World Cup future of Argentina, Lionel Messi now in hands of new coach Jorge Sampaoli

There’s a new man in charge of the Argentina men’s national team. The Argentina soccer federation formally introduced Jorge Sampaoli on Thursday as the team’s new coach, replacing Edgardo Bauza who was let go in April after a poor run of results.

A passionate, 57-year-old Argentine, Sampaoli was most recently the coach of Sevilla, leaving the club earlier this month after the Spanish club and the national team reached an agreement to let him out of his contract. He has also coached Chile and club Universidad de Chile, having tremendous success at both, including guiding the nation to its first ever Copa America title in 2015, with a penalty-kick shootout win over his birth country. 

Sitting in fifth place in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying standings, which is worth a spot in the qualifying playoff, Argentina has a plenty of work to do. With four matches remaining, the team is in a good spot to finish in the top five but will likely finish higher if it plays up to its talent. The team is also boosted by the return of Lionel Messi. His four-match suspension for verbally abusing an official was dropped earlier last month, meaning he is eligible for the next qualifiers in August and September. 

But before the qualifiers, Sampaoli’s squad has two friendly matches in June: against Brazil in Melbourne on June 9 and at Singapore on June 13.

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