Scaloni: Tata Martino Was An 'Idol' Figure To Me

REUTERS

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni has praised the work of Gerardo Martino and said he expects a tough test when his side take on Mexico in Texas.

Both men started their playing careers with Argentine club Newell's Old Boys and have since made the move into management.

Martino guided Argentina to two Copa America finals before stepping down in July 2016 and is now in charge of Mexico, via a spell with Major League Soccer side Atlanta United.

Scaloni considered Martino an "idol" figure at Newell's Old Boys and still holds the 56-year-old in high regard.

"I was Martino's partner at Newell's," he told reporters ahead of Tuesday's friendly with Mexico in the United States. "He was there when I debuted. For me, he was the idol of the club and still is. 

"It was a lifelong reference and marked a time for all of us who played at the bottom and had the chance to do it.

"He has a very clear idea of ​​the game and it is very important to play against this team. I am sure it will be a very difficult team for any team. It will be difficult.

"As a coaching staff, seeing the operation of all the teams, we like some things about Mexico. We are similar in the line of play, being a leading team."

Without the suspended Lionel Messi, Argentina played out a goalless draw with Chile on Friday in their first match since beating the same opponents in the third-place play-off at the Copa America.

Scaloni has suggested he will make changes to his starting line-up against Mexico and has called on his players to keep better control of the ball.

"At one point with Chile we lost control of the game," he said. "Mexico like to keep the ball, so do we. The more control we have, the better. It takes time. It worked, we have it clearer before a complicated opponent.

"There are three players I'll wait until Tuesday [to decide on]. I don't want them to go out if they're not 100 per cent.

"If I think about getting results, the call would have been different. On the other hand, we would be left with the feeling that there are young boys who can give us a lot. 

"The results this week is secondary. They are tests to see where we stand. We will continue with the same line of play."