Argentina travel to Morocco for their final friendly before this summer’s Copa America as Lionel Messi sits out through an injury.
Morroco fans will be disappointed by the news of Lionel Messi’s absence due to a pelvic injury he sustained during Argentina’s recent loss to Venezuela. The Barcelona star suffered the injury in the game where he made his international return, having not played for the national side since last summer’s World Cup.
Morocco’s football association, FRMF had agreed with the Argentine federation that both sides will play the strongest possible lineups, including Messi. Now with the injury, the FRMF are concerned that won’t be the case any more. However, the Argentine body has assured that they will bring the best available squad for the friendly and ensure a tough game.
Morocco come into the friendly match on the back of an impressive campaign to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, having topped their group
, with Cameroon finishing second. Their 0-0 draw with Malawi all but ensured their progression, and following that news, the African side should be in good spirits for the Argentina game.
As for Argentina, things have not been good. Despite Messi’s international return, they lost to Venezuela in Madrid. Messi started the friendly, but failed to provide any sort of spark to revive his side. Manager Lionel Scaloni will be looking for a response from his team after that terrible defeat and will be hoping his players play with passion.
Team News & Tactics
Herve Renard does not have many injury troubles to deal with before the Argentina game. However, the manager will likely make wholesale changes to his side to face La Albiceleste. Renard will ensure he plays his best possible starting lineup, unlike an experimental team he played against Malawi in their goalless draw.
The likes of captain Medhi Benatia, Achraf Hakimi, Mbark Boussoufa and Hakim Ziyech all are expected to feature against Argentina. There could also be changes to many other positions in the lineup from the last game. Nordin Amrabat, Roman Saiss, Munir Mohamedi, Younes Belhanda and Youssef En-Nesyri are all expected to feature from the start.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Munir, Hakimi, Benatia, Saiss, Baadi; Belhanda, Ait Bennasser; Ziyech, Boussoufa, Amrabat; En-Nesyri
Lionel Scaloni fielded an experimental starting lineup. However, the Argentina head coach is set to make some changes to his side for the Morocco game. With Lionel Messi missing through injury, Scaloni might bring Paulo Dybala into the starting lineup and in Messi’s position on the right side of the attack.
Roberto Pereyra is also in contention for a starting spot after several impressive displays lately. Elsewhere, other stars such as Juan Foyth, Leandro Paredes and Nicolas Tagliafico are all eyeing a place in the starting lineup. Argentina’s goalscorer against Venezuela, Lautaro Martinez is expected to keep his position in the side and will lead the line for the visitors.
In defence, Scaloni is expected to continue experimenting with the side and give his five-man backline another chance against Morocco, with the likes of Lisandro Martinez, Juan Foyth and Gonzalo Montiel expected to start.
Probable Lineup (5-2-3): Armani; Montiel, Foyth, Mercado, Lisando Martinez, Tagliafico; Dybala, Lo Celso, Paredes, Pereyra; Lautaro Martinez
- Morocco and Argentina have previously faced each other just twice, with the visitors winning the last such game by a single goal back in 2004 in a friendly match.
- In the other game between the sides, Argentina were victorious as well, with Diego Maradona among the scorers in that friendly win.
- Argentina have won only once in their last five games.
- Morocco are unbeaten in their last six international games since losing to Portugal 1-0 at the World Cup.
Player to Watch
Dybala has proven time and again that he is worthy of a starting spot in the Argentinean national side, after being highly impressive with Juventus. However, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and others already staking a claim, chances have been hard to come by for the young forward. However, against Morocco, there is an opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.
Dybala might not have a lot of experience with the national side, but these are games that present him with the chance to shine. The opportunity is there; it is for Dybala’s to take, and he needs to show Lionel Scaloni that he is worthy of a place not only in the absence of stars but to play alongside them.
Morocco 1-1 Argentina
It is not an easy task to face Morocco at their home turf for any team, let alone Argentina. Moreover, this Argentina side, under new management and amid much uncertainty, are a work in progress to find their lost identity.
Morocco have been one of the more consistent sides in world football for the past year or so. Their decent performances in the World Cup and then a successful Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign will boost their confidence before facing a giant such as Argentina. La Albiceleste should struggle to break down the Moroccan defence, and this game is expected to finish in a draw.