Brazil vs Argentina: Three key players to look out for

The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the tie when Brazil and Argentina clash at the Maracana this week.

The dreaded international break is nearly behind us, and for the final time in 2023. But before the coaches take a well-deserved break, we have a mouthwatering clash on our hands as Brazil and Argentina get set to lock horns at the iconic Maracana stadium this week.

Neither team won a game last week, with the November international break kicking off on the worst possible note. But for Brazil, in particular, the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers have been horrendous thus far, as they have managed only seven points in five outings thus far.

On the other hand, Argentina’s campaign has been much better. The world champions sit atop the standings, four places clear of their fierce rivals. And while La Albiceleste lost to Uruguay last week, they are in a strong enough position to finish the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers as the top South American team.

Games between Brazil and Argentina are often exciting affairs with little margin of error. So, many players will hold the key for the two sides as they look to one-up their bitter rivals. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three candidates who can have a positive impact on the fixture at the Maracana in a few hours.

Lautaro Martinez

Our list begins with a player who has taken the Serie A by storm. But considering he has yet to stamp his authority, his stature on the international level remains sub-par. We are talking about Lautaro Martinez.

The 26-year-old is the top scorer in Serie A thus far this season and is running away with the race to win the Capocannoniere, scoring 12 goals thus far this term. The next best candidate on that list is Olivier Giroud, who has found the back of the net five fewer times.

Meanwhile, Martinez’s stock in the market remains high, with Chelsea, Manchester United, and Real Madrid among the interested clubs. So, he will be popular when the summer transfer window opens next year. But the World Cup winner remains focused on the job at hand.

Martinez has seemingly usurped Julian Alvarez as the first-choice striker after the Manchester City attacker played ahead of him at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. But with Alvarez breathing down his neck, the Argentina international needs to step up. And what better occasion to do that than the game at the iconic Maracana?


With Argentina being the more in-form team, Brazil will enter a rare home game as the underdogs in the clash. So, as we usually do, we have gone ahead with two players from the less-heralded team, starting with Raphinha.

The Barcelona attacker faces an uncertain future at the Catalan club heading into the January transfer window. Recent reports have claimed that Barcelona might consider cashing in on the former Leeds United talisman this winter.

Such a situation has alerted many high-profile clubs, including Chelsea, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur. But the Brazilian international has always maintained that he wants to succeed as a Barcelona player after achieving his dream of representing the Catalan club.

So, the 26-year-old can prove his naysayers wrong while convincing Barcelona to keep him at the club if he produces a game-changing performance. But in the game’s context, a top-class display will be crucial for Brazil to get past a stubborn Argentina. If not, Gabriel Martinelli will have a lonely day in the final third.

Rodrygo Goes

Gabriel Martinelli misses the cut for the last spot on our list. The Arsenal attacker found the back of the net in the defeat to Colombia and will come into this guy as a rare player in high spirits. Instead of Martinelli, we have gone ahead with Rodrygo Goes.

Like Raphinha at FC Barcelona, Rodrygo is in a spot of bother at Real Madrid. The youngster has not produced performances that do justice to his potential. In addition, he has not embraced the added responsibility in the final third after Karim Benzema’s departure this past summer.

The 22-year-old has blown hot and cold thus far this term, with such form also stretching into the international break. So, Rodrygo needs a stroke of luck or some other charm to rediscover his best touch and convince the decision-makers at the club and international levels of his ability.

Expect the Real Madrid attacker to enter the game with the purpose of setting the stage alight. And Brazil will be in business if Rodrygo rises to the occasion. His directness will be crucial for the Selecao to beat Argentina and grab the crucial three points. Failure to produce an inspirational display will cost the home side further in the standings.

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