With World Cup qualification now secured, Argentina’s preparations begin for next summer. November’s international break is the next opportunity for Jorge Sampaoli to work with his squad and after confirming a friendly with hosts Russia to inaugurate the revamped Luzhniki Stadium on November 11th, the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) is close to agreeing a match against Spain three days later.
According to reports in Argentina, La Albiceleste will test themselves against one of Europe’s top sides at Atlético Madrid’s recently opened Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on November 14th.
“The coaching staff will begin their preparation and we will provide the most prestigious friendlies to arrive [at the World Cup] in the best shape,” AFA president Claudio Tapia said hours after Argentina’s qualification was confirmed.
This was supposedly a request from Jorge Sampaoli and why, aside from going to Russia to take on the hosts in the stadium where the final would be played, the AFA are keen to finalise the match with 2010 winners, Spain.
November 11th will see Argentina tackle Russia in the remodelled Luzhniki Stadium in front of hopefully a capacity crowd of 81,000 before travelling to Madrid to face Spain in Atleti’s new 68,000 seater home.
Despite the World Cup being eight months away, Sampaoli has little time to prepare and answer a lot of questions that are still pending. November’s double-header and another in March will be the only breaks before the end of the club season and Argentina name the final squad to go to Russia.
A possible friendly with Italy is being lined up for March, should the Azzurri get through their playoff, but there is a great deal of work before the tournament kicks off.
Opportunities to look at new players, to take on board new ideas and to solidify a starting eleven are diminishing and Sampaoli must have everything ready for June.