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Argentina's Willy Caballero unsure of World Cup starting spot

Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero is still waiting to find out if he will be Argentina's No. 1 at the World Cup.

Argentina lost Sergio Romero, who was Argentina's starting keeper at the 2014 World Cup, when the Albiceleste finished runners-up to Germany, to a knee injury during the country's preparations for the tournament in Russia.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is expected to start Caballero in goal ahead of River Plate's Franco Armani and Tigres UANL's Nahuel Guzman.

"The three goalkeepers have a feeling of being starters," Cabellero said in a news conference at Argentina's headquarters in Bronnitsy. "Until we don't hear the list from the coach, we will not know.

"I played the last game but we are still competing for that position each day. I think Argentina or Jorge [Sampaoli's] style of play demands for the goalkeeper to play more with the feet.

"We adapt to that and we try to do the best to play, to have more of the ball. We need to realise that we are also part of the team's play creation. For us, this makes us better players."


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Caballero made 14 appearances for Chelsea this past season and started in Argentina's 4-0 friendly win over Haiti in the team's final warmup game for the World Cup, while he also played for Argentina at under-20 level and won the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship.

He only earned his first cap for the senior team in a 2-0 defeat of Italy on March 23, 2018.

"I've been with this group of the national team little time but they have welcomed me very well," the former Manchester City stopper said.

Argentina have had some hurdles to overcome in their preparations, with Manuel Lanzini also ruled out due to a knee injury.

The national team last week cancelled their final World Cup warmup friendly against Israel because of Palestinian protests, but Caballero is focusing on the positives ahead of the World Cup.

"I think the preparation has been good," the 36-year-old said. "We are well, working hard. The only negatives were losing Chiquito [Romero] and Manu [Lanzini]. But we left those injuries behind us in order to continue to work and realising that we have to start in the best possible way.

"It doesn't matter what we went through, now we have to enjoy ourselves and do the best we can. We are in good condition, improving on things in order to reach our top level." 

Argentina have lost their last three major finals -- two Copa America (2015, 2016) and the 2014 World Cup -- and are looking for glory in Russia.

They take on Iceland in their opener on Saturday in Moscow before facing Nigeria and Croatia in Group D.

"We know a lot about our rivals," Caballero said of Argentina's first opponents. "It's going to be a very tough game. They defend really well and as a block. We will have to use all of our possible variables to attack them."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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