Argentina and Mexico will round out their participation in this month’s international break when they lock horns in San Antonio on Wednesday.
The first international break is nearing its end, with teams across the world finishing up with their commitments until next month’s fixtures. The marquee match in the second and final week of this international break will see Argentina lock horns with Mexico on Wednesday, when they face off at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Argentina are on a decent run of form, having lost just three of the 10 games they have played this year. But, La Albiceleste are still not inspiring a lot of confidence due to their inconsistencies all across the park, although there were some positive signs in the goalless draw against Chile, a game they dominated thoroughly.
Mexico, on the other hand, have been on a roll ever since Gerardo Martino was appointed as the head coach in January. Having ended 2018 with six defeats in seven games, El Tri have been unbeaten under Martino, winning ten of the 11 games he has overseen. In their most recent fixture, Mexico trounced USA 3-0, continuing the momentum built from the Gold Cup triumph.
The two teams locked horns twice towards the end of last year in Argentina, with the hosts handing twin 2-0 defeats to Mexico. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the friendly encounter.
Team News & Tactics
With his latest squad selection, Lionel Scaloni seems to be turning his focus towards building a core group of players who will serve Argentina well in the long-term. One of the changes though, was forced, with Lionel Messi suspended for three months due to his explosive comments directed at CONMEBOL following Copa America.
Apart from Messi, the likes of Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Guido Pizarro are not a part of the squad either, while the uncapped Lucas Ocampos pulled out due to injury. The transition towards the next crop of young players was sensed against Chile, with Lucas Martinez Quarta, Alexis Mac Allister and Nicolas Dominguez all making their debuts.
Martinez Quarta impressed for the most part against Chile, but was also lucky to not be punished for a howler. Against Mexico, Martinez Quarta could make way for Nicolas Figal to make his debut, with German Pezzella being the more experienced partner at the heart of Argentina’s defence this time.
There are unlikely to be any further changes in the defensive line, with Nicolas Tagliafico and Gonzalo Montiel retaining their places as the two full-backs. Behind the defensive line, Esteban Andrada could get a chance to add to his solitary cap for Argentina and impress Scaloni.
Up ahead in midfield, there is a lot of promise and excitement on offer from the players that are at the disposal of the Argentina boss. Exequiel Palacio, in particular, is one midfielder who is teeming with potential and could make the starting lineup against Mexico. Giovani Lo Celso should keep his place, but Guido Rodriguez should replace Leandro Paredes in holding midfield.
The options in attack are quite promising as well, but Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez look like they are set to be given the chances to nail down their spots in the side in the absence of Messi and Aguero. The duo should start once again when they face Mexico, with Joaquin Correa rounding out the team, leaving Lucas Alario and Adolfo Gaich as the backup options.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Andrada; Montiel, Pezzella, Figal, Tagliafico; Palacios, Rodriguez, Lo Celso; Dybala, Martinez, Correa
Stability has been the name of the game for Mexico under Gerardo Martinez, whose attack minded style of play has suited the team well. The former Argentina head coach has not made a huge number of alterations since being named as the Mexico boss.
Ahead of the clash against Argentina, however, Martino has seen Andres Guardado withdraw his name from the squad as his wife is expecting to give birth. Meanwhile, Luis Rodriguez, Cesar Montes and Erick Gutierrez are all out injured.
Martino though, should name his strongest side, seeing as they will only face CONCACAF teams till next June. With Argentina being their toughest competitors for the next year, the game in San Antonio will give the Mexico boss the chance to test his side and help them get retribution for last year’s two losses in Argentina.
Guillermo Ochoa should take his place in goal for Mexico, while Miguel Layun, Carlos Salcedo and Nestor Araujo should all return to the side in El Tri’s defensive line. Jesus Gallardo is expected to be the only player keeping his place in the back four, with the 25-year-old being the left-back.
Up ahead in midfield, Guardado should be replaced by Jonathan dos Santos, while Edson Alvarez ought to be the defensive midfielder, allowing Hector Herrera to reprise his favoured role as the no. 8. There should be a couple of changes made to the attacking unit as well, with Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano coming into the side.
Jimenez should lead the line for Mexico against Argentina, while Lozano is likely to start on the left side of the attack, replacing Roberto Alvarado. On the opposite flank, Jesus Corona should keep his place, providing a pacy outlet out on the right.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ochoa; Layun; Salcedo, Araujo, Gallardo; dos Santos, Alvarez, Herrera; Corona, Jimenez, Lozano
- Argentina are on a nine-game unbeaten run against Mexico, who last beat La Albiceleste 15 years ago (W5 D2).
- Mexico are yet to be beaten in 2019, winning all 11 of the games they have played this year, although two of those victories came after extra time.
- Interestingly, El Tri were last beaten by Argentina, who beat them in back-to-back contests in November 2018.
- Argentina have managed to win just five of the ten games they have played this year (D2 L3).
- None of the players in the Argentina squad have managed to reach double figures for goals scored for the national side. The top scorer in the current squad is Lautaro Martinez, with 6 strikes to his name.
Player to Watch
Paulo Dybala’s Argentine career has been filled with frustration over lack of chances and absence of form when provided the same. With Lionel Messi operating from the position he favours, chances have mostly been forthcoming only when the Barcelona superstar has been unavailable for some reason.
But, Messi is now suspended effectively for the remainder of 2019 and Dybala now will have the chance to stake claim at becoming an indispensable figure for Argentina, even when Messi is back. There were some positive signs on show against Chile.
But, finding the back of the net would be the best way forward for Dybala, seeing as Argentina have disappointed on the goalscoring front. After a summer of uncertainty, this is now Dybala’s opportunity to make 2019-20 memorable already.
Argentina 2-2 Mexico
Mexico have been second best by a fair margin against Argentina over the years. But, ahead of the latest fixture between the two sides, El Tri look better placed than their opponents on Wednesday, having looked unstoppable under former Argentina boss Gerardo Martino.
Argentina, however, will be the biggest test yet in 2019 for a defence that has stuttered at times. But, with La Albiceleste themselves being vulnerable at the back, a goal fest seems to be on the cards. In the end, there should be very little to separate the two sides, and The Hard Tackle predicts an entertaining 2-2 draw.