Argentina National Team coach Jorge SAMPAOLI spoke at a press conference on Friday where he confirmed the starting eleven but also commented on a number of topics.
With the same eleven players training together for the sixth consecutive day, SAMPAOLI has went ahead and confirmed the team which will start against Iceland. Here’s what he had to say about the starting line-up:
“I understand that it’s not necessary to hide the team because it’s already been decided on. Tomorrow’s starting team will be CABALLERO; SALVIO, OTAMENDI, ROJO, TAGLIAFICO; MASCHERANO, BIGLIA; MEZA, MESSI, DI MARIA; AGUERO.
“We have went with CABALLERO because we’ve had more time working with him. But all three are at a high level.
“My idea at the moment is to protect the midfield a bit. The test of time has shown us that the partnership between BIGLIA and MASCHERANO would assure us of some of the fragilities we have which could be fixed in a short term.”
He also spoke about the team itself, stating that they have managed to fix some things up.
“We are very excited about what the team has done ahead of the World Cup. They arrive behind one idea and they will surely be very well prepared. During this time, we have managed to fix up some things which we lacked. Tomorrow, I expect a decisive Argentina that will show that it’s still a world force in football.”
In regards to Iceland, SAMPAOLI hopes the pressure will be on the team:
“With respect to the level of the opponent we face, we have to neutralize them from the beginning. Not only are they tall but they also take advange of the second ball. We have worked on that. Iceland are going to be a very difficult team because they put a lot of people in defense and will try to hit us on the counter.
“Argentina have to play and try to get rid of any pressure. We are working on that. We hope that the pressure will be on Iceland and we go out to play without it.”
SAMPAOLI went on to speak about Lionel MESSI, Paulo DYBALA and Marcos ROJO:
“I see MESSI very well, very excited. With what he is capable of, there shouldn’t be a lot of pressure, we have to enjoy his play. I don’t see this World Cup as MESSI’s last. We must perfectly understand what MESSI needs and he must also know what his team mates need.
“Paulo (DYBALA) has had a very gratifying preparation for us. We will see at which time or in which match we can use him.
“Marcos (ROJO) gives us an attacking profile. We are Argentina and we have to have an identity that goes with our play. Marcos gives us a good option to start the attack from the back. MEZA is at the same level as the rest of the team.”
He also commented on what it means for him to coach Argentina at the World Cup:
“Representing my country at a World Cup is something special in my life. I will try to live it with a lot of intensity and to make the best decisions. Putting together the team, we first have to take into consideration the form, which were very similar.”