Paulo Dybala made Argentina's World Cup roster after all, but Mauro Icardi did not, with Serie A's leading scorer omitted from a star-laden attack heading to Russia.
Jorge Sampaoli emphatically answered two questions on Monday: Paulo Dybala will be going to the World Cup, while Mauro Icardi will not.
Argentina's manager is blessed with a treasure trove of attacking riches, so much so that he omitted Serie A's leading goalscorer from a forward line that will include Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Dybala. Icardi's place with Argentina's national team, despite his club-level exploits, has been a point of contention for some time, and should Argentina struggle to score in Russia his exclusion will surely be brought up again.
In March, Sampaoli hinted that Icardi could miss out despite his club form, saying upon his friendly roster exclusion, "The connection between Icardi's performances in Inter and Argentina wasn't the best. I realized that and felt that we have to work on it more. But we don't have enough time." Time, evidently, has run out.
Elsewhere, there will be questions in the midfield and in defense, where an aging core will be counted on to provide the spine to Sampaoli's side. In goal, Sergio Romero is fit after suffering a knee injury in Argentina's embarrassing friendly loss to Spain in March.
Despite all of its talent, Argentina barely qualified for the World Cup, requiring hat trick heroics from Messi in its finale in Ecuador to cement its place in the field of 32.
Argentina finished as a runner-up in the 2014 World Cup and followed that with runner-up finishes in the 2015 and 2016 Copa America competitions. It is seeking its first major trophy on the senior international level since the 1993 Copa America.
Here is Argentina's roster in full:
Goalkeepers: Franco Armani (River Plate), Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Sergio Romero (Manchester United)
Defenders: Marcos Acuña (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino), Federico Fazio (Roma), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax)
Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel Di Maria (PSG), Giovani Lo Celso (PSG), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica)
Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus)