Thoughts on Jorge SAMPAOLI and the Argentina team


With World Cup Qualification secured, the groups drawn and now going into the final two friendly matches before the World Cup list is announced, the players better impress if they want to be on the Argentina team for the World Cup. Taking into consideration all the Argentina squads Jorge SAMPAOLI has put out since he’s taken charge of the team last year, it’s easy to see the favorites and the one’s which will be in Russia.

Lionel MESSI

If I were a betting man, I’d gamble on those 8 players (add HIGUAIN to that list which I’ll talk about in a bit) having a spot already secured for the tournament this summer. There are some which you can tell have an outside chance (Marcos ACUÑA, Eduardo SALVIO, Leandro PAREDES) but it’s difficult to tell and far from a guarantee. Several question marks remain and thus far I’ve refrained from talking about SAMPAOLI or the players but with this being the last list before the World Cup, time to dissect a little.

The Argentina team – Goalkeepers

Beginning with the goalkeepers. I think by the time Argentina played their first World Cup Qualifier under SAMPAOLI, it was clear that unless an injury happened, Sergio ROMERO will be the one between the sticks for Argentina. While getting very, very little minutes for Manchester United and a shaky World Cup Qualifying campaign, Sergio was a stud for Argentina the last three tournaments. Talking strictly numbers, in the three finals contested, ROMERO allowed 1 goal in 360 minutes. You cannot possibly ask for more from any goalkeeper in the world. Argentina did not lose those tournaments because of him. Hopefully he maintains that form at the World Cup.

The Argentina team - Goalkeepers Sergio Romero
The Argentina team – Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero will start in his third consecutive World Cup.

Chelsea man Willy CABALLERO gets his call-up four years too late. He was the starting goalkeeper for Pep GUARDIOLA at one point at Manchester City last season benching Chile’s Claudio BRAVO (who had just made a big move from FC Barcelona). Not sure if he even has enough time to impress SAMPAOLI but if both he and ROMERO are at the World Cup, Argentina will have two of the best penalty shot stoppers in the world.

The other name is that of Nahuel GUZMAN who played the match against Singapore and has not played a game for Argentina since the victory. Agustin MARCHESIN, who had an absolute nightmare against Nigeria has been dropped from the squad. SAMPAOLI has been experimenting lately with the goalkeepers but if one thing is for sure, it’s that Real Sociedad’s Geronimo RULLI can kiss his World Cup hopes goodbye after this list. It also doesn’t help that the former Estudiantes shot stopper is not having the best of seasons and has even been benched this campaign.

The Argentina team – defenders

The defenders (the defense as a whole) has been a mess lately. Marcos ROJO (who at this point can be called a veteran for Argentina) was injured for nearly a year, came back for Manchester United, did not play well and has been dropped by Jose MOURINHO. Is it possible SAMPAOLI counts on his experience? With TAGLIAFICO there (very happy to see that), maybe the rabona loving Marcos can play as a center back and not a left back? If Ramiro FUNES MORI is in the squad (despite literally just coming back from injury), for me, it means SAMPAOLI is desperate, has not decided on who will partner Nicolas OTAMENDI at the back (I hope the team plays a back four and not a back three) and wants to see if Ramiro can be that partner. It’s become evident that Manchester City’s Nicolas OTAMENDI will be a starting center back for the team and he’s been solid most times when called upon.

The Argentina team - Defenders Nicolas Otamendi
The Argentina team – Defenders: Who will partner Nicolas Otamendi at the back?

Not particularly a fan of Federico FAZIO. Very slow and if SAMPAOLI is crazy enough to play a back three, the Roma defender is much too slow to play despite being tall. Somewhat of a surprise that Germán PEZZELLA got dropped so quickly. As mentioned, I’m very happy to see TAGLIAFICO included in the team. He can be the solution to our left back problem. SAMPAOLI mentioned in his press conference that he’ll be looking at the domestic league for a right back which probably means he doesn’t fancy MERCADO too much in that position. Also worth noting that Gabriel has not had his best season for Sevilla, form wise.

Seeing ACUÑA and SALVIO’s names in the defense part of the list probably means that they will be deployed as wing backs. I’m all for experimenting, especially in friendly matches but the last thing I want is to see another Jonas GUTIERREZ playing as a right back at the 2010 World Cup type situation again. Nothing against GUTIERREZ at all but that was a disaster by MARADONA. I thought both ACUÑA and SALVIO had solid performances for Argentina, specifically SALVIO who ran his socks off and helped the team immensely against Ecuador.

The Argentina team – Midfielders

Javier MASCHERANO has always been a no-brainer. Interesting to see that this time around MASCHERANO’s name is under the midfield part of the list. While I have no doubt that MASCHERANO will take part in his fourth World Cup and is there because of experience, I’m not sure if he should be starting. He’s definitely slowed down a step which is normal but at this stage in his career, he probably should not be a starter at the tournament. I would very much like to see Leandro PAREDES start and get a full 90 minutes to see what he can do in midfield. While I don’t expect him to light it up, he definitely has enough talent in him to play well and give the coaching staff something to think about. Manuel LANZINI is someone else I am excited to see play. Injuries definitely hampered his progression this season but he can add a different dynamic to the team in midfield if he can stay healthy. The squad lacks a player who can shoot from distance and LANZINI can help in that department.

The Argentina team - Midfielders Javier Mascherano
The Argentina team – Will Javier Mascherano start the FIFA World Cup for Argentina?

Giovani LO CELSO should definitely be on the team but likely as a substitute and not a starter. He has played very well for Paris Saint-Germain this season but has shown that the big matches might still be too big for him which is extremely normal. But one that should be on the plane to Russia. Lucas BIGLIA continues to find himself not only in the team but as a starter. Had management properly done their job following the 2014 FIFA World Cup (or at the latest the 2015 Copa America), BIGLIA wouldn’t be starting for Argentina but here we are in 2018 and he’ll be in the eleven come kick off against Iceland. From tattoo’d midfielder to another, Éver BANEGA is an extremely frustrating player to watch. Said it before and I’ll continue to say it. On his day, BANEGA can be the best midfielder in the world. On any other day, he’ll make Lucas BIGLIA look like Fernando REDONDO. There appears to be no middle ground with Éver. Either he’s on top of his game in the match or he’s the worst player on the pitch. Sadly, it’s too big of a risk to take and he’s another one I’d like to see benched although like BIGLIA, I think he starts on June 16 against Iceland.

Ironically enough, the player which most of us like to criticize, Angel DI MARIA, is the midfielder in best form. Playing fantastic since December, DI MARIA is being rotated regularly and continues to score and maintain a top level form. Come the World Cup, this could be the first time DI MARIA is 100% heading into a tournament for Argentina since the 2008 Summer Olympics. He linked-up very well with MESSI against Ecuador and if we’re being honest, probably has the best chemistry on the Argentina team with MESSI (along with Gonzalo HIGUAIN), even more so than Sergio AGUERO. DI MARIA’s problem remains decision making and if he hasn’t picked that up yet at his age, probably never will.

The Argentina team – Forwards

In attack, Gonzalo HIGUAIN inevitably finds his way back into the team. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I have probably been the most outspoken person in regards to HIGUAIN (follow my Twitter account and you’ll know what I mean). But at the same time, I’ve always felt it would be difficult to keep him out and I truly think he will be at the World Cup. The experiment with ICARDI (who I think needs more time with the squad) didn’t work as much as SAMPAOLI probably would have liked to have seen and thus HIGUAIN is back in fighting for a chance for Russia. Although it must be noted that ICARDI was thrown into the fire having not played a match for Argentina since 2013, he had all the responsibilities on his shoulders to perform in matches when the team was (in many ways still is) in shambles.

The Argentina team - Forwards Gonzalo Higuain
The Argentina team – Gonzalo Higuain is back in the National Team.

MESSI is MESSI, literally nothing more to add. Sergio AGUERO is a worry. His numbers are up there with the best forwards in the world. However, as has been the case more often than not with Sergio, he reaches tournaments injured or at the very least not fully fit. At the current rate, he’ll probably be burnt out for the World Cup. I’m not saying anything no one already doesn’t know which is he can be absolutely deadly in front of goal, extremely sharp. But his form has always been a worry. The last forward on the list is Diego PEROTTI. Personally, I’m a fan of PEROTTI and I’ve always wanted to see him get a proper chance with the squad, these two matches could help him solidify a spot for the World Cup.

The exclusions of Paulo DYBALA and Mauro ICARDI shouldn’t be too much of a worry although I think only one of the two make the final 23 for Russia. Once more, if I were to put money, I’d say DYBALA makes the final World Cup squad with Mauro ICARDI missing out in place of Lautaro MARTINEZ. Both DYBALA and ICARDI have not been in the best of forms lately and I can’t see SAMPAOLI going with MESSI, DI MARIA, HIGUAIN, AGUERO, DYBALA, ICARDI, PEROTTI, PAVON and MARTINEZ. At this point, the Inter man appears to be behind Gonzalo HIGUAIN, Sergio AGUERO and Lautaro MARTINEZ (who hasn’t even been selected yet) in the pecking order of number 9’s for SAMPAOLI.

Jorge SAMPAOLI and the Argentina team

The verdict is very much still out on the coach. A pass has to be given for what was accomplished (barely) in the last four matches of World Cup Qualifying. Any coach in the world would have found it very difficult. And to be fair, the players missed some fantastic chances in those matches which cannot be blamed on SAMPAOLI. The worrying aspect were the matches against Russia and Nigeria but even at that, difficult to judge. These two games against Italy and Spain should give us an idea as to which direction the team is going and what SAMPAOLI is attempting to do with them.

The Argentina team - Forwards Lionel Messi Paulo Dybala
The Argentina team – Will we get to see Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala play together at the World Cup?

If we see a back line of four players in these two games, it could mean that he’s finally opted to dropping the crazy 3-man back line idea which Argentina doesn’t have the players to field. If we still see three at the back, well, it will be very worrying. I’d expect to see MESSI play only one of the two matches or at the most play in both matches but not 90 minutes. Lots of questions will be asked going into the games against Italy and Spain and I feel as though more questions will be asked than answered when those two games are over.

Based on the current players selected, I’m expecting a midfield duo which consists two of MASCHERANO, BIGLIA and BANEGA. I can’t see SAMPAOLI opting for PAREDES over any of them. Does DI MARIA play in midfield on the left or does he occupy the front left? Is MESSI on the right? Do we get TAGLIAFICO as a left back or does that position oddly go to ACUÑA or Marcos ROJO? Will SAMPAOLI surprise us all and have TAGLIAFICO as left back, drop DI MARIA and have ACUÑA as left midfielder? There’s still the domestic based list and all signs point to Cristian PAVON getting the call. Does he get the start? If so, in what position as SAMPAOLI doesn’t seem to like the conventional.

Everything the coaching staff does will be put under a microscope but hopefully we get to see two matches where the team actually plays as a team and not dependent on one player as we have seen many times in the past.


  1. Good judgement …..but i want to add something
    ACCORDING TO SAMPAOLI HE HAS BEEN PLAYING MASCERANO AS CENTRAL DEFENSE WHICH SOLVES THE DEFENSIVE PROBLEM……….otamendi and mascerano sld be central defense………..ACUNIA is great in attacking not defense same goes for salvio…….So MARCADoO is very much needed for a good defence which argentina will lack if salvio plays as rb

    MIDFIELD. BIGLIA is very much our CDM as masce will b in defence………he is likely to parner BENEGA which is good both defensively and attacking wise as we c in sevilla…..he can b good holding midfield too and bridge between defence and attack….in attacking mid we can expect DIMARIA surely who can play as LW too to pair with lionel messi…….

    FORWORD-as a central forward argentina has tons of options–icardi/ laurato / higuan/ aguero….among this i personally prefer AGUERO…..he is grt finisher and a good team player……higuain is undoubtly at same level but i don wanna c team loose again in crucial matches due to him…….we can use higuan as subtitute…..MESSI god of football 80 percent of argentina success will depend upon messi alone and m sure….. he can play as attacking midfied as he is needed to dictate argentina midfield as well and score goals too…..MESSI is our backbone and all hope on him to get us the worldcup…..on the right side i personally prefer DYBALA….becouse of his sublime form in juventus….scoring in every match…..can come deep and dictate midfield as well if messi required up front…….but according to coach i feel he ll play SALVIO….good skilled player not good as finisher as dybala but better dribbler and complete winger…….i personally like PAVON as well he is bagging lot of assists for boca juniors… my final predictions for STARTING LINEUP







    Any suggestions guys please respond to my thought i will b thankfull…

    • Talented for sure but is held back by attitude and off field antics.
      Regarding the NT well there are Maria, Perotti who are well ahead of him not to mention the likes of Cervi and Ocampos whom I would take ahead of him also.

  2. No doubt Dybla will be in Russia.Uncertain about Icardi.Dybla can be Messi’ sub as well as he can be starter in 4-4-2 formation in Augreo’s place or Di Maria’s place.

    • Aguero is far better than dybala if u want to start then u have to employ him or messi in midfield both can’t b in forward line

      • aguero isn’t a national team material, we’ve seen that in past even higuain is better than him in national team.

        • U seem to watch only tournaments he was superb in 2014 wc qualifiers and u will see aguero will devastate opponents in wc

  3. Don’t be that ungrateful on Higuain. He’s top Serie A goal scorer of all time in a single season, top-6 argentina’s scorer of all time. If he didn’t score against Belgium, we would have been eliminated from WC QF as usual.

    Platini/Maradona both missed Penalties in WC. Messi missed two one-on-ones in the last worldcup too, one against Belgium and the other in the final agaist Germany in the final.

    His alternatives Dybala, Icardi, Benedito, all scored 0 goals so far, while Higuain scored in his first game with national team.

    Agree he needs to be calm and less wasteful. I believe Sampaoli can help him on this.

    • Occasional misses don’t define a player, consistent misses in crucial moments do. Against Belgium, Higuain scored on the 8th minute, there was still virtually en entire 90 minutes of game to be played. Anything could have happened. We could have scored more, another player could have scored, etc. It’s not like he scored a last minute goal that proved to be decisive. So, it’s not at all the case that had he not scored we would have been eliminated. Also, how is Sampaoli going to help him with being more composed exactly? The coach needs to calm down, Sampaoli is very hyper and emotional himself lol.

    • Being ungrateful and being weary of pipita are 2 different things. I personally am very grateful to pipita for his belguim goal, his vital WCQ goals in 2011-13 and for his continued hard work when ever he puts on the NT shirt. With all that being said pipita should NOT be in Russia for 2 simple reasons:

      1.Vital misses. Yes every player misses even Messi but Pipita’s misses against Germany and then Chile in copa cent (I forgive his miss in copa 15 final because it was a difficult angle) means he’s unreliable.

      2. Argentina has plenty of options in his position ranging from Kun, to Dybala (can and has played a 9 before) to Icardi to L.Martinez and even Chucky Ferreyra who has shown to have the goods in the CL this season.
      Pipita isn’t playing a vital midfield or defensive position where Argentina seems to have limited options.

      Taking a footballer out of respect is akin to substituting emotions for tactics, that’s why as much as I love ’em I don’t want to see Masch or Pipita go to Russia because I don’t think they have much to offer anymore sadly.

      • I don’t agree with u about mascherano at all he is still quite good in dm position and not playing much in 1st quarter plus playing dm position again for 2nd quarter for Chinese club will mean he will be more fresh than biglia and quality matters.he is awful as cb but still decent as dm but biglia is playing well recently

  4. Higuain is back,i thought he was gone for good.This guy like most strikers miss easy chances but what separates him from others is his tendency to miss in big games again and again,he is truly one of a kind.I wouldnt have cared for him being in the team if he offered something else,anything.For me his holdup play is bang average,has no pace or dribbling skills (aguero),cant handle himself physically(icardi).If it was any other national team in the world i could see the use of higuain but we only create very few chances and we need the fox in the box type like Icardi.With leo in our team every team will park the bus and what is higuain going to offer then,nothing according to me.Atleast Icardi would give Di maria an oppertunity to cross the ball and not cut back(which is useless as there will be 10 players in the box)for Icardi to attack.Anyway trust in sampolli(nothing else we can do).Atleast cabellero got his long delayed call up and would give us an experienced goalie who atleast we know can produce something special if called upon.

  5. Higuian is likely going to the WC, not much can be done about it, but, lest anyone forgets, he choked not once, not twice but in three finals in a row!

    Moreover, he has the tendency to bottle for his clubs as well. As a matter of fact, he has a long record of doing so for Real Madrid, Napoli and most recently for Juventus.

    The following is taking from Marca:

    “1. The miss Madridistas won’t forget

    Real Madrid fans will never forget Higuain’s horrible miss in the last 16 of the Champions League against Lyon. The forward went past the keeper and was left with an open goal but still managed to miss it. With that goal Los Blancos would have taken a 2-0 lead, instead the game ended 1-1 and they were eliminated.

    2. Out of the Copa del Rey after missing a one-on-one with Pinto

    A mistake from Gerard Pique gave Higuain a free pass as he was left with only Jose Pinto to beat but he couldn’t even get his shot on target. The game ended in a 2-2 draw and Real Madrid were knocked out of the Copa del Rey.

    3. The miss against Dortmund in the Champions League semi-final

    Los Blancos had three clear chances in the first minutes of the Champions League semi-final against Borussia Dortmund. The first of those chances being Higuain coming on on one with Roman Weidenfeller, but the Madrid striker shot the ball straight at the keeper. Real Madrid were later knocked out as Dortmund progressed to the final.

    4. Causing Napoli to miss out on the Champions League

    Napoli played Lazio for the third position in the Serie A table that would guarantee a spot in the Champions League. The Argentine missed a penalty that would have seen the Partenopei take a 3-2 lead. Instead, Lazio scored minutes later”.

    The list can go on. Is this the guy you want to lead the line for Argentina?

    • well said. cant add anything more to your comment. argentina needs to look past higuain, this guy cant offer anthing to the team. i eould take him if he used to score alot of goals. 1 goal in the world cup is a poor return for any no 9 in the world. whats even more annoying is higuain’s poor work rate. dybala was a no.9 for palermo, the boy has a high work rate to go with talent. sampaoli should try him in that position.

  6. ”I’m not happy about Higuaín being given another chance. I think everyone knows why.”

    Please get out of your feelings man, Higuaín is one of world football greatest striker and was always going to be at the world cup. The notion that Higuaín doesn’t deserve to be at the world cup for something that happen 4 years ago is laughable at best. Higuaín was out of form and out of shape earlier hence the reason why Sampaoli excluded him from the team, and deservedly so. But like a true professional and world class striker, Higuaín hit the gym and was training nonstop to regain his form and fitness, and here we are several months later, Higuaín looking sharp, slim and trim. Sampaoli didn’t just handed Higuaín a call up on a Silver platter. Higuaín had to work hard and show plenty of desire to earn his recall back to the Argentina national team and somehow he should be excluded because you don’t like him? That’s your business man. I’m a huge fan of Higuaín, and without him Argentina would never have been in a world cup semifinal four years ago. let that sink in!!

    Icardi and Dybala had their chances. Sampaoli gave them more than enough games to prove themselves and they failed, yet you act as if Sampaoli is obligated to select them because they’re so call players in their early 20’s? The selection doesn’t work like that. The World cup qualifying games against Venezuela and Uruguay are perfect examples; these were the games set up for both Dybala and Icardi to make a mark on the Argentina national team and they fail to do so. Venezuela is like the worst team in CONMEBOL yet Dybala and Icardi couldn’t even break their senior national team goal scoring duck playing at home. How many games will it take these two guys to score a goal for Argentina? If you can’t score against Venezuela at home, then how in the world are we to believe these two players are going to break their duck against more formidable teams at the world cup where the pressure will be 100 times more compare to the CONMEBOL qualifiers? Dybala can’t even score against Singapore or even have a good game against the same team, yet he should currently be in the selection despite playing horrible for Argentina and Juventus in the last several months. Icardi already lost his place in the team to Benedetto before Sampaoli announced this list long time ago. And now that Lautaro Martinez is on the upswing, Icardi chance of making the world cup is less than 10%. As I have said before, I like Dybala, but you guys tend to overrate the player way too much as if he is some kind of footballing savior when the guy has been average for Argentina over and over again in the last year or so. The good news for Dybala is that he will likely make the 2018 world cup but it won’t be at the expense of either Higuaín or Aguero.

    Why are you even bringing up the Euro Championship? What does that got to do with the world cup? Greece and Denmark also won the Euros, should Argentina use them as a blueprint too? Look, Portugal Euro win was pathetic, it was because of a UEFA rule change in the group stage that made it possible for Portugal to qualify for the second round despite placing third during the group stage. So in order for Argentina to do good at the 2018 world cup they need to finish third in their group and hope FIFA change the rules so that they can make it to the round of 16? Please stop using Portugal Euro win as some example for other teams to follow. Portugal winning the 2016 Euros is as lame and forgettable as Chelsea winning the 2012 UEFA Champions League. Portugal didn’t win a single game during the group stage at the 2016 Euros, this is the same team that could only win three games in normal time during the entire tournament. How does this help your case? A team is not going to win the world cup by only putting together three wins in an entire tournament. Moreover, the same young guys you mention from Portugal, majority of them participated at the 2015 U21 European Championship tournament a year before the world cup. The U21 tournament gave the Portuguese coach an option to see newer players in action before a major tournament like the Euro Senior Championship in the following year (2016). Germany won the 2017 Confederation Cup (B team) and 2017 UEFA U21 Championship (C team) before a world cup year. All these players got a platform to perform giving themselves an opportunity to be called up for the Germany World Cup A team. This is what I was talking about earlier about Argentina lacking a strong B and C team. When was the last time an Argentina B or C team performed admirable at a tournament, in our case the Olympics football (B team) and the U20 world cup (C team)?

    Sampaoli called up several ‘’young players’’ and will likely select two or three more from the local league i.e. Lautaro Martinez and Pavon yet this is still not good enough for you? Argentina is heading into the senior men’s world cup not the Olympics or Pan American Games. The lack of youth success and quality development is the reason Argentina has to depend on Mascherano and Biglia in the year 2018. People here like to hype up these new players who are currently playing in mediocre teams or mediocre league as if this somehow make Argentina a stronger team. Lo Celso inexperience cost PSG a PK against Real Madrid, and guess who he fouled, Toni Kroos (an experience championship player) who starts for Germany. Iniesta is 33, Busquet is 29 and David Silva 32 all of whom will start for Spain. Pains me to say this, but if you take out 10 of the Messi generation from this current Argentina roster, this team would be a JOKE to begin with.

    • I would love if Busquets was Argentine that would solve us depending on Mascherano . Busquets is at the peak of his powers right now.

      I wouldn’t read too much into youth football, it’s really just boys against boys. I would take note of midfielders performing in good quality leagues, who are physically capable of playing 7 games in a month. A 34 year old in the Chinese league doesn’t cut it. A 32 year old in serie a,may perform better, but can he run out 7 games in a month ( he has never been the most athletic guy)especially playing Sampaolis style. I doubt it.

  7. Just rewatched the Nigeria friendly oh gosh we were so weak defensively now sampaoli should address the defense first u can’t win a tournament without being solid in back mascherano was so poor pezella was also banega was poor defensively lo celso as usual very lazy and gave away ball easily otamendi was decent nothing extraordinary we were struggling against physicality of Nigeria also was poor in defending set pieces sampaoli has to add height in backline so no wonder he picked fazio and rojo but we miss the height in back 4 in wc 14 garay basanta rojo demichelis Fernandez all were tall and good in the air.This is serious concern passing was quite fluid but defense was super bad this march friendlies will tell how sampa can tackle this problem otherwise bye bye wc chances whether u have messi but without good defense u can’t win anything

  8. Great article! The only real surprise to me is Enzo’s absence. In addition to Roy’s list, I will also put Mercado who is able to play both fullback and central back. Same for Acuna and Salvio who can play as midfielder or fullback.

    According to the way that Sampaoli picked up his players this time, I assume that he will play 4-4-2, which is the best system for Messi currently. In Barca, they play with 2 wingers back and 2 creators on the flanks, 1 holding and 1 deeplying(Rakitic). That give the total freedom to Messi as he can cut in from the right, combine with the others or let the wingers cross. I think Sampaoli is trying to replicate this barca system with his players who have similar style. That’s why we see more inverted wingers/attacking midfielders such as Perrotti and Lanzini instead of pure winger like Pavon, Cervi, Rigoni, Correa, …etc.

    That’ll also be the 1st time I see Sampaoli’s team in 4-4-2 as he is a big fan of 3-4-3. But given his experience, shouldn’t be an issue.

    Now the debat is whether those players will be more comfortable with the new system, I think yes as I observed that all of them play in whether 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 with their club.

    Assume we play in 4-4-2 then I guess it will probably be Salvio, Mercado, Otamendi and Acuna at the back. Quite similar to current Sevilla’s defense. Maybe Tagliafico instead of Acuna.

    In the midfield, I think it will be Di Maria-Biglia-Banega-Lanzini. Di Maria is much better on the right and he has Salvio on his back, similar to his partnership with Alves. Biglia and Masch are the only reliable holding. I prefer Masch who has better passing skill but he definitely cannot handle 90 min every 3 days. Paredes, Banega and Lo Celso can both play in this role. I think none of them has the advantages over the others. Maybe it’s the position the most competitive. Paredes seems to be the most regular player but despite all his defaults, Banega has his added value and Lo Celso can always create surprise with his vista and he can backup Di Maria. I think Sampaoli still hesitating. On the left, Lanzini or Perroti. Both of them deserve so much. Lanzini can also backup Messi in attack. Although on the paper, it’s less impressive than the Barca 4-men midfield but the difference is not that big.

    Up front I am a bit disappointed not to see icardi or martinez. This may also be Higuain’s last chance.

    • Pavon enzo Perez Martinez bustos all playing in Argentina league so they most probably will be selected later I think u misunderstood this to be final list but its only non argentine base players list domestic based players will be added later on

  9. I was hoping Icardi, Dybala, Papu Gomez and Mammana would be in the squad. The fact that they are backups makes them genuine contenders for the final squad in Russia still.

    I’m not happy about Higuain being given another chance. I think everyone knows why.

    I was hoping Mascherano and Biglia would be left out, I’ve actually been saying that for the last 3 years. I can’t see these two guys running out the tournament.Maybe if they alternate the number 5 role in each game during the world cup(one starts the game and the other is on the bench). This wont happen.

    Portugal won the European championships playing William Carvalho (age 24 of Sporting Lisbon),Adrien Silva(27 currently at Leicester) and Renato Sanchez(age 18 currently at Swansea) in midfield.Why cant we trust the younger midfielders to take charge? I think we have to do it, I know we havent planned for anyone to take Masch and Biglias spots but I think it has to be done, even this close to the tournament. It wont guarantee a world cup but at least we wont have concerns about our midfield engine being able to go the distance.

    It’s beyond me someone like Paredes still hasnt been starting any games.

    The great news,oddly, is that Gabriel Jesus will be coming back from injury possibly against Chelsea in a few days.This will hopefully go back to Guardiola rotating him with Kun, which hopefully come June leaves Sergio fresh for the battles ahead. For the same reason Di Maria being rotated at PSG is great.

    • Gabriel Jesus already played 2 games against arsenal coming in as a sub ya that’s vital Fr aguero he should be absolutely fit to keep out that lazy moron named higuain out from starting 11

  10. There is one more player who should be in the squad.Franco Vanquez.This Sevilla player looks like a great dribbler,very comfortable in tight spaces.He should be used in place of Lo Celso.

  11. I can translate this in a few lines for Sampaoli.
    I’m basically calling up the same damn fossils that have been at the previous world cups. I’m hoping Messi will save my ass and get me to the round of 8 where we will lose to a Germany or a Spain. And then I’ll try to figure shit out with the next generation if the old guys don’t suck too much and I don’t lose my job.
    We will be slow, we will be reliant on Messi, and then we will lose in some fucking shoot out or some shit like that.
    You have to have your head literally examined to start Higuain again. What a chicken shit gutless turd this Sampaoli turned out to be.

  12. I think we are getting back where we started under Tata Martino.

    – Slow midfield of Mascherano and Biglia
    – CB playing fullbacks

    Two of the most awful things to do if you do not want your team to score. There is a reason we have probably scored like 2/3 goal in 8 knockout matches in the last 3 tournaments, and that with Messi in our team.

    Also, what kind of a crazy idea it is to play wingers as wingbacks o my god! Tracking back is all fine and dandy, but if you don’t know to tackle and win the ball back as a wingback, what good are you on defense?

    For me, Sampaoli has a big big job.

    *He needs to find a partner of Otamendi in the center.

    *He need to find two REAL fucking fullbacks, not wingers or Center Backs.

    *He also needs to play a real midfield for a change instead of Biglia+Mashcerano and hoping for Messi to save our ass. That shit is disgusting.

    My prediction is, if you solve the aforementioned issues, the forawrd and no goal problem will be solved automatically. I am telling you people who scores 30/40 goals in top 3 leagues in Europe will be able to score goals if the game is played in the final third.

    But you know what, our coach is a bit preoccupied in licking Messi’s ass instead of thinking of a solution. Not only that, he’s also licking the Boca president’s and ass by thinking of calling up Tevez. Good job there chief, keep blending in with the politicians.

  13. Excellent article, Roy. Probably your best ever! My compliments.

    Out of contention are quality players that would start for many countries if they were born there: Pastore, Papu Gomez, Garay, Vazquez, Correa, Gago, Tevez, Lamela, Ansaldi and the list goes on.

    One thing to worry about is age. This group of players is old. We desperately need young blood (Martinez, Pavon etc.)

  14. Excellent article, Roy. Probably your best ever! My compliments.

    Out of contention are quality players that would start for many countries if they were born there: Pastore, Papu Gomez, Garay, Vazquez, Correa, Gago, Tevez, Lamela, Ansaldi and the list goes on.

    One thing to worry about is age. This group of players is old.

    • Lamela got back from a career defining injury .garay self retired.gago is made of glass otherwise was a good midfielder.pastore played a lot never done much fr nt.tevez is too old I assume.papu Gomez can be selected fr wc according to sampa bt I believe he is not needed pavon playing better.I don’t know about Vazquez and Correa why sampaoli doesn’t pick them I hv no idea and another one is pizzaro who is decent in dm position

  15. From 2014 World Cup, what are the changes in the starting lineup? Not many changes apart from the defense; Surprisingly the defense is going to be altered (which was the best in 2014 World Cup); The Midfield and Forwards are same who were pretty poor(excluding Messi); Same Masche, Biglia and Enzo + Dimaria, Messi and Higuain;

    Paredes, Lanzini, Perotti will hardly get any playing time and will be bench warmers; In the coming friendlies also it will be same;

    The best football played by Argentina in the past 4 years is in Copa America Centenario; Midfield – Augusto, Masch & Banega; On the wings Gaitan/Lavezzi taking the place of Dimaria;

    • Garay self exiled zabaleta got old fedrico Fernandez nowhere to be found rojo is still there demichelis retired don’t know about basanta what he is doing so obviously defence will be different.

    • Midfield will be different than next yr I’m quite sure out of mascherano and biglia only one will play enzo most probably not start dimaria now playing as a winger so at least 2 position will be occupied by new players if we play 4 in midfield 3 players will be new

    • Forward line also will be different aguero never started in wc so he may start messi obviously will be there higuain most probably will not start if not any injuries dimaria may b a forward winger rather in the midfield pavon also has a slim chance of starting if impresses in training during the wc camp

  16. I want to see 3-4-3 system ..I think it would be great for will be something like that…

    —————-—-Mascarano—— ————-
    Celso——Peredes———Lamela— ——


  17. Squad selection is good.But Salvio for right-back is not a good choice.Who is gonna to play in right-midfield then?Mercado is not good enough for RB even in his club his coach is using him as CB.He does not have proper skills of RB.Here we should choose from Domestic League.In World Cup we should have at least one player from Domestic League who could be the starter for Argentina.Bustos and other players should be evaluated.

  18. Argentina have 80% squad guaranteed according to Sampaoli. That is roughly 18 players. My best guess of the 18:

    GK: Sergio Romero, Nuhuel Guzman
    DF: Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Mercado, Federico Fazio, Javier Mascherano
    MF: Lucas Biglia, Ever Banega, Enzo Perez, Leandro Paredes, Eduardo Salvio, Marcos Acuna, Angel Di Maria, Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Pavon
    F: Lionel Messi, Sergio AGuero, Gonzalo Higuain

    Argentina will have to submit 35 players provisional squad before May 14. So 17 more players to go.

    Based on the latest called up, the back ups, and the likely domestic based squad, the 17 players realistically will be:

    GK: Wilfredo Caballero, Franco Armeni
    DF: Marcos Rojo, Ramiro Funes Mori, Emmanuel Mammana, Nicolas Tagliafico, Fabricio Bustos
    MF: Manuel Lanzini, Angel Correa, Matias Kranevitter, Javier Pastore, Erik Lamela
    F: Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi, Diego Perotti, Alejandro Gomez, Lautaro Martinez

    Out of these 17, 5 will be the remaining 20%. My best guess:
    GK: Wilfredo Caballero
    DF: Marcos Rojo, Ramiro Funes Mori
    F: Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi

    The only one that is questionable is Icardi. It is between him and Lautaro Martinez.

  19. I like the list overall, although the exclusion of pezzella is bewildering.
    I don’t mind seeing pipta, Masch or even banega and biglia IF and only if they’re warming the cold russian bench.
    I would’ve liked to see A.Correa included because he’s skilled and hard working not to mention versatile and could play forward and midfield.
    Salvio (when he recovers) and Acuna as fullbacks gives me abit of a pause but I kinda get it, although they’re capable midfielders and putting them at the back would be a disservice to them both, especially when tagliafico and maybe bustos should be given a chance.

  20. i am no longer thinking about the formation or who will be called up and be a starter at the WC. its pointless. two things are for sure. first is, we dont have a squad that is balanced enough or good enough to win anything at this WC. i highly doubt we will surivive the group stages when it comes to the strength of our team alone. second is, it absolutely doenst matter at all. this WC is about messi facing his destiny. if it is his fate to become the greatest of all time argentina will be world champions just because it is his destiny. thats all. if it isnt his destiny to be crowned the greatest of all time no team can save him. its him and him alone.

    • I believe in coach.A good coach can transform a team.picking best players in every position and then winning is easy.but a good coach can transform a player he can extract best out of his most mediocre player also actually this Argentina team has superstar in forward line they will eventually perform the main task of sampaoli is to get maximum out of everybody.i don’t think messi can win us WC actually sampaoli all depends on sampaoli his tactics, planning, ability to boost our players moral ,utilize right players to right positions,create belief will determine we can be world champions or not.atlast messi got a coach who has good track record and tournament everything is possible sometimes best of teams loss just like 1974 Holland the dream team lost in finals having the best team doesn’t warrant you the trophy where as a super bad Greece team won euro actually 1986 Argentina was also mediocre at best but they had certain maradona and a decent striker who can score.espanyol even on their days can defeat barca and Madrid so why can’t we?? I believe on sampaoli he can pull off a miracle and shock the whole world nobody giving us any chance we don’t have a settled 11 as of yet but if in our fate wc is there then all this will b positive nobody can strategies against us because of our uncertainties plus being an underdog is good thing sometimes sampaoli will get 1-1.5 months to gel players building chemistry he never got more than 5-6 days for the squad to gel so its possible I have faith and will continue to support whatever the outcome will be

  21. I think 6 forwards will be selected for WC —1.messi 2.aguero 3.dimaria 4.higuain/icardi 5.dybala 6.pavon/Martinez

    • 3 goalkeeper so that left 14 spot for midfield and defence and I can’t guess who those 14 are. many possibilities there and recent form and fitness will determine that.let me tell you prior to wc 1-2 big injury will surely happen so nothing is clear

  22. Excellent analysis of the team summoned and Sampaoli’s thought process. Looks like a balanced squad to me. Will have to wait for the domestic players to call it fully balanced squad. However Pezzella’s exclusion surprised me. Regarding the Icardi-Dyabla debate I think one of them should go to Russia if not both.

    But one thing that worries me is that all the argentine players who are expected to start against Iceland on 16th June is playing non-stop for their clubs which may result in burn-outs even before WC starts. That includes Messi too.

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