Argentina Predicted Lineup vs Mexico – World Cup

Argentina’s attempt to bounce back from a surprise defeat to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener comes against Mexico on Saturday night.

Only four teams in the 90-year history of the men’s World Cup have ever reached the final after losing their opening game of the tournament. Diego Maradona famously inspired Argentina’s 1990 showpiece after upset Cameroon in the same way as the reverse against Saudi Arabia.

West Germany (1982) and Italy (1994) have also recovered from an early setback to appear in the final, but only Spain (2010) have lifted the trophy after losing their opening match.

This is the XI that Lionel Scaloni can deploy to get back to winning ways this weekend.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi has appeared in a record-equalling five different World Cups / Matthias Hangst/GettyImages

GK: Emi Martinez – Scaloni rattled through eight different goalkeepers in less than 50 games at the helm before settling for Martinez.

RB: Nahuel Molina – The Atletico Madrid full-back wore a replica Barcelona kit to his childhood parties in Cordoba before joining the club’s academy in Buenos Aires. Presumably he has kept his former loyalty to himself since arriving in Madrid.

CB: Cristian Romero – Saleh Al-Shehri’s goal was the first goal Romero conceded for Argentina in nearly 15 hours of football. He only had to wait five more minutes for Salem Al-Dawsari to remind him of the sensation.

CB: Nicholas Otamendi – Mexican manager Gerardo Martino called Otamendi again while in charge of the Albiceleste after missing the 2014 World Cup under Alejandro Sabella.

LB: Marcos Acuna – After six failed trials growing up, Acuna is now part of his second World Cup squad.

CM: Rodrigo DePaul – Enzo Fernandez may be knocking on the door, but De Paul’s place is practically bulletproof after 45 games on the team since Scaloni’s appointment.

CM: Leandro Paredes – One of many Argentine players who will be buzzing around the pitch as Lionel Messi’s bodyguard should he come under too much physical scrutiny, Paredes is certainly focused on the team’s number ten. “If we win the World Cup,” he said ahead of the tournament, “I’d be happier for him than for myself.”

AM: Lionel Messi – A tricky penalty against Saudi Arabia took Messi’s international goal tally for the calendar year to 12, matching his career high in 2012.

RW: Angel Di Maria – Last summer, Di Maria left Paris Saint-Germain to join Juventus without the Parisians collecting a transfer fee. Even his very first club move, from Rosario Central to El Torito, came with the promise of 35 footballs.

ST: Lautaro Martinez – “El Toro” comes from a family of football players that includes his father, grandfather and grandmother.

LW: Julian Alvarez – Unsurprisingly, Alvarez considers it a “privilege” to play alongside Messi, a player the Manchester City striker once asked for a photo when young Alvarez was simply a fan of the Argentina national team, rather than of a member.

Harry Symeou presents Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan and Jack Gallagher to look back at France ’98 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We’re taking a trip down memory lane – join us!

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