From San Antonio in the US we are served the friendly international match between Argentina and Mexico in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday. The Mexicans smell blood, since the Argentines have to do without various strongholds.
Argentina has again had a disappointing football summer, in which it again grabbed the prizes. The double world champion may well have the very best player of all time with Lionel Messi, but so far a World Cup or even a Copa America has not achieved that. Brazil also went wrong again this summer, after the country fell in the semi-finals of the Copa America against the host country. In the consolation final against Chile, Messi was sent off with a red card (and afterwards had a strong criticism of the referee corps), as a result of which he was suspended for this international match period.
National coach Lionel Scaloni is forced to experiment this international match with a team without Messi, while big names such as Angel di Maria and Sergio Agüero are absent. Last Friday, La Albiceleste played a 0-0 draw against neighboring country Chile in Los Angeles, although debutant Lucas Martinez Quarta almost had a dream debut with a header on the crossbar. Scaloni will probably start rotating again against Mexico. For example, the Argentinian media expects basic places for newcomers such as Alexis Mac Allister, Martinez Quarta and Gonzalo Montiel, as well as for Ajax player Nicolas Tagliafico. Nicolas Otamendi and Giovani lo Celso did not come out of the battle against Chile unscathed and are already on the plane back to England.
Unlike Argentina, Mexico can look back on a pleasant football summer. The country managed to seize for the tenth time the Gold Cup, the tournament for countries from Central and North America, by settling in the final with 1-0 with archrival United States. Last Friday, El Tri did that again by winning no less than 0-3 at The MetLife Stadium in New Jersey from The Stars and Stripes. PSV midfielder Erick Gutierrez signed for his first goal in the shirt of Mexico, while Javier Hernandez and Uriel Antuna were also accurate.
Mexico is in excellent shape, and has remained unbeaten since the appointment of national coach Tata Martino at the start of this year with nine wins and a draw. However, Argentina is a real fear giver for Mexico, because the last Mexican victory dates back to more than fifteen years ago. The nine subsequent mutual meetings all ended undecided or in an Argentinian victory. Martino has therefore put together a strong selection, with well-known names such as Raul Jimenez, Hector Moreno, Edson Alvarez, Hernandez, Hector Herrera and Hirving Lozano. The national coach, however, cannot have against Argentina against Gutierrez, Rodolfo Pizarro, Cesar Montes, Luis Rodriguez and Andres Guardado, who have left the Mexican camp due to injury or personal circumstances.