Argentina will bid for their first World Cup victory in a bid to nail down second place in Pool C when they take on Georgia in Gloucester on Friday.
The Argentinans pushed champions New Zealand all the way before falling to a 26-16 defeat in their opening match, the All Blacks expected to run away as winners of a pool also featuring Tonga and Namibia.
Georgia, however, kicked off their campaign with an impressive 17-10 win over Tonga, meaning the pressure is on the South Americans to confirm their status as the pool’s second favourites behind the All Blacks.
Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade made three changes from the side that lost to the champions.
Matias Alemanno replaced injured lock Guido Petti, who suffered a head knock in scoring a try against the All Blacks, while back-row forwards Facundo Isa and Juan Manuel Leguizamon have come in for Leonardo Senatore and Pablo Matera respectively.
Argentina captain Austin Creevy said “it will be a big battle in the scrum and the mauls”.
“They are very strong and we have got to impose rhythm and dominate the game with our fowards to offer up some clean, quality ball for our backs.”
Georgia coach Milton Haig, whose last encounter, in 2013, with Argentina ended in a 29-18 defeat agreed that his team were the underdog against the Pumas, just as they were against Tonga.
“The difference between the Tonga and Argentine side is that Tonga were ranked 12th in the world whereas Argentina are ranked eighth, and they play in the Rugby Championship every year and have got some very good quality players,” said Haig, a Kiwi.
“I’m not saying that Tonga don’t, but Argentina will be a different kettle of fish.”
Haig added: “It’s a nice opportunity for us this time because there’s no pressure on Georgia, all the pressure is on Argentina.
“I think that’s how we’ll look to play, we’ll just go out and play our game with no pressure on us.”
Haig agreed with Creevy that it would be a battle royale up front, something the Gloucester supporters in Kingsholm will surely cherish.
“It’s going to be a battle of the forward packs there’s no doubt about that, because they are both big and strong, both scrumming lineouts are very good,” Haig said.
“But I think it’s going to be the other parts of the game that will determine who wins – who attacks the best and certainly who is able to create opportunities for themselves.
“We’re probably the underdogs in that respect but if we can defend like we did against Tonga and create a few more opportunities, who knows?”
Joaquin Tuculet; Santiago Cordero, Marcelo Bosch, Juan Martin Hernandez, Juan Imhoff; Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Facundo Isa, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamon; Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno; Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy (capt), Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: Julian Montoya, Lucas Noguera, Ramiro Herrera, Javier Ortega Desio, Pablo Matera, Martin Landajo, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
Merab Kvirikashvili; Tamaz Mchedlidze, Davit Kacharava, Merab Sharikadze, Giorgi Aptsiauri; Lasha Malaguradze, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Mamuka Gorgodze (capt), Viktor Kolelishvili, Giorgi Tkhilaishvil; Konstantine Mikautadze, Giorgi Nemsadze; Davit Zirakashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: Shalva Mamukashvili, Karlen Asieshvili, Levan Chilachava, Levan Datunashvili, Shalva Sutiashvili, Giorgi Begadze, Giorgi Pruidze, Murazi Giorgadze.