Wales v Argentina - Teams and Prediction
PREVIEW: Michael Cheika may have orchestrated a famous win for Argentina at Twickenham, but the Pumas’ Australian coach is adamant that his men are the underdogs against Wales.
Argentina overcame England 30-29 to claim only their second victory at Twickenham, while Wales opened their November Series campaign with a humbling 55-23 defeat to New Zealand.
Wales conceded eight tries and head coach Wayne Pivac bemoaned his side’s lack of physicality after the All Blacks turned on the style in Cardiff, but Cheika is expecting the hosts to be fired up for Saturday’s match.
“When you come away from home in rugby, you are always the underdog,” former Wallabies’ boss Cheika said on Thursday after naming an unchanged side and the same 23 who were on duty at Twickenham.
“When you walk out on to the Principality Stadium and there are however many thousands of Welsh people there, supporting their team, you are the underdog.
“Honestly, I don’t see anyone coming to Cardiff as favourites. It’s such a difficult place to come to in that atmosphere.
“You’ve got to be so good on game day to be in the contest. We know we will be in the minority, but that challenge of playing in the big theatres when you are the opposition is a really enjoyable one.
“You have got to get the thrill of being the enemy on the day and embrace it.”
The roof will be closed on Saturday for #WALvARG
— Principality Stadium (@principalitysta) November 10, 2022
Argentina appear to be in a good place less than a year out from the World Cup in France.
The Pumas have beaten Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and England since Cheika took over in March.
But Cheika, who coached his native Australia between 2014 and 2019, preferred to talk up Wales rather than his own team at their Cardiff hotel.
“I know another team that shipped eight tries against the All Blacks not too long ago – us,” he said.
“I know how powerful Wales can be. It can happen in games, sometimes it just gets away from you.
“I have been here too many times to know what this Welsh team brings and how they are at the stadium.
“They have a very good counter-attacking game and good ball runners in the wide channels – both backs and back row – so we are going to have our hands full defending.
“We need to be really good on the details of our game and mentally to be in the contest.”
Cheika has been able to give his full focus to Los Pumas this week as he was previously combining his Argentina duties with that of being Lebanon coach at the Rugby League World Cup.
Lebanon went out to Australia at the quarterfinal stage and Cheika said: “It was one of the best experiences I have had in sport.
“From the heritage point of view [Cheika’s parents immigrated from Lebanon to Australia in the 1950s], to be coaching a team like that in another sport was great.
“It was very different because of the variance of player level. We had amateurs, who would go to work every day and then train at night, playing alongside professionals.
“I had a great coaching team with me and we just had a really good time. It gave me a heap of energy for coaching and I really enjoyed it.”
Meanwhile, Wales head coach Wayne Pivac knows that his team will be up against a Pumas side that has evolved under Michael Cheika.
“They’re a very big team, very strong up front,” said Pivac of Argentina.
“They have expanded their attacking game and they took an excellent try against England from the set play.”
He added: “They’ve knocked over some big scalps in the last 18 months, New Zealand being one of them. They are going to be a big challenge but one we’re looking forward to.
“After last week’s performance we need a reaction from our team.”
Players to watch:
For Wales: Louis Rees-Zammit will get a start in the fullback position and with more time and space he could be devastating with ball in hand. Wing Rio Dyer had his debut against the All Blacks last weekend and he scored a try as well. Wales will be looking to put him into space to rattle the Pumas. Gareth Anscombe gets the all-important No.10 jersey and Wales will need some direction from him. Wales’ big men up front could not rattle the All Blacks and it’s an area they can’t afford to ignore against the Pumas. Taulupe Faletau will need to be at his bruising best, while Dan Lydiate needs to find the form that made him one of the world’s best players a few years ago.
For Argentina: Wing Emiliano Boffelli has established himself as one of the world’s best players this season. He produced another match-winning performance against England and he is set to be a prominent figure in Cardiff as well. Scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou has great vision and he makes good decisions, while Santiago Carreras is making that No.10 jersey his own with a number of eye-catching performances. In the pack, Pablo Matera is a workhorse and pops up in the unlikeliest of places to win the ball for his team. One area where the Pumas did shock England last week was in the scrums and Michael Cheika’s front-row forwards will be licking their lips in Cardiff.
@rugby365com: Argentina by seven points.
Wales: 15 Louis Rees-Zammit, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Sam Wainwright, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Jac Morgan, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Owen Watkin.
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Mateo Carreras, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Pablo Matera (captain), 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Eliseo Morales, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Matias Orlando.
Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 17.30 (17.30 GMT; 14.30 ART)
Expected weather: Roof closed – Outside it will be mostly sunny with a high of 17°C and a low of 12°C.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia) & Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
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