SINGAPORE: The absence of superstar Lionel Messi may have made the headlines ahead of Tuesday’s (Jun 13) friendly between Argentina and Singapore, but new coach Jorge Sampaoli will aim to thrill the local crowd by going for the jugular against the Lions.
It was reported by various sports news sites that Sampaoli is thinking of starting the game with just two known central defenders - Emmanuel Mammana from Lyon and Roma's Federico Fazio - supported by a midfield trio of Eduardo Salvio, Lucas Biglia, Marcos Acuna.
This means the Argentinians may play with five up front, with star names Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala likely to lead the line and supported by others such as Joaquin Correa, Manuel Lanzini and Alejandro Gomes.
"There's the possibility that there's two central defenders with one back up," said Sampaoli, in the pre-match media conference on Monday. "The defence of the team are the 10 players, just as the match against Brazil showed."
He added: “The variety of attackers lets us experiment with the varieties against Singapore. We have many offensive players and we will have to see how they play with the defensive part of the team.”
La Albiceleste will be facing a Lions team still licking its wounds after its 2-1 defeat against Chinese Taipei last Saturday in the Asian Cup qualifiers.
Singapore’s dismal international record speaks for itself – coach V Sundramoorthy’s side has yet to register a win in the last seven games, since the 1-0 friendly victory against Cambodia in November 2016.
That victory was preceded by a six-game winless streak following a 1-0 triumph against Myanmar in a friendly last June.
It remains to be seen how Singapore will cope with the Argentinians’ attacking qualities, but coach Sundram hinted at a familiar defensive game plan in his 56-second address to the media on Monday.
"They (Argentina) are a strong team. We would love to entertain, but we have to be cautious," he said.
As for the Argentinians, ranked second in the world, they began life under Sampaoli with a 1-0 win against five-time world champions Brazil in a friendly last week in Melbourne, Australia.
The Argentinians looked slick in training at the National Stadium pitch on Monday, and after that, some even took time off to get their hair cut by local barbers.