By Juan Arango
Messi-mania in Argentina forced a first in national team recent history. Tickets for the Albiceleste match against Venezuela on Friday at the Estadio Monumental in Núñez were sold out in hours. This was a first as the national team usually has a great deal of sales from fans walking up to the gate. More importantly, they were looking to avenge the only loss that they suffered so far in these qualifiers at the hands of La Vinotinto in Puerto La Cruz back on October 11, 2011.
One major issue that will confront Venezuelan coach César Farías is the absence of Athletic Club defender Fernando Amorebieta who will be absent due to an injury. Argentines will have a sense of relief as it was Amorebieta's goal against them the one that saw the Venezuelans beat them for the first time ever in World Cup qualifying play. Add his loss to that of Roberto Rosales and that complicates things for an already niggled Oswaldo Vizcarrondo.
Argentina in the meantime are not Scot free on the injury front either. Sergio Agüero will be out for both matches in this round of qualifying play due to a knee injury. According to many reports, Messi will be accompanied by Inter forward Rodrifo Palacio or PSG's Ezequiel Lavezzi