Argentina’s Sampaoli off to a winning start
JORGE SAMPAOLI enjoyed a perfect start to his Argentina reign with a 1-0 friendly win over Brazil yesterday, ending opposing coach Tite’s honeymoon in front of a mammoth crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Sampaoli unveiled a new front three in the ‘Superclasico’ Down Under, with Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain forming a formidable attacking triumvirate alongside talisman Lionel Messi.
But it was a Gabriel Mercado strike on the verge of halftime and a profligate Brazil attack that proved decisive, ending Tite’s perfect record of nine successive wins dating back to September.
With Neymar and a host of top players skipping the tour, Brazil missed a number of second half chances, leaving Sampaoli grateful for the win in front of more than 95 000 spectators.
“We knew it would be complicated because we were trying to set up a team for the future,” the former Chile manager told reporters through a translator. “I can’t really tell you that we’ve consolidated a team. This consolidation will take time. I would be lying if I told you everything went to plan but we’ve got the idea and we are beginning this journey.”
Tite’s night was soured when forward Gabriel Jesus was taken off the field on a stretcher in stoppage time after suffering a knock to the face from his Manchester City teammate Nicolas Otamendi.
“He had an injury, had a problem on his face, so he just went to hospital and we are waiting to see what happened to him,” Tite told reporters. – Reuters