Argentina starts its World Cup qualification campaign at home on Friday, October 7, 2011 in Buenos Aires at Estadio Monumental against Chile. The match will kick off at 23:10 GMT (Or Saturday, October 8, at 03:10 Dubai Time).
Ironic enough, Argentina starts the campaign as the leader of the 9 team group, if we are to rank teams in the alphabetic order. This time around, there will be no Brazil participating in the campaign because Brazil is hosting the tournament in 2014; less pressure throughout the campaign as no direct clashes will be officially happening.
The next consecutive game for Argentina will be an away match in Puerto La Cruz against Venezuela, on October 11, 2011 (Wednesday, October 12, at 04:50 Dubai Time – +4 GMT)
Argentina is officially now having a fresh start after all the unsatisfactory campaigns, most recently Copa America, that witnessed more lows than highs for the Albicelestes. Such a start is best to be known as the Sabella Era. Alejandro Sabella who “Started the Road to Somewhere” during friendly games is conceived the man of the moment. He has a mountain to climb as cliché as it looks like.
Any failure now will not be endured. Fans, supporters, countrymen, and the world are expecting a rejuvenated Argentina team led by the newly assigned captain Lionel Messi. The road to Brazil 2014 is yet starting and there are 16 matches to be played and 4.5 tickets to be attained. However, for Argentina, a top four comfortable finish is the least to be accomplished.
Alejandro Sabella called up 27 players to the two encounters. The full list of names is:
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero – Mariano Andujar – Agustin Orion
Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta – Nicolas Burdisso – Martin Demichelis – Federico Fernandez – Nicolas Otamendi – Nicolas Pareja – Marcos Rojo – Emiliano Insua
Middfielders: Ever Banega – Fabian Rinaudo – Ricardo Alvarez – Jonas Gutierrez – Jose Sosa – Javier Pastore – Nicolas Gaitan – Javier Mascherano – Rodrigo Brana
Attackers: Angel di Maria – Lionel Messi (c) – Gonzalo Higuain – Sergio Aguero – Rodrigo Palacio – Eduardo Salvio – German Denis
Agree with Sabella or not, the squad looks fine for the time being. It looks fresh, trouble free, young, and hungry. My favorite call up is Palacio. The remarks are:
- No call ups for the long serving soldiers such as Veron (who is to retire very soon), Riquelme, Samuel, Zanetti or Cambiasso, which means Sabella is building for the future
- No call up for the “mentally distracted” Tevez, and we will finally discover a new “People’s Player”
- Selecting a couple of forwards like Denis and Palacio means he knows someone has to help scoring, and although they are both almost 30 years old, the choice is correct for now
- Having no Mascherano for the first game (since he is suspended) means a good chance to test other players, and why not pushing Mascherano in the second game to a defender role, if his replacement succeeded in the center.
- The names selected can be utilized as 3-5-2; 5-3-2; 3-5-1-1; or 5-3-1-1and this means that he knows the eternal issue in the defence and wants to create a cover plan that might work
The game against Chile will be entertaining and worth watching. Argentina will show some beautiful football and that’s my bet. Don’t put a lot of pressure on Messi but trust him as captain for the time being and listen to what Sabella says about him. Sabella has been quoted recently talking with enthusiasm about having Messi as the captain and about how he needs to protect him on the field. He also said that Messi’s role is not solely related to scoring.
This Sabella seemingly knows what he is doing.