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The Icardi-Dybala conundrum: should Argentina take both of them to the World Cup?

Will La Joya and O Canito be a part of Sampaoli's 23-man squad for the upcoming World Cup?

ANALYST
Feature 31 Mar 2018, 14:32 IST
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The duo are in danger of missing out on a spot for the World Cup
The duo are in danger of missing out on a spot for the World Cup

"Dybala is on the level of players like Messi, Aguero, and Higuain. He is phenomenal."
"He (Icardi) is important for both club and country. He will become a great player."

Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest player Argentina has ever produced, has been showering praises on the abilities of these two players. With great expectations come greater responsibilities and the two players have taken Serie A by storm this season.

Icardi has scored 23 goals this season while La Joya (The Jewel) as Dybala is fondly called, has found the net 17 times and set up a further 3 more.

However, they seem to be out of favour when it comes to national duty. With high-profile names such as Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, and Gonzalo Higuain taking up regular starting roles, head coach Jorge Sampaoli has a ready-made reason to exclude them.

Adding to this, chemistry issues have cost the team severely in the past. Can a case be made for the inclusion of the inexperienced Lautaro Martinez and Christian Pavon over the two goal-machines? The answer is a firm NO.

They are very talented youngsters

Mauro I
Mauro Icardi has been unstoppable despite suffering an injury

Despite missing over four weeks due to injury, Icardi, who is the Inter Milan captain remains second on Serie A top goalscorers list. Having scored 84 times in the last four seasons, Icardi is one of the best finishers in Europe and his link-up play with the likes of Ivan Perisic has been a treat to watch.

Dybala had a fantastic start to the season, scoring a hat-trick in his third game and after a few unremarkable performances mid-way through the season, he has returned with a bang having scored a brace against Udinese and the winner against Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League earlier this month.

The Juve forward's impeccable ball striking abilities combined with an eye for the dribble has wreaked havoc among opposing defences this season.

A chance for redemption

Both Dybala and Icardi will guarantee goals as more often than not, they step up and deliver. Having done it numerous times for their respective clubs in the past, the forwards are no strangers to performing under pressure.

After the humiliating 6-1 defeat against Spain, a change in plan is the need of the hour and Sampaoli should respect their achievements and give another chance to bring home the coveted World Cup.

The Messi factor

A clas
A clash in playing styles with Lionel Messi has cost Dybala

Linking up with Messi has been Dybala's biggest challenge; With both playing similar styles at club level, Argentina's #10 and #21 have failed to play to each other's strengths on previous occasions.

More often then not, this has resulted in putrid attacking displays. Dybala and Icardi have represented their country a combined 16 times and haven't scored or assisted a single goal in the process.

Having come from clubs whose philosophies revolve solely around them, it has been a daunting task to form meaningful partnerships with one of the greats of the game.

Understandably so, Sampaoli will base his team's passage of play around Messi so it is up to Icardi and Dybala to take a step into uncharted territories and come out stronger.

The ideal formation

With the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero failing to make an impact in the big games, it would a good move in starting Dybala and Icardi over the two old horses.

The 4-2-3-1 may perfectly suit La Albiceleste. With Guillermo Rulli between the sticks, Nicolas Ottamendi, Federico Fazio, Nicolas Tagliafico, and Gab Mercado marshaling the defense and Leandro Paredes and Ever Banega dictating play from midfield, a prolonged four-man attack consisting of Di Maria and Dybala as inside forwards, Messi as the controller in attacking midfield and Icardi up top would be exciting to watch.

Having found success at right-wing for Juventus, Dybala can seamlessly fit into Sampaoli's starting XI as his presence allows a more central role for Messi.

The duo can exchange positions during the run of play and be equally effective. With the goal threat that Icardi possesses, running at defences and crossing into the box would be the norm, something which Dybala has become highly accustomed to at club level.

With a conversion percentage of 35 (highest in Europe, min-10 goals), Icardi is an elite attacking talent. During games where chances to shoot are scarce, O Canito's unique ability gives him the edge over the other experienced forwards.

This team has the perfect mix of youthful exuberance and an incredible amount of experience to go all the way in Russia.

How Sampaoli can incorporate Dybala and Icardi into the playing XI
Incorporating Dybala and Icardi into the playing XI

Wearing the sacred blue and white is a matter of pride and an incredible achievement. It has to be awarded to players who have performed on a consistent basis for long periods of time.

Taking a couple of raw talents as a 'Plan-B' is a smart move. However, omitting a couple of superstars for the above is a heinous crime. Icardi and Dybala may be great options to play major roles if Argentina is to win its first World Cup in 32-years.

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