2020 is set to be an important year for Argentina as a new generation embark on the long road towards the next World Cup. Ahead of Tuesday’s friendly with Mexico, coach Lionel Scaloni continues that preparation and in the absence of captain Lionel Messi, La Albiceleste will field something of an experimental line-up.
Thursday’s goalless draw with Chile in Los Angeles was a somewhat dull affair and while the far larger, prodominantly Mexican crowd, that will be present in San Antonio hope for more excitement, Scaloni will simply be aiming for further progression.
“If we were only thinking about results, the squad would have been different. The result is important but during this week it is not everything – we wanted to see several young players,” Scaloni explained in his press conference.
With Nicolás Otamendi and Giovani Lo Celso having already left the squad, Scaloni is forced into changes for Tuesday but was always going to take the opportunity to give other players time.
“There’ll be some changes from the last match [against Chile]. Yesterday I had it practically decided, but we had some complications with another player.
“We will wait until tomorrow for three players to see how they are physically.
“We’re going to put out a much fresher, younger team than against Chile,” Scaloni confirmed.
That is expected to see Argentina line up like this on Tuesday.
Expected XI: Esteban Andrada; Gonzalo Montiel, Germán Pezzella, Marcos Rojo or Lucas Martínez Quarta, Nicolás Tagliafico; Exequiel Palacios, Leandro Paredes; Rodrigo De Paul, Alexis Mac Allister or Paulo Dybala, Marcos Acuña; Lucas Alario or Lautaro Martínez
A Mexican side led by former Argentina coach Gerardo Martino, unbeaten in eleven since his appointment, will certainly provide a stern test.
Scaloni, a former teammate of Martino at Newell’s Old Boys, was full of praise for El Tri and acutely aware of the treat they possess.
“It’s a test for us, a good measure for the players I’ve brought in to see how they respond to the situation in the conditions, with Mexico practically the home team,” the Argentina coach said.
“We’re taking on a team that has quality and that, for me, will be soon be one of the best. They have shown they have great players and a very clear playing style.”
Martino was equally generous to Argentina and stated that Mexico are in a level below the Albiceleste but that they are still capable of winning on Tuesday.
Certainly any historical gap has been closed and a strong Mexican side will fancy their chances against this current Argentina team.
When the sides last met in two friendlies last November, Argentina won both 2-0 but since then the Albiceleste have endured a disappointment Copa America campaign and are yet to find their new identity under Lionel Scaloni. Mexico on the other hand go from strength to strength under Martino and are keen to test themselves against opponents outside their own CONCACAF region.