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Caravario: Messi abandoned in final

 By Tim Vickery

Ecuador stun Argentina, Alexis Sanchez inspires Chile against Brazil

Argentina's World Cup qualifying campaign got off to a poor start with a shock defeat at home to Ecuador.

Opening defeats for Brazil against Chile and for Argentina at home to Ecuador -- welcome to the most competitive World Cup qualification campaign around.

Since its establishment in 1996, the marathon format in South America, with all 10 nations playing each other home and away, has resulted in a massive rise in standards. With regular competitive games and guaranteed income, the less traditional football nations have been able to grow.

Ecuador had their best ever World Cup in 2006, as did Paraguay...

 By Tim Vickery

Questions loom over Chile, Argentina in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying

Arturo Vidal helped Chile win the Copa America. But can his national side back that success up in the World Cup qualifiers?

Ahead of the first stanza of CONMEBOL qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup, ESPN FC's Tim Vickery takes a look at four key questions from the fixtures...

Chile vs. Brazil

Chile have climbed the mountain. Now can they stay there?

Two months ago, after almost a century of waiting, Chile finally had something to put in their trophy cabinet when they won the Copa America on home soil. Will this spur them on to greater triumphs? Or does it represent a high water mark?

The nearest equivalent comes 14 years...

Angel Correa's potential starting to emerge at Atletico Madrid

Angel Correa's slick movement against Eibar on Saturday helped Atletico Madrid pick up three points.
Angel Correa's slick movement against Eibar on Saturday helped Atletico Madrid pick up three points.

Angel Correa announced himself to a European audience by coming off the bench to lead Atletico Madrid to a 2-0 win away to Eibar on Saturday. He entered the pitch just past the hour mark, produced a lovely drop of the shoulder and crisp finish to open the scoring a minute later and then provided the assist for the second, scored by Fernando Torres.

Correa's path to La Liga has been far from straightforward. Born in Rosario, Argentina into a family of 10 siblings, he grew up in a poor, gang-ridden...

 By Tim Vickery

Leo Messi and Neymar hot on Wayne Rooney's heels to hit half-century mark

The ESPN FC panel answer your tweets on starting with Harry Kane or Wayne Rooney, Prince Ali or Michel Platini as next FIFA President and whether or not Lionel Messi is way ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Wayne Rooney has scored more international goals than all but four South Americans. Leo Messi and Neymar, however, aren't far behind.

To put Wayne Rooney's England goal-scoring record in perspective, only four South American players have hit the back of the net more times for their national teams. Rooney now has 50 for England. He is outscored by a Brazilian triumvirate (Pele -- 77, Ronaldo -- 62, and Romario -- 55) and by Argentina's Gabriel Batistuta (56).

A couple of contemporary South Americans are breathing down Rooney's neck, though. Lionel Messi's late equaliser for Argentina against Mexico on Tuesday night takes him up...

 By Sam Kelly

Argentina and Martino left with plenty to ponder following Mexico draw

Javier Mascherano insists Argentina must adjust to Lionel Messi and help him find his best form for the national team.

It was hard for Argentina coach Gerardo Martino to learn anything from last Friday's easy 7-0 win over Bolivia but Tuesday's 2-2 draw against Mexico will have given him plenty to ponder.

Martino opted for something much closer to Argentina's standard starting 4-3-3, with Carlos Tevez paired with Lionel Messi in attack for the first time since Martino took charge.

The main departures from the normal lineup were Facundo Roncaglia's presence at right-back instead of Pablo Zabaleta, Nahuel Guzman starting...

Mexico raise game until late collapse in draw with Argentina

Mexico squandered a two-goal lead as Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi scored late goals to earn the Albiceleste a 2-2 draw at AT&T Stadium.

In a lively 2-2 draw Argentina, Mexico again showed a predilection to raise or lower its game to the opponent's level of play, matching Argentina's skill at times and outperforming their rivals in intensity for long stretches until a late collapse saw an even scoreline emerge as the final result.

Besides the sorry condition of the playing field, where the temporary sod left gaps and seams all over the surface, three things in particular stood out from the match.

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1. Hernandez finds redemption...