Manchester United fans will have been left bewildered by Lionel Scaloni’s decision to bench Lisandro Martinez for Argentina’s World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia.
It was a decision that proved costly to Argentinian ambitions, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Romero at fault for the Saudi equaliser.
That goal was the first of a quickfire double that stunned Scaloni’s side as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat despite entering the match as heavy favourites.
Indeed, most would have seen the Group C opener as a formality in favour of La Albiceleste, making this a historic upset.
Romero was more or less bypassed by Saleh Alshehri, who subsequently slotted home past Emiliano Martinez.
It would be unthinkable that the lack of aggression and awareness from the Spurs defender would have been replicated by Lisandro Martinez in the same situation.
Praised for his ‘grinta’ by United boss Erik ten Hag, The Butcher may well have prevented that goal and in doing so given Argentina a platform to go on and win the match.
Instead the Argentines seemed devoid of aggression all over the pitch after conceding.
The lacklustre display was criticised by Graeme Souness for that very thing during ITV’s coverage of the match.
Martinez has been in tremendous form at club level since joining Manchester United in the summer transfer window.
He has become a cult favourite around Old Trafford for his spirited displays and solid defensive performances.
Meanwhile Romero sat out the last four of Tottenham’s matches leading into the tournament having suffered an injury.
Scaloni substituted Romero for Martinez after the hour mark, and while that shored up the defence, by then the damage had already been done.
Lisandro must surely fancy his chances of starting Argentina’s next match as they look to make amends against Mexico on Saturday.