Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Nigeria’s defensive resolve will be tested as Argentina intends to parade the strike force of Sergio Kun Aguero, Paulo Dybala and Cristian Pavón in today’s international friendly tie in Russia.
The match will be played at a warm temperature of 16 degrees in Krasnodar, a city located about 1,300 kilometres to the south of Moscow.
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has hinted his desire to sustain the South American nation’s superiority over their African adversaries by opting for an all-out attacking formation.
The two-time World Cup winners are a shade ahead of Nigeria on the balance of previous meetings as they have five wins relative to Nigeria’s sole victory.
Dybala and Pavon, according to El- Clarin, the Buenos Aires-based newspaper, are the only changes Sampaoli is contemplating for the friendly, and from the team that beat Russia 1-0 on Saturday, after Lionel Messi pulled out to join Barcelona.
Messi, a recurrent thorn in Nigeria’s flesh in the previous engagements, will not play through the Eagles defence today, having been excused from international duty by Sampaoli.
The coach felt the inspirational forward and Argentina captain, deserved a break from international match load.
In his absence will be Boca striker, Pavon, who has earned the adulation of Messi for his impressive performance against Russia.
The 21- year- old played a key role in a play that set up Aguero’s goal against Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
It is also expected that Agustín Marchesín will be handed his debut in the goal ahead of Sergio Romero and Nahuel Guzman, who was on duty in the match against Singapore.
The Argentina likely starting XI in the match to kick off at 5.30 pm Nigerian time would be Marchesín; Javier Mascherano, Germán Pezzella, Otamendi; Banega, Kranevitter, Giovanni Lo Celso; Dybala; Pavón, Agüero and Ángel Di María.
The Krasnodar stadium has a capacity for 34,291 spectators. The stadium was one of the venue proposed by the Russian federation for the next year’s World Cup before it was dropped.
However, it was used as venue for two friendlies by Russia against Costa Rica and Cote d’Ivoire.