After surviving a reported player revolt, Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is pinning his hopes on PSG winger Angel Di Maria, Juventus scoring sensation Gonzalo Higuain and Sevilla central midfielder Ever Banega in a 4-3-3 formation to beat Nigeria in their Russia 2018 World Cup final group match in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday and land in the second round.
Two-time world champions La Albiceleste will be sent packing from Russia if they lose to the Super Eagles – after their shock 1-1 draw with Iceland and their 3-0 humiliation by Croatia at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Thursday.
Sampaoli’s 4-3-2-1 formation with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi the soul and spirit was blamed for the White and Sky-Blues’ poor showing in both encounters.
Sampaoli, who is under intense fire from the Argentine media and fans following the South American powerhouse’s mediocre run in the Eurasia country, has reportedly agreed to make changes to his team for the decisive Saint Petersburg Stadium clash after much pressure from star players including Messi and Javier Mascherano.
Our correspondent learnt that the former Chile manager has decided to drop Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero for Higuain, who was started as a substitute along with Di Maria and Banega against Croatia.
It was learnt that Banega, who has been lined with a move to Arsenal, will play from the left side of the midfield in front of the defence, with Higuain leading Messi and Di Maria in the attack.
Banega, 29, is gifted with great dribbling skills, vision and accurate passing, which have made him popular at his La Liga side.
Reports from the Argentine camp on Thursday claimed that Sampaoli tested his probable team for today’s match on Monday with River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani, Gabriel Mercado, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Enzo Perez, Nicholas Otamendi, Banega, Messi, Higuain and Di María in the starting lineup.
Sampaoli is banking on a versatile Banega to team up with former Barcelona star Mascherano to nullify the threat posed by Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa.
Musa, who shot down Iceland with two superb goals in Volgograd on Friday, has scored four World Cup goals, two against Argentina, and he will aim to compound their woes.