Former Argentina head coach Alfio Basile has criticised "messy" Paris Saint-Germain's use of Lionel Messi and says the Ligue 1 side have "a weak defence".

Barcelona's financial difficulties forced Messi to find a new club, eventually joining PSG on a free transfer in August. 

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner got off to a slow start in France, scoring just once in his first four appearances across all competitions and missing several games due to injury.

Basile, who had two spells in charge of Argentina (1991-1994 and 2006-2008), winning two Copa Americas and a FIFA Confederations Cup in a successful first stint, hit out at how PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino was deploying Messi.

"The problem that Messi has is that at PSG, he is playing on the right and with Argentina, he plays everywhere, he makes everyone play." Basile said to SuperMitre.

The former Barca superstar, who won the Copa America with Argentina in July and was named the player of the tournament after registering the most goals and assists, enjoyed a breakthrough evening for his new club as PSG beat RB Leipzig 3-2 on Tuesday, scoring twice.

Basile was scathing in his assessment of the Ligue 1 giants as a team, however, pointing out their defensive organisation as a particular problem.

"PSG have a very weak defence and are very messy," Basile added.

PSG have the seventh-worst expected goals against total in the Champions League so far this season (5.39) but have only conceded three goals, keeping one clean sheet.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi hit out at the referee, despite the in-form Copa America champions' 1-0 win against Peru in World Cup qualifying.

Lautaro Martinez's header two minutes before half-time settled Thursday's contest in Buenos Aires, where La Albiceleste extended their unbeaten streak to 25 matches across all competitions.

Peru wasted a chance to salvage a point when Yoshimar Yotun's penalty cannoned off the crossbar with 25 minutes remaining.

Messi reacted to Argentina remaining undefeated on the road to Qatar 2022 through 11 CONMEBOL fixtures, though it remains to be seen what he was referring to when mentioning the referee after Martinez had also gone down inside the area in the first half.

"Difficult match, difficult to play. A lot of wind, they were playing deep, leaving little space for us," Messi wrote via Instagram.

"The referee always does this when he referee's us, as if he does it on purpose. But well, three important points and we're close to our objective."

Martinez scored his 17th international goal and the Inter star is Argentina's top scorer in the Lionel Scaloni era, two ahead of Messi.

"The play against Uruguay was more fluid, there was more space. It got complicated for us a little but we always tried to have a solution and today, we knew how to find that," Martinez said.

"Every time we go out on the pitch, we try to give our all because this shirt deserves respect and responsibility. All of this is exciting, my family saw me play again after a long time. Today, they're here again. I hope that the people have enjoyed the win."

Argentina head coach Scaloni became the second coach in the history of the national team to go 25 games unbeaten in all competitions, after Alfio Basile.

"Today we felt a bit tired. Playing a triple date in South America is wearisome," added Scaloni. "We took it forward and got the three points, which is what we wanted.

"It was a very important game and there was tension for that. I do not think that Argentina was satisfied with the result. Peru plays well, it is a very difficult opponent. Beyond the penalty play, I think the game was controlled."

Argentina extended their unbeaten streak to 25 matches after Lautaro Martinez secured a 1-0 victory over Peru in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

Lautaro Martinez's 43rd-minute header settled the contest as Argentina stayed undefeated on the road to Qatar 2022 on Thursday.

Peru had the chance to snatch a point away from home, but Yoshimar Yotun's 65th-minute penalty cannoned off the woodwork in Buenos Aires.

Lionel Scaloni's Argentina – second in the standings – temporarily moved within three points of leaders Brazil through 11 qualifying fixtures.

Argentina made a bright start to proceedings at the Monumental, with Rodrigo De Paul in the thick of the action as the hosts saw two shots flash across goal inside four minutes.

Gianluca Lapadula's free-kick forced in-form Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into an early save, while La Albiceleste found the back of the net in the ninth minute, but Cristian Romero's header was ruled offside following a lengthy VAR review.

In a team headlined by Lionel Messi, De Paul continued to pull the strings with some wonderful passing and he was the centre of Argentina's opener prior to half-time.

De Paul played a neat one-two with Nahuel Molina and the latter picked out Lautaro Martinez, whose wonderful header beat Pedro Gallese two minutes before the break.

Jefferson Farfan came off the bench to make his 100th international appearance – the 36-year-old becoming the sixth Peru player to reach the century club.

He made an immediate impact, earning a penalty after being brought down by Emiliano Martinez but Yotun rattled the crossbar with his spot-kick.

Messi was largely subdued by Peru, though his free-kick 20 minutes from the end forced a save from Gallese.

What does it mean? Argentina go from strength to strength

Argentina were on their knees when Scaloni took charge of the embattled South American giants. Now Copa America champions, Argentina have not lost since July 2019.

De Paul enhances reputation

The Atletico Madrid midfielder has quickly become a key part of Scaloni's XI. De Paul dazzled in the first half with 63 touches of the ball – the most among both teams. He also earned four fouls while completing 36 passes and four crosses in the opening 45 minutes.

Peru's drought continues

Peru have not gone 17 matches without winning against Argentina in World Cup qualifiers, dating back to 1985. The result condemned Peru to back-to-back defeats as they fight to qualify for next year's showpiece.

What's next?

Argentina will be back in action next month when they travel to Uruguay on November 10, while Peru welcome Bolivia on the same day.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni believes superstar captain Lionel Messi is thriving in the current national team environment with the 2021 Copa America champions.

Messi has been criticised in the past for his performances for Argentina, which have paled in comparison to his club output, dominating with Barcelona up until 2021 having won a club-record 35 trophies and become the LaLiga giants' all-time leading goalscorer.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner led Argentina to their first piece of silverware in 28 years after La Albiceleste dethroned rivals Brazil in July's Copa America final, while Scaloni's side are well on their way to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, unbeaten across 10 matches.

"It is very difficult that [Messi] has not performed with the national team," Scaloni told a news conference ahead of Thursday's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier with Peru.

"There will be moments and team moments and I think that's the most important thing in the end."

Paris Saint-Germain's Messi – who eclipsed Brazil great Pele as the all-time leading scorer for a South American nation during the previous international break – scored his 80th international goal was as Argentina eased past Uruguay 3-0 on Sunday.

"The team is the one that takes the situation forward, the one that makes him even better," Scaloni added. "I think he is good in the team and comfortable with his team-mates. All of this makes it even better.

"It is clear that without the team his performance is not so reflected. Today we are doing well as a group, as a team and that is what is most important."

Scaloni also welcomed Sergio Aguero closing in on a return to fitness, having featured in a Barcelona training match on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old, who was part of Argentina's Copa success, has not played for Barcelona since his off-season move from Premier League champions Manchester City due to a calf injury.

Argentina – second in the qualifying standing – have only netted 18 goals in 10 qualifiers with Aguero potentially boosting their attacking options for November's scheduled games against Uruguay and Brazil.

"The case for him, as with the other boys who have not been able to play, the most important thing is that they compete in their club and make things difficult for us," Scaloni said.

"We have a team of enormous hierarchy, a team of great forwards and the final decision is the most difficult. What interests us is that they play for their club, that they perform well and we will have time to make the decision.

"Logically, we like them to play and that they are in continuity and we expect that from the boys who are not there."

Lionel Messi believes Argentina are continuing to improve on the back of their Copa America success, but the superstar forward was grateful to Emiliano Martinez for helping his side to victory against Uruguay.

Argentina's all-time leading scorer Messi was on the scoresheet alongside Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez as the Albiceleste secured a 3-0 win in Sunday's World Cup qualifier to move within six points of group leaders Brazil.

Lionel Scaloni's men are now unbeaten in 24 games in all competitions, a run that includes a 1-0 win over Brazil in July's Copa America final and 10 games without defeat in their qualifying campaign on the road to Qatar 2022.

However, it may have been a different story against Uruguay had Emiliano Martinez not produced two big saves to keep out Luis Suarez with the game all square, the Aston Villa man going on to make six stops in total at El Monumental.

And Messi singled out the goalkeeper for particular praise after his side returned to winning ways on the back of Thursday's goalless draw with Paraguay.

"He is fundamental for us," Messi said. "When the pressure is on, he always responds. He did that again today. We know we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world and we are making the most of it. 

"Uruguay had clear opportunities to score, even though we were in control. That's the sort of team they are. They are able to create danger out of nothing."

 

Argentina are now unbeaten at home under Scaloni in seven games in all competitions and have yet to lose at home to Uruguay in World Cup qualifying in six matches, winning the last five of those.

They are on the verge of booking a place at Qatar 2022 and Messi, whose six goals is level with Neymar and behind Bolivia's Moreno Martinez (eight) in the CONMEBOL top-scorers chart, is pleased with the strides being taken by his side.

"I think we are improving a lot in terms of the way we are playing and the way we are keeping possession," he said. 

"We knew the results of the other qualifiers and that we needed to take six points from our next two home games. The fans here are great and it is beautiful to play here."

Argentina conclude their triple-header of October qualifiers with a home match against Peru on Thursday, before travelling to Uruguay on their return to action next month.

Lionel Messi added to his record international tally as Argentina eased past rivals Uruguay 3-0 in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

Messi – who eclipsed Brazil great Pele as the all-time leading scorer for a South American nation during the previous international break – scored his 80th goal in an Argentina jersey on Sunday.

Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer saw his attempted outside-of-the-boot pass find the back of the net in the 38th minute before Rodrigo de Paul doubled the lead six minutes later, while Lautaro Martinez sealed the victory in the 62nd minute.

Lionel Scaloni's Argentina remain unbeaten through 10 qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022 – six points behind leaders Brazil as they extended their undefeated run to 24 games across all competitions.

Uruguay entered the match without a win against Argentina since 2013, while La Albiceleste had never lost a home World Cup qualifier to La Celeste amid a run of five consecutive victories.

But Uruguay made a bright start in Buenos Aires, where talisman Luis Suarez was in the thick of the action.

Suarez and Uruguay were unfortunate to not score at least twice in the first half, with Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez proving an unbeatable object.

Martinez thwarted Suarez twice with two big saves, while the latter saw his acrobatic volley cannon off the post on the half-hour mark.

Argentina went close to breaking the deadlock in the 33rd minute following a swift counter-attack, however, Giovani Lo Celso's effort struck the crossbar.

The opener did come via Messi, albeit in fortuitous circumstances, after his attempted pass ended up in the back of the net seven minutes prior to half-time.

Argentina took a 2-0 lead into the interval when De Paul tucked away a rebound a minute before the break.

Uruguay introduced Edinson Cavani and Darwin Nunez at half-time in attempt to spark a comeback but Argentina could not be stopped as space opened up.

Lautaro Martinez – back in the starting line-up – made it 3-0 just past the hour after finding himself unmarked at the back post following De Paul's low ball across the six-yard box.

Argentina almost had a fourth with 22 minutes remaining, however, Fernando Muslera got down well to save Joaquin Correa's close-range shot and the Uruguay goalkeeper was on hand again to thwart Angel Di Maria six minutes later.

What does it mean? No stopping Scaloni's men

Bouncing back from their goalless draw away to Paraguay last time out, Copa America champions Argentina have not lost since 2019.

Magical Messi

Even when Messi assists, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner scores. He has scored four goals in his last three games for Argentina. Messi now has six goals during this World Cup qualifying campaign, level with Brazil's Neymar and two behind leading scorer Moreno Martinez of Bolivia.

Uruguay's drought continues

Oscar Tabarez's Uruguay are still searching for their first World Cup qualifying win away to Argentina. Despite boasting Suarez, Cavani and Nunez, Uruguay have now failed to score in back-to-back games while they have only managed one from their past three. In total, Uruguay have scored 13 goals and conceded as many on the roar to Qatar 2022.

What's next?

Argentina will conclude this international window with the visit of Peru on Thursday as Uruguay travel to Brazil on the same day.

Lionel Messi's Argentina were frustrated in a goalless draw away to Paraguay in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying.

Argentina had their chances against Paraguay in Asuncion, but the Copa America champions could not find the breakthrough on Thursday.

Lionel Scaloni's Argentina, though, remain unbeaten in second position after nine matchdays on the road to Qatar 2022 and undefeated across 23 games across all competitions.

Messi was entering the contest on the back of his record-breaking exploits during the last international break after surpassing Brazil great Pele (77) as the all-time leading scorer for a South American nation with his hat-trick against Bolivia.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar looked lively away to Paraguay, creating a great opportunity for Argentina to break the deadlock in the 11th minute.

Messi, who had received 437 passes in CONMEBOL qualifying – the most by any player in the campaign – weaved his way past defenders and slid a ball through to Lautaro Martinez, whose goal-bound effort was somehow cleared off the line by a scrambling Omar Alderete ahead of Angel Di Maria.

Argentina were largely in control in the opening half, though Paraguay had some moments in the attacking third.

Another chance went begging for Argentina within five minutes of the second half getting underway, Rodrigo de Paul's ball across the six-yard box somehow evading his team-mates.

Paraguay almost took a surprise lead four minutes later after Miguel Almiron's turn of pace created an opening, but Emiliano Martinez was up to the task to deny the Newcastle United star.

Di Maria picked out Joaquin Correa at the back post on the hour mark, however, some desperate defending blocked the Argentina forward's goal-bound header.

Martinez was kept rather busy in the second half, but the in-form goalkeeper continued to thwart Paraguay, who were searching for their first home World Cup qualifying win against Argentina since 2009.

Antony Silva produced a fabulous sequence to deny Argentina during the closing stages, first dealing with Guido Rodriguez's header before pushing Papu Gomez's long-range effort onto the crossbar seven minutes from the end, while Carlos Gonzalez almost snatched victory for Paraguay in the 88th minute.

 

What does it mean? Unbeaten run continues

While Argentina were unable to secure maximum points, the South American champions have not tasted defeat since 2019.

Goalkeepers flex muscles

It was a showdown between two goalkeepers at the top of their game. Martinez came up big for Argentina in the second half, while Paraguay counterpart Silva was not to be overshadowed in a strong display.

Paraguay struggling for home form

While Paraguay would have probably taken a point before the match, their home woes continue. Paraguay have only won one of their past eight World Cup qualifiers on home soil, dating back to March 2017.

What's next?

Argentina are back in action for the visit of Uruguay on Monday, while Paraguay are away to Chile on the same day.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni said superstar captain Lionel Messi is clear to face Paraguay in La Albiceleste's CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier.

Messi missed two matches due to a knee injury before returning for Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League win over Manchester City and last week's shock Ligue 1 loss at Rennes.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is away on international duty with Argentina, who will visit Paraguay on Thursday, and Messi has been given the all-clear to play.

"Messi trained with us yesterday [Tuesday] without any problems and this morning too, so he's fine to play," Scaloni told reporters on Wednesday.

"Which is the most important thing and he's like the rest of the group, wanting to get together and do the best for the national team. Regarding his injury, it is evident that he has played two games before coming here and this is fine."

During the last international break, Messi surpassed Brazil great Pele as the all-time leading goalscorer for a South American nation.

Messi scored a hat-trick for Copa America champions Argentina in their 3-0 qualifying win over Bolivia last month, the 34-year-old taking his tally to 79 international goals.

Argentina – second behind Brazil in the standings – remain unbeaten on the road to Qatar 2022 with five wins from their eight fixtures, while they extended their undefeated streak to 22 matches across all competitions.

"The challenge that we have, or that I have in this case as a coach, is that the team competes in all the games and, that the things that I know that are done well, do it again or strengthen them and that they can be improved and tried in training even if they are few, and try to put a lot of emphasis on that," Scaloni said.

"We believe that in a collective level the national team has a fairly regular performance and I think that at an individual level it is evident that we have players who decide matches, but in a collective level I think that we have improved a lot in that and that one of the things in which the team does is give the feeling that that is always why, because we work as a team and because whoever enters or leaves knows very well what they have to do and I think that is the most important thing.

"Then there are things to improve on like all teams and even more so that we have very few days together. But our feeling is that as a team we are doing well."

A hat-trick from in-form Andrew Kellaway saw Australia close out their Rugby Championship campaign with a 32-17 victory over Argentina on Saturday.

Kellaway moved onto seven tries for the 2021 tournament in a one-sided contest on the Gold Coast as the Wallabies followed up last week's 27-8 win in style.

Dave Rennie's men have now won four Tests in a row for the first time since November 2017, while Argentina are on a six-match losing run, their worst such streak in two years.

Quade Cooper's 10th-minute penalty set Australia on their way against an Argentina side missing six players due to an unauthorised trip to Byron Bay.

Tomas Lavanini's repeated infringements in the lineout earned him a yellow card and Folau Fainga'a darted over for the first try from the resulting play.

Fainga'a and Rob Valetini combined to free Kellaway for his first try of the contest, with Samu Kerevi bursting through after patient build-up to make it 20-3 after the break, Emiliano Boffelli having kicked a penalty.

The Wallabies by now were in cruise control, Kellaway finishing with aplomb after more good build-up, and his hat-trick try in the same corner was served on a plate by Len Ikitau's clever lay-off.

A weary Pumas side had something to celebrate when debutant Thomas Gallo powered through near the posts, as Australia brought on 38-year-old Greg Holmes – now the oldest player to feature for the Wallabies since World War II – for his first cap since 2016.

Gallo got a late second after a pile-on at the try line to make the scores a little more respectable.

Rennie's men showing great promise

Kellaway, who now has more than twice the number of tries of anyone else at these championships, was a good advert for Australia's renewed vibrancy under Rennie.

This is the first time they have won four Rugby Championship matches in a row and the third Test in 2021 in which they have scored at least 30 points.

Little pride for Pumas

Argentina, meanwhile, are on their worst losing run since a 10-game span from September 2018 to September 2019 and sit bottom of the standings on zero and with a points difference of minus 135 from their six matches.

They have also taken just one win from their past 13 Tests against Australia.

South Africa will attempt to deny New Zealand a first Rugby Championship clean sweep since 2017 at Cbus Stadium.

The All Blacks beat the Springboks 19-17 last weekend to win the title with a game to spare and Ian Foster's side can complete a Grand Slam in this year’s tournament on the Gold Coast this weekend.

Three defeats in a row ensured South Africa were unable to retain their crown and the world champions slipped to third place when Australia beat Argentina in round five.

The Wallabies were already firm favourites to extend their winning run to four matches against the Pumas in a final-round double-header before six Argentina players were ruled out for breaching COVID-19 regulations.

Pablo Matera, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Felipe Ezcurra, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Socino and Sebastian Cancelliere were stopped at the state border when they attempted to return to their Gold Coast base following an unauthorised trip to Byron Bay on Wednesday.

Here, Stats Perform utilizes Opta data to preview the last Rugby Championship matches of the year.

 

SOUTH AFRICA v NEW ZEALAND

Form

New Zealand have won their last 10 Tests on the bounce and edged out the Springboks in the previous round to seal top spot.

This will be the sixth Test between New Zealand and South Africa on neutral territory; the All Blacks have won each of their past four meetings in that span, though the Springboks won their inaugural fixture.

The All Blacks have gained more metres (618), scored more points (38) and made more clean breaks (14) per game than any other team in the 2021 edition of the Rugby Championship.

Ones to watch

Anton Lienert-Brown returns from injury at centre and will be expected to hit the ground running for the champions.

Wounded South Africa will be looking for number eight Duane Vermeulen to drive them on in what promises to be another almighty battle.

ARGENTINA v AUSTRALIA

Form

Australia's run of three consecutive wins is their longest since they managed four consecutive Test victories from October to November in 2017.

The Pumas have lost their past five Tests, after losing only twice in their 10 matches prior (W5, D3) to this tournament. The last time they went on a longer losing run was a 10-match span from September 2018 to September 2019.

Australia have missed the fewest tackles per game (12.2) and boast the highest tackle success rate (88.2 per cent) of any team in the 2021 edition.

Ones to watch

Greg Holmes is set to become the oldest player to feature for Australia since World War II. At the age of 38, the prop – who has not played for his country since 2016 - was named among the replacements by head coach Dave Rennie.

Emiliano Boffelli had a mixed game last Saturday, gaining 44 metres from seven carries. He was wasteful from the tee, however, and will want to make amends this weekend.

Six Argentina players have been ruled out of facing Australia in the Rugby Championship on Saturday after making an unauthorised trip to Byron Bay.

Pablo Matera, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Felipe Ezcurra, Santiago Medrano, Santiago Socino and Sebastian Cancelliere were stopped at the state border when they attempted to return to their Gold Coast base from New South Wales on Wednesday.

Manager Lucas Chioccarelli and video analyst Rodrigo Martinez were also prevented from entering Queensland due to coronavirus rules.

The Argentine Rugby Union stated that the players will not be available to face the Wallabies in their final match of the tournament at Cbus Stadium this weekend.

Rugby Championship organiser SANZAAR said in a statement: "SANZAAR has informed Argentina Rugby that all members of this group are now ineligible to participate further in The Rugby Championship as they have breached tournament rules.

"SANZAAR is very disappointed that such a breach has occurred given the clear rules that are in place to ensure the health and safety of all players and staff, and compliance with all relevant health orders."

The Pumas are bottom of the table, having failed to pick up a point from five matches.

Meanwhile, Greg Holmes will become the oldest player to feature for opponents Australia since World War II at the age of 38 after the prop was named among the replacements by Dave Rennie.

Darcy Swain and Pete Samu come into the side, while back-rower Sean McMahon will also start on the bench as the Wallabies eye a fourth successive win to secure second place behind champions New Zealand.

 

Australia: Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Samu Kerevi, Andrew Kellaway, Quade Cooper, Nic White; James Slipper, Folau Fainga'a, Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Darcy Swain, Pete Samu, Michael Hooper (captain) Rob Valetini.

Replacements: Lachlan Lonergan, Angus Bell, Greg Holmes, Matt Philip, Sean McMahon, Jake Gordon, James O'Connor, Tom Wright.

Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia, Matias Moroni, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Chocobares, Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Rodrigo Martinez, Julian Montoya (captain), Enrique Pieretto, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Martin Gonzalez, Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni.

Replacements: Facundo Bosch, Thomas Gallo, Eduardo Bello, Matias Alemanno, Francisco Gorrissen, Gonzalo Garcia, Domingo Miotti, Mateo Carreras.

Italy and Argentina will face each other in June 2022 after UEFA and CONMEBOL agreed to stage a series of matches between the European Championship and Copa America winners. 

Euro 2020 holders Italy, who ended a 53-year wait for the trophy by defeating England in July, are set to take on Copa America 2021 victors Argentina next year.

While a venue is yet to be confirmed for the inaugural fixture, there will also be further games held between the respective winners after the next two editions of each tournament. 

A statement from the governing bodies said: "UEFA and CONMEBOL have today announced the broadening of their existing cooperation as well as the staging of a match between the UEFA Euro 2020 winners Italy and the CONMEBOL Copa America 2021 winners Argentina during the international window in June 2022 at a venue to be confirmed. 

"The organising of this match is part of the expansion of the cooperation between UEFA and CONMEBOL, which notably includes women’s football, futsal and youth categories, the exchange of referees, as well as technical training schemes. 

"The agreement reached by the two organisations currently covers three editions of this match between the respective continental winners and includes the opening of a joint office in London, which will be in charge of coordinating projects of common interest. 

"By reaching this agreement, UEFA and CONMEBOL express their commitment to the development of football beyond their geographical zones, as a bridge uniting people, countries, continents and cultures. 

"The UEFA Executive Committee and the CONMEBOL Council also expressed a strong willingness to continue collaborating on other issues of mutual interest going forward." 

The agreement signifies a strengthening of the working relationship between the organisations, both of whom have openly opposed FIFA's plans for a biennial World Cup. 

With UEFA and CONMEBOL improving relations between one another, it could prove vital for knocking back FIFA's proposed changes, which remain in the pipeline with their Chief of Global Development Arsene Wenger leading the charge. 

Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala have both been included in Argentina's squad, as well as three Premier League players, for World Cup qualifying fixtures in October. 

Messi has been sidelined with a knee injury of late, forcing him to miss two games for Paris Saint-Germain, but could be set to feature against Manchester City in Champions League action on Tuesday. 

Argentina's captain scored a hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Bolivia back on September 10, though he has yet to register either a goal or assist for new club PSG. 

Dybala was on target for Juventus on Sunday before having to come off in the 22nd minute of his side's 3-2 win over Sampdoria. 

The Serie A club announced on Monday that the 27-year-old will miss both the Champions League clash with Chelsea and also the derby against Torino due to injury, ruling him out of action until after the international break. 

However, Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni has included Dybala in a 30-man squad ahead of upcoming qualifiers against Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. 

Tottenham duo Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero have also been called up, along with Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. 

Argentina remains on the red list for countries for the United Kingdom amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with updated government rules on travel declaring any individual entering the UK from such a destination must undertake a 10-day quarantine period.

Villa are due to host Wolves on October 16 when the Premier League season resumes, while Spurs travel to Newcastle United the following day. 

Argentina squad in full:

Franco Armani (River Plate), Juan Musso (Atalanta), Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa) Esteban Andrada (Monterrey); Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Udinese), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Lucas Martinez Quarta (Fiorentina), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Cristian Romero (Tottenham), Lisandro Martinez (Ajax), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla); Leandro Paredes (Paris Saint-Germain), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Nicolas Dominguez (Bologna), Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla); Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Joaquin Correa (Atletico Madrid), Julian Alarez (River Plate). 

Andrew Kellaway scored his fourth try of the Rugby Championship as in-form Australia beat Argentina 27-8 to go second in the table on Saturday.

The Wallabies have a runners-up spot behind champions New Zealand in their sights with one match against the Pumas to play after scoring three tries in their first ever Test in Townsville, moving above South Africa after they were beaten by the All Blacks.

Emiliano Boffelli dragged a penalty wide before Reece Hodge burst through a tackle after throwing a dummy and applied the finish following a swift side-step.

Hodge's early opening try came after a powerful run from the outstanding Samu Kerevi, who crashed over for a score of his own and Quade Cooper made it three successful kicks out of three to put the vibrant Wallabies 17-3 up at half-time following a penalty from Boffelli.

Julian Montoya touched down early in the second half at the back of a driving maul, but Boffelli missed the conversion and was also off target with another penalty.

James O'Connor sent a kick sailing through the posts after coming on for his first Test of the year while Marcos Kremer was in the sin-bin.

Replacement fly-half O'Connor set up Kellaway, the leading try-scorer in the tournament, for a simple finish nine minutes from time in another impressive showing from Dave Rennie's men.

Wallabies hitting their stride under Rennie

Australia, up to third in the rankings, were clearly brimming with confidence after beating world champions South Africa twice and they have won three consecutive Tests for the first time since November 2017 with head Dave Rennie making his mark.

The Pumas, on the other hand, have lost five in a row and have not scored more than 13 points in a game during that dismal run. The last time they went longer without scoring more than 15 points in a Test was a five-game stretch from March to August in 1990.

Kerevi causes havoc

The pace and power of centre Kerevi caused Argentina all sorts of problems.

Kerevi gained 90 metres with his 14 carries and beat six defenders in an all-action display.

New Zealand are on the brink of landing the Rugby Championship title ahead of their 100th Test against holders South Africa in Townsville on Saturday.

The All Blacks have been in a class of their own, taking maximum points from four matches to put one hand on the trophy and replace the world champions at the top of the rankings.

South Africa are smarting from back-to-back defeats to Australia, leaving them 10 points adrift of the leaders with two games against Ian Foster's side to play.

Australia are just a point behind the Springboks ahead of their clash with Argentina this weekend.

Here, we use Opta data to preview the double-header at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

 

NEW ZEALAND V SOUTH AFRICA

Form

There appears to be no stopping New Zealand at the moment, with their winning run standing at nine matches following back-to-back defeats of Argentina.

The last time the All Blacks enjoyed a longer winning streak was in October 2016, when they completed a run of 18 on the spin.

South Africa, on the other hand, are two without a win and have not had a worse run since losing four in a row from October to November five years ago.

 

 


Ones to watch

Akira Ioane is one of eight New Zealand players to be facing South Africa for the first time. Starting at blindside flanker on Saturday, his potency in the Springbok half could be key – only Jordie Barrett (nine) has beaten more defenders in opposition territory than Ioane (eight) in the 2021 competition.

Lood de Jager is back following concussion to reunite with Eben Etzebeth in the Springbok second row. They, along with Argentina's Guido Petti, are the only players to have stolen multiple lineouts at this year's tournament.

AUSTRALIA V ARGENTINA

Form

Australia are on a high after two impressive wins over South Africa, playing some entertaining rugby in a 30-17 bonus-point win in Brisbane last weekend.

Argentina are rooted to the foot of the table without a point from four matches, with a points difference of minus 101.

Each of the last two Tests between these nations ended in a draw. Only once in Test history have any tier one nations drawn three in a row (England vs France from February 1959 to February 1961).

Ones to watch

Australia captain Michael Hooper tends to enjoy facing Argentina: his most recent five home Tests against the Pumas have yielded a personal haul of four tries and one assist.

Argentina's best hope of springing a surprise could rest on the shoulders of Marcos Kremer, who is the only player in this championship to have registered more than 30 in both carries (31) and tackles (48). Another big showing from flanker Kremer might give the South American side a sniff.

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