Saudi Arabia - Argentina Preview: Di Santo eyes Albiceleste bow in Riyadh friendly
The Wigan Athletic striker has been called up by Alejandro Sabella for the first time and could make his international debut at the King Fahd International Stadium
By Karthick Arvinth
Al-Shahrani, Hawsawi, Al-Bishi, Al-Harbi
Otaif, Al-Jassim, Al-Sahlawi
Zabaleta, Coloccini, F Fernandez, Rojo
Rinaudo, Mascherano, Di Maria
Benfica pair Ezequiel Garay and Enzo Perez have pulled out of Argentina's squad for the friendly match with Saudi Arabia through injury.
The duo join Gonzalo Higuain (thigh) and Fernando Gago (calf) on the sidelines, while out-of-favour striker Carlos Tevez has been omitted from the squad.
Coach Alejandro Sabella may hand international debuts to striker Franco Di Santo and goalkeeper Cristian Alvarez in the Wednesday clash.
Saudi Arabia have already failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, but boss Frank Rijkaard is expected to name a strong side with an eye on next month's West Asian Federation Championship in Kuwait.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Saudi Arabia have won just two of their last 10 matches (W2, D4, L4).
- Ranked 112th in the world, the Asian nation last featured in a World Cup tournament in 2006.
- Saudi Arabia's last encounter with Argentina came in the 1992 Confederations Cup, with the South Americans running out 3-1 winners.
- Argentina have won eight of their last 10 matches.
- But the Albiceleste have won just one of their last three matches away from home.
- Lionel Messi (pictured, right) has scored eight goals in his last six matches for Argentina.
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Top 3 Predictions
Saudi Arabia 0-8 Argentina
- 19.37 %
Saudi Arabia 0-5 Argentina
- 14.41 %
Saudi Arabia 0-4 Argentina
- 9.35 %
|International Friendlies (FR)||Nov 14, 2012||Saudi Arabia 0 - Argentina 0|
|Nov 19, 2013||China 0 - Saudi Arabia 0||ACQ|
|Nov 15, 2013||Saudi Arabia 2 - Iraq 1||ACQ|
|Oct 15, 2013||Iraq 0 - Saudi Arabia 2||ACQ|
|Mar 23, 2013||Indonesia 1 - Saudi Arabia 2||ACQ|
|Mar 17, 2013||Malaysia 1 - Saudi Arabia 4||FR|
|-||Yasir Al Shahrani||Defender|
|-||Mohammed Al Bishi||Defender|
|-||Mansour Al Harbi||Defender|
|-||Salem Al Dawsari||Defender|
|-||Abdulrahman Al Qahtani|
|7||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
|-||Franco Di Santo|
A series of impressive performances at the back for Al Hilal last season earned Hawsawi a move to Belgian side Anderlecht during the summer, making him the only player in Saudi Arabia's squad to ply his trade overseas. The 28-year-old has only made one appearance for his new club, but will be tasked with marshalling his country's defence against one of the most potent strikeforces in world football.
The 24-year-old has, by his own high standards, had a slow scoring start to the season, but netted a sumptuous goal in Manchester City's win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. Aguero will be keen to improve on his recent record of scoring just one goal in his last four appearances for the national team.
Saudi Arabia are in a poor run of form, while Argentina are flying high in the South American World Cup qualifying zone. This, then, should be a comfortable victory for the visiting team.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed