Neymar Brazil
With Lionel Messi injured, Neymar will be the cynosure when Brazil play Argentina in a 2018 World Cup qualifierReuters

The biggest of all South American World Cup Qualifiers is here as Argentina host Brazil in Buenos Aires on Thursday.

Whenever these two teams meet – regardless of the context, the players or the current form – it matters, kind of like an India vs Pakistan match in cricket.

A little while later we will have another match between the two when Brazil play hosts to Argentina, but for now it will be the latter who will entertain their big rivals and hope to get one up on them, even without the talismanic powers of Lionel Messi.

Messi remains sidelined with a knee injury, while Argentina are also without their other main goal source in Sergio Aguero, who is yet to recover from the hamstring problem picked up in the last round of international matches.

Carlos Tevez is another striker who won't feature, leaving Argentina manager Gerardo Martino plenty to worry about heading into this game, considering they have managed just one point from two matches in their World Cup qualifying campaign so far.

Gonzalo Higuain is the player expected to take up the central striking mantle – not too shabby considering the forward has scored nine goals for Napoli this season – with the likes of Nicolas Gaitan, Angel Di Maria and Ezequiel Lavezzi providing support.

"'This is a very difficult game," Gaitan told Ole. "It is an encounter between two very good teams. We didn't start well and we will give our all and play a great game on Thursday in order to bounce back."

While Argentina are worrying about Messi and Aguero missing, Brazil will welcome the return of Neymar after his international ban. The Barcelona forward is in terrific form at the moment, taking over club talisman duties in the absence of Messi, while scoring bucketloads of goals.

Keeping Neymar quiet will be Argentina's number one job, which will be easier said than done. "Neymar has improved consistently since he arrived at Barcelona [in 2013]," Dunga was quoted as saying by ESPN FC. "He has done all that was expected of him with Messi out. He's in great form."

Dunga, though, remains wary of Argentina's threat, even while their opponents face such a long injury list. "They will have players out injured but it is still Argentina," the Brazil manager, who oversaw a win and a loss in the first couple of rounds of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, added. "You lose a talented player but you get one that is maybe more focused, with more power and speed, and they can create problems.

"We play Argentina at their home, they have great players, they were runners-up in the World Cup, they have 10 years' worth of work there. That shows how difficult this will be.

"We didn't have Neymar for our first matches and no one spoke about our rivals having an advantage over us. There are no favourites. All of us have deep benches."

Update: The match between the two rivals has been postponed to Friday, same time, after heavy rains made the pitch unplayable.

Where to Watch Live

So now, the Argentina vs Brazil is scheduled for a 9 pm local time (5.30 am IST, 12 am GMT, 7 pm ET) start on Friday (Saturday for India and UK). Sony Kix and Sony Six HD will broadcast the match live in India. Viewers in India can also watch the 2018 South American World Cup qualifier by online live streaming on

The match will be shown live in Argentina on TYC Sport, while viewers in Brazil can catch all the World Cup qualifying action live on Globo and SporTV.

Audience in the USA, Canada, North Africa, France and the Middle East can watch Brazil vs Argentina live on Bein Sports, while the game can also be live streamed on Bein Sports Connect.

Viewers in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa can watch Argentina vs Brazil live on SuperSport, with the live stream option on SuperSport Live Video.

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