When Argentina kick out their World Cup campaign on Saturday in Marseille, they will be entering unknown ground for the first time.
Because Argentina is rated two spots higher than England in the world standings, they enter this matchup as the slight favorites to win. This will be the first time that Argentina and England have competed against one another.
The team coached by Michael Cheika is currently ranked sixth in the world after achieving a historic first road victory in New Zealand the previous year, followed by victories against England and Australia on the road, and a third-place result in the most recent Rugby Championship.
On the other hand, England finished in eighth position despite having a poor Six Nations tournament and losing three of their four summer warm-up matches, including their opening encounter against Fiji.
The Pumas receive some attention from BBC Sport in advance of their heavyweight Pool D match on Saturday against Steve Borthwick’s team.
Mitchell and May were selected by England to compete against Republic of Argentina
The first round of the World Cup has an exceptionally tight pack of contenders.
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Putting the South American continent’s colors on display
Argentina has South America’s only realistic possibility of advancing to the knockout stages in France. Chile and Uruguay will both play a role, but Argentina’s chances are the best.
The Pumas had a game that was built on toughness and set-piece supremacy in 2015, when they reached the semi-finals for a second time. At that time, fearsome forwards Marcos Ayerza and Ramiro Herrera were dominating in the scrum. The Pumas finished third in 2007 before reaching the semi-finals for a second time in 2015.
Their play has evolved into an approach that is perhaps more dynamic at this point, but England prop Dan Cole adds that they continue to be “formidable” up front.
Cole referred to it as “a potent force.” “When you look at their team competing in the Rugby Championship, you can tell that they are risky. They will cause you damage and get stuck into you if you have even one scrum in which you are not entirely focused on what you are doing.
The pack from Argentina has managed to keep most of its potency, but the class of 2023 has a greater variety of strengths to draw from.
Packing a punch
Julian Montoya, Cole’s teammate at Leicester, will lead the side from the hooker position with a lot of effort and intensity when he has the ball in his hands.
The 29-year-old made his first appearance in a test match in 2014 and will serve as a role model for the rest of the Pumas pack with his never-ending sprinting and powerful lines in open play.
Juan Martin Gonzalez, a young player who recently signed with Saracens and will be playing the number six position, will try to assert himself at the breakdown and push England’s defense in the loose.
The 22-year-old has made 24 appearances for Argentina, during which he has scored seven tries, including a strong surge in Argentina’s victory over the All Blacks in August of 2022.
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The Pumas possess a devastating pace that can be used both in front of and behind the scrum.
Mateo Carreras, a wing for Newcastle, is a real livewire in attack. He finished second on the list of top try-scorers in the Premiership with 13 tries in the previous season and won the award for best try of the season with a magnificent try that covered the entire length of the field against Northampton.
The 23-year-old will not require a second invitation to take advantage of any weaknesses in England’s defense, which has already allowed 12 tries in four warm-up matches.
In the meantime, supporters of the Saracens will get their first look at Lucio Cinti, the club’s new signing from London Irish. Cinti will make his debut at outside center on Saturday, but he also possesses the speed to play on the wing. Meanwhile, Santiago Carreras of Gloucester will be pulling the strings from fly-half.
And Argentina has the ideal goal-kicker to keep the scoreboard ticking over in Emiliano Boffelli, who plays his club rugby for the Edinburgh side. In November of 2017, Argentina played England, and the versatile back scored 25 of Argentina’s 30 points against England. He had one try, one conversion, and six penalties.
The intellect that drives the physical labor
The head coach Cheika, who is 56 years old, has a wealth of experience at the Test level.
After winning the Champions Cup with Leinster in 2009, the Australian coach went on to reach the final of the World Cup with the Wallabies in 2015.
In the same year, he was honored with the title of Coach of the Year by World Rugby. However, he decided to step down from his position after Australia was eliminated from the 2019 World Cup by England in the quarterfinals.
Eddie Jones now has the right to brag about his victory over his longtime rival and friend Cheika, but it is Cheika who will ultimately have the final laugh.
After having joined the Pumas organization in 2020 in an advising capacity, he was promoted to the position of head coach the following year, in 2022.
After claiming that remarkable victory over the All Blacks in Christchurch during the Rugby Championship, Argentina promptly followed it up by claiming only a second win over England at Twickenham in November. This was before Argentina claimed only a second win over England.
After another three games, Jones was removed of his responsibilities as the head coach of England.
In the quarterfinals, Cheika has a chance to reignite his rivalry with Jones, who is now the coach of Australia. If his team beats England, they will be in the driver’s seat to advance from Pool D and play in the last eight.
Mallia, Boffelli, Cinti, Chocobares, M Carreras; S Carreras, Bertranou; Gallo, Montoya (capt), Gomez Kodela, Lavanini, Alemanno, Martin Gonzalez, Kremer, Matera are the members of Argentina’s side who will compete against England.