Rodrigo de Paul talks Argentina team, Messi, more: “I’d go to war for Messi if he asked me to”

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Rodrigo de Paul has been continuously called up by Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni to the national team and spoke about it all.

De Paul made his Argentina debut two years ago and has since become a main stay in the team. Playing at the Copa America and selected by coach Lionel Scaloni for next month’s World Cup qualifiers, here’s part of his interview with FIFA where he talked about it.

Speaking of the national team, what’s your earliest memory of the World Cup?

“The 1998 edition! It seems unbelievable because I was only four years old, but I wanted to play like my two brothers. At the local club there was no team for my age group, so I played with a side two categories higher, and they stuck me in goal.

“That’s when they started calling me Lechuga [the nickname of then Argentina goalkeeper Carlos Roa]. I was even given a replica of the purple jersey he used to wear at the time.”

As a fan, how has your experience of the World Cups been?

“It’s changed as I’ve got older. I remember getting up early to watch the games in 2002 and the bitter feeling after the Sweden game. When Germany knocked us out in 2006, I was at school.

“The most recent ones I suffered with friends, who are all into football. Russia 2018 was a bit harder to take as I had friends in the squad like [Nicolas] Otamendi and [Paulo] Dybala.”

There was some talk about you even making the squad for Russia. Did you get excited about the prospect?

“No. When you get to this level, you know that, with very few exceptions, it’s rare to be called up for a tournament if you’ve not been involved in qualifying. And I hadn’t even made my national team debut at that point. So I didn’t want to get excited.

“I’d already been mentioned for a possible place in the squad for the [2016] Olympics, and when it didn’t happen, it hurt a lot.”

How did you find out about your first call-up in September 2018?

“The sporting director of Udinese, who knew Walter Samuel from his Roma days, told me he was going to call me. I thought he was going to tell me that they were monitoring me, but when he confirmed I was in the squad, it was very emotional. Even I didn’t realise the magnitude of what had happened until I was on the pitch listening to the national anthem. That’s when it really hit me.”

You quickly became one of the faces of the next-generation Argentina team, on and off the pitch.

“I don’t know if I’d call us the new team. For me, we’re part of the team in this moment in time. And after the impact of being called up and playing, of fulfilling a dream, what you feel is a sense of responsibility. It’s no joke representing 45 million Argentinians. Luckily, we did well at the Copa America, even if we didn’t win the title. Yes we lost in the semi-finals to Brazil, but the fans RECOGNIZED what we did all the same.”

Is it difficult to have to listen to some people question Scaloni for his lack of experience?

“He may lack experience as a head coach, but he has 30 years’ experience of the dressing room. He understands how groups work, knows his trade, came up through the national youth teams, played at a World Cup… Like Samuel, [Roberto] Ayala and [Pablo] Aimar, they know the FA’s headquarters better than we do!

“I don’t know how many people would have had the determination to implement the changes he made or to call up players not among the top teams in world football.”

The team seemed to click as a group at the Copa America. Would you agree?

“The team that was selected there is the best group I’ve ever been part of. It started to come together with the coaching staff and began incorporating more and more things: players, concepts, moments… The key thing is that everyone knows what they’re expected to do, nobody is trying to hog the headlines. The only untouchable one is Leo. The rest of us contribute by doing whatever is asked of us.”

Talking of Messi, he has spoken highly of you. How does that feel?

“You look up to him obviously, but when you start sharing things with him, he is so transparent that, instead of telling him what you think of him, you feel more like asking him about his little kids or of reminding him of the time he took you out with his studs up in a Valencia-Barcelona game (laughs). When he becomes your captain, you’d go to war for him if he asked you to.”

Do you think the pandemic disrupted the momentum you would have been carrying into the qualifiers?

“Absolutely. The Brazil game ended one run, but then we played seven games without being beaten. While for many in the squad, this will be the first time playing World Cup qualifiers, we’ve had plenty of discussions about it and we’re well aware of the magnitude of what we’re heading into. Hopefully, we can start in October and get the first game behind us.”

81 Comments

  1. G. Montiel
    Strengths-Very smooth passer of the ball, good in crosses and in overlapping runs, good reader of the game, generally makes clear tackles,does not make unnecessary fouls,rarely lose the ball, good posseser of the ball,decent speed,good acceleration.
    Weaknesses- Not a speedester but decent speed, do not know either he can track back in counter attacking game.

  2. Dimaria is the best player after Messi in Argentina football team. But problem is he was never used properly by our managers. He should play as playmaker or right side of the field.

    • Doubting LoCelso means…those people being a Sampoli. If Mourinho trust him…almost every coach in the world will trust. Our best MF. I rate him above Paredes and Depaul.
      He had different role in Betis..he performed.
      He has different role in Tottenham..hes performing.
      He has different role in NT. I am sure he will succeed.

  3. Rodigo Depaul my favourite player in the national team. Always gives 100% for the team. He is the best midfielder in the current squad. I had very high hopes for Locelso. But i dont see any improvement from him. Barco is much better than him. I hope barco to recive a call up from nation team very soon.

        • Number of times we discussed how much he given for NT. Watch WC 2014 and 2018 again. Still think useless..?
          You can criticize him for not being consistent..yes even in same match but his class is above almost all Argentine except one or two.
          I too hate his inconsistency and Injury issues. But will never say..he is or was useless. That will be a bold lie.

    • Useless…!
      Still the best Argentine player after Messi. May be Alejandro has a say. He can play in first x1 in any club in the world. Many people hating him for no reason. Still on his best. You can avoid him..not calling him in the NT. But calling useless is something even haters won’t agree.

      • On his day for NT, Di Maria is no less than messi. Di Maria has knockout goals in wc which Messi till date don’t have.Big match player and beacuse of him we cameback against France out of no where.people who call him useless doesn’t understand football

    • No I wouldn’t say that, I think Angel can be very useful if coming off the bench or he can even start on the right if Lio is unavailable.
      I always say that the WCQ are a marathon and ‘all hands on deck’ should be the policy employed by the coach, meaning anyone and everyone who is able and is in form should be considered.

  4. I think we shouldnt take any risk with Depaul/Correa/Buendia as a RB. Montiel and Foyth are sufficient. And there is also Fabricio Bustos,who is a great attacking full back

  5. De Paul would excel as RM with Messi as RW and Montiel as RB … on the other hand we will Use Tagliafico as LB .. LoCelso as LM with Ocampos as LW Paredes in the middle as DM and Lautaro as number 9 … as CBs Martinez QUarta and N Perez … with Em Martinez as Gk…. we will give defense responsibilities to Paredes , De Paul , Ocampos and Locelso the all four are young and dynamic … so we will be defending with 8 players … in attack we will be attacking with at least five talented and offensive minded players … a balanced formation … we can substitute Lo celso with Guido Rodriguez or Lisandro Martinez as another DM in case we are up by 2 goals difference just to put more defensive balance … if we are behind in the scoresheet we will insert DYbala, Di Maria , Gomez , Aguero , Icadi , Macalister or Nico Gonzales ….. Di Maria can excel in playmaking role and not winger role …. our future stars that we have to work on would be : Thiago Almada , Ezquel Palacos , Barco , Benjamin Garre , Luka Romero , De la Vega ,Molina ,Balerdi , Medina , Correa , CRomero ……..have great moments … Vamos Arg ❤️❤️

  6. Jesus Navas played as a right winger for most of his career before switching very successfully to RB. There are other examples too: Florenzi, Jordi Alba, Alphonso Davies, etc.

    It can be done.

  7. Now Argentina’s hope lies on Foyth and on Montiel.Montiel has decent speed and smooth passer of the ball, good at crosses defensively little weak but attacking very good.

    • On the other hand, AC Milan are preparing the cash for financing the deal that German Pazzella joins them. Stefano Pioli coached Pazzella before at Fiorentina so I think he is the one pushing this transfer.

      • As much as I would like to see Quarta and Pezzella together in Fiorentina, I think he will simply be the replacement. Pioli is insisting on him and has hailed him as the ‘perfect’ partner for Romagnoli.
        Pezzella starting for Milan and Quarta starting for Fiorentina is not bad either

  8. Using Ocampos or Correa for the Wingback role will be a foolishness. They can’t defend like a defensive player. Yes may be they can track back and press but that’s not enough. Winning the ball back and clean tackle is not easy. Interception and clearance will not be easy as you think. Any mistake may lead to a goal.
    I hope Marcelo Herrera developed in to a great RB soon.

  9. I saw that you were discussing playing Messi and Gomez together, so I started toying with the idea of utilizing them. How about a 4-3-2-1 formation?

    ———Lautaro———
    ——Gomez–Messi——
    —Lo Celso–Paredes–De Paul—
    —Tagliafico–CB–CB–Montiel—
    ———GK———

    + Balanced formation in defense, midfield and attack
    + Provides the attacking midfielders (Gomez & Messi) with the most freedom in the system. They can provide width if needed
    + Central attacking and containment
    + Can easily change into 4-3-3 or 4-4-2

    – Provides no natural width. The attacking fullbacks (Tagliafico & Montiel) are given freedom of the flank
    – Like all narrow formations, it’s weak against teams using attacking fullbacks especially combined with wingers
    – A “Destroyer” type of CDM is preferred in this formation. Paredes is not that.

    I think it would be a good fit for playing Gomez and Messi together in their best positions as AMF/SS. Obviously, you need to pick this formation against the right opponent.

    What do you think?

    • Almost similar system we already have. Ocampos in the place of Gomez. It solidify the team and giving good balance. Gomez can be more attacking alternative to Ocampos.

    • 4-3-2-1 formation?

      ———Lautaro———
      ——Gomez–Messi——
      —Lo Celso–Paredes–De Paul—
      —Tagliafico–CB–CB–Montiel—
      ———GK———

      Is fantastic very balanced side

  10. May I suggest to test De Paul as right back. Will give us the same speed on the wing as Bayern and Liverpool.
    4 2 3 1 formation

    Martinez
    De Paul Quarta Pezzela Tagliafico
    Rodriguez. Paredes
    Messi Lo Celso Gomez
    Lautaro

    • I think ocampos would be a better option. Ocampos is a wing player through and through, and for Marseille he did play as a full back for some matches.

    • Was thinking same. We need to do something drastically different . Look at a right sided fast player with decent defensive traits. How about buendia ? Sergi Roberto was a midfielder. Anyway our right back supply line is so weak… Not sure how good is Marcelo Herrera or Franco Escobar … An alternate strategy being experimented is not a bad idea. I think sampoali was wanting to do same with salvio.

    • I think neither Depaul or Ocampos has potential to become a decent Rb. De paul is too slow and Ocampos is too static for a rb. I think Ocampos is not even a winger he can’t drive the ball forward directly he more like a 2nd striker who can show some skills and trickery to score and assists near the goal.
      I think Angel Correa can be tried as a Rb to see how does he perform in that position.

    • If you put De Paul as a RB, you lose his creativity in midfield and add an important defensive position to a player who never plays there.

  11. By the way, I didn’t see it mentioned today. El tucu correa was supposed to start today but he got injured in warm up and they dropped him just before start. Hopefully it is nothing serious to prevent him coming next week. Otherwise he will be third player lost.

    • I don’t know if it’s true or not but I heard that both Joaquin Correa and Marchesin are out due to injuries. If that’s true, will that open the door for Benitez or Scaloni will continue ignoring him no matter what?

    • There are rumours that he could still be sold to Juve in the coming days. Don’t know if the news is true, but could be a reason he was left out.

  12. Julian Alvarez today in probably the best performance of his professional career. I had always had a thought he is more of a system player (especially in gallardo’s machine) but today he make me think maybe not. Opening up the play everywhere, fantastic movement everywhere etc. lets see how his season grows.
    As mentioned in previous post, Montiel good in the attacking phase but to me he has not come back very strong in the defensive phase after restart. Letting players slip and ball watching sometimes. Hopefully he comes into form as he is usually tighter.
    Martinez Quarta in typical solid performance. If the TyC sports report is true (and I don’t believe it is) if Armani is indeed going to be started, I think they should just start with Montiel and Martinez Quarta back line as well for continuity.

    Racing and River go to knockout stage after todays performance.

    • Julian Alvarez is reason enough for Ghallardo to believe in other youngsters. Fereira can be tried as a left sided attacker instead of Suarez in the next match now that they have qualified.
      I am also excited about Santiago Simon, another right sided forward. Still with the reserves.

  13. Breaking….. Villareal looks all set to sign juan foyth from tottenham with both clubs only need to finalise whether to include an option to buy… official announcement expected soon….

    • fingers crossed bro with Foyth . The amount of transfer rumours around him have been massive. Villarreal had apparently closed deal with him last month also !!! Just hoping it goes through now else Foyth is really in a bad ship with no chances . Valencia & Fulham also looking for a CB. But Villarreal will be good for him with Unai Emery & he can gradually displace ageing Raul Albiol .
      Only issue is no really credible site has reported it. Also there is just 4 days left to complete deal as transfer window locks

  14. Rumour….. dinamo zagrebs bargaining for independiente defender alan franco has rewarded…… independiente looks finally to accept 4million euros bid from the croatian club….. earlier the club was holding out on francos 5 million value but things have changed by far…. deal finalisation to be expected soon…. reliability… 4/5

  15. de paul, ocampos, messi, taglifico, lautaro, paredes, martinez, gomez should never be taken out from the starting 11
    Gomez is like a fine wine…he keeps on improving each season

    • Gomez, Messi, Ocampos together may not be feasible. One model could be Messi & lautaro upfront & Gomez behind them. Ocampos can be a sub for Gomez & he moves to wing while Messi drops to the central hole then. Else it should be ocampos- lautaro- Messi. Anyway great selection headache to have considering dybala & aguero ( when fit) will also be there.

        • Somehow that looks the midfield will be compromised. Locelso, parades, DePaul should play. Then we can only accommodate 3 for attack. Not sure if Gomez on wing can have desired impact

  16. A classy, borderline world class player that Rodrigo De Paul. I taped the Udinese game today and while I haven’t watched it yet I saw the Whoscored score and it seems that he did well, so I’ll let you all know how he did.
    De Paul deserves to be in a CL playing team like Juv or Inter (or alteast Milan and Napoli) but sadly the pandemic put the brakes on Juve being able to pay his release clause and even worse Udinese screwed up big time by not accepting Inter’s 33 mill euro offer last season for him.
    Staying in Italy isn’t the worst thing in the world especially since he’d have to continue to fight better opposition ALL THE TIME but the kid deserves to be showing his stuff in the CL. Still, I have no doubt that he will become one of Argentina’s best midfielders of this coming decade if he continues at this trajectory.

    • I watched half of the game and he was easily the best player on the side. He would sit a bit deeper than the other attackers and constantly feed long calls and other passes. Good short attacking passes as well. Hope he goes somewhere in Italy this summer but given the economic state i don’t think most sides could afford him.

      • just watched it (at 1.25 speed) and yeah Paul was excellent, the kid is hella creative! It’s easy to understand why the team improved so much in copa 19 after he was added. He brings so much creativity to the midfield, coupled with tons of running and hustling.

        • In Copa 19 I was surprised at how good he was. Not a big name at the time and playing at a smaller club but put up amazing performances. Since that tournament he has been on my mind a lot more.

      • Juan was ok, not his finest game but didn’t do badly either, I’m just used to Musso pulling MOTM type performances and this time he hasn’t. Still believe that he should be Argentina’s no.1 since I’ve given up on Benitez being called up.

    • I watched it today. If you want to see a one man midfield run a game you will enjoy it. He was in base of a 352. The result is not very good reflection of game. Udinese was in very offensive mode. If they had any forwards with half the quality of DePaul they would have easily won. Anyways…

      I am honestly liking it that he is in Udinese still. Because they are making him play very deep and central, almost like how scaloni does. In other teams I fear they will move him to wide-mid type roles. For example I am sure Leeds would have put him in Pablo Hernandez type role which I think is a waste for NT purposes. etc.

      “Borderline world class” – for sofascore watchers if you have never seen, in rodrigo de pauls profile they show which position he plays on the pitch. Take a look and think how many times you see a player that can play in that many positions 😉

        • Truthfully a tough game for him today. It happens sometimes to even the best.
          yes not sure about Molina. Maybe still buying house furniture and settling…

      • ‘borderline’ because Rodrigo is yet to show his stuff at the CL stage, which is the be all end all of annual football competitions and what the ballon d’or is usually judged on (unless it’s a WC year).
        Skill wise and talent he’s definitely world class and he shows it regularly in Italy against big teams like Inter and Juve.

        “take a look and think how many times you see a player that can play in that many positions 😉”

        Agreed, his versatility is borderline (here’s that word again!) insane, which explains why so many Italian clubs are interested in him since it’s in Serie A that teams are constantly changing tactics and formations, thus requiring players to adapt to new situations.

    • Good to hear that he is performing. He is entering his prime years at 26 and with his quality, he should be playing for a top team, not fight relegation again… I was even hoping for the Leeds deal to go through as Bielsa has been showing some exciting football in their PL start, but it seems like they will go with Bayern’s Cuisance. If nothing happens and he stays with Udinese, I think it won’t be long and some big team probably picks him up in the January transfer window. It’s only 3 months away.

  17. Rumour….. pep guardiola eying nicolas tagliafico as transfer target….. david alaba was the main target but his transfer fee and wage demands turned citys eyes to nicolas tagliafico…. the transfer could cost around 22 million euros… reliabilty 4.5/5

  18. De Paul has become on the important player in the team; a regular starter, for me he is our new Sebastian Veron.

    Atalanta captain Alejandro Gomez scored twice in an impressive 4-1 win for the Bergamo side away to top-four rivals Lazio in Serie A; hopefully he can replicate it in N/T Jersey

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