Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni told a press conference this Friday ahead of the World Cup round of 16 match in Qatar – Saturday against Australia (15 hours from mainland Portugal), in Al Rayyan – that he still believes the former player Benfica Di Maria (now at Juventus) has recovered from his injury and is ready to play.
“Di Maria still feels some discomfort, but he has no contractures. Wait for game time. It may seem absurd, but we played later, even after winning the group, and rested less than Australia had since the last game. Look, I also have doubts about whether I will have Tagliafico at the game. i hope angel [Di María] be available for the game,” Scaloni wished reporters this Friday in the capital of Qatar.
According to the Argentine press (Olé newspaper), Scaloni’s midfielder Enzo Fernandez of Benfica is one of the pillars of the formation in a strategy dubbed “Scaloneta”: the Benfica player is already in the starting line-up against Poland (assist) after coming on as a substitute in two previous games (and a beautiful goal scored against the Mexicans) is one of the three pillars of the pampas for the coach, along with Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton) and Julian Alvarez (Manchester City).
What Scaloni doesn’t want is unbridled euphoria. “The opponent is losing? I disagree. Absolutely. This is football, 11 against 11, you have to drop favoritism and play the match. As for tactics, it will be similar, perhaps with some changes. There are good players in Australia, but we will try to show our best game, control the game for most of the minutes, our idea is to try to win,” said Scaloni.
What he expected from the Oceania team, but which qualified and is playing in the Asian zone, was clear. “They have good players on the right flank, forwards and experienced midfielders playing in competitive leagues. And, in particular, they are a team. And when you face the team, it’s always hard. It’s a choice with players who know what they want,” Scaloni said.
After the controversy over the VAR confirmation of Japan’s 2-1 move against Spain – there was a feeling that the ball had completely crossed the bottom line earlier, but the goal was confirmed – also Scaloni, without stopping to do so, he left, as did his counterpart in Spain Luis Enrique, many doubts.
“I think the way Luis Enrique thinks: the first images are clear. [bola terá passado o risco na totalidade]🇧🇷 But if you analyze it in detail, you will see what happened. There is nothing else to do. We face the situation, we live with it. It’s hard to digest, especially since it’s implemented at the World Cup. If we had time to adapt earlier, but it was very sudden. We had a month of tests before the games. Anyway, this is for everyone, this is what we have. But to be… it’s almost a millimeter,” said the Pampas breeder.
As for the football that will be featured and what Australia expects, there is no doubt. “They have a clear system in attack and I don’t think they are going to change. My message to the fans as always: let’s break our backs on the field! We came to compete, but at the end of the day it’s just football, one game, we saw it in the Group E games on Thursday. Almost all the teams deserved to get into the next stage, but at some point the games turned upside down, that’s what happened, ”Scaloni gave the example, not surprised that Australia beat Denmark.
“I was not surprised: they are a good team, they had a good qualifying campaign. They were the fourth team to qualify for Qatar! They have a World Cup tradition and that makes them a strong contender. We are not going to be too confident, but we will play our best football, game after game, and see what happens, ”concluded the Argentina coach.