World Cup countdown: 50 days, Argentina moment number 39, Pablo ZABALETA


As part of the 50 days, 50 Argentina World Cup moments, we will be counting down the top 50 Argentina moments at a World Cup using the daily number.

We are just 39 days until the start of the FIFA World Cup and in 39th place we have Pablo ZABALETA playing in his 39th match for Argentina, a 1-0 win against Iran at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

After having picked-up a 2-1 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina in their first match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and a 1-0 win against Iran in the second game, Alejandro SABELLA’s men were up against a very familiar opponent. For the second consecutive World Cup, Argentina were pit in the same group as Nigeria.

This time around, the match had many goals. Lionel MESSI opened the scoring in the third minute, Ahmed MUSA equalised a minute later, at the stroke of half time in injury time, Lionel MESSI added to his World Cup tally scoring a fantastic free kick. Two minutes into the second half, Ahmed MUSA scored once more and three minutes after that, Marcos ROJO finally put an end to the goals in the match as he scored the winner in a 3-2 win.

For Pablo ZABALETA, it wasn’t his best of matches, having struggled against the speedy Nigerian players. However, ZABALETA’s team mates were able to make sure that his 39th match with his country was a memorable victory.

Here was Argentina’s starting XI for the match:
1. Sergio ROMERO
2. Ezequiel GARAY
5. Fernando GAGO
7. Angel DI MARIA
9. Gonzalo HIGUAIN
10. Lionel MESSI
16. Marcos ROJO
17. Federico FERNANDEZ
20. Sergio AGUERO

Pablo Zabaleta: Argentina International Caps – Senior Level

# Opponent Competition Date Result
1 Hungary Friendly August 17, 2005 Final 2-1 Argentina
2 Paraguay 2006 World Cup Qualifiers September 3, 2005 Final 1-0 Paraguay
3 Brazil Friendly September 3, 2006 Final 3-0 Brazil
4 Spain Friendly October 11, 2006 Final 2-1 Spain
Catalonia Unofficial Friendly May 24, 2008 Final 1-0 Argentina
5 Peru 2010 World Cup Qualifiers September 10, 2008 Final 1-1 Draw
6 Republic of Ireland Friendly August 11, 2010 Final 1-0 Argentina
7 Portugal Friendly February 9, 2011 Final 2-1 Argentina
8 Nigeria Friendly June 1, 2011 Final 4-1 Nigeria
9 Poland Friendly June 5, 2011 Final 2-1 Poland
10 Albania Friendly June 20, 2011 Final 4-0 Argentina
11 Colombia 2011 Copa America July 6, 2011 Final 0-0 Draw
12 Costa Rica 2011 Copa America July 11, 2011 Final 3-0 Argentina
13 Uruguay 2011 Copa America July 16, 2011 Final 1-1 (5-4 P) Uruguay
14 Venezuela Friendly September 2, 2011 Final 1-0 Argentina
15 Nigeria Friendly September 6, 2011 Final 3-1 Argentina
16 Chile 2014 World Cup Qualifiers October 7, 2011 Final 4-1 Argentina
17 Venezuela 2014 World Cup Qualifiers October 11, 2011 Final 1-0 Venezuela
18 Bolivia 2014 World Cup Qualifiers November 11, 2011 Final 1-1 Draw
19 Colombia 2014 World Cup Qualifiers November 15, 2011 Final 2-1 Argentina
20 Switzerland Friendly February 29, 2012 Final 3-1 Argentina
21 Ecuador 2014 World Cup Qualifiers June 2, 2012 Final 4-0 Argentina
22 Brazil Friendly June 9, 2012 Final 4-3 Argentina
23 Germany Friendly August 15, 2012 Final 3-1 Argentina
24 Uruguay 2014 World Cup Qualifiers October 12, 2012 Final 3-0 Argentina
25 Chile 2014 World Cup Qualifiers October 16, 2012 Final 2-1 Argentina
26 Saudi Arabia Friendly November 14, 2012 Final 0-0 Draw
27 Sweden Friendly February 6, 2013 Final 3-2 Argentina
28 Venezuela 2014 World Cup Qualifiers March 22, 2013 Final 3-0 Argentina
29 Colombia 2014 World Cup Qualifiers June 7, 2013 Final 0-0 Draw
30 Paraguay 2014 World Cup Qualifiers September 10, 2013 Final 5-2 Argentina
31 Peru 2014 World Cup Qualifiers October 11, 2013 Final 3-1 Argentina
32 Ecuador Friendly November 15, 2013 Final 0-0 Draw
33 Bosnia-Herzegovina Friendly November 18, 2013 Final 2-0 Argentina
34 Romania Friendly March 5, 2014 Final 0-0 Draw
35 Trinidad and Tobago Friendly June 4, 2014 Final 3-0 Argentina
36 Slovenia Friendly June 7, 2014 Final 2-0 Argentina
37 Bosnia-Herzegovina 2014 FIFA World Cup June 15, 2014 Final 2-1 Argentina
38 Iran 2014 FIFA World Cup June 21, 2014 Final 1-0 Argentina
39 Nigeria 2014 FIFA World Cup June 25, 2014 Final 3-2 Argentina
40 Switzerland 2014 FIFA World Cup July 1, 2014 Final 1-0 Argentina
41 Belgium 2014 FIFA World Cup July 5, 2014 Final 2-1 Argentina
42 Netherlands 2014 FIFA World Cup July 9, 2014 Final 0-0 (4-2 P) Argentina
43 Germany 2014 FIFA World Cup July 13, 2014 Final 1-0 Germany
44 Germany Friendly September 3, 2014 Final 4-2 Argentina
45 Brazil Friendly October 11, 2014 Final 2-0 Brazil
46 Hong Kong Friendly October 14, 2014 Final 7-0 Argentina
47 Croatia Friendly November 12, 2014 Final 2-1 Argentina
48 El Salvador Friendly March 28, 2015 Final 2-0 Argentina
49 Uruguay 2015 Copa America June 16, 2015 Final 1-0 Argentina
50 Jamaica 2015 Copa America June 20, 2015 Final 1-0 Argentina
51 Colombia 2015 Copa America June 27, 2015 Final 0-0 (5-4 P) Argentina
52 Paraguay 2015 Copa America June 30, 2015 Final 6-1 Argentina
53 Chile 2015 Copa America July 4, 2015 Final 0-0 (4-1 P) Chile
54 Paraguay 2018 World Cup Qualifiers October 13, 2015 Final 0-0 Draw
55 Uruguay 2018 World Cup Qualifiers September 1, 2016 Final 1-0 Argentina
56 Venezuela 2018 World Cup Qualifiers September 6, 2016 Final 2-2 Draw
57 Peru 2018 World Cup Qualifiers October 6, 2016 Final 2-2 Draw
58 Brazil 2018 World Cup Qualifiers November 10, 2016 Final 3-0 Brazil


If you missed it, here are our 50 World Cup moments:
50: Sergio ROMERO gets 50th cap vs. Switzerland at 2014 FIFA World Cup.
49: Roberto AYALA scores in the 49th minute vs. Germany at 2006 FIFA World Cup.
48: Angel DI MARIA’s 48th cap for Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina at 2014 FIFA World Cup.
47: Mario KEMPES scores Argentina’s 47th goal all time at the 1978 FIFA World Cup vs. Peru.
46: Jorge VALDANO scores in the 46th minute at the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
45: Javier ZANETTI scores in the 45th minute vs. England at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
44: Gabriel BATISTUTA scores goal number 44 in his Argentina career at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
43: Gonzalo HIGUAIN receives cap number 43 for Argentina vs. Germany in the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
42: Pedro PASCULLI scores in the 42nd minute for Argentina vs. Uruguay at the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
41: Maxi RODRÍGUEZ scores in the 41st minute for Argentina vs. Serbia & Montenegro at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
40: Roberto AYALA plays in his 40th match for Argentina vs. Jamaica at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.


  1. As per reports, Sampaoli confirmed 20 players
    GKs : Romero and Caballero;
    Defenders: Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Rojo, Mascherano, Fazio and Acuna
    Midfielders: Dimaria, Salvio, Lanzini, Lo celso, Biglia and Banega
    Forwards: Messi, Aguero, Higuain, Dybala and Pavon

    • Can you please share the report link from where you got this news. The team seems what we expected. The final 3 would be 1 goal keeper, Meza and Paredes May be. If biglia is unfit then Guido or Battaglia

      • report saying centurion mayb picked over meza.1 goalie out of guzman and armani.1 dm out of enzo perez,kranevitter,pizzaro. though i dont believe this is true its all speculation.

      • i dont think this is true.all are speculations.even fazio is not so good as a cb.rojo should not have been there.mascherano should not be there as a defender for sure.he is not even playing cb in china also.we have only 2 good defenders otamendi and tagliafico others are shit to mediocre

    • They are not considering paredes at all…one thing is sure that if masche is picked as a defender there is room for kran/enzo/pizzaro/battaglia…..
      Report says that centurion>perrotti>meza which will be a big surprize….
      But i dont think so…there will be a back up for banega as paredes/ enzo to grab the above spot….
      Biglia/pizzaro or kran
      Banega/ enzo or paredes
      Lanzini/ lo celso
      Will be our starting midfield with messi and aguero/hig …..

    • With the exception of Pavon, it is a squad Martino or Bauza would have picked. Mascherano and Rojo are way beyond their best, Biglia and Aguero are still injured, Acuna is not a true RB. Suspensions for either Fazio or Otamendi will mean elimination.

  2. Watching both Dybala and Icardi in their latest matches, I can assure you that Icardi’s form is way better than Dybala who is kinda slow and doesn’t chase the ball (similar attributes to Higuaín- maybe that’s infectious). So if Sampaoli has to take only one, then he better takes Icardi and not Dybala for these three reasons alone:
    1) We are more in need to number 9 than an attacking midfielder
    2) He’s superb in aerial balls and headers- he’s tall
    3) He’s faster and has an unpredictable movement inside the box

  3. Dang. Even in this game, Huigain missed a sitter. I guess he was always like that. Worst is he do not redeem at all. Usually big players after missing easy chances, they redeem but not Hugain. Ronaldo also missed lot of sitters today but he scored one. Suarez too but i guess only Messi do not miss too many chances.

  4. If Messi is fit, I can totally see argentina challenging any team. However Sampoali should manage Messi properly. He should be given rest in all games particuraly in group stages if Argen. are up by 2 or 3 goals. Fit Messi will destroy any team. Just watch Ramos and Casimero being destroyed(supposedly best defender by UEFA or Ronaldo for that matter).

    • It is better to play him as false 9 between two speedy wingers/forwards example pavon, j correa, angel correa etc. He is the best goalscorer we have.
      we have enough technical players example lanzini, lo celso who can supply to him. Messi needs to trust them and limit his constant dropping deep and looking for the ball.
      it all depends on sampaoli.

      • Lot of the match, Messi was playing from deep. While he still creates from there, to maximize Messi impact, Our strategy shld be to play him more upfront. For that the midfield has to own the pitch. That’s what gives Ronaldo more time upfront compared to Messi in club level.

        • True. I have been saying that for long time. Use Messi closer to goal where he have excellent brust and dont have to sprint too much. If you look at his goal vs Real Madrid, he was closer to goal and was not dribbling all the way from the back. Ramos and Casimero paniched when Messi got the ball from Suarez, they are rated best in their respective positions. Sampoali need to utilize that. Messi dropping deep will cause both Arg. and Barca problem. Pep brilliantly utilize it but none other barca and arg. coach utilized it. IF barca sign Gerizemann, i see messi dropping even more deep and penaldo get all credits by scoring tapins. Barca screwed Messi.

      • Relying on Huigain or Augero will be our downfall. Messi needs to play closer to goal that is all. If not, Argentina’s chances decrese significantly. Messi is probably the most efficient scorer in the history of football.

    • All games are important and leading by 2 goals also can’t guarantee a win example the Nigeria messi probably may not be substituted if no injury.Argentina match has 5 day gap and less of travelling so they should not be fatigued just Argentina need to ensure they win in 90 mins no extra time.aguero dimaria dybala lanzini locelso all will be fresh and I think even messi will be fresh this time around just he should make sure now that classico ended with golden boot all but over won the la liya now rest in at least 1-2 matches out of 3

      • I agree that Argentina should only try to play for 90 min. That will save energy of our players.

  5. Messi lost his temper and almost broke Ramos’s leg!! He is also being man marked 2 to 4 players all the time. Hope Sampaoli is watching and thinking how to deal with these situations… Surely he is not relying on Banega’s out of this world play making skills to deliver or else we will endup like Sevilla 7th in the league

    • Banega would easily improve this Barcelona midfield..This current Barcelona midfield is lethargic. I think Roma did Barcelona a favor by eliminating them because Liverpool would have embarrass them home and away. Banega dominated Bayern Munich in midfield at the Alianz Arena, the same Bayern Munich team that outclass Real Madrid over both legs in the UCL. This is the same Real Madrid midfield out muscling Barcelona today in the first half.

      • Looking at Banega’s track record its highly unlikely that he will deliver… His inconsistency is the reason our midfield is slow 🐌 weak and mediocre. Hope he proves me wrong in the WC. I will be the happiest if he does!!

        • You talk a lot man! Let’s look at the games played this season that are more compatible to world cup games? This season Sevilla played Liverpool (twice), Man United (twice) and Bayern Munich (twice). Of those six games Sevilla lost only once and that was the home game against Bayern where Banega was suspended, the only game out of the six Sevilla failed to consistently hold onto possession. In five of the six games I listed, Sevilla never lose possession of the overall game except their home game against Bayern Munich where Banega was suspended. All you do is dis and troll the Argentina national team players, it must be a full-time job for you doing this ridicule of the players nonstop.

        • “Looking at Banega’s track record its highly unlikely that he will deliver… His inconsistency is the reason our midfield is slow 🐌 weak and mediocre”

          @SulaV, this is so true and you’ve seen him the the way I’ve.

          “Hope he proves me wrong in the WC. I will be the happiest if he does!!”

          He will never ever prove you wrong. Mark my word!

          Banega 👎👎👎 Higuain 👎👎👎

          Argentina needs real footballers, not these useless ones.

  6. A lot of disappointment and negativity has been going around regarding our team selection for obvious just to inject some shred of positivity in this blog i would like to remind some of our bloggers how Roberto Di Matteo
    won the Champions league with aging , injury plagued and out of form team. After our poor world cup qualification campaign and loss in the last few friendly matches , we are no-more a contender for the world cup.. This could be blessing in disguise for us as the stronger teams will attack us and weaker teams won’t park the bus as our defense has regained the bad reputation of being not very good again and our midfield is full of average players who play in mid-table teams (However with Messi in the team its seems unlikely that any team will go for all out attack against us )

  7. Centurion should be in squad but not at the cost of Meza but perroti.Goal scorers- Messi Augreo Higuain CenturionLanzini
    Assister- Messi Lanzini Meza Di Maria LoCelso
    Build up- Banega Lo Celso
    Defence- Otamendi Fazio

  8. Centurion should be selected over Perroti or Dybla.Domestic league has some talented players.Centurion is like J.Correabut with better finishing and dribbling.

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