Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli named his 23-man World Cup squad on Monday. There were a few surprises. The major omission from the squad for Russia 2018 was Inter forward Marco Icardi.
However, considering the attacking talent boss Jorge Sampaoli has at his disposal, Icardi missing out may not come as a major surprise. The striker had scored 29 goals in the Italian top-flight last season, though, so some will consider his omission harsh.
Stars cannot gel as a team
Argentina have become an enigma on the world stage. At the last World Cup, the South Americans made it to the final of the competition in Brazil, only to suffer an extra-time defeat against Germany.
That tournament was a one-off really, as despite having a talented squad of individual players every Argentinian boss seems to struggle to harness the undoubted individual talents into a winning team.
The forward players are particularly prone to underachieving for La Albiceleste. They have the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Paolo Dybala and Sergio Aguero all available for selection, and that’s without the prolific Icardi.
On paper, that team should have thrived. Instead, they struggled through World Cup qualification and only qualified on the final gameweek courtesy of brilliance from Messi. In short, the team is less than the sum of its parts.
Maybe too often, Messi’s teammates are looking at him to do something special. However, the likes of Dybala, Higuain and Aguero are all capable of producing match-winning contributions of their own.
Sampaoli needs to find a way to harness the best of those undoubtedly talents players so that the team thrives. Maybe the former Chile boss will do that in Russia.
A relatively inexperienced squad
The squad named by Sampaoli is a relatively inexperienced one by World Cup standards. In fact, 14 of the 23-man squad have never appeared at a World Cup. That is a good thing considering their history of underachievements at previous big international tournaments.
The likes of Cristian Pavon and Giovani Lo Celso are highly rated young players, who are predicted to have a bright future in the game. They could be Argentina’s secret weapon in Russia 2018.
Can Argentina finally fulfil their potential in Russia?
Argentina are not one of the red hot favourites to win the World Cup this summer. Despite having one of the best players in the world in Lionel Messi and some highly dangerous other players in their squad, they are not behind the likes of Brazil, Spain, France and Germany in the betting.
The reason for the lack of confidence in the current Argentina team is that aforementioned lack of team cohesion. Argentina should be heading to Russia in confident mood.
However, their recent tournament history tells us that La Albiceleste will not fulfil expectations and the great Lionel Messi will have once again failed to win the biggest prize in football.
Argentina World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Willy Caballero, Franco Armani
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado, Javier Mascherano, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Acuna, Cristian Ansaldi
Midfielders: Manuel Lanzini, Maximiliano Meza, Lucas Biglia, Ever Banega, Giovani Lo Celso, Angel Di Maria, Cristian Pavon, Eduardo Salvio
Forwards: Paulo Dybala, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain
Will Argentina win the World Cup in Russia?