This Friday, at 1 am, Brazil and Argentina will face each other in a qualifying match for the 2018 Russia World Cup. There are three Barcelona players directly involved, Mascherano, Alves and Neymar, and they won't have the same role.
1. What do Argentina have at stake?
The home team is the one which plays the most complicated role. They have not won any match yet in the group stage: one draw (0-0 against Paraguay) and one defeat (0-2 against Ecuador).
Thus, they need three more points to reach the 4th position (the last one which allow direct access to Russia 2018) and two to be 5th (which would send them to the playoff). But they have 15 games left to play.
Losing against Brazil would not be decisive but Tata Martino's image would be damaged. For credibility, and in order to demonstrate that his project can last, the coach needs the team to win.
2. What do Brazil have at stake?
The seleçao have had better results than Argentina: they have three points thanks to the win against Venezuela. They lost against Chile. Thanks to this 3 points, they are 5th, so right now they would go to playoff.
Thus, although they are in better situation than Argentina, the position of the canarinha is not perfect. The conservative approach of Dunga has not been better than the strategy of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to the World Cup semifinals (but losing 7-1 against Germany). But playing away release them of pressure and can approach them to a comforting victory.
3. Neymar's role
He is the absolute leader of Brazil and he will come back after the four-match ban. He will have to show the same great level he has been showing in FC Barcelona.
4. Dani Alves' role
He might stay on bench as Danilo could be starter. We'll which right-back Dunga chooses: the blaugrana veteran or Real Madrid's young player.
5. Javier Mascherano's role
He will be the captain of Argentina, as Messi won't be there. Mascherano is the physical and emotional lung of the albiceleste. The defensive midfield starter must combine clear leadership of the team with a calm transition towards his expected replacement, At. Madrid's player Matías Kranevitter, currently on loan at River.