Man Utd, Liverpool and Man City all share same concern because of Argentina

Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City will all be sharing the same feelings when Argentina face Bolivia tonight (9pm UK time). The South American nations go head-to-head in World Cup qualifying in La Paz, which is 11,975 feet above sea level.

The Bolivian city is in the heart of the Andes surrounded by snow-topped mountains and is actually the highest capital city in the world. It is so high up in fact that visitors can get altitude sickness, which comes with symptoms of headaches, breathlessness, nausea and vomiting.

It can also leads to increased fatigue and difficulty sleeping. Opposing teams and players have previously claimed it is unfair to play so high above sea level, with Brazil’s Neymar branding the conditions “inhumane”.

FIFA once imposed an altitude limit restricting how high qualifying matches could be played above sea level but the rule was later scrapped after protests. La Paz was given special exemption from the rule while it did exist anyway.

Liverpool midfielder Alexis Mac Allister posted a picture on Monday of himself using a handheld oxygen tube ahead of the match at the Estadio Hernando Siles. And the Merseyside club, plus Manchester United – whose duo of Lisandro Martinez and Alejandro Garnacho are in the squad – and Manchester City – with Julian Alvarez – will all be hoping their players are able to adequately cope with the unique difficulties La Paz poses.

Mac Allister and Alvarez both got game time in Friday’s win over Ecuador with Garnacho an unused substitute. Martinez, recovering from a knock sustained against Arsenal prior to the break, was not in the match-day squad.

But Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said after the centre-back travelled to meet up with his international team-mates: “Licha, as you know, had an issue with his feet. In their last game [Arsenal vs Manchester United], he was in pain and went out [was subbed] for precaution. They have done studies and he’s well.”

Should any of the quartet play, the three Premier League clubs will keep a keen eye on how they cope – and certainly how they recover from playing football in conditions they are far from used to. Certainly Liverpool, who play in the 12.30pm kick-off this Saturday away at Wolves, will be concerned.

Given the flight time from Bolivia to England, with a direct journey taking nearly 12 hours, Mac Allister may not be back in training until Thursday. And if there was any hangover whatsoever from playing at such a high altitude, that would make it unlikely the Reds’ impressive summer signing could play at Molineux.

Martinez is expected to be fit for United when they face Brighton this Saturday (3pm) and Erik ten Hag will also need Garnacho. Antony will not play against the Seagulls while Jadon Sancho also may not be involved, which could open up the chance for the Argentine to start. He will certainly get minutes from the bench.

Alvarez has also started the new season strongly for City. The striker scored and won a penalty in the last match against Fulham after contributing an assist in the defeat of Burnley and the only goal of the game in a win over Newcastle. He is expected to start, all being well, when City face West Ham on Saturday (3pm).

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