The extent of the problems facing Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella ahead of his side’s World Cup 2014 qualifier against Bolivia is highlighted by reports from Fox News that there could be empty seats at the stadium this evening.
After failures at the last two major tournaments, the Argentinian public has seemingly fallen out of love with La Albiceleste and the prospect of watching the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Mascherano no longer whets the appetite.
And this newfound indifference is unlikely to have been appeased by Argentina’s shock loss to Venezuela in their last qualification match.
It was La Albiceleste’s first ever defeat against their South American neighbours and their second loss in three matches having come soon after a friendly defeat to Brazil.
Sandwiched in between was an encouraging 4-1 defeat over Chile, which had suggested that Sabella was starting to make progress in turning his team’s fortunes around.
And he will be confident of getting back on track against Bolivia this evening despite the disappointment of the Venezuela defeat, not least because Argentina will be playing at the Monumental, scene of their 1978 World Cup triumph.
For while Argentina have lost four times to Bolivia in the past, including a 6-1 thumping on April Fool’s Day in 2009, all of these defeats have come away.
A home win therefore looks the most likely in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with this reflected by odds of 11/100.
Meanwhile, a draw is priced at 7/1 and a Bolivia victory at 22/1.
But don’t let Bolivia’s odds for the win lull you into thinking La Albiceleste will have an easy time of it.
For one thing, the two sides met as recently as July in the Copa America and it took a 76th-minute equaliser from Sergio Aguero for Argentina to secure a 1-1 draw.
And then there is Argentina’s worryingly creaky back line to consider, with Pablo Zabaleta conceding recently that he and his fellow defenders have issues to address.
Don’t be too taken in with the 4-1 win over Chile either, with the margin of victory more reflective of defensive lapses from La Roja than overwhelming superiority on Argentina’s part.
As such, there looks to be value in Argentina winning by just a single goal at odds of 31/10, with these odds making a successful £25 free bet on the outcome worth £102.50.
As for potential goalscorers, the obvious option would be to bet on Barcelona star Lionel Messi given his phenomenal goalscoring record for his club side.
However, it is a different story in his national shirt, as shown by his failure to register in the Copa America over the summer.
With Sergio Aguero ruled out through injury, look to Gonzalo Higuain to provide goals, with the Real Madrid striker in good form for both club and country.
In addition to scoring a hat trick against Chile, Higuain has grabbed 11 goals in 11 games for Real in La Liga this season, making his odds of 17/20 to score at any time more attractive than those for Messi (11/20).
Finally, with Argentina’s defence suspect and Bolivia scoring against both Uruguay and Colombia in their opening World Cup qualifiers, it could be worth betting on the away side finding the back of the net, particularly at odds of 29/20.
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