World Cup 2018: Argentina Squad Preview, Fixtures, Where to Watch, Best Starting XI & Predictions
After coming terribly close to their Promised Land in 2014, Argentina will be hoping to go one further in the 2018 FIFA World Cup this time around when they do it all over again in Russia in a week's time.
A squad that has retained its core will be buoyed by the addition of a few promising youngsters to their side. With most of the players who played in the final in Rio, four years ago, drawing towards the end of their careers, this might be the last chance at glory for Lionel Messi and co.
Their path to Russia was anything but comfortable, as Messi came up with his usual heroics in their final qualifying match to send them through, with the prospect of missing out on the competition altogether staring them in the face.
Argentina's Group Fixtures and Venues
Match 1: Argentina vs Iceland - 16 June, Friday, 21:00 local time (23:30 IST) at Spartak Stadium, Moscow
Match 2: Argentina vs Croatia - 21 June, Wednesday, 21:00 local time (23:30 IST) at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
Match 3: Argentina vs Nigeria - 26 June, Monday, 21:00 local time (23:30 IST) at Saint Petersburg Stadium, Saint Petersburg
Also read: Top 5 Group Games to Watch at the World Cup
TV and Live Stream
TV: Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 2 HD, Sony Ten 3, Sony Ten 3 HD
Live Stream: Sony LIV
Argentina Squad for the World Cup
GOALKEEPERS: Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres).
DEFENDERS: Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Taglafico (Ajax), Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino).
MIDFIELDERS: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di María, Giovani Lo Celso (both Paris St-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica).
FORWARDS: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala (both Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).
Argentina Coach: Jorge Sampaoli
Jorge Samapoli took over the job of head coach of the Argentina National Team in 2017 and has only had a year at the helm.
Sampaoli stunned observers in March by leaving Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi - two of the best young forwards in Italy, perhaps even Europe, out of the squad for the final friendlies before the World Cup 23 was announced in May.
Dybala hadn't played particularly well during the autumn international break and the feeling was that, in many ways, he is too similar to Messi, occupying the same areas and getting in the way of the world's best player. However, the manager decided to make place for the Juve man in the squad, but his compatriot with rivals Inter lost out despite having arguably his best season ever in which he scored 29 goals in 34 league appearances.
It will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure of leaving one of the hottest strikers in world football at the moment and find a system to use both Messi and Dybala together.
Argentina Predicted XI
Line-up: Caballero; Rojo , Otamendi, Fazio; Mercado, Biligia, Lo Celso, Taglafico; di Maria, Aguero, Messi.
Argentina World Cup History
Titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
A quarter-final exit seems most likely for the Argentine national side as they will probabl come up against the likes of Colombia, Spain, Germany or England in each of the knock-out fixtures following the group stages.
We feel that those teams have the measure of this current Argentina side and it would be an upset of sorts if they manage to beat any of those teams, let alone three on their way to the final this summer.
They genuinely have a shot of beating Colombia or England in the round of sixteen, but it is getting increasingly difficult to see Argentina get past either the German or the Spanish side in the quarter-finals.
This is, however, a cup competition, and the biggest one in the world at that. We've seen miracles on a grander scale take place in the World Cup and with the miracle of Messi already on their side they have plenty to be hopeful about.