Buenos Aires (Sporting Alert) — Lionel Messi and Argentina will look to take over the lead at the top of the World Cup qualification table in South America with a win over Ecuador at Estadio Monumental on Saturday.
Argentina are a point behind Uruguay and Venezuela, who played to a 1-1 draw earlier on Saturday and will for the former World Cup champions would see them moving to the top on 10 points.
After a busy season of rivalry, Messi and Gonzalo Higuaín will now join forces on the same side for Argentina.
Manchester City top striker Sergio Aguero will join the Barcelona and Real Madrid stars in the attack.
The trio have combined for an impressive 129 goals between them for their respective clubs this past season and the fans, who weren’t too keen on watching the national side’s last home outing have decided to come back on the team’s side.
“The last game we played at home, this didn’t happen”, Messi said, who scored a hat-trick in the 3-0 friendly win over Switzerland. “But we will only get the fans to come closer if we play well and win.”
Angel Di María, Javier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta are also included in the starting line-up.
Meanwhile Manchester United winger Antonio Valencia is amongst the starters for Ecuador, who themselves will look to jump into position with a win, believes Argentina will be tough to beat at home, especially with the form Messi is on.
“They have the best player of the entire world,” Valencia, referring to Messi, said.
“We have to stay calm and be intelligent if we want to rescue a good result.
“The key for us in these qualifiers will be winning at home and trying to catch some points as visitors.”
Argentina vs Ecuador
Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Fernandez, Garay, Clemente Rodriguez, Mascherano, Di Maria, Gago, Messi, Higuain, Aguero
Subs: Orion, Rojo, Desabato, Sosa, Maximiliano Rodriguez, Matias Rodriguez, Guinazu, Brana, Lavezzi, Campagnaro, Andujar
Ecuador: Dominguez, Achilier, Guagua, Campos, Walter Ayovi, Valencia, Quinonez, Noboa, Saritama, Suarez, Benitez
Subs: Banguera, Erazo, Paredes, Minda, Ibarra, Montero, Castillo, Espinoza, Jaime Ayovi, Calderon, Bone
Referee: Victor Hugo Rivera (Peru)