What an unbelievable two months for Lionel Messi. Argentina and the diminutive legend won the Copa America title over bitter rival Brazil in July. Then, Messi shockingly left Barcelona amid the Catalan club’s financial turmoil and signed for Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi made his PSG debut as a 66th-minute substitute in a 2-0 win vs Reims, replacing Neymar. Now, after his first senior international trophy, Messi and Argentina will continue their hunt for glory at the 2022 World Cup.
Undefeated through six games of World Cup qualifying so far, La Albiceleste visits a Venezuela team that has only managed one win in qualifying. Soccer betting odds list Argentina as a -200 favorite.
Game: Venezuela vs Argentina
Location: Estadio Polideportivo de Pueblo Nuevo, San Cristóbal, Venezuela
Time: Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
Head to Head
These two teams last met in a 2017 World Cup qualifier and played to a 1-1 draw. Venezuela actually got out to a lead early in the second half courtesy of midfielder Jhon Murillo, but it was promptly erased with an own goal.
Venezuela and Argentina also drew 2-2 in 2016. However, Argentina has only lost to Venezuela once in their last 10 meetings and is the favorite in the BetUS sportsbook.
Venezuela’s Abysmal Form
It’s been a rough couple years for Venezuela. Winless in 2021, Venezuela has just one win since the end of 2019. Last year, Venezuela picked up a 2-1 win vs Chile in which Luis Mago and Salomon Rondon got on the scoresheet.
Since then, La Vino Tinto is 0-3-3, including a last-place finish at the 2021 Copa America in Group B. Still, Venezuela shouldn’t be written off as its three qualifying draws have come against good teams in Ecuador, Colombia and Uruguay.
Venezuela hasn’t been battered in its other recent matches, either. Venezuela conceded six goals in four matches at the Copa America for an average of 1.5 goals against.
Where Venezuela has really struggled is on the offensive end. Salomon Rondon is the nation’s all-time leading scorer and is reportedly close to signing with Everton. However, he leads the line of a Venezuela team that has scored just five goals in its last 10 matches. Argentina is certainly a tricky team to score against.
First Match Since Copa America Win
Angel Di Maria’s 22nd-minute chip of Ederson proved to be the difference as Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 and won its first Copa America since 1993. Messi got his elusive international trophy and Argentina built some real momentum coming back into World Cup Qualifiers.
A popular pick for betting online, Argentina has three wins and three draws in its World Cup qualifying matches. La Albiceleste has scored a goal in each of their six qualifying matches.
Forwards Messi, Lautaro Martinez and Nicolas Gonzalez are tied with two qualifying goals apiece and were all named to the squad for the matches vs Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia. With an embarrassment of riches up front, Joaquin Correa also scored two goals in just 16 minutes on his Inter Milan debut to fire the defending Serie A champions past Hellas Verona.
However, Argentina has been held to just nine goals in six World Cup qualifiers and has failed to score more than two in any single game. A Copa America hangover isn’t out of the question.
Interestingly, Argentina has won just one of its last four matches vs Venezuela. The -200 odds imply that Argentina has a two-thirds chance of winning, which seems high even if the Argentines are the more talented side.
Venezuela is playing for its World Cup qualifying life at home against a team that could certainly take it for granted. Plus, Argentina hasn’t blown away teams recently as 10 of its last 13 games have been decided by a goal or fewer. Venezuela isn’t usually one of the recommended soccer picks but I’d back it to cover the one-goal spread.
Pick: Venezuela +1 (-110)