Spain entertain Argentina in an eagerly-anticipated friendly at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday night. La Roja played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against reigning World Cup champions Germany last week, and another strong performance against Jorge Sampaoli’s side would put them in a good shape ahead of this summer’s global tournament in Russia.
The hosts will have to do without the services of David Silva, who has been allowed to return home due to personal reasons. Aside from this, La Roja are pretty much at full strength with Marco Asensio, a strong contender to replace Silva in the starting lineup.
On the contrary, Argentina were without Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi for last week’s 2-0 win over Italy at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. The former remains a doubt with a hamstring problem, but Messi is likely to mesmerise the fans with his skills.
Players to watch for:
Diego Costa – Spain: The Atletico Madrid striker only came on as a second-half substitute against Germany. Costa did not have many chances on goal, barring one excellent cross from Marco Asensio, where he nearly made the contact required to beat Marc-Ander Ter Stegen. Costa could start ahead of Rodrigo Moreno upfront in this encounter, and his impressive hold-up play and passing around the box could be key against the 2014 World Cup finalists.
Lionel Messi – Argentina: The 30-year-old’s absence in Manchester would have undoubtedly disappointed many neutrals. Messi has not always sparkled in the blue and white shirt of Argentina, but rest assured, he can turn the country’s fortunes on his day, as exemplified during the must-win qualifier game against Ecuador in October, where he notched a sublime hat-trick. Messi is not entirely fit for the friendly, but he may still get an hour’s run out against La Roja, who are among the prime contenders for the 2018 World Cup.
On paper, Spain have a better equipped side across all departments, and they may edge the encounter, irrespective of Messi’s showing, Spain 2-1 Argentina