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SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Victories for Brazil and Argentina on Thursday set the two sides up for an enticing World Cup qualifying clash in Sao Paulo this weekend.

Argentina beat Venezuela 3-1 in Caracas to extend their unbeaten run to 21 games and know they can overcome Brazil on their home turf, having beaten them 1-0 in the Copa America final at the Maracana stadium in July.

“It’s special for the players to have the patch of champions on their chest, they fought so hard to win the Copa America,” Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni said. “The important thing is to not rest on our laurels.”

Brazil, too, will be confident after winning all seven of their first games in World Cup qualifying for the first time. The five-times world champions have 21 points, six more than Argentina in second place.

“Seven wins in a row is historic, we’ll now hope to make it eight,” said Everton Ribeiro, who scored Brazil’s winner in their 1-0 victory over Chile in Santiago.

Goalkeeper Weverton said they were well aware of Argentina’s quality.

“It will be hard fought game and so now we are going to rest to recuperate and get ready,” he added. “(Coach) Tite is going to prepare us well, it is a derby and a really difficult game and we hope to win one more, that’s our aim.”

Brazil will be without nine of their England-based players, who were prevented from travelling by their clubs, but will be confident their squad depth can cover the absences.

(Reporting by Andrew Downie)



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