PREVIEW – Argentina v Chile

Despite problems in defence and the absence of Alexis Sánchez’s star quality Chile will be hoping to catch Argentina cold in Buenos Aires on Friday as La Albiceleste enter a period of transition under yet another manager. 

The race to Brazil 2014 starts now – Friday to be precise – for the South American qualifiers. Since Brazil automatically qualify as hosts it leaves the remaining nine countries playing for four and a half slots – the half being the country that finishes 5th, who will enter a two-legged play-off contest against a country from the Asian Football Confederation.

With over half of the competing countries potentially joining Brazil at the World Cup in under three years time it is shaping up to be the most competitive qualifying process in South American history, especially when you consider that countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela are no longer considered whipping boys, while Peru are much improved after a fabulous performance at the Copa América.

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This year’s Serie A season got off to a belated start due to player strikes and international football meaning the kick-off was delayed until the 9th of September. But what a start it was. AC Milan fought back a two goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Lazio at San Siro and the goal glut continued throughout the weekend, right up until Sunday night at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Sicily as Palermo entertained Internazionale.

With 74 minutes on the clock and the score locked at 2-2 Mauricio Pinilla was summoned by caretaker head coach Devis Maniga – long story simplified by two words; Maurizio Zamperini – to replace Uruguayan Abel Hernandez.  Two loose touches from the mercurial Chilean moments after coming on gave the impression that he was still trying to rid himself of rust picked up from the recent niggling injuries which have besot his career. Yet La Rosanero went ahead when Pinilla’s strike partner Fabrizio Miccoli bent a free-kick inside Julio Cesar’s near post.

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