays well, so do they. With the rough shape the Albiceleste are in for qualification early on, they need to lean on him in a big way to improve their standing, especially against a tough side like Chile. He's had a hard time finding success against La Roja in the past, but if Messi can get the upper hand this time around, then Argentina should be able to get the result they want.
Match Date/Time: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. local
Venue: Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos, Santiago, Chile
TV: beIN Sports (U.S. - English), beIN Sports en Español (U.S. - Spanish), Fox Sports Chile (Chile), TyC Sports Argentina (Argentina)
Online: beIN Sports Connect, fuboTV (U.S.), TyC Sports Play (Argentina)