Argentina's call ups for the break below (starters and key rotation pieces in bold
Franco Armani (River Plate)
Emiliano Martínez (Aston Villa)
Gerónimo Rulli (Villarreal)
Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla)
Nahuel Molina (Udinese)
Germán Pezzella (Real Betis)
Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur)
Nehuén Pérez (Udinese)
Lisandro Martínez (Manchester United)
Nicolás Otamendi (Benfica)
Marcos Acuña (Sevilla)
Facundo Medina (Lens)
Nicolás Tagliafico (Lyon)
Leandro Paredes (Juventus)
Guido Rodríguez (Real Betis)
Enzo Fernández (Benfica)
Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton)
Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid)
Giovani Lo Celso (Villarreal)
Alejandro Papu Gómez (Sevilla)
Thiago Almada (Atlanta United)
Paulo Dybala (AS Roma)
Ángel Di María (Juventus)
Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
Julián Álvarez (Manchester City)
Joaquín Correa (Inter)
Ángel Correa (Atletico Madrid)
Lautaro Martínez (Inter)
Nicolás González (Fiorentina)
1. Who's Romero's CB partner??
Scaloni has preferred Otamendi recently, but if Argentina play a high defensive line as expected, Ota's a real liability. I also just question if he has the athleticism left to keep up with even medium quality attackers. Gotta respect the fact that he's still playing big minutes for Benfica though, who's leading Liga NoS. The emergence of Lisandro Martinez at MAN U, Perez at Udinese, and even Medina at Lens gives Scaloni lots of good options. What a swing from recent years! The other interesting piece here is that Romero, Perez, and Medina all play in 3ATB systems, and even better still Medina plays LCB, Perez plays CCB, and Romero plays RCB for their clubs. So if Scaloni wants to go 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 he's got the defenders for it. Even Pezzella is still playing big minutes for a terrific Betis squad.
2. Is Dybala Going to Play?
Frankly, it's baffling and yet a good sign that Dybala just hasn't cracked the XI or even the rotation really in the past 2 years. Dybala's a world class talent as he's showing this season at Roma, but he's also a true #10 in a sport that's really moved away from that role. La Scaloneta is a true system (built around Messi in a free role of course) but La Joya doesn't really fit into any of those spots. Scaloni has the squad well-drilled enough already that perhaps he can start working a second system that doesn't have Messi in it (the man's gotta rest and he's going to retire from the Albiceleste eventually, right?) and Dybala's good enough that maybe he builds it around a Lautaro-Dybala pairing. That sounds A-OK to me!
3. Are We Going to See a Change in the MF?
I've thought that Paredes-De Paul-GLC were set in stone starters, but man the strength of the squad puts that to doubt. Paredes is getting PT at Juve, but Juve aren't good and there's a lot central mids there (hi Weston!). De Paul is getting minutes at Atleti but they're underperforming. GLC's playing good (not great) minutes at Villarreal who sit 5th.
Meanwhile, Alexis Mac Allister has been a big part of Brighton's surge to 4th place in the EPL, Enzo Fernandez is playing big minutes at 1st place Benfica at 21 years old, and Guido Rodriguez leads Betis in minutes for the team running third behind Barca-Real in Spain. I mean, that's a lot of effing talent. It's probably helpful to think about Argentina's MF in terms of DMFs, AMFs, and specialists (looking at you Paredes), since Mac Allister really doesn't have much in commo with Rodriguez. In sum, I think we'll see lots of players get minutes, and potentially we'll see both single-pivot and double-pivot systems.
4. Who are the best FBs?
Argentina is stacked at both positions here as well, and I suspect there's no clear cut best FBs but rather better wing defenders vs. better attackers. On the left Tagliafico might be a slightly better defender than Acuna, but el Huevo (favorite nickname ever) gets forward and is surprisingly good in the middle and final third. On the right, it's likely Montiel or Molina, with Molina likely a nose ahead based on playing time. Then again, that's also primarily due to squad composition. Maybe Gazza's resident La Liga experts @rguilmar
can shed some light on these guys.
5. Do Any of the Young Forwards Assert Themselves?
Lautaro is the MF truth, Messi is Messi, and Di Maria is still usually the best choice at the other forward slot. Papu Gomez continues to be the fucking man, and he can play anywhere and is one of the most fluid players I've seen in the modern game. Moreover, he's a proven finisher which always takes on added importance in the int'l game when chances are usually fewer.
But despite all the talent of A Correa, J Correa, and Alvarez, they're all buried behind bigtime players at megaclubs. But even last year when they were getting a bit more PT, they were all behind Nico Gonzalez in the pecking order. But even Nico hasn't played much this season yet. My best guess is that Joaquin and Alvarez will both get some time to audition for the backup CF spot, and they're such different players that I could see an argument that it's not a direct comparison, but as they say in college football it's getting late early for Joaquin and this is likely his peak for the NT.
6. What Does X Have to Do to Make the Squad?!??
Despite how good the squad is, it's remarkable how many good players didn't even make it:
Lucas Martinez-Quarta (Fiorentina)
Juan Foyth (Villarreal)
Exequiel Palacios (Leverkusen) (TBF he's injured ATM)
Nico Dominguez (Bologna)
Lucas Ocampos (Ajax)
Emi Buendia (Aston Villa)
Gio Simeone (Napoli)