Jorge Sampaoli announced Argentina’s final 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup at lunchtime on Monday as Lionel Messi will spearhead Jorge Sampaoli’s team into Russia, as they prepare to do battle in Group D against Iceland, Croatia, and Nigeria.
Inter Milan’s hot goal-scorer, Mauro Icardi’s absence will still be disheartening to the Inter hitman, as he finished joint-top scorer in Serie A with 29 goals his season. Mauro Icardi, as speculated in the media has been snubbed from Jorge Sampaoli’s squad. The 25-year-old has scored 29 goals for club and country this season has been left out with two out-and-out strikers in Agüero and Higuaín, as Argentina does look like more solid both going forward and at the back.
Paulo Dybala will be in Russia, though, as will Cristian Ansaldi of Juventus’ city rivals Torino. For a squad so heavily identified through the prism of Barcelona star Lionel Messi, it was the supporting cast, especially that in the attacking areas, that had fans and observers intrigued.
Independiente’s midfielder and wide man Maximiliano Meza, perhaps the only player to come out of the 6-1 defeat to Spain in March with his standing increased, after an individually impressive performance.
The inclusions of River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani and Boca Juniors winger Cristian Pavón make this the first Argentina World Cup squad since 1994 to include at least one player from each of the country’s two club giants.
Nicolas Otamendi and Sergio Aguero from Manchester City, Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo and West Ham’s Manuel Lanzini represent the Premier League for The Albiceleste.
Sampaoli spoke to the press after naming his squad and made it clear that the players chosen were tactical, based on what he thinks they need to do well at this World Cup. And although he was not brimming with confidence about the country’s chances of going one step further than four years ago in Brazil, felt that they were in with a chance of winning the famous trophy:
“If we truly show how we can play, we will be a difficult opponent for anyone”
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate)
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Federico Fazio (Roma), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Herbie China Fortune), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)