Argentina vs Venezuela
22 March 2013
World Cup Qualifier
El Monumental, Buenos Aires
Reigning UFWC champions Argentina take on Venezuela on Friday night in a World Cup qualifier. First glance would suggest Argentina will be strong favourites, but Venezuela have UFWC form – and were the last team to beat Argentina in a competitive match.
The match will be played at the 67,664-capacity El Monumental, or the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, in Buenos Aires. It kicks off at 9pm local time, midnight GMT (which is why some European listings have the match as being played on 23 March).
La Monumental by Tim Snell / Flickr
CONMEBOL’s 2014 World Cup qualifying stage involves nine teams competing in a round-robin tournament, with teams playing each other twice, home and away. At the end of the tournament, the top four teams will automatically qualify for the finals, while the fifth-placed team will enter a play-off against a team from the AFC.
As it stands, Argentina and Venezuela are both on track to join hosts Brazil at the finals. Argentina top the tournament table with six wins and two draws from nine games. The only side they have lost to in qualifying is Venezuela, who won 1-0 in Puerto La Cruz in October 2011. Venezuela are fourth in the qualifying table, having won three, drawn three, and lost three. (Ecuador and Colombia currently occupy the other two automatic qualification spots.)
Venezuela, la Vinotinto (the Burgundy), are coached by César Farías and captained by Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Juan Arango. This will be 32-year-old Arango’s 112th match for his country. Salomón Rondón of Rubin Kazan has been the side’s most prolific recent goalscorer. Fellow striker Miku is currently on loan at Celtic. Centre back Fernando Amorebieta, who plays for Athletic Bilbao, scored Venezuela’s winning goal against Argentina in the previous qualifier. Amorebieta was born in Venezuela but raised in Spain’s Basque Country. He was called into the Spanish national squad in 2008, but never played, and he has also represented the Basque Country national team, a non-FIFA affiliate.
Argentina, the third most successful team in Unofficial Football World Championships history, will be looking for their 53rd UFWC title match win. They’re unbeaten since the loss to Venezuela in 2011 (excluding an odd two-legged friendly against Brazil that was decided on penalties), and of course have a wealth of superstar talent, including a brilliant front three of captain Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, and Gonzalo Higuaín. Alejandro Sabella’s team will be favourites to retain the UFWC title, but they will keep in mind that 2011 defeat.
Venezuela have been UFWC champions once before. They briefly held the title in 2006, taking it from Uruguay, only to give it back to Uruguay in a return match 21 days later. Can they defeat Argentina to take the title again? It’s a big ask, and a big match. For big match football tickets don’t forget to try bigticketshop.co.uk.
Whatever the result, we won’t have long to wait until the next UFWC title match. If Argentina manage to retain the title, the next UFWC match will see them play Bolivia on 26 March. Venezuela play Colombia on the same day. But let’s get Argentina vs Venezuela out of the way first. Here’s hoping for a monumental match at El Monumental. We’ll have full coverage right here.
UPDATE: You can watch a free and legal live stream of the Argentina vs Venezuela UFWC title match via our friends at Bet365. You’ll need to create an account if you don’t already have one, but you don’t need to make a bet. If you do open an account and decide to make a deposit of £10 or more, you’ll be entitled to up to £200 in free bets. Kick off is midnight in the UK. Just click on the link below.