Jorge Sampaoli has named his preliminary World Cup squad and while there are few real surprises, Argentina must now cut this to the 23 that will travel to Russia.
Lionel Messi had always been the only guaranteed member of Sampaoli’s squad and naturally Argentina’s captain is among the 35 but it will likely be when Sampaoli is forced to cut twelve from this group next Monday that any real shocks will come.
Independiente full-back Fabricio Bustos, victim of the 6-1 thrashing by Spain, Alejandro Papu Gómez, Erik Lamela and Fernando Gago are perhaps among those unfortunate to not have a place in the preliminary squad.
However, Sampaoli has gone with many of the familiar faces despite Lucas Biglia and Gabriel Mercado providing injury concerns over the weekend.
Both are expected to be fit and so Argentina will begin work at Ezeiza with a group containing few real gatecrashers.
Ricardo Centurión’s sensational form at Racing Club has made him almost impossible to ignore and Sporting CP midfielder Rodrigo Battaglia getting the nod over Matías Kranevitter is perhaps a surprise but Sampaoli’s squad was expected.
Compiling this squad may have been straight forward and will generate few complaints but cutting it will be difficult.
Mauro Icardi is included for now but is among those strongly tipped to miss out along with Lautaro Martínez and Leandro Paredes.
Sampaoli will presumably want to check on a number of players fitness this week at Ezeiza and take a closer look in training before making his final decision.