People all over the country will be glued to the TV screens tonight at 8 PM as the National Team takes on Uruguay away from home, for what should be a thrilling match. The game is set to be a crucial encounter, as Argentina remains in the playoff position for the 2018 World Cup. A victory tonight will see them move above Uruguay to occupy the fourth place (potentially up to second if Chile and Colombia fail to win), thus putting them on course for automatic qualification for next year’s tournament in Russia.
Argentina will arrive in Montevideo tonight as favorites, in a match that signals the start of the Sampaoli era and hopefully a change in fortunes for the national team. Sampaoli was appointed head coach of the National Team this June and has since led Argentina to two victories, the first against Brazil and the second against Singapore (I know, frightening.)
Both victories, however, came in friendlies and thus tonight will be his first professional game in charge, and no better way to start. Away from home, against staunch rivals who have a reputation for being giant killers.
Argentina desperately need a win, and a dire away from home record has seen them be defeated by minnows like Bolivia and being held to draws in Venezuela, Paraguay and Peru.
Following, the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (TAS) decision to reject Bolivia’s appeal, La Albeceleste remains in fifth place, one point behind Chile and Uruguay, currently in fourth and third respectively.
The good news for Argentina is that it is highly likely that Uruguay will line up without their star player, Luis Suarez.
Suarez, is undoubtedly one of the world’s best players and Uruguay’s record goalscorer. Fortunately, for those of us on the southern side of the River Plate, a knee injury whilst playing for Barcelona has ruled him out for a further two weeks, though he is recovering at an alarming pace and has since been allowed to join the team in Uruguay.
Icardi’s selection to the National Team is warranted but not without controversy. Having bagged four goals in two games for Inter so far, on top of an impressive 24 league goals last season, even his harshest critics would struggle to argue that objectively he’s not good enough to represent Argentina. Obviously, as with anything Icardi-related, there is always drama. (For those who aren’t aware of the saga, Icardi married the ex-wife of his then-teammate and mentor)
The decision to call up Icardi, for what will be only his second international appearance, has come at a loss for Higuain. The Juventus striker has impressed for being consistently at club level in Italy for the last 4 seasons, but his lackluster performances for the National Team have left many Argentines wanting. Aguero, unlike Higuain, has been called up to play in Montevideo, however, if Kun is to have any impact on the fixture it will most likely be coming from the bench.
In terms of injuries, Argentina is missing Eduardo Salvio and Manuel Lanzini, great players but both are wingers, and it’s not as if Argentina is lacking in attacking talent.
Argentina, contrary to popular belief here in Buenos Aires, is in better form having won four out of their last six games. Uruguay, has only registered one victory amongst five defeats.
Sampaoli, previously led Chile to their first Copa America victory in 2015, where the hosts overcame Argentina in Santiago, on penalties.