Argentina faces a pair of make-or-break qualifiers as CONMEBOL wraps up its World Cup qualifying in the upcoming international break. Once again, Gonzalo Higuain will be watching from his couch.
Head coach Jorge Sampaoli has left the Juventus striker off the roster yet again as he looks to keep Argentina afloat in matches against Peru and Ecuador. Higuain has two goals in three matches for Juventus to start the Serie A season, but he has found it hard to make the national team in recent times, appearing in just three of Argentina’s last eight matches. He has not scored for the country since October of 2016. Despite that, his scoring record for Argentina remains high-quality, owning a lifetime record of 31 goals in 69 appearances.
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In Higuain’s place, the Argentine boss did bring in 24-year-old Inter striker Mauro Icardi who has five goals in Inter’s first three Serie A games this season.
Sampaoli also kept PSG midfielder Javier Pastore off despite selecting the 28-year-old last international break and using him off the bench in both matches. Pastore has two goals in four matches for PSG so far this season, but no assists.
Argentina sits in fifth position – only a playoff spot – and is just one measly point from falling out of qualification altogether. That team on their heels is Chile, with Peru in a surprising fourth place, above Argentina only on goals scored, with the two countries level on points and goal difference.
The biggest issue for Argentina has been its attack, with just 16 goals in 16 qualifying games. They’ve scored just a single goal in their last three matches, drawing blanks against Uruguay and Bolivia.
GK: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Agustin Marchesin (America).
DEF: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Emanuel Mammana (Zenit), German Pezzella (Fiorentina).
MF: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Leandro Paredes (Zenit), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Emiliano Rigoni (Zenit), Alejandro Gomez (Atalanta).
FWD: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).