New Argentina line-up in training


Argentina coach Jorge SAMPAOLI has opted to go for a different line-up on Friday with his team.

With Maxi MEZA joining the squad on Friday, coach SAMPAOLI now has all of his 23 players at his disposal. With everyone available, he put up the following ten players in training:


Compared to Thursday’s training session where SAMPAOLI had this:


Federico FAZIO replaced Marcos ROJO, Javier MASCHERANO replaces Lucas BIGLIA, Angel DI MARIA in for Cristian PAVON and Gonzalo HIGUAIN started in place of Sergio AGUERO.


  1. Looks like to be a 4-3-2-1 system, I guess there are 4 players that Sampaoli will keep unchanged no matter what: Otamendi, Lo Celso, Biglia, Di Maria and Messi. Lanzini seems to play a deeper position than his usual one with his club, I think he’s very useful with his high work-rate and his reliable passing skill. His defensive contribution has been very significant with his club. This 4-3-2-1 can be seen as 2-3-3-2 when it attacks as Samp said. So Di Maria-Lo Celso-Lanzini will be the brain of this team. Naturally their backup should be Pavon-Banega-Meza. To me, not much difference of level, which is great, that means they can replay anyone during the game. Ansaldi-Tagliafico are the only real fullbacks of this team, it’s quite fair they are in the starting XI.

    The other alternative is 3-4-3, with Mercado as RCB, along with Masch and Otamendi in defense. Then I guess Salvio and Acuna will play on each side of the midfield and probably Lanzini will be left on the bench. Lo Celso-Biglia will drive the midfield.

    In attack, if we play in 2332, why not Pavon as left winger/fwd and Messi as the right one in attack. I believe that Pavon and Meza will be like Ribery in 2006 and Muller in 2010. If we play in 343, then I will go for Dybala-Messi-Pavon.

      • if Otamendi isn’t world class pep already sold him, back to back whoscoord team of the season isn’t cakewalk

        • but he is very inconsistent and he had support of a superb midfield .man city rarely looses ball or giveaway in dangerous position.

          • When u play around 50 games in a year & have 2-3 bad games , you don’t call that inconsistent. Otamendi is our best defender PERIOD!! Going by that logic how many times u see Ramos pique , boateng getting beaten. Are they getting dropped? Also with a thin midfield , there is not much even the best CB in world can also do . Maybe u will tackle a few , but goals will still pour in. This season otamendi has also contributed brilliantly in building the attack & is real strong on aerial duel during corners. I remember at least 3-4 goals he scored in corner. With so much he offers & hardly any substitute ( inside final 23 or even outside among other CBs) , there is no question of dropping otamendi.

  2. As for Argentina, nobody is saying this is the greatest team in history, (some of the best national teams in world cup history never win the cup like Zico – Brazil and Johan Cruyff – Holland) but what we have is a team with a group of competitive players whom some are among the best football players in the world today, not in every position, but enough to win the world cup. All this Argentina national team need is guidance to clear the main hurdle with a sprinkle of favor and blessing from the almighty God above. We have the players, Sampaoli just need to utilize the team correctly for each game, study the opponents and select the players that can effectively carry out his plans one game at a time. Sampoali should mix things up, don’t use the same midfield players game after game; for one or two/three through seven games, the coach can use player X, Y and Z in midfield or player A, B and Y in midfield or player Y and B only to allow another attacking player in the team. This goes for the strikers as well, Aguero can start for Argentina likewise Higuaín can be the starter for Argentina depending on the opponent and the situation surrounding the game, maybe tactically both can even start together, or maybe Dybala starting ahead of both Higuaín and Aguero in order to surprise the opponent because they would be expecting one of either Higuaín or Aguero to start (This is what Zidane is good at in the UCL, he doesn’t play the same starting XI every game, like benching Casemiro away to Bayern Munich and plenty more tactical changes) . How in the world is anyone going to assume with like 20 plus days to go before Argentina opening game that the team starting XI is already confirmed? And the funny thing too, why would Sampaoli release his starting XI to the entire world before a ball being kick against Iceland? What Sampaoli is doing right now is testing all the players in every possible formation he will likely use at the 2018 world cup, the point of this is making sure that all 23 players will be familiarize with his formation, game plan and tactics.

    I have said some time ago that no team will out do this Argentina national team in possession at the 2018 world cup, not even Spain. Despite losing to Spain, Argentina was winning possession and pressing at the 60-minute mark with the score line at 2-1. All this without Messi, and before Spain even score the goal on the play that injury Sergio Romero (I’m going to miss you man), Argentina had plenty of clear chances to score. I look at the game against Spain through the tactical lens not the score line itself. Sampaoli have been slowly putting this team together and I can see everything finally coming together especially given the amount of time the players have training together. Sampaoli is a tournament coach and a lot of players on this current Argentina national team are used to playing in big tournaments both international and at club level, I think people are underestimating how important this is going to be for Argentina at the world. Please keep on underestimating Marcos Rojo (same thing all over again) and Mecardo, all these players are tried and already tested at international and club competition football. People like to hate on Mecardo and Rojo because they seem like the ‘’the least among you’’ and not the elegant flashy looking players, but I can assure you this, they will both excel at the 2018 world cup and prove many people wrong. Ansaldi is a quality player who will benefit Argentina massively. What people don’t get is that, the world cup is a seven game tournament, not a club league competition where you need to play 38 games and put up 90 plus points in order to win a title. Ansaldi is not being asked to play 38 games, it’s only seven games or less, and he surely have the quality and talent in him to succeed at the world cup.

    Let’s try something here, look at the La Liga, EPL and Bundesliga table standing, what do they all have in common? Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern won their leagues in a blowout yet none of them are in the UCL final. If you look at the points gap and how far back Real Madrid and Liverpool have fallen behind their respective domestic league winners, one would have assumed that two out of Barcelona, Manchester City and Bayern would be competing for the UCL title on the 26th of May, 2018, but this is not the case. Critics in the media like to talk about the 2018 World cup qualifiers and how Argentina barely made it, but why is this even still a relevant discussion? Real Madrid was losing to lowly teams in La Liga like Girona, Levante, Leganes and suffering unexpected home defeats to teams like Villarreal and Real Betis while falling way behind Barcelona in the La Liga standing yet none of this affected Real Madrid quest to the UCL final. Zidane, Simeone, Klopp, Lowe and Sampaoli are all tournament coaches. People need to realize this, even coaching Chile Sampaoli wasn’t having a smooth sailing in qualifiers and friendly games pre 2014 world cup, but as soon as the 2014 world cup started, Chile was a different team. Argentina will be a total different team come the 2018 world cup from what we saw of them in the CONMEBOL qualifiers and the Spain friendly game.

    2017-18 EPL STATISTICS

    Otamendi has completed the most passes in this EPL this season; 2825, while the closest other EPL player in second place was Xhaka from Arsenal with 2708 completed passes. Moreover, Otamendi averaged 91.9% in possession from 33 game, the highest out of any player from Europe top five League.


    1st. Banega: 9 Games Played (Started 9), 792 Minutes Played, Total Touches 2767, Passes 838, Interceptions 6, Blocks 13, Tackles 13, Crosses 61, Corner Kicks 42. (of course you people don’t value him highly and speak fondly of him, but these numbers speak for themselves)

    2nd. James Rodriguez: 12 Games Played (Started 8), Minutes 778, Total Touches 1981, Passes 551, Interceptions 11, Blocks 12, Tackles 18, Crosses 83, Corner Kicks 39.

    3rd. Toni Kroos: 11 Games Played (Started 9), Minutes Played 862, Total Touches 1974, Passes 755, Interceptions 4, Blocks 9, Tackles 18, Crosses 55, Corners 46.

    7th. Otamendi: 8 Games Played (Started 8), Minutes Played 720, Total Touches 1858, Passes 714, Interceptions 22, Blocks 10, Tackles 15.

    10th. Messi: Games Played 10 (Started 8), Minutes Played 783, Total Touches 1806, Passes 418, Interceptions 1, Blocks 5, Tackles 5, Crosses 37, Corner Kicks 19.

    11th. Rakatic, 12thBusquet, 16th Luka Modric, 19th Iniesta, 29th. Fazio (This right here explain Barcelona current problem in midfield, from 2008-2013 Xavi, Iniesta, Busquet and Alves would be at least top six on this list in no particular order. This list goes to show the decline in Barcelona midfield since their peak years under Pep Guardiola hence the reason why Messi have struggled to win the UCL recently because of how lackluster Barcelona mid have become.

    Banega is number ONE on a list of 50 UEFA Champions League individual players for the 2017/2018 season yet people don’t think he should be on the Argentina team, not even on the bench. He is not German or Spanish I guess, only then he will be recognized around here, but I’ll leave it at that. No one can dispute these numbers, all this while playing for Sevilla with a budget way modest than the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. No matter what is said here, Banega is WORLD CLASS, I don’t care if he starts or not for Argentina at the world cup, I’m not advocating for a single player to start because I hold no grudges against any player on the 23-man squad. Guys like Del Piero, Totti etc. wasn’t a regular starter for Italy during the 2006 world cup. Sampaoli will know what works for his tactics on day one at the 2018 world cup. We have a lot of great players on our team and this upcoming world cup is setup perfectly for Argentina, all the attackers look healthy and rearing to go. By the time Argentina play against Iceland everyone on the team will be 100% fit!

    – So here are my world cup predictions for the group stage:

    Group A
    Uruguay and Russia (Uruguay for me will make a deep run in the tournament)

    Group B
    Spain and Iran

    Group C
    Peru and Denmark

    Group D
    Argentina and Nigeria

    Group E
    Switzerland and Brazil (I have this feeling Brazil and Germany will play against each other in the round of 16.)

    Group F
    Germany and Mexico

    Group G
    Belgium and Tunisia

    Group H
    Colombia and Poland

    • brazil 2nd??? portugal knocked out??nigeria over croatia and iceland??tunisia over england??peru and denmark knock france out??your prediction is funny to say the least.looks like you smoked something or you dont follow world football atall.your each and every predictions will be wrong and you will become laughing stock here

      • haha the most stupid predictions I have ever read. Yes probably he didn’t watch football before but copy and paste statistics. Yes surprises happen for one team but not for all 5 top favorites at once and during the group stage. France is out from group stage in Europe? They are not even in the death group as Argentina. That made my day.

        If you worry about a big team to lose, look at our difficult group… got the tournament surprise right there. Yes we have big names in the team, but most players meeting for the first time and old players have zero chemistry. If you are still at the stage of testing players and formations 3 weeks before world cup in a group of death, then the team is not ready for the big show.

    • Very True Kidulthood.The strategy should keep changing as long as right players are selected for the formation.

      Ansaldi Fazio Otamendi Acuna

      Locelso Biglia Banega

      Pavon L.Messi Di Maria

      I for instance w’d like this formation to face Croatia and Salvio in Pavon stead when playing against Nigeria.

      Against Iceland 3-4-3

      Mercado Fazio Otamendi

      Salvio Locelso Biglia Acuna

      Pavon L.Messi Di Maria

      I w’d like to see Aguero, Lanzini and Mascherano as super subs either to distract openents or change results & to maintain any favourable results by Mascherano.

      • If 3_4_3 clicked in group stage match.. that will be a huge boost.. i agree 100% with.
        Argentina should try that.
        And yes, what better chance for that than the Iceland match.

      • Chances are less for 3-4-3.
        For sure, one of Aguero/Higuain/Dybala will play with Messi as a starter. So it will be a formation with 2 forwards. As Sampaoli already told he will use 2332, it will be 4-1-3-2 or 4-3-1-2 depends upon opponents/situations. While defending it will be more like 4-4-2 and while attacking 2-3-3-2.
        Maybe in an emergency situation, Sampaoli may try 3-4-3 but IMO more chances are for 3-5-2.

    • I doubt many teams, especially in the group stage, will try to go toe to toe with Argentina given the class of attacking players at our disposal. My concern is the “park the bus” defenses we will encounter like at the 2014 WC. Teams will try to absorb our attack and look to hit us on the counter. I can see Argentina dominating possession and getting lulled into a false sense of domination, or becoming frustrated if not scoring by half-time only to get scored on by a speedy counter. Hopefully this scenario is factored into Sampaoli’s player selection and tactics. Argentina does best when not considered the favorite so I’m perfectly fine with all the haters who have written us off.

    • Good article kid. Data & facts are reassuring that we will play well at the cup. The predictions are very bold though! Every world cup there are definitely surprises & underdogs who emerge from nowhere. But bit tough to predict who will it be at this moment. My gut is that Germany will not have a great world cup . But somehow I think England will play above expectations.

      • Great comment Kid. Yes, let’s leave Sampaoli alone to try out different formations. Let’s trust all 23 completely. Btw, I don’t think anyone doubts Rojo, Mercado, Banega here. Some people think there are better players available. I for one wanted Pezella & Battaglia instead of Rojo & Mercado. Because Rojo didn’t play enough this season and I wasn’t really impressed with Mercado as a CD when I watched him at La Liga. He also looks a bit fat as well. However, once Sampa selected the team, I am completely behind the team. I fully trust Sampa and I hope all players selected reach the world cup fully fit and in form raring to go. As for Banega, he’s indeed world class. He was even selected as the best player of Sevilla for the just concluded La liga season. However, he lacks consistency and goes missing in some games. Hence I prefer talented and energetic Lo Celso who has been more consistent for PSG. But Sampa can count on both.

        @Anuparno, you must know that it was just a prediction, a brave prediction indeed. He may be wrong, but his predictions could happen. Predictions can be right or wrong. I don’t think he would be subject to a lot of stick here if it goes wrong.

    • Iran above Morocco and Portugal? France got KO in the 1st round? Can I ask what your prediction is based on?

      I don’t have any doubt on Mercado and Banega because they did some good stuff this season from time to time. But Rojo didn’t play any good game since long time. I don’t believe in miracle. His participation is the only doubt to me, I’d prefer to take Pezzella or anyone who played regularly.

      But true that Sampaoli is a tournament coach, like Deschamps. This kind of coach is good for a 1-shot competition. But so far I don’t see any fixed tactical system yet. He still keeps on changing his mind, hope that this month is enough for him to fix it.

    • Thanks kid, for your passion for writing long articles, Great analysis, It’s not important if we have to agreed or disagreed. But I’m a fan of you, highly appreciate your love. I’ll be very happy to see you more active here. I want to know – If you are active in any social media, Please let me know.

  3. I read a motivational news article for the Argentina defence was about France national team in 1998 world cup.before the world cup people used to call the coach of France national team a mad all practice matches the France defence used to concede 4-5 goals.but we all know how that defence was in actual if argentine defenders and sampaoli work hard this set of defenders also can create history.vamos Argentina.

    • No way! In 98, before the WC, the French defense was strong and never took 4-5 goals as you said. The only problem was their quality of play and their attack, they didn’t manage to score often. They found their style during the competition with that high pressing with their 3-men midfield. Young players like Henry also brought a lot of contribution in the 1st round. Zidane did well only during his 1st two games and his final. But overall, it was their defense and their midfielders who made the difference. Blanc and Thuram scored the goals in the most critical moments, Petit was incredible, Lizarazu was so energetic. Desailly-Deschamps was the wall.

      Our situation is now different. Our strength is creativity with all those agile wingers. The uncertainty coming from slowness of defense and midfielders when they are under pressure. Sampaoli does the right thing. The only solution seems to play compact, defend together and get closer to each other when they attack. He has the right players for that.

  4. Fazio way too slow and uncoordinated. Rojo will have to step it up because otherwise Mascherano needs to play CB again. There is nobody else. Fazio is a huge mistake IMO.

    My starting 11:

    – Guzman for Armani (absolutely never play Willy again in a serious match)
    – Biglia for Mascherano every other game (Banega as a late sub for both)
    – Lo Celso for Pavon
    – Di Maria for Lanzini and push Meza to middle

    • Interesting thought Bro. Statistically speaking:
      Fazio vs Rojo
      Tackles : 1.6 vs 0.8 (Fazio)
      Dribbled past: 0.2 vs 0.8 (Fazio)
      Fouls : 0.7 vs 0.9 (Fazio)
      Interceptions 1.4 vs 0.8 (Fazio)
      Clearances : 4.6 vs 6 (Rojo)

      Note: Rojo was injured for much of the season, so the sample size is smaller. Secondly, Fazio’s partner is Manolas who is a pretty good defender when it comes to 1v 1 and positioning

      1. Individually, Fazio has better defensive production compared to Rojo
      2. Speed: Rojo has an advantage if he is completely over his injuries
      3. Ariel ability: Fazio has the edge.

      Between the 2 , I’d still take Fazio who has at least been playing consistently throughout the season.

      On the line up, it looks heavily skewed on the attacking side. I worry about only having Mascherano for defensive cover. He obviously has the experience, but won’t cover much ground as he used to before, and the link up play (ball carrying from defense to attack) is heavily reduced. Which is where a Biglia comes in and does a bit of that.

      • Looking at the stats rojo looks better but stats can be misleading sometimes.I think rojo is poor as a CB.fazio is not poor but not a good defender also.actually if our cb were good to decent like brazil or Germany then we would have not shitting our pants thinking about defence.I think defensively right now our fullbacks are decent with ansaldi and tagliafico.can’t say about our cb pair.if we come 2nd in the group we could face France in 2nd round

        • Ooops – my bad Anuparno – I put the winner of the stats in the parenthesis! The first value is Fazio and the 2nd is Rojo. 🙂

          Don’t worry- The stats also point to Fazio being the better option between the 2 🙂

    • @bro

      Good line up. Just lack of Lo Celso. To be honest – I would like to see Meza, Pavon, Lo Celso, Lanzini – all them in starting line up what is impossible.

        • I believe Meza can do all the usefull things that Di Maria is doing in his good games. First of all Sampaoli should play from the beginning of tournament with players that are not injury prone because it guarantee stability and continuity and builds understanding while incorpotating new player in the mid of tournament (because of Di Maria injury) is at the expense of team coherence.

          So IMO Sampoaoli should not start with AGuero and Di Maria at all. Rather Dybala and Meza (Pavon). But we know Aguero and Di Maria will starters.

    • Sheesh, I guess everyone’s got an opinion. Why not just be positive and support the team as a celebrity and icon, and leave the worrying to mortals like us?

    • He says no experience..what did he mean..if he is coach now who will he select leader and experienced other than messi macherano…its joke he is saying…the person not selected requelme and zanetti..

    • He is worried that argentina might win this time. Pele was like that in 2002 savaging scolari and brazil & when they won scolari had perfect answer for him. I hope sampaoli will do the same.

    • Great comment by Diego! it both reduces the pressure for the NT and it also motivates the team to prove Maradona wrong.

      I think Diego did this intentionally to stimulate the team and Messi (the leader).

      • No, he’s not playing mind games to help. He’s a prick, that’s it. If he truly wanted to help, he would boost the NT confidence by saying Messi is great leader and will help them achieve victory. But he isn’t saying that at all, wish he would shut his mouth

  5. A statistic-based look for fellow geeks:

    1. Battle of the center forward: Higuain vs Aguero
    shots per game: 2.9 vs 3.8
    key pass per game: 2.9 vs 3.8
    dribbles per game: 1.5 vs 2.2
    # times dispossessed per game: 2.1 vs 1.7

    By all counts, Aguero comes out superior, generating more shots, leading to more key events per game, more likely to have a successful dribble, and less likely to get dispossessed.

    2. Battle in the mid : Banega vs Lo Celso
    Tackles per game: 2.3 vs 2.3
    Interceptions per game: 0.7 vs 0.6 (Banega)
    Fouls per game: 0.8 vs 0.6 ( Lo)
    Dribbled PAST per game : 1.3 vs 1.6 (Banega)
    Key passes per game: 2.1 vs 0.5 (Banega)
    Dribble per game : 2.7 vs 1.4 (Banega)
    Dispossessed per game: 1.9 vs 0.9 (Lo)

    This comparison is very interesting. I love both the players and you can see how similar they are in some areas. Lo Celso has been playing pretty well of late and offers a lot of flexibility. Banega remains an enigma , there are days he takes over a game, and then days when you wonder if he is out in the beach sipping on margeritas. Against very defensive teams with low blocks who rely on physicality and set pieces (Eg. an Iceland ) , Banega might actually be a great option with his pretty good key pass rate and dribbles. You can see how he tends to be very risky against teams who press in the midfield and have a quick counter attack (with his high dispossession rate). Those are games where Lo Celso may fit in, a safer and more dynamic option.

    Curious to hear your thoughts! Let me know if you want to do more comparisons and I can try!

    • Yea. Banega is very good, and actually he is the most creative controlling midfielder we have.

      However, if Banega begin to suck in a match, which is really really unmissable we sub in Lo Celso.

      Or Lo Celso starts and Banega comes in as a sub. In any ways, this is faar from the position for us to worry about. Our situation in the number 5 right now is bad. We don’t have anybody there. Biglia doesn’t count and Masche rigjt now doesn’t count either.

      These heroism and ballsiness only takes you so far. To win, you need quality and technical abilities.

      • I’d agree. Banega , when on song, gives a tremendous amount of output in terms of connecting our attackers. I love Lo Celso’s potential, he is a very interesting player for me, offers a lot of flexibility, but is still a bit raw in the defensive side. Very curious to see how it plays out.

        • I get the same impression too, that Sampaoli has a lot of faith in him. I can see why, he is a pretty intelligent player with good awareness and positioning skills. He has a pretty accurate mid-range passing ability too and can spray the ball about to the wings and open the space up. He is not world class at anything, but gives a level of consistency. He does not have elite speed through the middle and cannot cover lost ground. You can see he dictates and communicates a lot between the GK and defense . I wish he was a couple of years younger and fitter (very injury prone). Having him and Masche start would be an overkill, and at the same time, we are still not where we can have only 1 to cover. That’s where our team feels very imbalanced. What do you think?

          • Sampaoli has no option.there is only 23 spots.he will play an attacking and high pressing brand of football that’s why he picked lots of young attacking mid and wingers.he picked salvio and acuna in case in some matches he wants to change the system to 3-4-3 plus in emergency they can be employed as picking 2 dm was right otherwise he has to drop 1 defender what he cant or have to drop acuna or salvio what he doesn’t want otherwise there will be nobody who can play in 3-4-3.and I’m damn sure rojo also was picked ahead of many deserving cb because he can play as one of the 3 cb in 3-4-3 formation also can be a sub of otamendi and we just have to pray that biglia remains fit and mascherano regain some of his old form.then we will be ok

  6. “Aguero wore 19 At the youth world cup 2005. That’s the reason. World Champion then and World Champion now?”

    @Ghostdeini, I think you guessed it right. This could be a superstitious act by Aguero.

    Many players believe in superstition. One of them is Goycochea who before every penalty shoot-out used to urinate on the pitch to bring himself good luck.

    He once told The Guardian:

    “You know, by the rules of the game, until the match finishes you cannot abandon the field. And if you have any necessary human urges, you have to go on the field. So that is what happened against Yugoslavia (in the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals). At the end of the game I really had to go so I had no choice. But we won, so then when the semi-final against Italy went to penalties I did it again – and it worked! So from that moment on I did it before every shoot-out. It was my lucky charm.”

  7. Just watched 2nd half of Spain match.cartoon defending.never seen that bad defending from any team.caballero cartoon goalkeeping how sampaoli still select him beyond me.let me tell you Argentina can’t defend with high line.that’s not their game.Argentina needs to defend deep if they don’t want a 7-1 drubbing of brazil Germany.I don’t see progressing much with this kind of defence.and one of the main villain of that match was otamendi and he is our best defender.frightening to think also.Fazio slow he can’t handle high defensive line either.if sampaoli immediately don’t change his plan we will be smashed left right centre

    • Otamendi is epl defender of the season, highest rated one of the reason for man city success. Faizo is good in champion league, only problem glamorous name missing in defence unlike forward

      • Otamendi is very dangerous sometimes he can be very good sometimes he can be very bad.he was very poor in season end.Liverpool scored many goals because of his loose marking in CL and thus city knocked out.Spain match affected his confidence.may be he is exhausted I don’t know.

    • friendly games is completely other story. in world cup game things will be different. Sampaoli is not stupit. he knows that thing. he already have analyse that game. against teams like Spain Germany France or Brazil we will play with defensive mentality. as we played against Holland and Germany in 2014 world cup.

      • I don’t think we will play with defensive mentality under sampaoli.yes sampaoli recently said he was very worried regarding Spain performance but analyzed and decided what to do.but he didn’t do much to change the defence.only ansaldi included in place of bustos.still rojo gets selected.caballero with that horror show still in consideration for no.1 I doubt whether he found the actual reason behind those mistakes or not.will be clear once Argentina start their campaign

        • Overanalysis of a friendly match.
          We had a totally rusted rojo , outplayed bustos & most importantly a docile midfield pivot in biglia & masche. Sampa is not going to play masche , biglia & banega together again. Also let’s not forget that Spain fullbacks had an unlimited license to roam in our half bcos Messi threat was not there. Inspite of all this we matched Spain in first half . If we meet in quaterfinal, I am sure result will be very different.

        • I think he might have already analyzed it and got the reasons; As you are worrying the horrific result was not due to otamendi or caballero; To start with Biglia – Mascherano & Banega was a big mistake, adding to that starting rojo who wasn’t match fit; Banega & Lo celso roles weren’t defined properly; Bustos was left open without any support; Banega was useless going forward & in defense; It was a tactical blunder by Sampaoli and the players he fielded;

          Lanzini, Lo Celso & Di Maria/Meza will be the key for Sampaoli & they will be the starters if fit; These 3 shall help in attack as well as in defense;

    • Why are you guys keep talking about a friendly game? Aren’t friendlies to correct whatever’s wrong. And besides the team was playing without Messi, DiMaria, Aguero. And Spain been consistent since 2010, and Spain was out at the 1st round of the 2014 World Cup, things happen all we need is a little bit of luck. Arguably this team is better than 2014. I believe Argentina will go far this year why not winning the whole thing. Vamos Argentina⚽️⚽️🇦🇷🇦🇷🇦🇷🏆🏆🥇🥇

      • My question is can a team improve so much in such a short period of time?? I am not so sure.we still have rojo we still have caballero.I hope otamendi not make mistakes like quarters due to this friendly loss our defence confidence will be low if we face Spain

        • Is it really that difficult to understand you can’t compare a friendly to a world cup match. A friendly is just an extended training match and in Argentina’s case, it was cent percent correct.

          More than the players, the problem that day was tactical. Argentina played attacking game with double pivot and it back fired greatly. They didn’t have the speed to stop the counter attack.

          I think Sampaoli will change the game plan against teams that counter attack.

          Stop ranting about team selection now.

          • Against Spain we played good game i think. If it wasn’t for some stupid defensive mistakes and that missed chance of higuain, i think the score would have been like 3-2 at least. I want to count at least 3 of Spain goals as own goals, because they scored from very cheap defensive mistakes. I believe we wont make that kind of mistakes in world cup. we will be playing with different mentality.
            I can’t see a Spain victory if they played Argentina again. With Messi, Maria, and with a good game plan we can Defeat any team in the world. Remember what Roy Nemer said in a recent interview, with our players at full potential we are better team than current Barcelona.

      • Yes, Sampaoli did not want to even play this as he did not feel the team was ready and criticized AFA for arranging the match.

  8. Argentina confirmed starting XI
    Armani – Ansaldi Otamendi Fazio Tiagofalo – Benega Biglia – lo celso/Lanzini Messi Dimaria/Pavon – Aguero

  9. Rumoured shirt numbers of the players

    Aguero 19, 1+9 = 10? I think you all remember Ivan Zamorano 1+8

    1 Guzmán

    2 Mercado

    3 Tagliafico

    4 Ansaldi

    5 Biglia

    6 Fazio

    7 Banega

    8 Acuña

    9 Higuaín

    10 Messi

    11 Di Maria

    12 Armani

    13 Meza

    14 Mascherano

    15 Lanzini

    16 Rojo

    17 Otamendi

    18 Salvio

    19 Agüero

    20 Lo Celso

    21 Dybala

    22 Pavón

    23 Caballero

  10. Real Madrid: Navas—Marcelo-Varane-Ramos-Carvajal—Casemiro-Modric-Kroos-Isco—Ronaldo-Benzema average age 29 years
    Argentina: Armani—Tagliafico-Otamendi-Fazio-Ansaldi—Biglia-Lo Celso-Lanzini—Di Maria-Aguero-Messi 28,7 years…

  11. My preferred xi
    Ansaldi Fazio otamendi tagli
    Lanzini locelso dimaria
    Messi aguero

    • Lanzini naturally plays left . I would replace him with meza for right midfield. Meza seems a better all-rounder on left or right
      .lanzini & dimaria can be swapped between matches to ensure both of them last 7 matches. Else their injury trackrecord may spoil the party.

  12. If you are playing possession based football everyone have to be more accurate in passing and more aware or cautious of the situation to tackle any kind of counter attack from opposition at the same time.

    The thing is to be smart on the pitch not vulnerable in the 90+4 or 5 minutes. You can’t afford a single moment of vulnerability during 90 minute of play.

    Long precise shots for goal from Messi or Di Maria or Aguero will be the key in group stages

  13. I think Mascherano starts against Iceland, we will need all our experience on the pitch. My preferred team is –

    GK – Armani (I don’t trust Caballero)
    RB – Ansaldi
    LB – Rojo
    CB – Otamendi
    CB – Fazio (Unfortunately)
    DM – Mascherano
    DM – Biglia (Banega)
    RW – Messi (Playing off the right like he does at Barcelona. Basically a free role)
    AM – Lanzini (Who will drop deeper into midfield when we don’t have the ball)
    LW – Di Maria (Pavon/Meza)
    S – Aguero

  14. we have 23 players and all of them will be tested in all possible combinations. Sampaoli will see everyone beside each other. this days is this kind of days. exept Messi nobody is sure for start against Iceland. so be patient guys:-) General Jorge Sampaoli and his 23 fighters are preparing 🙂

  15. I really do not wish injury on players as it is their dream to play in a WC. However, we really need another #5. So if Mercado has even the slightest setback, I would not mind dropping him for another #5. I feel relying on Biglia/Masch will be Samps undoing. Hopefully I am terribly wrong.

  16. Sampaoli has the right idea, building the team around Messi. If done right, Argentina will be strong, maybe even unstoppable (attacking wise). As Cruyff said, if in possesion, it’s impossible for the other team to score a counterattack. That said, he has also done brilliant to select players that could play with Messi and offer him support as well.
    My 11 would be a 4-2-3-1 as follows:
    GK: Armani
    LB: Tagliafico (Acuña or Ansaldi)
    CB: Otamendi (Rojo)
    CB: Fazio (Rojo)
    RB: Mercado (Salvio)
    DM: Banega (Lo Celso)
    DM: Mascherano (Biglia)
    LW: Di Maria (Meza)
    CAM: Messi (Dybala)
    RW: Pavon (Lanzini)
    CF: Aguero (Higuain 😒)
    The one in parentheses (…) would be the substitutions.
    – Team built around Messi at the core with players who like Di Maria, Pavon, Meza, Lanzini who can feed Messi and Aguero as well, and you got an attacking team to fear.
    – As seen against Russia and Nigeria,
    Pavon + Aguero = Goals!!!!!
    – Banega and either Mascherano or Biglia as they can’t play with each other and Lo Celso isn’t solid defensively enough, as seen against Spain, Real Madrid, etc.
    – Fazio + Otamendi = Not best CB pairing but certainly not the weakest either.
    The real debate will be the fullbacks but I think this should be the line up with what’s available. What do you guys think?

    • Ansaldi will not play in left back he will play right back.dybala will most probably be aguero sub for Messi.he will play each and every minute.biglia will be a starter not mascherano.locelso also could be a starter.banega also has chance but we can’t say so early

    • I respectively do not agree with your lineup. Banega cannot be trusted for a full 90 mins. He disappears all too often. The best I’ve ever seen Banega play with ARG is when he’s come on as a substitute.
      Your Lo Celso analysis is not accurate IMO. It was Biglia, Masch, Rojo, and especially Bustos that were laid to waste against Spain. Isco was licking his lips whenever Bustos was around.
      I dont think that Lo Celso is a #5 nor should he be. He played that role for PSG because Costa was out. And frankly, PSG walked into a buzzsaw with RM.
      Our #5 (lack there of) is a huge problem

      • Otamendi also was poor.only Meza locelso and tagliafico played well.still the first goal was due to locelso error in passing.caballero was just awful.if Romero was there at least 2-3 goals would be saved and then we lost to 3-1 and everybody don’t underestimate us like this.they are behaving like we are some tier2 team like Croatia Denmark Poland etc.even many critics saying Portugal will go further than us that pains me a lot.

      • Thanks for the reply! Yea I agree about our #5 problem. That’s why I said that’s the lineup with what’s available. Personally, I thought Paredes would’ve been a good starter, but I’m not the manager. Maybe Sampaoli saw something we couldn’t be see, only time will tell.
        Also Banega, yea he’s not the best DM but he’s the best of what we’ve got, unless someone still wants to see a Biglia/Mascherano pairing? I for one do not want that! Banega is a good sub, yes, but who would start to begin with then? There aren’t that many options unfortunately, so that’s but why I think he should start along side either Mascherano or Biglia, preferable the former Barca man.
        But we’re Argentina! We have some of the best players in the world, and we have Messi! Anything’s possible! You just have to believe! Spanish players tremble when playing against Messi, like Ramos, Carvajal, Isco, etc, and his teammates know they can’t stop him either, like Alba, Pique (HAHA), Busquets, Iniesta. Argentina has a good chance, better than most people think! Just believe!

  17. And all 6 (Independiente, River, Boca, Racing, Estudiantes, Atletico Tucuman) Argentina clubs progressed to next stage of Copa Libertadores. That’s end of club season before WC.

  18. Martine Benitez (for whom Real Madrid offered 12 mln 2 years ago) has back to great form. Mostly thanks to him Independiente won last night in Copa Libertadores. European clubs interested again. Meza has played much cautious game to avoid injury.

  19. If it’s going to be 4-4-2 Meza should be there in midfield, if it’s going to be 4-3-3 Pavon as forward/winger.

    Both Meza and Pavon over Di Maria. Lanzini as well.

      • Only when he is playing the good game while in last years he have been playing good matche once for 5 performances.

        He is not worth to be starter. Weak performance or injury is too very likely. It’s better to invest in Meza, Pavon or Lanzini.

  20. So there is a possibility of ansaldi starting.even more if he impresses in training.I don’t know who is better ansaldi or Mercado.

  21. ascacibar Would be so good to this squad iam from Germany and even the germans Praised him he can be the Next Kante from france
    Also i Would Change mercado for pezalla
    And biglia Masche and banega atleast one should have Been dropped for battaglia

  22. E.Perez, Biglia, Lavezzi, Dimicheles, ‘ve been the stand out performers in 2014. Most of them get their chances starting from second round matches. None were granted as starters for group matches nor were they instrumental in qualification matches Gago relegeted for (Biglia) Fernandez for ( Demi), Di Maria for( Lavezzi due to injury), and E.perez at the expense of a striker (Aguero)

    It is the turn of Meza, Lanzini, Pavon, Ansaldi and Armani to impose like their predecessors. I am giving them all a benefit of doubt for strong reason.Locelso’s case is different as he has cemented his spot.

    Biglia/Mascherano, Lo Celao/ Banega, Meza/ Lanzini, Di Maria/ Pavon will lead the midfield.

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