Mascherano set for recall for Argentina’s World Cup qualifier

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Buenos Aires, Sep 3 (IANS) Argentina football team coach Jorge Sampaoli could make three changes to his team for Tuesday’s clash with Venezuela as the Albiceleste attempt to steady their shaky World Cup qualifying campaign.

Among those expected to be drafted into the starting eleven for the clash at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires is Barcelona veteran defender Javier Mascherano, who sat on the bench in the 0-0 draw with Uruguay on Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency.

The 33-year-old trained with Argentina’s first-team in Buenos Aires on Saturday and was seen having a long one-on-one conversation with Sampaoli.

He is expected to take the place of the suspended Gabriel Mercado in midfield.

Midfielder Ever Banega — who missed the match in Montevideo due to suspension — is also likely to return, replacing his Sevilla teammate Guido Pizarro.

Meanwhile, Lanus forward Lautaro Acosta is expected to come into the side for Porto winger Marcos Acuna.

Argentina received some good news on Saturday, with defender Nicolas Otamendi training normally after suffering a heavy knock to his ankle against Uruguay.

The two-time World Cup winners are currently fifth in the 10-team South American zone standings, with three matches left in the qualifying tournament.

The top four terms will advance directly to football’s showpiece event in Russia next year while the fifth-ranked side will earn a playoff spot.

–IANS

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