Messi, Mascherano and Di María remain in side as Martino shuffles for Portugal match


As expected Gerardo Martino is likely to give members of his squad who did not feature against Croatia a run out against Portugal on Tuesday evening. Captain Lionel Messi will remain in the starting eleven along with Javier Mascherano, Ángel di María, Cristian Ansaldi and Sergio Romero but six changes will be made to the side that won in Upton Park on Wednesday.

As the side trained at Manchester City’s Carrington training facility on Saturday, the indication was that Tata Martino would be ringing the changes for the meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. There are perhaps no real surprises from this although Carlos Tevez will remain on the bench.

There are still some days of work with the squad for changes to be made but against a side made up of Manchester City youth players, Martino’s eleven were: Sergio Romero; Facundo Roncaglia, Martín Demichelis, Nicolás Otamendi, Cristian Ansaldi; Javier Pastore, Javier Mascherano, Roberto Pereyra; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Angel Di María

Perhaps the other player who might come into this side would be Lucas Biglia, who did not play against West Ham and could play in place of Pereyra in this line up.

Although Romero is likely to keep his place in goal, the defence is significantly altered with only Cristian Ansaldi keeping his place. Facundo Roncaglia comes in for Pablo Zabaleta and Demichelis will partner Nicolás Otamendi in the centre. The return of Otamendi to the national side is a welcome one after the youngsters career took a blow when Diego Maradona opted to play him at right back against Germany with disastrous consequences at the World Cup in South Africa.

Ansaldi looks to put real pressure on Marcos Rojo for the left back position after impressing against Croatia. Rojo has endured a less than comfortable start to life at Old Trafford with Manchester United and is more likely to play as a centre back under Louis van Gaal and Ansaldi is in with a good chance of making the position his own.

Gonzalo Higuaín was the only ‘number 9’ who did not get any playing time against Croatia and so he is likely to start and means Carlos Tevez will start from the bench for the second time.

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