A number of Gerardo Martino’s fringe Argentina players are likely to be handed opportunities to impress in Saturday’s friendly against Bolivia.
The fixture in San Juan is Argentina’s last before they open their Copa America campaign against Paraguay, but coach Martino will be without the likes of Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano, Roberto Pereyra and Carlos Tevez.
All four have UEFA Champions League final commitments with either Barcelona or Juventus – meaning Martino will need to shuffle his pack.
Lucas Biglia (knee) is an injury concern but the likes of Ever Banega and Fernando Gago could have a final chance to stake their claim for a starting berth before Martino’s key men return.
Martino is seeking to ensure the World Cup runners-up secure a first Copa success since 1993, and the former Paraguay boss is eager to make the most of the final days of preparation.
“I have a World Cup runner-up team and that forces us to keep trying to play the same way,” Martino told TyCSports this week.
“There is a challenge in trying to formulate a method of playing that will serve us well in the Copa América, in the group stage and whatever else comes our way.
“We face the smallest and the biggest. I have seen the teams train and in friendly matches. Lack of time is no excuse, we can achieve [our aim] without any kind of problem.
“There is a high degree of complexity and many teams have arrived well to the tournament and the range of competitiors is wide. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are still the favourites, but other teams with the same desires are beginning to appear.
“We want a collective game that allows us to be positive about the future. Many people want the team to play well and win.”
Bolivia’s preparations have been less than ideal, with Mauricio Soria’s side seeing Sunday’s proposed friendly with Venezuela cancelled due to adminstrative issues with FIFA.
Prior to that, Soria’s first planned game since being appointed on a full-time basis – March’s friendly with Nigeria – was also shelved due to Bolivian concerns over safety arrangements in the African nation.
That deprived Soria of one final friendly before cutting his squad down for the final time – a move that saw veteran Juan Carlos Arce removed despite appearing at the last two Copas.
Bolivia are due to face Mexico in their Copa opener next Saturday, while Argentina face Paraguay the following day.
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