Gonzalo Higuain Dropped For Massive Argentina-Uruguay World Cup Qualifier
Get the best email in soccer.
Newly appointed Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has wasted no time putting his own stamp on the national team by recalling once-exiled Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi and dropping the oft-criticized Gonzalo Higuain for crucial upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay and Venezuela.
Icardi is joined in Argentina’s attack by Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Joaquin Correa and Sergio Aguero, who was left out of Sampaoli’s first Argentina squad for friendlies against Brazil and Singapore back in June.
In midfield, Javier Pastore could make his first appearance for la Albiceleste since 2015. The 28-year-old PSG playmaker is clearly the beneficiary of a new approach for Argentina — Sampaoli desperately needs to find the right tactical balance for his nation.
Argentina have made a mess of qualifying, and they currently sit in fifth place in the CONMEBOL table. With only four qualifying matches remaining, failure to move up the table would result in a playoff against New Zealand.
If Argentina were to fall behind any of the chasing pack (Ecuador, Peru or Paraguay), they’d miss the 2018 World Cup entirely. Accordingly, the first match against Uruguay in Montevideo on August 31 will command the world’s attention.
On September 5th, Argentina then host Venezuela in Buenos Aires. Venezuela sit bottom of the table and have already been eliminated from contention, so a comprehensive Argentina victory will be expected.
While Argentina are still favored to make it to Russia, Higuain’s presence is now completely up in the air.
Argentina Squad For August/September World Cup Qualifiers
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Nahuel Guzman, Geronimo Rulli
Defenders: Javier Mascherano, Federico Fazio, Nicolas Otamendi, Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Pareja
Midfielders: Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Augusto Fernandez, Leandro Paredes, Guido Pizarro, Angel Di Maria, Marcos Acuna, Javier Pastore, Manuel Lanzini, Eduardo Salvio
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Mauro Icardi, Joaquin Correa, Sergio Aguero