The second of the two friendly opponents is still not confirmed but ahead of November’s match with Russia and one other, Jorge Sampaoli has named his latest Argentina squad. There are no major changes to the group that sealed qualification in Ecuador this month but Roma’s Diego Perotti and Zenit St. Petersburg’s Matías Kranevitter are handed an opportunity while Gonzalo Higuaín remains outside for the time being.
“I came here for this – to lead Argentina to a World Cup. It was my obsession, my life’s goal and now I am here and we have to be prepared for the most difficult task in football,” Sampaoli told the press.
That preparation starts now and Sampaoli will be fully aware of how much there is to do before next summer’s World Cup. Qualification was achieved by the finest of margins after months of anxiety and now Argentina must mold a side that can compete for the greatest prize in football.
[SELECCIÓN MAYOR] Sampaoli dio la lista de futbolistas citados, que militan en clubes del exterior, para los próximos partidos amistosos pic.twitter.com/33tMxsKn2K
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) October 20, 2017
There are two new faces in the squad for next month’s friendly and Sampaoli will be assessing Diego Perotti and Matías Kranevitter for the first time as Argentina manager.
“These matches will allow us to evaluate the performances of Perotti and Kranevitter; the latter, who is now playing regularly for his club and is a player who knows what I want,” Sampaoli confirmed.
Kranevitter spent a season on loan at Sevilla under Sampaoli and while the Zenit midfielder was not a regular during this time will be familiar with the demands and expectations of the Argentina coach.
Diego Perotti has been a consistent performer for Roma over the past year and is deserving of a shot given his ability to provide another option out wide.
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Nahuel Guzmán (Tigres) y Agustín Marchesín (Club América)
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City), Federico Fazio (Roma), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Germán Pezzella (Fiorentina)
Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Emiliano Rigoni (Zenit), Lucas Biglia (Milan), Marcos Acuña (Sporting CP), Alejandro Gómez (Atalanta), Leandro Paredes (Zenit), Matías Kranevitter (Zenit), Diego Perotti (Roma)
Forwards: Sergio Agüero (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Mauro Icardi (Inter), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Angel Di María (PSG)
It is otherwise a similar squad and that means no place for Gonzalo Higuaín among Sampaoli’s number nine options. Sergio Agüero is already fit again after his car crash and looks likely to start in Moscow with Argentina keen to try and rekindle a partnership with Lionel Messi.
Sampaoli explained, “Higuaín has nothing to prove and I still have him in mind so he will be in our final evaluation.”
However, linking with Messi appears to be the most pressing matter for Argentina’s attack.
“I don’t see the difficulty with Messi and Dybala complementing each other on the pitch. Establishing compatibility between players is the coach’s job.
“Agüero gives us the option to partner with Leo (Messi) in the game. We also see him as a nine and so we have the possibility to choose among the best forwards in the world,” Sampaoli said.
As always the local players, like Boca Juniors striker Darío Benedetto and River Plate midfielder Enzo Pérez, will be added later. Sampaoli confirmed that “four or five players” would be included and would travel after the Superclásico on November 5th.
There is also the possibility of two friendly matches being organised that will feature local players and will provide further opportunities to work closely with this group.
Eight more European players have been included on a reserve list and are on standby in the event of injuries. They are: Joaquín Correa (Sevilla), Ángel Correa (Atlético de Madrid), Guido Pizarro (Sevilla), Emanuel Mammana (Zenit), Giovanni Lo Celso (PSG), Emanuel Lanzini (West Ham), Gerónimo Rulli (Real Sociedad) and Emiliano Insúa (Stuttgart).