Argentina: Jorge Sampaoli competitive debut & World Cup qualification

New beginnings

What can we expect from Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli as he prepares for his first competitive match for Argentina?

It’s as always, a tough decision to take the reigns of a national team and even harder when it’s four time World champions and your own, but this decision for Jorge Sampaoli was never easy. After first taking his international managerial debut for rivals Chile and leading them to a successful World Cup 2014 and then winning Chile’s first international trophy Copa America 2015, Sampaoli in 2016 decided it was time for fresh air and returned to club football.

He joined Sevilla, a spell of one season and as World Cup qualification for Argentina looked bleak, and a second defeat to Chile in the Copa America Centenario Final, AFA, Argentina Football Federation thought it was time to call in Sampaoli.

Since taking the throne, Sampaoli has been thrown into the deep end as La Albiceleste find themselves in a very precarious situation:

World Cup Qualification

Sampaoli’s men sit outside automatic qualification and are currently seeded to play in a intercontinental play-off.

The world was able to see Jorge Sampaoli’s international debut in Melbourne, Australia in a friendly match against Brazil where his men ran out 1 (Mercado) 0 winners and also against Singapore where his men ran rampant in a 6-0 victory. It was a display of exactly what a team ran by Sampaoli is about.

The world fell in love with Sampaoli’s managerial style of play; possession, free flowing attacks, relentless pressure with/without the ball, overlaps and so on its simply beautiful football.

Sampaoli’s Argentina is a threat to all that await him. It’s no lie he has inherited a team of stars who will excel in his style of play.

Jorge Sampaoli WCQ Squad:

It’s no lie this team is more than capable of qualifying for the World Cup, but why and how does it find itself in fifth position?

If it’s one thing Sampaoli brings to a team is mental strength. He brought belief to Chile when it needed it the most. A national team nurtured by ‘El Loco’ Bielsa and matured and toughened by Jorge. He let Chile believe, and believe they did. They continue to not look back.

Under Bauza sadly, Argentina looked flat, missing their frightening presence, interplay not menacing and filled with an empty feeling, waiting for players to step up.

A national team plagued by egos but hey, is that a bad thing? No.

Messi is a leader albeit not by voice, but by his left foot. When you see players pressuring around the pitch, non-stop running that’s enough to pull a team up and yes, goals. Argentina is blessed to be surrounded by players with experience such as; Mascherano, Romero, Banega, Aguero and so on. All commanding figures on the pitch who will find an extra gear under their manager. A scary thought for all.

Surprisingly, the manager has chosen to exclude Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain and choose Aguero alongside Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi. Decisions like those are nothing new, he’s all about tough love.

These crucial matches against Uruguay and Venezuela are a huge test for Sampaoli. It’s simple qualify or qualify and at this stage by whatever it takes.

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