World Cup 2010 Qualifier: Brazil vs. Argentina

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The South American giants clash tonight!

Argentina needs this more than Brazil. If Brasileira wins, it could guarantee its place in South Africa. If Albicelestes loses, it could send the country into total panic, with a distinct possibility that Argentina could miss its first World Cup finals since 1970.

A home defeat tonight also would be even more humiliating for Argentina than the 6-1 drubbing Diego Maradona‘s team suffered against Bolivia in La Paz in April.

Of course all eyes will be on Lionel Messi. Two years ago, he was anonymous as Brazil beat Argentina 3-0 in the final of the Copa America. Now he is considered to be one of the best football players of his generation, having received several Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year nominations by the age of 21.

Only the top four teams from the region advance. If Argentina finished fifth, they could have to play in a two-game playoff series with a team from the CONCACAF, perhaps the United States or Mexico.

I couldn’t imagine having a World Cup without two of the world’s top players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. (Portugal is on the brink of elimination).

Game time is 8:30 p.m. ET (2:30 a.m. CET).

UPDATE: Luis Fabiano scored twice and Luisao added another in Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Argentina. The win guarantees Dunga’s side a spot in next year’s World Cup.