World Cup - Argentina

Why was Paulo Dybala not playing in Argentina - Saudi Arabia?

Tom Gott
Dybala was an unused substitute
Dybala was an unused substitute / Zhizhao Wu/GettyImages
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Argentina's attack looked laboured as Lionel Scaloni's side were stunned 2-1 by Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener.

Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez started the game in attack, with Angel Di Maria and Alejandro Gomez on the wings. Messi scored the opener but Argentina couldn't find a second goal, despite the introduction of Julian Alvarez after the break.

One player who did not get off the bench was Paulo Dybala - a decision which had some fans scratching their heads.


Why was Dybala not playing in Argentina v Saudi Arabia?

Dybala was a massive doubt to even make the World Cup squad as a hamstring injury saw him miss eight games for Roma, but he did make a brief return as a late substitute in the 1-1 draw with Torino - Roma's final match before the World Cup break.

Scaloni included Dybala in his squad but openly admitted he could change his selection because of fitness concerns, with Dybala one of the most prominent injury doubts.

While the Roma man ultimately proved his fitness to some extent, it was assumed that Dybala was far from full fitness.

Scaloni's decision not to start Dybala was understandable but fans were far less understanding about the choice not to use the 29-year-old at all.

Just why Scaloni did not turn to Dybala is unclear, but he wasn't the only unused substitute. Thiago Almada and Angel Correa both remained on the bench as well as the manager kept his faith in Messi, Martinez and Di Maria.

The boss did have one last substitution, having only used two breaks beforehand, and will now be left wondering what could have been.


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