An Argentina without Messi is tested in the first test against El Salvador

NEW YORK.- With the sensitive absence of the captain Lionel Messi, Argentina Their friendly tour of the United States begins on Friday against El Salvador to prepare for the defense of the America's Cup title.

The last time the Albiceleste team played without Messi ended last September with a 3-0 victory against Bolivia in La Paz in the South American qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.

The Inter Miami star, 36, is suffering from a hamstring injury in his right leg that led to his departure from the squad for the duel against El Salvador in Philadelphia (northeast) and Tuesday's match against Costa Rica in Los Angeles. Angeles (southwest).

Attacker Paulo Dybala (Roma) also fell due to physical problems from Lionel Scaloni's first list of the year.

The coach was reunited with his players after last November, after the resounding victory against Brazil at the Maracanã stadium, he set off all the alarms by questioning his continuity with the world champion squad.

“What I said was thought out, meditated. It was a moment of reflection after a difficult year (…) due to many things that happened not only on a football and personal level. It was a moment to think and know what what we wanted to do,” said Scaloni from Philadelphia in a talk with the streaming channel of the Argentine Football Association (AFA).

“We made the decision, I'm not saying to continue because we never said not to continue, but to reinforce an idea that is what we wanted,” he stated. “And to reinforce what is coming and try not to slow down, because that is what it is about, to continue competing.”

Good mix in Argentina:

The Argentine coach, leader of the World Cup qualifiers with 15 points in six games, called for his first camp of the year the majority of regular players plus some surprises like Valentín Barco, 19 years old.

The English Brighton full-back, who stood out in the U-23 team that won the ticket to the Paris Olympic Games, is one of the young figures who can gain experience on this tour, like the forwards Alejandro Garnacho (Manchester United) and Valentin Carboni (Monza).