Jorge Sampaoli’s Argentina are one of the favourites to lift the 2018 World Cup, but there are five major problems for the coach to resolve
The seven months that Jorge Sampaoli has been in charge of Argentina already seems like a life time and while the primary objective of securing qualification to the World Cup has been achieved, the real work has only really begun.
Lionel Messi’s hat-trick in Quito is already just a memory and now Sampaoli must mold his squad into potential World Cup winners. A run-in with the law at his daughter’s wedding ensures that the year ends in less than ideal circumstance and certainly the fiery coach will regret his verbal attack.
However, that can’t be changed so Sampaoli can only look forward and hope for the following in 2018
1) Messi remains injury free
While Cristiano Ronaldo may have lifted his fifth Ballon d’Or this month to draw level with Lionel Messi with five awards, there is no doubting who the best player in the world right now.
After a disappointing season with Barcelona last time out, Messi has made a sensational start to this campaign and in helping the Catalan side to a famous Clásico win in the Bernabeú at the weekend, the Argentina captain has already edged Barça closer to claiming back the league title.
Fifteen goals and six assists in seventeen league appearances have seen Barcelona ‘suffering’ from the same type of Messi-dependence that Argentina have long been accused of. The iconic number ten dragged La Albiceleste to Russia, may yet inspire the Blaugrana to major honours this season, and if Sampaoli’s side are to stand in chance at the World Cup then a fit, hungry and in-form Messi is an absolute must.