The classic between Brazil and Argentina, this Sunday, at 4 pm (GMT), for the South American qualifiers for the world Cup of 2022, will mark Lionel Messi’s reunion with the Neo Química Arena, a stadium he never hit the net and which also took one of the rare red cards of his career.
The last time he was on the field at the house of Corinthians, it was in the dispute for the third place of the america cup, in 2019, against the Chile. On the occasion, the Paraguayan referee Mario Vivar expelled the Argentine captain after a confusion with Medel, to the frustration of the more than 40,000 fans present, who saw the number 10 shirt go to the locker room in the first half.
That day, even without the star on the field, the hermanos won 2-1, with goals from Dybala and Aguero, and took third place in the championship.
In 16 years as a professional, Messi got the red card on two other occasions. The first, in 2005, right on his debut for the national team, in a friendly with Hungary. Then, with the shirt of the Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao for the Super Cup of Spain.
In addition to this match against Chile, the forward played in Itaquera twice more, but did not score a single goal. The first time happened at the 2014 World Cup, in the victory against the Switzerland by 1 to 0, for the final octaves. Despite not having hit the net, Messi assisted Di Maria to ensure qualification for the quarterfinals.
Then, again for the World Cup in the same year, the Argentine team returned to the stadium to face the Netherlands in the semifinals. After a goalless draw in regular time and overtime, the decision went to penalties and the hermanos ended up advancing by 4-2, with Messi converting his penalty.
Two years after the last time he stepped on the pitch at Neo Química Arena, the star is back. Now, in one of the best phases of his career, after winning his first title with his national team’s shirt – the Copa America 2020 on top of the Brazil – and leaving Barcelona to reinforce the galactic team of Paris Saint-Germain.
Don’t miss all the pre-game and the best analysis of the match between Brazil and Argentina, in the home programs: SportsCenter, BB Debate, Futebol no Mundo and Futebol na Veia by ESPN on Star+.