In early June, a side representing Argentina will play friendlies away to Nigeria (on the 1st, in Abuja) and Poland (the 5th, in Warsaw). It won’t be a full Argentina team, but it’s infinitely more worthwhile than the ‘local selección’ matches we sometimes have to put up with. All the players are under 25 years of age, and playing in Europe (with two exceptions, noted below). Many, therefore, will be under consideration for the full squad, and some might even make the final cut for the Copa América, which begins in Argentina on the 1st July (and which HEGS, my accreditation having been approved, will be covering, of course). The full squad list is right here, along with my players to watch.
Óscar Ustari (Getafe, Spain)
Adrián Gabbarini (Independiente, Argentina)
Federico Fazio (Sevilla, Spain)
Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal, Spain)
Ezequiel Garay (Real Madrid, Spain)
Nicolás Otamendi (Porto, Portugal)
Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City, England)
Marcos Angeleri (Sunderland, England)
Emiliano Insúa (Galatasaray, Turkey)
Diego Perotti (Sevilla)
Alberto Costa (Valencia, Spain)
Nicolás Bertolo (Real Zaragoza, Spain)
Pablo Piatti (Almería, Spain)
Fernando Belluschi (Porto)
Alejandro Cabral (Legia Warsaw, Poland)
Mario Bolatti (Internacional, Brazil)
Marco Ruben (Villarreal)
Mauro Boselli (Genoa, Italy)
Nicolás Gaitán (Benfica, Portugal)
Franco Jara (Benfica)
Mauro Formica (Blackburn Rovers, England)
Jonathan Cristaldo (Metallist, Ukraine)
My players to watch for these games are mostly defenders; I think Fazio, Musacchio, Garay and Otamendi ought all to be competing for the centre back slots in the full national side at this point, and in years to come should all prove to be improvements on Argentina’s current players in this roles. In midfield, Fernando Belluschi is coming off a fantastic season for Porto, whilst Diego Perotti’s and Alberto ‘Tino’ Costa’s call-ups are also richly deserved. I admit to knowing little of Cabral’s season (he left Vélez last year for Legia Warsaw), and it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if the location of the Poland friendly has at least a bit to do with his inclusion.
Up front, Argentina’s lack of a proper number 9 is once again highlighted: only Marco Ruben and Mauro Boselli – hardly world-class talents of the future – really fit that billing. Franco Jara and Nicolás Gaitán have both been cracking for Benfica this term, though, and it might be interesting to see what Mauro Formica does, given the chance, after barely featuring for Blackburn (in spite, or perhaps because, of his new manager thinking he was ‘the next Batistuta’ when he signed him).
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