Argentina will kick off their Copa America 2021 campaign against tough opposition Chile, tonight at 9:00 pm GMT (2:30 IST) when the two forces meet at Rio’s Estádio Nilton Santos stadium, also known as the Olympic stadium.
Copa America 2021 will be a special tournament for all the Argentina fans as this will probably be Lionel Messi’s last shot at the title. The Argentine maestro has won it all with his club FC Barcelona and is undoubtedly the best footballer the world has ever seen. But the lack of international trophies often leads to people questioning Lionel Messi’s supremacy. The Argentinian now has probably his last chance of proving all his haters wrong. But for that to happen, Lionel Messi shall need the help of his teammates which unfortunately, has not been the case with Argentina over the years.
There had been widespread dissatisfaction among the fans and football critics when the Argentina Football Association (AFA) announced their squad for the Copa America by leaving out some of their best youngsters namely Juan Foyth and Lucas Ocampos. However, the chosen squad for the tournament is also capable enough to be called serious title contenders.
In this article, let us talk about the Strongest possible XI that Argentina can opt for in Copa America to turn their title hopes into reality.
Goalkeeper – Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
By now, we all know that Argentina’s head coach Lionel Scaloni is obsessed with playing Franco Armani, but it’s high time that he starts valuing Emiliano Martinez. Martinez has been one of the most underrated goalkeepers in the world since his days at Arsenal and he proved his worth after his move to Aston Villa this January. He kept 15 clean sheets in 38 appearances this season, which is a huge achievement given the fact that Aston Villa is just a below mid-tier team.
Left Back – Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax)
Nicolas Tagliafico is one of the lesser known stars in the Argentina squad as he plays in Ajax Amsterdam, a club followed by very few outside of Netherlands. However, he is an undisputable must-have in the left back position. Over the years, Tagliafico has transformed himself to maintain a good balance between his defensive and attacking roles and his maturity and experience will be essential in Argentina’s Copa America 2021 campaign.
Centre Back – Cristian Romero (Atalanta)
Cristian Romero is currently the most in-demand centre back in the transfer market. The Argentinian defender did wonders in his loan spell at Atalanta this season, helping them in securing a third place finish in the Serie-A. His rock solid performance in defence has forced English suitors to come looking for the Argentine. Liverpool and Manchester United are the top contenders to sign the centre back as of now, and are willing to pay as much as €60M to secure his signatures. Romero will be Argentina’s main man in defence in the upcoming Copa America 2021.
Centre Back – Lisandro Martinez (Ajax)
Ajax Amsterdam player Lisandro Martinez has a profile similar to that of FC Barcelona legend Carles Puyol, which might also be the reason why the Catalan club are so heavily linked to the defender. The Argentinian centre-back is exceptional in aerial duels and in 1:1 situations and will be the perfect man to support Cristian Romero in defence. However, head coach Lionel Scaloni has so far picked fellow argentinian centre back Quarta over Lisandro, and it will be interesting to see who plays at centre-back in the match against Chile tonight.
Right Back – Gonzalo Montiel (River Plate)
Right back is probably the only position that the La Albiceleste will be worried about as they do not have many tested options to fill up this spot. Gonzalo Montiel and Nahuel Molina Lucero are the only two available options and the River Plate right back Montiel, will probably be chosen above Lucero.
Central Midfielder – Rodrigo De Paul (Udinese)
Rodrigo De Paul has been one of the most talked about midfielders this season after his terrific performance with Serie A side Udinese. He is a sturdy holding midfielder with great attacking capabilities. There is no doubt that he will be Sacloni’s man of choice for the Central midfield.
Central Midfielder – Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham Hotspurs)
Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder Giovani Lo Celso might not be getting game-time at his club, but he is an indisputable go-to option for his national side. The 25-year old youngster is a creative playmaker with exceptional ball control. The Argentine will be looking forward to seeing him on the pitch against Chile.
Defensive Midfielder – Leandro Paredes (PSG)
The one remaining spot in the midfield will be rightfully filled up by PSG’s defensive midfielder Leandro Paredes. The 26-year old is highly physical and a desirable addition to any midfield. He has slowly grown up to be a regular starter in a highly competitive PSG side, which tells a lot about his potential. With Paredes in the midfield, the Argentine defenders will have one less thing to worry about as the midfielder is amazing in stopping counter attacks with his quick transition runs.
Right Winger – Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
Was there ever any doubt about this?
Left Winger – Angel Di Maria (PSG)
Although Angel Di Maria prefers to operate from the right, he has never really got that chance with the national side due to the presence of Lionel Messi. However, it is a known fact that Messi likes to come inside to operate all-over the attacking third, which will give Di Maria the opportunity to shift into his usual position. It is sure that Argentina will have a dynamic forward line that will mould itself according to the situations.
Centre Forward – Lautaro Martinez (Inter)
The 23-year old striker has an amazing record playing for Argentina. In the 3 years he played in the blue jersey, he has already scored 11 goals, most of them being in major competitions. Lautaro Martinez has also had a great run with his club Inter with whom he won the Scudetto this season. His combination with Lionel Messi can turn out to be a nightmare for even the best defences in the tournament. Lautaro is expected to add to his international goals tally in Copa America 2021.
Argentina’s squad for Copa America 2021
Goalkeepers: Franco Armani, Emiliano Martinez, Juan Musso and Agustin Marchesin.
Defenders: Gonzalo Montiel, Nicolas Otamendi, German Pezzella, Nicolas Tagliafico, Lucas Martinez Quarta, Marcos Acuna, Lisandro Martinez, Nahuel Molina Lucero and Cristian Romero.
Midfielders: Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso, Exequiel Palacios, Nicolas Gonzalez, Guido Rodriguez, Rodrigo De Paul, Alejandro Gomez, Angel Correa and Nicolas Dominguez.
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria, Joaquin Correa, Sergio Aguero and Julian Alvarez.
Manager:- Lionel Scaloni