11 September 2012
While it might be a little unkind to suggest, as some have, that merely pulling on the Estudiantes de La Plata shirt for a kickaround in the park is a big step towards being in the next Argentina squad, it is undeniable that Alejandro Sabella has made liberal use of his former Pincha pupils. The Copa Libertadores-winning coach rarely picks a team without including at least a handful of that side who tasted continental glory in 2009 followed by 2010’s Apertura title, and the latest local squad is no exception.
While foreign-based León alumni such as José Sosa and Marcos Rojo prepare in Lima for a World Cup qualifier against Perú, forecasted by Youwin betting to be a comfortable victory for the Conmebol leaders, those players still based in Argentina will play two matches against their counterparts in Brazil for the Superclásico de las Americas. The first call-ups, to be augmented later with the inclusion of players starring in Brazil, certainly raised a few eyebrows.
Estudiantes defenders Leandro Desabato and Germán Ré, plus midfielder Rodrigo Braña, who inspired a collective national groan on Friday with a frankly farcical handball against Paraguay, are all present and correct for the series. All of them, plus current Boca full-back Clemente Rodriguez, were part of the La Plata club during that Sabella golden age, but are far from top form in the Inicial and have attracted accusations of favouritism from some sectors. These choices, however, shouldn’t completely distract from the wildcards in the squad; of which some names really stand to attention.
San Lorenzo’s machine-like Julio Buffarini is rewarded for his consistently excellent and all-action performances in a team which has had little to celebrate since the midfielder completed a move from Ferro at the start of 2012. The 24-year-old can play either on the wing or further back in defence, and has been a revelation to watch in the Primera since he effortlessly made the step up from the Caballito club.
Good to see as well that Sabella has opted for an intriguing mix of youth and experience, against what will no doubt be a formidable Brazil team. Players like Sebastian Domínguez, Maxi Rodríguez and Leonardo Somoza have enough years behind them to guide the kids through what for many will be their first taste of international football; five starlets mentioned on these pages as ones to watch for the future, Ricardo Centurión, Lisandro López, Lucas Mugni, Gino Peruzzi and Juan Sánchez Miño made the cut and will be hoping to play at least some part against Argentina’s eternal South American rivals.
Just how much Sabella is prepared to risk will become evident closer to September 19th, when the Albiceleste kick off in Goiana’s Estadio Serra Dourada in the first of two clashes against the Samba boys. It will be tough going against Neymar, Ganso and the rest of the Selecao’s superstars, but with the right mix of the old guard and the young pretenders – as well as the inevitable Estudiantes contingent – Argentina will be hopeful of springing a surprise in the Superclásico.
Argentina Squad for Superclásico de las Americas: