Jorge Sampaoli announced his 23-man squad to play in Russia, which raised many eyebrows as Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan captain was omitted from final 23 men squad. Icardi had a great Serie-A season this year and expected to be included in Argentinian WC squad. Sampaoli reiterated his faith in the squad and said, “Those players in the final list are closer to the idea we are implementing. They are closer to the opposition’s goal line than to their own.”
Many people asked if Argentina has to regret the exclusion of Icardi in their World Cup squad. No one knows now. Messi is certainly the nucleus of the team. Aguero is recovering after knee injury, Higuain not in form and Dybala was not tested in internationals. Defender Gabriel Mercado and midfielder Lucas Biglia were also injured and are currently recuperating. Fourteen of its players will be playing World Cup for the first time.
Coach Sampaoli has firm belief in the young team, and asserted “We need to face the World Cup without fear”.
“In this list there are players with a lot of skill. The ones that understand our game better will be closer to being starters.” He explained, “We’ve decided on these names after a lot of analysis in every position. Cristian Ansaldi can play on either side. Meza gives you options either on the outside or on the inside of the pitch. He also clarified that he shared similar feelings about team selection with Messi and hopeful that Aguero, Mercado and Bigila would come good when World Cup starts.
Qualification of Argentina for World Cup in Russia, was not easy. Argentina saw, Gerardo Martino and Edgardo Bauza, two former coaches, to step down during gruelling qualification round from South America. Messi saved Argentina, to narrowly qualify as third team from South America. He scored a hat-trick against Ecuador in the concluding match to clinch a place for his nation in Russia. Argentina would be heavily depending on Messi in World Cup. For that, Sampaoli has to provide Messi the ecosystem, he requires to deliver. He should not forget that Messi, though one of the greatest of all time, is not Maradona, who won Serie A for Napoli without big names to back him. In Barcelona, Messi has always been provided with the support.
Argentina to begin their World Cup campaign against Iceland on 16th June and to face Croatia and Nigeria in subsequent group league matches in Group D. Hope, Messi and Argentina to have a memorable World Cup 2018.
Argentina Squad for World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate).
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Taglafico (Ajax), Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino).
Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di Maria, Giovani Lo Celso (both Paris St-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica).
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).