Argentina ready for World Cup qualifier against Chile

Buenos Aires, March 23 (IANS) Argentina coach Gerardo Martino tried out a team without forward Gonzalo Higuain in a training session ahead of Thursday’s match against Chile in the 2018 Russia World Cup South American qualifying tournament.

Now with a full squad, Martino set up a practice match on Tuesday where FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi was accompanied by Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Angel Di Maria on his team, reports Xinhua.

Later on Tuesday, Martino announced his starting line-up and despite being a top goalscorer in Italy’s first division, Higuain, who plays for Napoli, was not included in the starting 11.

Argentina will travel to Chile on Wednesday where they will face the host team for the fifth match in the South American qualifiers.

It will be an opportunity for Argentina to get revenge for losing to Chile at the Copa America 2015.

On March 29, Argentina will then face Bolivia at home in the city of Cordoba.

Argentina are currently in the sixth place on the standings with five points, seven points behind leaders Ecuador.

‘Russian football stadium for 2018 World Cup may cost more than $1 bn’

Moscow, March 23 (IANS) A football stadium in the city of St. Petersburg may costin excess of $1 billion, Vadim Tyulpanov, head of the Russian Federation Council Committee in charge of preparations for the 2018 World Cup, said on Tuesday.

The St. Petersburg authorities had allocated funds from the city budget to build the 69,000-seat Zenit Arena with a movable roof and a pullout field, reports Tass.

The construction got under way in the western part of Krestovsky Island in 2007. Though the project has been adjusted several times, December 2016 is the final deadline for completing the construction works.

“Financial expenditures are increasing, clearly because of the rising dollar rate, and that is creating additional expenses. But when the stadium is finished, it’s going to be the best in Russia. The stadium used to cost about a billion US dollars but the price must have gone much higher by now,” Tyulpanov said.

“We will go there (St. Petersburg) in May or June. The Confederations Cup situation will hopefully get clearer by that time.”

He also expressed the hope that the stadium in St. Petersburg would be finished on time.

“The arena has no world analogues. It is the only stadium at the northern geographic level to have a pullout field and a movable roof. That creates additional complications. The city will host a Confederations Cup next year,” Tyulpanov added.

The authorities of St. Petersburg provided world governing body FIFA with guarantees that the Zenit Arena in Russia’s second largest city will be commissioned in due time.

The 69,000-seat Zenit Arena is one of the 12 stadiums in 11 cities across Russia to host the matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The estimated cost of the construction, which began in 2006, stands at 34.9 billion rubles (some $450 million).

Costa praises Guardiola for new tactical edge

Teresopolis (Brazil), March 23 (IANS) Bayern Munich’s Brazilian winger Douglas Costa has reiterated his admiration for coach Pep Guardiola as he prepares for Brazil’s World Cup qualifier against Uruguay on Friday.

Costa has been in fine form since joining the Bundesliga champions from Shakhtar Donetsk at the request of Bayern manager Guardiola in July, reports Xinhua.

“I try to play with the national team like I do with Bayern,” Costa told a press conference at Brazil’s training base here on Tuesday.

“I have learnt a lot about the tactical side of the game with Guardiola and I try to make the most of that. He is a genius and it’s easy to play under him because he helps us a lot.”

“When the team isn’t playing well he creates something different and the change comes off. He is different.”

Costa is likely to start on the left of an attacking trident for Brazil in Friday’s match at Recife’s Pernambuco Arena. Barcelona star Neymar is expected to feature in a central role with Chelsea’s Willian on the right.

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