Argentina vs El Salvador: Preview and Prediction

Two teams in contrasting runs of form take on each other in Philadelphia, as El Salvador meet Argentina in an international friendly.

Since the World Cup triumph over a year ago in Qatar, things have yet to be smooth sailing for Argentina, especially with the future of their manager. Lionel Scaloni emerged to cast doubts over his position in the dugout but has since confirmed he will remain the national team manager. Meanwhile, Argentina face El Salvador in their first outing of the year.

Despite the uncertainties surrounding Scaloni, Argentina have maintained their performance on the pitch. Including games at the World Cup, La Albiceleste put together an impressive winning run of 14 games, only to see that come to an end against Uruguay.

Immediately after that, Argentina bounced back with a stellar victory over Brazil away from home, the first such loss the Selecao have suffered on home soil in World Cup qualifying. After a long break from international football, Scaloni will have the chance to evaluate his squad ahead of their friendly in Philadelphia as they take on El Salvador.

El Salvador last met Argentina in March 2015, when La Albiceleste clinched a 2-0 win. In contrast to the world champions’ run, El Salvador are looking to end a miserable run of 19 games without a win that includes nine draws and ten defeats in all competitions.

There have also been managerial changes in El Salvador’s background, with Spanish coach David Doniga succeeding Ruben de la Barrera in January. This high-profile friendly with Argentina is an excellent opportunity for the new manager to evaluate his squad ahead of his quest to turn their fortunes in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers later.

Team News & Tactics


The big news ahead of this friendly in Philadelphia would be the absence of superstar Lionel Messi, with the Inter Miami star missing out with a minor hamstring problem.

Exequiel Palacios, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, and AS Roma forward Paulo Dybala are also missing from action. There has been a surprise call-up for Lisandro Martinez despite the defender nursing a knee problem.

Manchester United have since confirmed that the centre-back will not play a part in either of the Argentina games and is only there to continue his rehabilitation process.

Another Red Devils star might feature, with Alejandro Garnacho in contention to start after a period of good form. Meanwhile, Lionel Scaloni might decide on the participation of uncapped trio Valentin Barco, Nicolas Valentini and Valentin Carboni ahead of this game against El Salvador.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; Mac Allister, Fernandez, De Paul; Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez, Garnacho

El Salvador

David Doniga might name his strongest squad ahead of the friendly with Argentina, with experienced players like Darwin Ceren, Narciso Orellana, and Nelson Bonilla representing the experienced core of players in the team.

Mario Gonzalez will keep his place between the sticks, while a back five of Rudy Clavel, Adan Climaco, Julio Sibrian, Melvin Cruz, and Jorge Cruz will take the places in defence.

Ceren and Jairo Henriquez are the best-placed members of the squad to take on central midfield duties, with Ceren likely to be a more central presence. Nelson Bonilla and Brayan Gil are the best places to start on the frontline. The manager has other choices, such as Nathan Ordaz or Javier Ferman. But they have yet to play a competitive game for El Salvador.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Gonzalez; Claval, Sibrian, Climaco, Melvin Cruz, Jorge Cruz; Orellana, Ceren, Henriquez; Brayan Gil, Bonilla

Key Stats

  • Argentina and El Salvador have only met twice before, including a meeting in the 1982 World Cup.
  • Argentina have been unbeaten in 15 of their last 16 international games
  • Argentina have won both their previous two meetings against El Salvador
  • El Salvador are winless in their last 19 international games across all competitions.
  • El Salvador have failed to score in four of their last six international games

Player to Watch

Alejandro Garnacho

Embed from Getty Images

The Manchester United winger comes into the international setup amid a terrific run of form and will want to keep that going with Argentina. He only has three caps for the national side, and from here on, the attacker will want to become a concrete part of Lionel Scaloni’s plans.

Some notable absentees for Argentina include Paulo Dybala and the formidable Lionel Messi for this round of fixtures, which presents a big chance for Garnacho to make the best of the opportunity. Hence, the winger must perform well in these games or stand the risk of remaining on the fringes for key games later on.


Argentina 3-0 El Salvador

El Salvador will relish the opportunity to take on Argentina at a neutral venue, but they will still lack support. The minnows are expected to get beaten by the world champions, although their manager will want a concerted performance to make an excellent example for future games.

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni will treat the game against El Salvador as the chance to evaluate his squad further and make some selection changes that allow fringe stars to make their mark. Overall, they have a superior set of players and a solid defence to score at least three or four goals and keep a clean sheet in Philadelphia.

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