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16th Jun 2018

Sergio Aguero starts as Argentina name team early to keep Lionel Messi happy

Anything for you, Lionel

Jack O'Toole

Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has preemptively named his team for his side’s World Cup opener with Iceland on Saturday.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will start over Juventus forward Gonzalo Higuain with PSG winger Angel Di Maria set to partner Aguero and captain Lionel Messi up front.

Sampaoli had no issue with confirming his side on Friday and said that he must organise his team differently to accommodate Messi.

“I don’t think it is necessary to hide this information,” said Sampaoli.

“We had to consider Leo. We will see a team who concentrates on what this very important player is doing.

“The players create on the pitch and, with Messi, what coaches must do is organise around the player and his amazing skills. Having Leo means you must organise the team differently.”

Sampaoli hailed Messi as a genius as the Barcelona forward looks to win the one trophy this summer that has alluded him throughout his stellar career.

The 30-year-old dragged La Albiceleste through the World Cup qualifiers with a stunning hat-trick in Argentina’s final qualifier against Ecuador and Sampaoli predicts that this tournament will not be the last time we see Messi at a World Cup.

“Leo is very fit, well prepared and hopes to achieve his dream,” he said.

“He shouldn’t be under pressure. I do not think this should be his last World Cup – his skills and professionalism means he should be the one who decides. He is a genius and plays like a genius.”

Confirmed Argentina XI: Caballero; Salvio, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico; Biglia, Mascherano; Meza, Messi, Di María; Aguero.