Diego Maradona’s been keeping everyone second-guessing for the last few days. It looked a day or two ago like there would only be a couple of changes to the Argentina side that beat Nigeria 1-0 in their first match of the World Cup, but as of Saturday afternoon things were looking a bit different. Maradona didn’t confirm the starting XI in his Saturday press conference, but it looks like Seba Verón won’t play from the start. Walter Samuel isn’t totally fit, so his place will be taken by Nico Burdisso, and Jonás Gutiérrez is unlikely to play. Read on for what will almost certainly be Argentina’s starting side against Mexico.
Argentina starting XI to face Mexico, World Cup South Africa 2010 second round, Sunday 27th June (manager Diego Maradona):
Otamendi —- Demichelis —- Burdisso —- Heinze
M. Rodríguez —- Mascherano (c) —- Di María
Higuaín —- Tevez
The two players whose names are shown in a mustardy colour (plain yellow was barely legible on screen) are carrying yellow cards, and another booking would see them suspended for one game – these are wiped after the quarter final.
With regards to Jonás being replaced with a proper defender, this is basically a return to Maradona’s pre-tournament thinking of playing four centre backs in the defence in a bid for some stability in that third of the pitch. Whilst that idea was born during a period in which the team were seriously struggling, it has to be said it’s better than putting the Newcastle United winger at full back again. That being said, I’m sorry but regardless of Sunday’s result, or indeed even if Argentina end up winning the thing, Javier Zanetti should still have been named in the squad. Nicolás Burdisso is also more experienced at right back than Nicolás Otamendi (a centre back) is, but the above is how they’ll line up under Maradona.
Maxi Rodríguez, of course, starts against the side he knocked out in such spectacular fashion four years ago. As it’s a goal one hardly needs a proper excuse to watch again, let’s just remind ourselves how the game was settled the last time these two countries met in the last sixteen of a World Cup…
You can follow Argentina’s World Cup campaign and all the winter football news from Argentina via HEGS on Twitter. If you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here.