Argentina are gearing up for a must-win encounter against Poland at Stadium 974, which will decide whether or not they advance to the knockout round of the World Cup. They will have to try doing so without Paulo Dybala in the starting lineup. Here, find out why.
For Argentina, the 2022 World Cup was supposed to be Lionel Messi‘s swan song; instead, the Paris Saint Germain forward has had a mostly disappointing experience. La Albiceleste’s first Group Stage game was a humbling loss to Saudi Arabia, but they rebounded with a 2-0 win against Mexico, with Messi scoring the first goal.
As a result, Argentina still have a shot at making it to the next stage despite having only one game remaining to play. They are currently sitting in second place in Group C with three points, one behind the leaders Poland. On the other side, there is Robert Lewandowski\ who scored Poland’s second goal in their 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia on Saturday, making it his first World Cup goal at the age of 34.
The Barcelona forward made up for his penalty miss in the scoreless draw with Mexico. After Piotr Zielinski had given the Eagles the lead on the stroke of halftime, he finished the game off by capitalizing on a defensive mistake. The Polish defensive prowess has been on display in Qatar so far. They are one of only two teams in their group without a goal conceded after two games.
Why is Argentina’s Paulo Dybala starting on the bench against Poland?
Paulo Dybala was doubtful to play for Qatar 2022 after missing eight games with a hamstring injury for Roma. In the Giallorossi’s 1-1 draw with Torino in their last match before the World Cup break, though, he made a brief return as a substitute.
Nevertheless, Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni included the 29-year-old on the team’s World Cup squad. However, Dybala is yet to play in Qatar, starting on the bench in both matches against Saudi Arabia and Mexico.
While discussing Dybala’s lack of playing time in a news conference, Scaloni assured reporters that the Roma striker was not hurt: “If he is out, it’s only a tactical decision. Paulo is fine, he is supporting the group from the outside. Obviously, he would like to play more, but it’s not certain that this won’t happen in the next World Cup matches.”