Argentina predicted lineup vs Australia - World Cup

Managing his national team is Lionel Scaloni's first position as a manager of a senior side
Managing his national team is Lionel Scaloni's first position as a manager of a senior side / Markus Gilliar - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

Argentina have been pitted against Group D runners-up Australia for their round of 16 tie on Saturday evening.

When Lionel Scaloni was appointed manager of the senior side after Argentina bowed out of the 2018 World Cup in the first round of knockout matches, Diego Maradona questioned whether his nation's FA was "mad". The late legendary figure also sniped that the only World Cup Scaloni would go to was the motorcycling one.

Here's the lineup Scaloni may deploy on the turf, rather than the track, this weekend.

Argentina predicted lineup vs Australia (4-3-3)

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi missed his 31st career penalty against Poland. His 77% conversion rate is decidedly average / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

GK: Emi Martinez - If it goes to penalties - which would be a major accomplishment for the Australian underdogs - Argentina can fall back upon a goalkeeper Lionel Messi described as a "beast" following his heroics in the 2021 Copa America semi-final shootout.

RB: Nahuel Molina - "This boy lives his life so fast," Molina's father, Hugo, gasped after his son's first national team call-up in 2021. Barely a year earlier, he still hadn't broken into Boca Juniors' first team.

CB: Cristian Romero - Argentina have kept 12 clean sheets in Romero's 15 caps.

CB: Nicolas Otamendi - The first tattoo Otamendi ever had inked was when he was just 14. Since then, the former Manchester City defender has commissioned the likenesses of loved ones and characters from his favourite TV shows.

LB: Marcos Acuna - Not the most loquacious squad member, Acuna is selective with his speech. "It's hard to get the words out of him," Scaloni once said, "but when he does [talk], it's because he says the right thing."

CM: Rodrigo De Paul - Another heavily inked member of Argentina's squad only has space for one more design. "I think I'm going to stop," De Paul said. "Unless I become world champion, in which case I’ll get a tattoo of the World Cup on my chest.”

CM: Enzo Fernandez - The former Sporting CP and Porto manager Jose Peseiro couldn't believe Fernandez's junior status. "Enzo is only 21 years old?" he asked. "Either that’s a lie, or he’s a genius.”

CM: Alexis Mac Allister - The Brighton midfielder could become the first Seagull to appear in a men's World Cup match after the first group stage since Northern Ireland's Sammy Nelson lined up against Austria in 1982.

RW: Angel Di Maria - The only two World Cup goals Di Maria has ever scored have come in the round of 16 (against Switzerland in 2014 and France four years later).

ST: Lionel Messi - Argentina's skipper may have missed his spot-kick against Poland but he won €100 after goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny wagered that the referee wouldn't give the penalty. Argentina's qualification was probably a better consolation.

LW: Julian Alvarez - The Manchester City forward's brothers - Agustin and Rafael - both began playing for Manchester's Abbey Hey in the tenth tier when Julian joined Pep Guardiola's Premier League champions in the summer. However, the pair have flown out to Qatar, robbing Abbey of their left flank which the club's joint-manager, Chris Woods, described as a "massive miss for the squad".

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