Argentina’s Jorge SAMPAOLI and Javier MASCHERANO work on strategy


The Argentina squad including Jorge SAMPAOLI went into their last practice session at their base camp in Bronnitsy before the match against Nigeria. The atmosphere during the entire session did look calm as both Javier MASCHERANO and Lucas BIGLIA have dismissed reports about the widespread turmoil behind the scenes during yesterday’s press conference.

However, the most talked about moments during this session was when MASCHERANO was seen discussing over SAMPAOLI’s notes.

There will be some changes to the starting line up compared to what was reported earlier. Argentine sports media Ole has mentioned that Gabriel MERCADO will replace Eduardo SALVIO in right back. Marcos ROJO will then come into partner Nicolas OTAMENDI.

Thus, this will be the likely line up to face Nigeria on Tuesday.

Franco ARMANI; Gabriel MERCADO, Nicolás OTAMENDI, Marcos ROJO, Nicolás TAGLIAFICO; Enzo PEREZ, Javier MASCHERANO, Ever BANEGA, Angel DI MARIA; Lionel MESSI and Gonzalo HIGUAIN.

Meanwhile, the entire team has safely arrived in St. Petersburg, the city which will host their last group match.


  1. I wrote here the other day about my brother.

    He is a huge Brazil/Cristiano Ronaldo /Real Madrid/Arsenal fan.

    He saw Pavon for the first time playing last week and didn’t even know him. He asked me why he isn’t always played by the coach. I had no answer for him.

    I am ARgentina/lionel Messi/Barcelona Man United fan. We are polar opposites.

    We don’t see eye to eye in football but he gave a lot of high marks to Pavon. He had not even heard of him.

    I think this guy should have started but regardless, I hope we do a great job tomorrow.

    Finally, it matters not what Croatia does.

    If we win something like 2-0 or 3-0, I think we’ll be home and dry.

    I don’t care whom we face in the R of 16.

    It could be France, DEnmark, England or even Spain. I don’t care.

    If we win here on Tuesday, WE’LL BE WITH IT!

    All the best ARgentina.

  2. You know what,
    Play well against Nigeria , we want to see the real argentina.
    One of our brothers have suicided because of Argentina’s worst performances.
    Just do it atleast for him.

  3. 5 knockout matches for Argentina if they want to lift the cup. Tomorrow is the first of it. We need to forget what has happened so far and start completely afresh. I am still skeptical about the team.
    1. For me the defense needs to include Fazio. He is excellent with set pieces which is a weakness for Nigeria. He might not have the pace but his defense and game sense has been outstanding for Roma this year.
    2. Need to use Rojo as left back and never as a central defender. He has the ability to score which he showed in the last world cup
    3. Perez should be no where near the starting eleven
    4. Ansaldi instead of Mercado. Mercado has had a horrible season with Sevilla. Ansaldi though is not a right back, he cannot be worse than Mercado. He has more pace than Mercado and is better defensively

    I would go with

    Ansaldi Otamendi Fazio Rojo
    Mascherano Banega
    Dybala Messi DiMaria

    My take is we need to convert from set pieces and for that Otamendi, Fazio and Rojo are must. Rojo has pace and much more experience than Taglifico. We also need folks who can score from outside the box. With Messi, Dybala and Banega the options increase multi-fold considering that Nigeria provides space. Hope sense prevails and we have the will to bounce back.

    World Cup starts now!!

  4. Argentina have last chance.if they don’t beat Nigeria then Afa must make a clear program for future. Messi and others Senior players have last chance.Plz. Show the Pride for this Albiceleste Shirt.

  5. By the way all squad players would want to prove their worth at any opportunity and especially at a world cup.
    So if you feel Croatia will field a weak team, remember it will be those selected that would do themselves no good in throwing the game or not exerting themselves against Iceland.
    Any opportunity will be seen as a chance to prove their worth and try to break into the 1st eleven.
    As a result, Croatia will do their utmost to avoid defeat regardless of selection.
    We just bloody need to do our fucking job and win.😬

    • Really man i think that croatia with this eleven is offering the qualification to iceland on a plateau
      But our team will win and advance to the next round

  6. Mascherano – there sits the next albiceleste coach.
    And why not, seen as Pep and many of his team mates past and present say he is an intelligent footballer.
    Certain clubs and nations have taken that leap blindingly on past players with little to no managerial experience. Why don’t we. Instead of chasing the likes of Simeone or Pochettino.
    Simeone would destroy the little argentine ethos we have left. He just reminds me of the billardismo school.
    The inevitable is close by for our team. Sampaoli stays or goes,Mascherano should consider joining the selection and eventually take over.
    I would very much like to see a hungry and intelligent man like Mascherano lead us into Qatar 2022.

    • He’s known as a great leader. Even in Barcelona when they had the likes of Puyol, Xavi he had established himself as a leader coming from outside the system. But coaching, formations, intelligence etc. I am not sure, and if he has a hand in these formations, then I doubt even more so.

  7. Very happy with the 4 man backline and Masche-Enzo pair in front of it. I hope Sampaoli will make his substitutions early in the second half and get it right. Aguero to score twice in the second half. Vamos Argentina!!

  8. Croatia probable line up:

    Lovre Kalinic – Tin Jedvaj, Vedran Ćorluka, Duje Ćaleta-Car, Josip Pivarić – Filip Bradarić, Milan Badelj – Marko Pjaca, Mateo Kovačić, Ivan Perišić – Andrej Kramarić.

    Midfield and upfront they are still good, but in the back, only Jedvaj and Corluka are good. The other 2 are questionable.

    Btw, it is 10 changes except Perisic.

    I don’t think the squad looks that bad. Kovacic and Kramaric must want to prove his worth.

  9. My last wish for the Sampaoli selections is stop starting and playing Di Maria, Perez and Higuain . If Albiceleste really want to win against Nigeria then Lo Celso, Pavon and Dybala deserved their place in starting XI rather than Di Maria, Perez and Higuain. Anyhow Sampa, Tapia and Masche knows better than us.

    Keep fighting till the end. Play beautiful farewell game.

  10. Can we stop posting line ups please? the line up for the match is up there on the top, and Nigeria is in a comfortable position seeing this dinosaur line up.

  11. Serious question for the people that follow all the press conferences closely… Has Sampaoli give a legitimate or tactical reason why Lo Celso starred in the starting 11 in all the friendlies and training leading up to the WC but has been completely ignored since? I am just curious. Is he that inept defensively?? It can’t be that. To completely ignore someone who has been our best midfielder in the last 2/3 months seems kind of strange.

  12. I was looking for the training it seems that lio still in his bad cloud hope that tomorrow he will be the real messi.
    It s our schizophrenia s cup we all love argentina but nobody does for this current team
    We all like messi but nobody does for that messi
    I just hope to win tomorrow by 2 or 3 goals i have feeling that croatia will sell the game tomorrow
    If we pass this round france is n t that good we could beat them and i really hope to see portugal on 1/4 messi will certainly destroy ronaldo for shaking his chin let s hope we will regain our self confidence
    Vamos argentina we still could do that

  13. Argentina should target a 2-0 victory. Going all-out attack by targeting more goals might leave our defense open. Nigeria is a good team.

    I don’t think Iceland will beat Croatia. Croatia will like to avoid france.

        • The problem is Dybala can’t play on the left and we know Messi can play anywhere except left forward. Dybala can play only right forward or number 9.

          But we have never tested him at all, not even one game with him as number 9 and this is a very important match. So it is wise not to experiment at all.

          I am happy if Mercado will start instead of Salvio. Salvio defensive positioning is super awful, which is understandable since he is a right midfielder originally, not right back.

          I believe Croatia Iceland will be a draw. It is now just up to us.

          • I thought Dybala has played on left CAM role for Juventus…I dont follow them much, but seen quite a few matches where it seemed like hee was roaming around the LAM area and even drilling goals from there.

          • @el_principe,
            Sampaoli never tried Dybala and Messi in training. Yet some people want Dybala to start with Messi. Kun played very well as a starter. I don’t know why we should try Dybala instead of Kun as a starter.

          • Dybala instead of Kun mate. Nothing above states that.

            Diego Messi June 25, 2018 at 11:16 am
            For me Kun should be starter no 2 currently. And thats why I more shocked by the team being talked about. And more frustrating because again here it seems there has been some internal rift and that is what has caused Kun his place. Samp, Messi need to step in if required and set it straight, Kun should start. Make him apologise in case he overstepped the line.

          • @Diego Messi,
            Messi-Aguero-Dybala would be extremely narrow. We need width to stretch the defence. Maybe, in the second half if we need to load the box with two strikers, Aguero and Dybala can play with Messi deeper.

        • For me Kun should be starter no 2 currently. And thats why I more shocked by the team being talked about. And more frustrating because again here it seems there has been some internal rift and that is what has caused Kun his place. Samp, Messi need to step in if required and set it straight, Kun should start. Make him apologise in case he overstepped the line.

  14. Banega I’m actually a fan of. He’s no Iniesta but he’s consistent at his task! Honestly, the only thing I would change would be to move Di Maria to Enzo’s spot and have Dybala take Di Maria’s in attack!
    Also, have Fazio in for Rojo and that’s about it!
    Oh, and uhhh Aguero for Higuain!

    Di Maria-Mascherano-Banega

    Thereyou got the best team we have!
    Vamos Argentina! We’ve been gifted a golden chance to go through! Who else can say they have the same luck as we do?
    It’s Messi’s year, it’s Argentina’s time!!!
    If we beat Nigeria, then france, ppl can start dreaming again!!!
    Vamos Argentina!!!

    Now that we have a decent keeper we’ll probably not concede to much now!! Just need the right CB pairing!
    And we need MAD (Messi, Aguero, Dybala) to play at some stage of the game!

    Vamos Argentina!!!

  15. You can discuss whatever you wish. End of the day, those selected passionless players are not ready to change their Mentality. Mascheranho himself was not any less problem in midfield.
    The problem, can’t be changed
    Slow movement both on and off the ball,
    physically very weak,
    Get tired in 20/30 minutes,
    Smartlessness in both boxes

  16. Line up still lacks creativity this is the final game we should go all in and put a.more aggressive 11 who will create chances with Perez and masche in the middle? We need at least 3 zero to guarantee qualification

  17. Hello.
    Argentina hasn’t won anything for so long.
    I really don’t want to see a group stage exit.

    Armani is starting – good sign.
    I thought Acuna was good last match. At least he was trying. A lot of the senior players were like walking on the park.

    What I don’t get is why can’t Higuain + Aguero, or Dybala+Aguero play together?
    Messi is first a creative player, and a goal-scorer later. Messi and Di Maria/Pavon should play from slightly behind or on the wings

    I will play 4-2-2-2
    4 good defenders
    Mascherano, Lo Celso/Banega/Acuna
    Messi, Di Maria/Pavon
    Aguero, Dybala/Higuain

      • HA HA HA HA HA HA!


        I am Kenyan and if Argentina were to borrow anything from us, it has to be the BIG FIVE!
        1. Elephant
        2. Buffalo
        3. Lion
        4. Leopard
        5. Rhino

        If Kenya were to loan…….or even give for free……sportsmen to Argentina or any other nation, it would have to be;

        1. Marathon runners (we have more than we know what to do with them……it is like Argentinean strikers).
        2. 3000m steeplechase runners (both male and female).

        Defenders from Kenya?

        I wish we had them.

        We are usually grouped together with Nigeria in AFCON or World Cup qualifiers and we always suffer 3-0 EVERY TIME!

        Nigeria is an African giant.

        That said, I hope they lose on Tuesday.

        Go ARgentina!

  18. All Argentinean fans deserve a statement from Sampaoli regarding why he is not playing Lo Celso. Simply unacceptable given he was used in all friendlies leading up to the WC.
    Sampaoli justified why he dropped Dybala at the time saying he’s incompatible with messi. Although the justification is weak as shit, at least we can see there’s some rationale put behind it.
    Lo Celso’s exclusion is abnormal

  19. I agree that Mascherano and banega seem slow compared to the Nigerians who are fast in themselves. I would also trade Mascherano with Lo Celso and Banega with Dybala. Still, I generally prefer Pipita than Kun, who always gave me the impression that plays more for himself than for the team. Could be wrong of course.

    Vik also has a point on Rojo. Unfortunately, whenever there is a mistake in the defense he seems to be in it.

    In any case and despite all predictions, and our admitedly bad team condition, I believe we can win this as long as we put up a real fight in the field. If Iceland does not win Croatia or what we will do (if we pass_ when we play France is a whole different story.

    • Agree with all except Higuain. The best strikers play for themselves. Does not make them a bad player for the team. Their job is score. Would prefer selfish Aguero to team player habitual bungler HIguain.

  20. the game is belongs to Nigeria tomorrow if enzo and rojo there. still there is no midfield creativity. if ARG did any mistake by backpass they will bypass your whole back.

    they are eager to win the match at any cost.

    if Argentina won tomorrow then the cup will come our way.

  21. I’m quite ok with the team, may be Lo Celso for Banega or Enzo would be great. However, this team is still better than the previous 2. Now give us some football please, and yeah a few goals, definitely at their end.

  22. Perez has proven he neither brings creativity or solidity…in fact he can miss sitters….Higuain’s trophies of faliure dont need pointing at, and yet this is what we get. Starting both Masch and Banega is risky because both are slow and Nigerians are fast. Dybala can do what Banega does. I think Samp, Arg, Masch, Messi have found the three worst teams they could have come up with for the three games. Please dont go with another shambolic starting 11. So difficult to understand Argentina. Squad selection seems to be a product of ego, favourism etc. Messi better put on his leader’s hat for this one and set the team straight. He has the authority. He better lay down the best team. He under performs even in Barcelona with formations with limited creativity and this is what he’s getting in to third straight time. Dybala tasted the field last game. He will be likely less nervous. Time to get your stars on the pitch. Get on with it Messi, Samp, Masch. This midfield will be easily trumped by Nigeria. And the defence is definitely porous enough to give goals. So, Argentina better plan to outscore while winning the midfield battle by quick transition and passing. None of that in this team. No, Messi, Samp, Masch are wrong here. And they been wrong again and again, despite obvious shortcomings.

  23. Omg how cruel newspaper can be. Only thing you can possibly see from it that messi has problems with his wife, sampa is death and burried, pavon hited masche, and so on and so on…. i am not sure why is this so often when arg is playing but its redicolous and surly bad for us

  24. The Nigerians are Fast. It will be interesting to see how our back line will cope with that, Mercado will definitely assure defensive stability but now Rojo comes in the Center that’s a disaster in waiting, Fazio is not selected may be because he is slow. We will see whether any miracles will happen tomorrow or not. As of now we are in a Box.

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