The timing of Thiago Almada’s World Cup call-up was a shock but based on his talent, there were no surprises at all.
Almada was called in as one of two injury replacements to Argentina’s roster, replacing Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina) and Joaquin Correa (Inter) alongside Atletico Madrid winger Angel Correa, having initially been left out of Lionel Scaloni’s 26-man group.
The 21-year-old likely thought his chance had gone but now, the playmaker – who picked up his first senior cap in a friendly against Honduras in September – has the chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, and Lautaro Martinez as La Albiceleste go in search of glory.
Lucky? Not quite. This is a player who notched six goals and seven primary assists in 29 appearances during his debut MLS season, often proving the silver lining on what was a dismal campaign for Atlanta United. Almada is the most expensive incoming transfer in MLS history ($16m), and has courted interest from clubs like Manchester United in the recent past.
“Does Almada’s call-up surprise me? It doesn’t surprise me because he’s a player who has the level to be here. And hopefully, the football world can enjoy him on the national team,” Scalonireplied when asked about Almada’s inclusion.
But Scaloni doesn’t just Almada as the solution to a short-term injury problem. The former Velez youngster is being highlighted as someone who can help Argentina for years to come.
“He’s a kid with…an enormous future ahead of him,” Scaloni added. “And we don’t just work thinking about right now, we work with the future in mind.”
Argentina begin their World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday before facing Mexico on November 26, and Poland on November 30.
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Ben White leaves England World Cup squad due to ‘personal reasons’
Arsenal star Ben White has left England’s World Cup training camp and isn’t expected to return for the remainder of the tournament.
The defender didn’t make an appearance in any of the Three Lions group stage games, and has now left the squad due to ‘personal reasons’.
In a statement released by England, the Three Lions confirmed the news: “Ben White has left England’s training base in Al Wakrah and returned home for personal reasons.
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“The Arsenal defender is not expected to return to the squad for the remainder of the tournament. We ask that the player’s privacy is respected at this moment in time.”
White has enjoyed a fantastic domestic season with Arsenal, becoming the club’s first choice right-back – and one of the best right-backs in the Premier League – as the Gunners have gone from top four challengers to table-toppers.
Poland vs Argentina: Confirmed lineups
France, who have already secured a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup 2022, play Tunisia on Wednesday in their final Group D matchup.
In the meantime, the African nation is last in the standings and must defeat the current champions to advance to the knockout stages.
Poland XI (4-4-1-1): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Kiwior, Cash; Frankowski, Bielik, Krychowiak, Zielinski; Swiderski; Lewandowski
Argentina XI (4-3-3): Martínez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuña; De Paul, Enzo Fernández, Mac Allister; Messi, Álvarez, Di María
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