Home Other Suarez will face Messi in the World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

Suarez will face Messi in the World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

by Kyle Bonagura
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Forward Luis Suarez has been called back to the Uruguayan national team for two World Cup 2026 South American qualifiers, including a match against Lionel Messi’s Argentina on November 17.

  • Argentina – Uruguay: 7 AM on Friday, November 17, Hanoi time.

Suarez scored 14 goals in 29 matches in the Brazilian Serie A, ranking third in the Golden Boot race, behind Botafogo’s Francisco Soares with 16 goals and Atletico Mineiro’s Paulinho with 17 goals.

In his last five matches, the 36-year-old forward contributed three assists and scored five goals, including a hat-trick in 19 minutes to help Gremio come from behind to win 4-3 away against Botafogo on November 9. Suarez’s excellent form has propelled Gremio into contention for this season’s championship, currently sitting in third place with 59 points, trailing Botafogo and Palmeiras by just one and two points, respectively.

This impressive form also earned Suarez a spot in the list of 24 Uruguayan players preparing for the two World Cup 2026 South American qualifiers against Argentina in Buenos Aires on November 17 and Bolivia at home five days later. Uruguay is currently in second place with seven points, level with Brazil and Venezuela, and one point behind reigning world champions Argentina.

“Suarez always scores many goals and can provide assists, and he has a significant impact,” said coach Marcelo Bielsa during the press conference announcing the Uruguay squad on November 13. “One way to boost a player’s self-esteem is to call him up at crucial moments.”

Before this call-up, Suarez’s most recent appearance for the Uruguayan national team was in the final match of the World Cup group stage on December 2, 2022. On that day, he provided an assist in a 2-0 victory over Ghana, but Uruguay was eliminated due to a goal-difference tiebreaker with South Korea.

Suarez cried after Uruguay was eliminated from the 2022 World Cup.

The 68-year-old coach also intended to call up veteran striker Edinson Cavani, who is currently playing for Boca Juniors. However, the 36-year-old forward suffered an injury in the recent match against Newell’s Old Boys and could not join the national team. Bielsa called up Federico Vinas from MX Leon as a replacement.

When asked how to stop Messi in the upcoming match in Buenos Aires, Bielsa responded: “There is no method or process that is effective against Messi, the world’s best player in my opinion. There are games where Messi doesn’t shine, but it’s not because of a specific formula.”

This match will witness Suarez and Messi facing each other before their reunion at Inter Miami for the 2024 season. Gremio’s coach Renato Gaucho, confirmed that Suarez would leave the club when the season ends in December 2023, and Inter Miami’s coach Gerardo Martino, expressed interest in recruiting the Uruguayan forward. According to ESPN, Suarez and Inter Miami have agreed to a one-year contract with an option to activate for another year. The 36-year-old forward must only sign the contract to complete the transfer deal.

Suarez is a close friend and former teammate of Messi. The two players won four La Liga titles, four Copa del Rey titles, and one Champions League together at Barcelona. Messi currently holds the record for scoring 672 goals for Barca, while Suarez ranks third with 198 goals.

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