Friday 04 November 2016, 10:59

Bauza: Higuain and Messi will start against Brazil

Edgardo Bauza has confirmed that Gonzalo Higuain will get the nod over Sergio Aguero to partner Lionel Messi in Argentina's crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier in Brazil.

In La Pulga **Atomica’s absence, Pipita and Kun started La Albiceleste’s last two preliminaries. Aguero missed a penalty and Higuain scored in a 2-2 draw in Peru, while both drew blanks in the 1-0 loss at home to Paraguay . The Manchester City striker has failed to find the target in five appearances in Russia 2018 qualifying.

“Higuain and Messi will start against Brazil,” declared Bauza. “Higuain and Aguero are both national team players. If you say one is better you will get quoted, I’ve no doubt about that. Argentina have a lot of good strikers.”

With Paulo Dybala injured, Angel Correa, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Pratto were the other forwards Bauza called up for the qualifiers away to Brazil and at home to Colombia. One notable exclusion was Mauro Icardi. The 23-year-old Inter Milan captain has hit eight goals in 11 Serie A matches this season, but has just one Argentina cap to his name, won in 2013.

“When I spoke to Icardi he had a problem with statements published in his book,” explained Bauza. “ Zanetti told me he’s extraordinary.

“In the street they ask me for 30 to 50 players per day. There are players we are following. We are analysing them and seeing whether to time is right to call them into the national team.

“I personally called each of the players who were not included this time to tell them to continue working, that they may have been left out this time but they could be included again next time.”

Argentina face Brazil in Belo Horizonte on 10 November, before playing Colombia in San Juan five days later.

“I you do not have a well-organised team against Brazil you can have a lot of problems,” warned Bauza. “The plan is to beat Brazil, but we know the difficulties we’ll face. If we add four points from these two games it won’t be bad.”