Argentine legend Gabriel Batistuta has urged coach Jorge Sampaoli to find the right mix of players ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia. Argentina only progressed to the World Cup after Lionel Messi scored a match-winning hat-trick in the final qualifying game and they have since not enjoyed the best of times.
In the most recent international break, Argentina managed to secure a 2-0 friendly win over Italy but this was followed up by a 6-1 thrashing against Spain which has got the alarm bells ringing. Central defensive duo Nicolas Otamendi and Marcos Rojo were thoroughly outclassed by La Roja during the friendly and Batistuta has now urged Sampaoli to rethink his selection criteria.
He said: “I am worried that there is not a solid base in place. I hope that the coach has realized that he has 70-80 percent of the players he’s taking. What we’ve been able to see up to now is rather disconcerting, especially when it comes to the results. The good thing is that there are 60 days left. They will have a prudent amount of time together. They will have about 20-25 days together, working, that is a great thing.”
Unlike several other nations, Argentina are certainly not blessed with multiple options at the heart of the defence and they have placed their emphasis on a certain crop of players who have delivered in the long-run. Nevertheless, the embarrassing defeat to Spain in a huge warning sign ahead of the World Cup and they need to sort themselves defensively in order to make progress in the knockouts.
Argentina succumbed to an added extra time loss to Germany at the previous World Cup final but they have a stiffer task on their hand to replicate this result, considering the progress made by several other nations including Belgium, who are now regarded as the dark horses for the upcoming tournament.