Cristian PAVON set to start for Argentina against Croatia


The match against Iceland brought nothing but headaches to Jorge SAMPAOLI and his Argentina team and it now appears as though the coach is set to go with a completely different starting eleven on Thursday.

As we reported on Monday, SAMPAOLI is reportedly thinking of changing the line-up against Croatia and if reports are to be believed, Cristian PAVON would certainly be coming in for Angel DI MARIA. Per TyC Sports, here’s the line-up which we could see on Thursday:


On paper, this would be more of a 3-4-3 with SALVIO and ACUNA in midfield acting as potential wingbacks. Gabriel MERCADO would slot in the three man back line in place of Marcos ROJO, it would be one of Maxi MEZA or Enzo PEREZ in midfield and Cristian PAVON comes in for DI MARIA.


  1. Argentina must win this game.i wish this team evolve with the matches.players need to play for this jersey.Sampaoli is not much tactically astute coach.we all see that against iceland.i hope mascherano and other seniors players help this coach for right tactics against Croatia. Media make this bald coach very famous but the reality is its the first time he got the superpower of world football like Argentina and after 1 complete year he still was not decided what’s he want from this team. Chile and Sevilla are minor things. if Sampaoli can’t make Argentina team world-class than I just have to say Maradona was correct when he don’t want Sampaoli to coach Argentina.

    • friend, simeone is more better than attacking sampaoli.
      Argentina always playing the football like turtles. suddenly if you are asking them to attacking play how can they play.
      1st sampaoli should guide U-19 youth team from there he has to exploit his tactics.
      he is not even managing the pressure.
      simeone is only person who can get back the Argentina football.
      but he wont come now because of messI & Co. if they are all announced their retirement he will come back.

  2. I’ll give my best XI
    formation 3-4-3

    fazio was able to stop GOAT in ucl
    celso,pavon and dybala for energy that argentina is lacking.
    3-4-3 is a attacking formation.its weak in defense.Attacking is what argentina has only to offer.We want to exploit that attack.Argentinas attack is superfluous.

  3. I think it should be Perez instead of Meza. Attack will be Salvio-Messi-Aguero-Acuna-Pavon. There would be inbalance if Meza is placed instead of Enzo.

    This formation is risky when we’re robbed before reaching center line because we have only 3 at the back and a straight line at center. There’s so many spaces to be exploited.

    If it is a normal attack the formation could change to 5-2-2-1.. with Salvio and Acuna moving back with Messi, Pavon and Aguero ready for counter, but it’s the counter that will bring doubts.

  4. Lo celso must be in the starting line up otherwise argentina won’t be winning the match.I can write this on the paper.Messi will be man marked by croatians again so we need another man for creating chances.So no celso no victory for albicelestes.Mark my words.After seeing this line up,I can see there is no proper attacking midfielder.

    • Lo Celso is for balancing the team, in PSG he’s not attacking role, something in between busquets and xavi in Barca.

      But I agree he should get a chance than Perez, or switch Perez if his performance turns doubtful.

      • Hes actually an atracking mid fielder lo celso played as an attackig mid for Rosario Central before his transfer to PSG at PSG he is more of a CM but he is not a great defender his skill set is to make offensive plays

  5. Have faith, people! The game against Iceland was not a disaster. Iceland are a better defensive team than most in the tournament. Very organized. We will incur greater chaos on Croatia. Both possible lineups include players with high work-rate and physicality. The layered attack will give us options. Nigeria was able to move with pace up the field but lacked the skill to create chances. We are not so one dimensional. If we struggle for long then I believe Lo Celso will come on and possibly Dybala as well.

  6. Why sampaoli not selected LO CELSO yet?????
    I still can’t think of any valid reasons……

    No good CM means…..Messi will have to drop deep as Iceland game…….

    Other player will be watching Messi magic being static……

    Anyone can give me good logic on this????

  7. In a 3-4-3, I don’t think putting Pavon would work. Well, at least not as a forward but maybe as a wingback to make overlapping runs. The midfield will be crowded with 4 in the middle and Messi dropping back, meaning up front will only be Aguero and Pavon. Pavon is better used as a winger, and in a 3-4–3 he’ll be pretty uncomfortable.
    Dybala should be the guy to start! 3-4-3 is the only way Messi and Dybala can play with each other, and they NEED to start if we have ANY chance of winning the WC! I hope that if Pavon isn’t working out, which might happen considering 3-4-3 is something he isn’t accustomed to, that he bring Dybala on and he either score or assist someone to convince the manager to start him! Other wise, seems like a pretty good lineup! Vamos Argentina!!!!!

      • They will play a 3-4-1-2 with Messi in the middle of the Park to provide service to Aguero and Pavon. Pavon has got speed but in a case like that his speed wouldn’t be utilized to its fullest. I would rather a 3-4-2-1 like Belgium does but instead Messi and Dybala taking over the “free role” to push up to attack but also to drop back and help buildup. People say we need 10 Messi’s to do something… well we have 1, but we also have another Messi in the making, so play them both to better our chances!

  8. A 3 man backline was a failed experiment that Sampaoli dropped yet here he is going back to the same well (like he did with Rojo and the double pivot) sigh.
    This line up is very similar to the one that beat Ecuador 3-1 with 4 changes: Tagliafico for Masch, Masch for Biglia, Pavon for Maria and Kun for Beneditto, in other words this is a better line up, this however does not mean that it’s a good line up because the Ecuador game was won by lio messi.
    The choice between Enzo and Meza is an interesting one and both have pros and cons. Enzo is a capable player who has proven that he can deliver under pressure by driving the ball forward, defending diligently in high altitude (meaning at 32 he’s still has alot of stamina) and ofcourse he connected very well with Lio. Add to all this the fact that Enzo has considerable WC experience. The only problem I see with Enzo is his primera form with River, but then again River were awful as a whole (save the last 6 games or so) so it can’t be all held against him.
    As for Meza, well like Gonzalo said Meza is very capable at playing DM, infact his best games for independiate were when he played in that position. He’s also young, athletic and is very apt at driving the ball forward. The big negative against him is his lack of experience and his underwhelming game against Iceland.
    Personally speaking I would go with this line up:





    I would like to note that I really hate the idea of a 3 man backline but since this is what baldie is going with i’ll have to work with it.
    I know that Kun isn’t there but to be honest who needs any striker if lio is there getting service. Meza and pavon will play the dual role of creating space for messi and pressing high up the midfield no to mention tracking back when the team is under attack. Meza disappointed in the last game (likely due to first game jitters) so if he doesn’t get his act together quickly he needs to get replaced ASAP by Salvio.
    Masch made me eat crow (very glad that he did) but I feel that Enzo and Celso -who are both CM by trade- are far more suitable for this formation and since Argentina will be defending with 9 there is less of a need to feature a DM.
    Finally I don’t for the love of me understand why Sampaoli isn’t using Ansaldi, he’d be perfect for such a line up because he’s considerably better than Salvio at defending and according to the last game he played (against non other than Croatia) he connected beautifully with Messi.
    Lastly regarding Dimaria, I know he’s been stinking up the joint for a while now but I think he’d be a great asset as a supersub, because now that he’s lost his place in the NT (for the first time since 2011!) he’s gonna be extra motivated to regain said place (like he did when he lost his place with Real and PSG) and his pace against a tired defense in the last 20 min or so could prove to be a game changer.

    • Enzo returned home after playing for Valencia in Spain. May be there wasn’t enough incentive for him at river to break his back but every time he was called up for national team we saw a complete different Enzo. I would like to give Meza one more chance and if he doesn’t seem to make things happen then replace him with Enzo or Locelso immediately after 1st half. I would have picked Enzo over Mascherano but after last game against Iceland Nope. Masche is a must. Our vulnerable defense needs Masche. However I like the new defense lineup gives more sense of security than having Rojo!!

      • May be Sampaoli doesn’t want to risk by playing Armani for this kind of game. Some players aren’t mentally strong or they don’t have the character to right away step into the starting XI in a do or die game. Armani could pull a Loris Karios in champions league final. But again if he has the character and head he could be Goycochea for us!!

    • Mamoun with all respect, I have different opinion here.
      For me Aguero is second only to Messi when fit and in form. He would have been in top3 of ballondor list last few years if it was not his recurring injury problem.
      As Pep said Argentina have chance if Kun is fit and has a good world cup. Pep knows Messi better than anyone. Still he said this.
      Apart from his injury issue he has another negative, his laziness. I hope he plays alive and Argentina wins the WC.
      I would prefer,
      And Dybala coming as super sub anywhere in those positions.

      • Fair enough and that’s what WILL happen so have no fear, I dropped kun simply because I wanted 9 players pressing at all times during the game ensuring far greater defensive stability while not compromising the attack.
        Also this gives Kun an even greater time to recover fully because a fit kun is a lethal kun.

  9. At last! Some good news at last! Hope we translate this onto the pitch in 2 days time!
    Please don’t fuck up players, this is our chance!
    Vamos Argentina!

  10. I remember in world cup 2002, after we lost to England in the second match, Bielsa changed our formation totally, then we drew 1-1 with sweden and we were out of the world cup.

    People say Sampaoli and Bielsa are similar, now i understand.

    • The difference is, one team has Messi the other hasn’t.
      The strikers in the team were all out of form and we depended on an aging Batistuta for goals.
      We have Messi still in his prime.
      Plus that team was panned for being too “defensive” in approach as well.
      Bielsa might have been a master tactician, but there has to be a reason why that didn’t translate into big trophies
      Bielsa’s student has won a continental trophy and took Chile to its highest world cup finish, what has he done?

  11. I dont understand why so many of u are ok or even happy with this new lineup.

    We practiced the formation against iceland for 6 days before the iceland match with the same 11 players and now we are bringing in 3 new players with a totally different formation, can the players adapt to the new formation and new teammates in a few days?

    We are not playing football video games where we can change formation and players any time without affecting the team, dont forget this is real life football!

    Sampaoli! Please wake up!

    Btw, i dont think Tagliafico can play in that position too.

    I am so worry…

      • We are taking risk, for me Di Maria played badly against Haiti, but he played well against iceland.

        We just have to replace Biglia with Lo Celso, use back the same formation and we are good to go. Why we still testing out new formation at this stage?

  12. It seems Colombia will also move to other bracket. If Argentina drew against Croatia, Argentina will also move to that bracket. Then it will be almost all biggies in one bracket and all small teams in another. One of Spain/Portugal may go to that easy bracket. Everything is going on Ronaldo’s way..?
    I have a feeling that Argentina will play the final if we beat Croatia with ease. The momentum starts from there and a lucky path waiting..?

    • I have this same feeling Portugal might win this World Cup, not because they have the greatest team at the World Cup but because everything always seems to set up perfectly in Ronaldo favor. Portugal while not talented as many of the other World Cup teams this year are tough mentally. As I said before, Portugal and Uruguay are too of the most awkward teams to play against in knockout games. You will see a team dominating Portugal yet for some reason they hang around and never go away until the result favor them. Hopefully Iran knock them out. Colombia won’t make the round of 16 after arguably losing to the weakest team in their group.

      • Same feeling. I think Iran will do everything to beat or hold Portugal. Better let Portugal draw all the matches and out in group stage. Possible. They will be hard to beat in KO. Iran and Morocco are tough teams to beat as they are defensive minded. An early goal will decide the tie.

        • This is one of the reason I want Germany to survive the group stage. I would rather see Germany repeating than Portugal or Brazil winning the world cup. To have both Mexico and Sweden progress from the group stage would be way too weak for the knockouts. It would guarantee one of Sweden/Switzerland/Serbia making it to the quarterfinals.

  13. I will say that once more: it is not 3 man defence instead of 4 man defence. Here is one CB more, it’s 3, + fullbacks – Salvio, Acuna – but they’re supposed to be more elastic and mobile, taking roles of midfielders too. WHoever will play Mascherano partner Meza or Enzo it still looks better defensively. Both Meza and Enzo are more active on destruction than Biglia.

  14. I don’t mind any player but just keep the coward DI MARIA out of the team. This guy is so poor that he can’t make one accurate pass, rotten attitude and weak fitness and physical capacity. The funny thing he was given number 11, now that was a joke. Last game everyone did their job in my opinion except these three:
    Di Maria
    Caballero (Worst goalie in the this tournament)

  15. No Di Maria to blame, no Banega to blame, no Higuain to blame, no Rojo to blame and no Biglia to blame. Let’s see whose fault will it be against Croatia after the game..Ding, ding, ding: Mascherano, so predictable!

    • whom to blame? How about the player(s) who actually performs poorly! In regards to Dimaria, rojo, pipita, biglia and banega they all got a lot of flack from us because they DESERVED IT! They all stank up the joint in recent times with Dimaria, Rojo and Biglia doing so just 3 days ago! So please kid don’t make it sound like we have some sort of a vendetta against them.

  16. Today Meza is better in destruction than Enzo but less experienced. Enzo is not 28 when he was at his peak. It’s good he was taken instead of Lanzini but still he was not chosen primarly. Meza is more aggresive if you will give him defensive duties, will offer more pressing. The last game of Enzo, against Nigeria,, along with Lo Celso and Banega was not good. Enzo today is not guarantee of good defending. May do good but really I’m not sure about. Meza deserves second chance. But even without him I like the line up if it really without Di Maria and with Pavon, Acuna.

  17. Mohammad Mobin(Bangladesh) June 19, 2018 at 12:12 am

    ”’kidulthood I think you are running with mental problem.before wc you said argentina need black players like france. sometimes you admired sampaoli or sometimes blamed.somedays ago you said argentina have potential to win wc.every time you post big composition.please don’t quarrell with your ownself.”

    Before you start a conversation for the first time at least try to be polite man. This is the reason the administrator banned the 2018 guy, as soon as he left I came back.

    Nothing wrong with me saying Argentina needed black players, almost all country in the 21st century have black players representing them in some form of sport event. Look at the overwhelming Caucasian Nordic European countries like Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden you will find black players on their national football teams and on their track and field teams. Switzerland have several black players on their roster which helped them neutralize Brazil athleticism the other day.

    I know why you bring this up man, Asian have their history with he R word. But let’s just leave it at that.

    I’m an optimistic guy when it comes to Argentina so going into the 2018 world cup I was very supportive of Sampaoli when he made the right moves and do the right things and even after the game against Spain I was still supportive of Sampaoli.

    After watching several of these World Cup games, the reality today is that the European teams are stepping up at the 2018 world cup just as how all the Latin teams were doing well at the 2014 world cup except for Ecuador and Honduras. Even a blind man can see this trajectory taking place at this year world cup with the European teams. The only European team to disappoint thus far is the defending Champion Germany!

    Sampaoli today is doing the same things he was doing against Singapore, I mean, this was like is second game as head coach and it seems like Argentina is back at square one and you want me to come here and pretend all is well with the team? Argentina don’t have a team right now just 23 individual players.

    Everyone said Russia was the worst ranked team heading into the world cup who didn’t win a single pre world cup warm up game yet their coach put together a working team for the opening game. If Argentina had played against the same Saudi Arabia who Russia defeated soundly they would have struggled to win that game too.

    As I said before here, if Argentina need to win this world cup the players will have to play out of their skin. As of today though, a European team will win the world cup but hopefully Argentina prove me wrong.

  18. Although this is a much better line up than the one that faced Iceland, I am still terrified of the 3 man defense with Tagliafico. Has he played in this position before?

    I am still worried we don’t have any creativity in the midfield. I wish we would try the 4-2-3-1 with Masche & Lo celso in the midfield. With Meza – Messi – Pavon in front of them & Aguero up top.

    I rewatched the Croatia game, and I actually think they are a very beatable team. Their first shot on target came on the 71st minute (and it was a PK)

    • Three centers back on paper but it’s really a 5 back line. Croatia doesn’t have the ability to pay wings due to the lack of speed, this will be a battle for the MF, Meza will be more suitable cause of his one two run and pace, my worries is Messi have an habit to pass to players he trusts.

  19. again there is no difference vs Iceland. sampaoli is tightening defence he don’t want to go for CM. that role messi will take care. if goalkeeper is not good that also messi will take care. all the AFA managers are chanting messi messi. then why did you select 23 players. messi alone destroy crotia he alone take world cup he no need of 10 players because of messi can do everything.
    I am requesting all talented Argentina U19 players please move to other country like France, denmark, Poland you will get a chance to play on 2022 world cup. if you been here you never get a chance and spoil your career because of messi and corrupted AFA

  20. I dont think 3 man defence will be good.

    Armani should replace shaky Caballero… Mercado for Salvio… Lo celso for biglia… Pavon for dimaria…

    in 2nd half… if meza cant do anything… try to introduce dybala to replace meza

  21. Enzo Perez is good choise, he always plays well in important matches. I’m very suspicious about Salvio and Acuna. And there isn’t place for Lo Celso. Glad to see Pavon as a starter. Armani spent almost whole his career in Colombia and I don’t trust him. Playing good for River for few months isn’t a big deal.

    • Guzman though. If Caballero fucks up again in this match then Armani surely has to get a game. Pronto. His goalkeeping sometimes even reminds me of Karius.
      That said, even the best keeper De Gea had blunders against Portugal, so Caba bashing is not a big deal.

  22. We have enough runners and wingers on the flank. That’s helpful for creating more space for Leo. But, we really need a CM to pass the ball forward to Messi. Otherwise, Messi will drop too deep and the wingers will make no effective runs. I am not sure if Enzo can play this role, but I think Lo Celso is the best solution. Banega is too slow.

  23. Why not try Armani ? 3 back line why not Fazio given his height and whenever he plays we win. Croatia will attack from air and i hope we have the players that can jump high to stop them. Looks like all teams from South America are struggling in the first round. This is a must NOT lose game for us, winning would make things much easier but even a draw will keep us alive but then we will be left with beating Nigeria with a 2 plus margin, so there is no option. Its a MUST win game. Even if we won the game against Iceland this would have been a must win as it would have secured our place in the next round. I hope Messi has a great day in the office, also with his free kicks, he was out of touch against Iceland even for his kicks. Whatever 11 we have, they will have to play their heart and brains out. Lets hope we have positive things to discuss after this match.
    Mercado Otamendi Fazio
    Salvio Enzo Mascherano Acuna
    Messi Pavon

    • Argentina still need Lo Celso, he is the best central midfielder, but I’m glad for Enzo Perez. He always plays well in the most important matches.

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