Sergio AGUERO and Lionel MESSI to start against Russia


The dynamic duo of Sergio AGUERO and Lionel MESSI are set to start for Argentina against Russia.

The team is in Russia and are training with SAMPAOLI having all his men at his disposal for just over 48 hours. The coach has already held a few training sessions and the media is already talking about the rumored starting eleven.

If the rumored line-up is to be believed, Jorge SAMPAOLI will be going with Barcelona’s all time leading goal scorer Lionel MESSI up front with Manchester City’s all time leading goal scorer, Sergio AGUERO. Here’s the rumored eleven to start against Russia on Saturday:

Sergio AGUERO and Lionel MESSI up front


While this is still the rumored line-up, there was another one which was floating around on Tuesday which was slightly different.

Line-up from Tuesday


The difference between the two line-ups (in terms of players) is that RIGONI would start ahead of Benfica’s Eduardo SALVIO. However, Jorge SAMPAOLI has been known to make changes and while these two line-ups are very similar, we could still see some more changes before the match on Saturday.


  1. LO CELSO never thought this guy would even make to the 23 before World Cup, He and Paredes together would be worth a try in Middle. Well hopefully he can be consistent, He may need at least some games to show his worth, Frankly saying he may have an inconsistent game & all will bash him after game left & right. The Guy is talented & young so he will be inconsistent lets see, Thanks to Sampa we can see interesting players.

  2. So….we have a chance to start Messi and Dybala together again…to see if they can gel. But why should we do that when we have Lo Celso???!! INCREDIBLE!!!!!!! Clearly, Sampa sees Dybala only as Messi’s sub. What a fucking waste!

    • Of coz had Bennedetto and Papu finished off their chances, we would have gone on to win comfortably. For some of us it was easy to understand why the team was struggling. Players had to adapt to a new system and get results at the same time under very high stakes pressure. For those who do not understand how pressure can affect player confidence, these last 4 WCQs were good examples to those whose comprehension of the tactics is limited to fantasizing perfect line ups. It doesn’t matter whatever the line up, if the players are not in sync with the gameplan, are not adjustung to game conditions or lack fighting spirit, the pressure will take it’s toll with the result. Hope now you understand teams are made of more than selecting the perceived best 11.

  3. Hopefully the game tomorrow is as entertaining as Belgium vs Mexico that ended 3-3. After Romario and Ronaldo PSV Eindhoven has a new superstar: Hirving Lozano. This Mexican could be become the revelation of the WC. He reminds me of a young Aguero.

  4. Sampaoli on Lo Celso: “What Gio (Lo Celso) has is that he can establish a link-up with Leo (Messi) on the field. For us it is going to be a determining factor”.

      • That’s right, Sampa hasn’t guaranteed a place for Higuain. Sampa is the kind of a coach who calls players up upon their performance not upon their names or how famous they are. We have a proper coach and that’s what we all were waiting for a long time. IMO Higuain has a very little chance to return to the NT, bcoz so far all other forwards are performed very well and are expected to carry their good performance forward. So I don’t see many chances for Higuain.

      • Whatever sampaoli said, common sense logic is we should take higuain over benedetto. Clearly that is a stronger bench. Higuain’s experience cannot be ignored. What if icardi or aguero have an injury or suspension.

        • we have correa and even dybala can play in striker position im sure bendetto will succeed he is tenacious higuain has gain weight and he naturally plays poorly in big games

          • Benedetto has never played in big matches at that level. There is nothing in him which warrants a place above higuain. Higuain as main striker & higuain from bench is a big difference. From a striker perspective, higuain will rank only below icardi & aguero. So IMO he should be in for a strong bench.

          • Higuain is very very lazy in comparison to Benedetto – here’s answer for you. Experience? Yes, Higuain really experienced on choking in crucial moments.

  5. Its probably better not to make assessment on just watching clips on youtube, but I have never seen a better midfield prospect than Lo Celso in sky blue after 2010. He has a lot of maturity on the ball, seems to be always available. He demands the ball like none of our midfielders. there is a feeling of authority in his game.

  6. I am reading so many complains about Sampoli’s starting XI. Here are my opinions..


    In modern day football 4-3-3 (or 4-2-2 generally if you want to go relatively defensive) is always the best formation. But to achieve success using 4-3-3 you need couple of wing-backs and a strong midfield, consists of a defensive midfielder, 1 central midfielder (box-to-box) and an attacking midfielder. We are lacking in many areas at the moment, that’s the reason Tata failed, Bauza failed. We were lacking fluidity in midfield plus no support from full-backs kept our strikers isolated. So I am sure idea is to keep 4 men in midfield by Sampoli is to improve the midfield, improve the ball position and win midfield battle. However it’s an interesting formation if our guys can adopt with this formation quickly.

    But at the same time it’s very risky formation as well unless our wide midfielders like Acuna or Salvio help in defense. Acuna did well tbh but Salvio was poor against Ecuador. Now waiting to see how Ragoni does as a wide midfielder. Fortune of this formation will depend on how wide-midfielders actually perform. These 2 guys are the most important factor. If they failed I will rather go back to 4-3-3 formation with whatever resource we have. With Ansaldi is back we can think about 4-3-3 again…

    Why no Pardes but why Kranevitter:

    It’s a valid question as whatever opportunity Kranevitter has got, he actually lived up with the expectations. But with Bigila is out, Mascherano moved in defense we need a number # 5 and over the last few years Kranevitter is our only number # 5 who played some parts. So choice is quite normal.
    Now Pardes, just like several people even I would love to see him in the starting XI but he is not a number # 5, may be you can say he is a mixture of number 8 and 10. Enzo was excellent against Ecuador and also brings experience on the field. So between Enzo and Pardes, Enzo got the nod ahead of Pardes. But hope Pardes will get some playing time and I am sure against Nigeria Pardes will start.
    With Kranevitter, Enzo and Lo Celso (I am just excited to see him) we have good balanced midfield, at least on paper.

    Inclusion of Salvio:

    Many people raising question about the inclusion of Salvio. Yes he was average against Ecuador but trust me he is a very good player. He should have been called long time back but our coaches ignored him repeatedly. He is skillful and had a eye for goal. Trust me if he can provide help to defense and can link with Messi (which was missing against Ecuador) he will be a very good addition. But whether he would be suitable as right-wide midfielder as basically he is a right-winger I am in some doubt. Hope he will prove me wrong.

    Why No Dybala and why Kun and Di Maria:

    Di Maria: Love it or hate it, other than Messi if only player who has a place in the starting XI is Di Maria. He wass always starter for all our previous coaches and will remain under Sampoli also. His problem is his inconsistency and over-trying. If he can keep these 2 things aside he is a massive player and can help Messi the most.

    This is obvious that Di maria will play as left winger with Messi in right and Kun in middle. However I would love to see if Perotti occupies left wing and Di Maria iin right with Messi playing in middle as false ‘9’. May be if Kun (for the last time) failed to impress I would like to see this.

    Dybala: I was eagerly waiting for these 2 friendly matches only to see Messi-Dybala partnership. But it’s sad to see that Sampoli is not considering Dybala for this match against Russia. Dybala can be tried in place of Salvio as right wide midfielder or winger. But again Dybala loves to operate from middle and right, where you have Messi. With Dybala I can think of few others formations:

    – Dybala behind Messi and Kun (who will play in midfield? Di Maria dropped? ).
    – Messi in right, Dybala in middle and Kun or Di Maria in left.
    – Dybala in right, Messi in middle and Kun or Di Maria in left.

    So either Kun or Di Maria need to be dropped, which is very unlikely. Not sure where to play him.

    However Dybala’s form surprisingly dropped after last International break. In October in 8 matches he found the net twice and both from free-kicks. Missed 3 penalties, virtually dropped 5 points for Juventus, I am sure Sampoli taking that into consideration.

    Kun: If one ask me the question, who is the 2nd best Argentine player in last 10 years? My answer would be ‘In terms of ability Sergio Kun Aguero’. May be if we consider about contribution for Argentina, Mascherano will come right after Messi and then Higuain, Di Maria, Romero will follow. Kun never justified his talent for us other than U20 World Cup 2007, Olympic 2008 and Copa 2011, may be to some extent 2014 WCQs. In last 3 tournaments he was nothing but worthless.
    But fact is Kun is a massive player, a big match winner and if our coach can bring the best out of him, that would be blessing in disguise. With Sampoli in charge I would love to give the last chance to Aguero.


    Just like every other Argentine fan I want to see Argentina’s victory. But at the same time I want Sampoli to do all his experiments in this match and hope Pardes, Dybala etc will have some playing time. BUT most importantly hope all our guys will leave the field injury-free.

    • I don’t want to be the devil’s advocate but complaining of Aguero’s performances in the NT is in my opinion unfair. Besides Sabella who started him in the qualifiers he was for the most part on the bench. He needs to be a regular starter in the NT. He always have half-chances. I criticized him at times but that’s not really right.

  7. Is there any live telecast of this match in INDIA?

    Why is dybala not in starting line-up? Messi won’t be playing against Nigeria.
    Does it mean as long as Messi is available, Dybala won’t be there in the starting line-up; as they play in same position at their clubs?

    • his trainning improved ball passing… when bauza was there we never passed four passes in a rov… i am too really excited.. many of them dont know the line up exactly all are start to blame… this is friendly we can change player even 10 minites if he is making mistake… sampolli will know.. what to do.. wait… and enjoy the match guys.. possitive will bring success.. for sampolli never lost with argentina.. and aguero going to get ball in the box… dont blame him… i hope he will click.. and have a great match…

  8. I hope Sampa try Perroti in Dimaria’s position, Messi as a false #9 salvio on the other side and play Dybala at his own position
    Argentina midfield is average but we can try with parades, Enzo and Lo celso. I’m in love with the defense Macherano, Outamendi and Fazio

  9. As I stated before, I am extremely interested in seeing how Kun performs under Sampaoli.

    Maybe just maybe he’ll step up and play like he does for ManCity!

  10. Lo Celso huh? I thought Lanzini plays the same position but even better?

    This lineup would be really hot if we place Pizzaro in place of Kranevitter and Lanzini in place of Lo Celso.

    I guess Sampaoli is testing different things. But still…Pizzaro deserves a chance before Kranevitter and Lanzini before Lo Celso.

    • Germany average age in worldcup 2014 also 30plus so nothing to worry even Germany strikers like podoski/klose lost their prime

        • if Argentina selected 20-23yr bench player then average age also reduced to 27-28 what matter is core team player form, Germany main striker klose was 36yr old their core players were 30plus or late 20’s in 2014

  11. Guys please don’t look deep into those friendly matches. It’s a building process and it will be messy. Untill it done no point looking deep and asking questions. Relax and enjoy like all the players doin now. Love the atmosphere now around NT 🙂

  12. I have feelings Aguero will do better in Sampaoli system. Plus to be playing for Pep is blessing for us. Speacially Otamendi. Otamendi spreading ball for Man City like proper midfielder. I really hope stay fit for us till WC

  13. I like Lo Celso but I find it very odd that he got selected and is starting ahead of lanzini. Both have similar styles but Lanzini plays regularly and is more versatile.
    Kranevitter and Enzo is just another biglia/banega pair to be honest! atleast sub krane or enzo for paredes to add abit more creativity and to be honest kranvitter shouldn’t be anywhere near the NT, he’s simply not good enough IMO.
    Hopefully Sampa will do a fair amount of experimentation and find the right team, so vamos to him and the boys.

    • instead of kranevittar , coach should try battaglia. Else we should stick to biglia. Biglia is good for his role . It is just about trying someone who potentially can be better. IMO Battaglia or Augusto Fernandez ( if he returns to his previous form post injury ) . if both don’t click – we should stay with biglia who is fine for that position .
      Lo Celso is a surprise. will be interesting to see. But i guess Lanzini will finally make it as he is the best creative midfielder we have today.

  14. Sampaoli understand weeknees of Argentina is lack of playmaker where tata/bauza even sabela used messi as playmaker and let leave messi alone. Sampaoli will not let leave messi deep as he always want messi close to the box as much as possible. Heard an interview of sampaoli where he said if you leave you best goal scorer outside the box its just a benefit of opponents, strikers misses open goal scoring chances where blames goes to messi. Portugal coach F.Santos put cr7 in a position where he can score as much as goals as possible even played poorly and Cr7 scored 20 NT goals in 2yrs also won ballon d’or. Sampaoli forced to select le celso because he lost trust on benega and Argentina need playmaker and box to box midfielder. Sampaoli missing vidal in Argentina and he try to solve Argentine midfield problems in order to win worldcup and we all should support sampaoli and his experiment. Funda is simple boss if sampaoli brings best from messi just like pep did no team can beat Argentina and sampaoli will do everything for it

    • Agree with your few thoughts. These friendly will be just searching for rest of the squad. So he actually looking for players that he can lock up and use rest of the friendly without any hustle for further searching for players. I am very much excited to see Sampa Argentina. We have so many young players in the squad and more is comin

    • Very good analysis but at the same time we can’t accommodate only one player in the team. I think Messi as striker and Dybala behind him more beneficial. We don’t have to pay with 3 in front. I think we can play Messi, Dybala and LoCelso at the same time. We don’t have to always start DiMaria…

      • Messi and Dybala playing style is similar also favourable position same,under sampaoli both played 3games n isolated everytime. Why should sampaoli start dybala if he will be substituted.Messi as a 2nd striker behind aguero/icardi and Dybala as a sub will be more effective. And for Dimaria perroti/lamela will be the perfect replacement even lanzini too but a fit inform dimaria is more effective for Argentina even he lost his prime, on his day he is a match winner Argentina vs equedor Dimaria messi win the match

    • I agree with much what you said Romance King–that Sampaoli lost confidence in Benega but I can’t see how Lo Celso is the answer…I am waiting to be proved wrong…I think Perotti can play in that position even though they are different positions but at least Perotti you are getting someone who has proven themselves in Europe. If Lo Celso is that good he would have displaced Rabiot at PSG..Samp needs to get this right

      • Le celso is just 20yr old its not easy for him to replace established midfielder easily but he is getting more playing time day by day. Le celso isn’t the solution he is a raw talent which sampaoli want to use, he even not called up until injury happened but he was always sampa wish list, sampaoli is strict coach will not let give more chance icardi n dybala are the example

        • icardi was injured according to sampa but dybala is now off form actually he is little bit overrated he is good but not great

  15. Under Sampaoli Dybala and messi played 3games and all these game messi flopped and Dybala subbed because played poorly throughout the game. Nothing against dybala I’m his huge fan and win ballon d’or next 3-4yr but as per NT concern he is huge flop not because he failed to scoored in 10+games but played all game with zero contributions n poorly for Argentina.

  16. I beleive that if Dybala doesn’t start in the NT its limitation of the coaching staff. Although he is not a playmaker but he can do more in this position than any players that we have now in this position. He can score from outside the box, in the box. I think we are the only team that will bench him. The same thing happened with Messi in 2006.
    Instead of putting a forward that is useless why we don’t put messi as a striker and play Dybala behind him. There so many options. Im really frustrated with this situation. I don’t have anything against LoCelso but how can we put him in front of Dybala?

    • But Lo Celso and Dybala don’t play in the same position. Messi is the one who plays in Dybala’s favourite position. The best way Messi and Dybala can play each other is putting Messi as a false 9 and benching the center-forward as you have mentioned. I also like to see Dybala alongside Messi but I am not in a hurry and we will be able to assess many things after the Russia game.

  17. Pretty dumb move not to start Dybala. Messi will not play against Nigeria. That leaves 2 matches in March as only opportunity to let them play together. After failing to combine Batistuta and Crespo in 2002 and Riquelme and Aimar in 2006 we are going to waste another duo.

  18. Rigoni’s inclusion is justified. He is in good form. 5 goals, 1 assist.

    Kranevitter is not in a very good form. Average form, he started 3/4 matches for Zenit. But Sampaoli knows him from Sevilla days. Perez is not in best shape too. Doing average.

    So yeah, I question the selection.

    • I was always a bit sceptical about Lo Celso. I see him as type of d’Alessandro but rather not that talented. He has great vision and delightfull technical skills but really should play more one-touch football with quick passes if want to be outstanding playmaker. I mean he seems sometimes slow in decision making when going to pass. Second thing is wheter he gives us more than Banega when it comes to physical/strength aspect. I know he can afford sometimes to press opponent on defending but still for me he is genre of gentle technical playmaker, rather sporadically destroyer.

      Wit all this doubts I disagree with these people beleow who were saying Lo Celso shouldn’t start because inexperienced and unproven. When if not now? It’s just friendly against Russia, still many months to WC. He should gets chance. I wonder of him playing more deep, as secong DM/CM not as AM.

  19. I thought Paredes next to Kranevitter would be good as they both play at Zenit.

    I hope he gives Perotti a go on the left wing , him and Papu Gomez are our two best in that position at the moment. I don’t know how Lo Celso got in this team. I guess Sampaoli sees things most others don’t.

    Anyway can’t wait

  20. Messi – Aguero duo for friendlies – let it be. Just please not to come back with this on WC. It will not work behind friendlies. I doubt Sampaoli can do the cooperation better than it was in past. Add to that Di Maria add Biglia, Banega in midfield and our team will looks familiar. That makes me rather scarry.

  21. ” if you love football, you love to watch messi. you love argentina as well… i would have been sad if argentina had not gone to the world cup”

    BY ARSENE WENGER (arsenal coach)… this for messi haters… who dont know football… read this…

    • Arsene Wenger knows very well how can Messi change a whole game with one moment of brilliance. He is also one of the coaches faced Messi most at the the CL, so he definitely has something to say about Messi. Great words from Wenger!

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