World Friendly International Match
Argentina vs Australia - Match Preview
⚽ 15 June 2023 - 12:00 GMT +0
Reigning world champions Argentina will grace Chinese soil for the first time since 2014 with a rematch of their 2022 FIFA World Cup (WC) round-of-16 victory against Australia. Following comfortable home friendly wins against Curaçao (7-0) and Panama (2-0) in March, this game will serve as further preparation for the start of the Albiceleste’s 2026 WC qualification campaign in September this year, as well as their Copa América title defence in mid-2024.
Head coach Lionel Scaloni, who extended his contract in February this year until the end of the 2026 WC, has stated intent by naming a strong squad that includes all 11 starters from the 2022 WC final. Scaloni’s selection, in addition to a 14-game unbeaten run (W11, D3) in friendlies dating back to 2019, suggests the world’s top-ranked national team are going to approach this week’s games against Australia and Indonesia with the same efficiency that Curaçao and Panama could not handle.
Despite the next AFC Asian Cup preceding the Copa América by five months and Australia’s 2026 WC qualifying campaign beginning in October this year, Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold is using this international window to reward young players for strong club seasons. He, too, has been contracted through to the 2026 WC after the nation’s best World Cup finals group stage, and recently explained to the media that “irrespective of who played during June, I have made no secret that this window would provide a glimpse into the future”.
With that in mind, it would come as a shock if they could replicate or improve on their 2-1 loss to Argentina at the 2022 WC, particularly with no fewer than four of their starters from that game unavailable through injury. A similarly inexperienced squad lost 2-1 at home to Ecuador in March, four days after a first-choice side won 3-1 against the same opponents, results which could prompt Arnold to emphasise that the performance is more important than the result.
📋 Players to watch: Nicolás González was one of Argentina’s five scorers in the rout of Curaçao, and more recently scored in three of his final four appearances of 2022/23 for Fiorentina. Australia’s Mathew Leckie enjoyed a busy second half of the recently concluded A-League season, delivering a goal or assist in seven of his last nine club appearances.
⚡ Hot streak: Argentina have scored 25 unanswered goals in six friendlies since the beginning of 2022.
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