Argentina: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Monaco), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors).
Defenders: Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Jose Basanta (Monterrey), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan).
Midfielders: Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Enzo Perez (Benfica).
Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan).
Best Ever Finish: Winners (1978, 1986)
Captain: Lionel Messi
Manager: Alejandro Sabella
Qualifying with reasonable ease and with a plethora of attacking talent at hand, Argentina are in prime position to launch an assault on the 2014 World Cup.
In addition to their offensive riches, they will be playing on their home continent, and their familiarity with the baking heat and concentrated humidity will serve them well against teams who may toil in the Brazilian sun
Lionel Messi will be keen to fire his team into the knock-out phase and way beyond, especially after he failed to net at the 2010 World Cup. But in Brazil, with a supporting cast of Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain, Sabella’s team will not be lacking in firepower if Messi was to come up short again.
Argentina blew hot and cold at the previous World Cup under the stewardship of Diego Maradona. Under Sabella, they look better organised, much more pragmatic and subsequently have a better platform in place to allow Messi and co. to flourish. Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta are key defensive men, and come into this World Cup on the back of a title winning campaign with Manchester City.
It remains to be seen whether this added stability is exactly what this team needs to win their first World Cup for 28 years, but the added cohesiveness will surely benefit the Albiceleste as the quality of opposition increases in the latter stages of the competition.
Expect a strong showing from this talented group. A semifinal appearance is a very strong possibility, and if Messi can weave his magic, then the Argentinians have a wonderful chance of glory.
Key Player – Lionel Messi
Diminutive in stature but a giant of today’s game, who else other than the man who has been nominated the world’s best footballer for four of the last five years!? A crazy feat to match his astounding goal scoring record of 327 goals in 395 games for his club at the time of writing. Not to mention the 37 goals he’s netted in 83 outings for his country.
Not only is the man regarded by some as the greatest footballer to lace up a pair of boots an incredibly prolific goal scorer, but he will create chances for others, track back and press the opposition too. Messi can do it all and is approaching, if not already in the prime of his footballing career. With the tournament on his home continent, the little genius will surely not get a better chance to sample World Cup glory.
Under Sabella, he has been operating in an advanced role on the right-hand-side, with Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero joining him in a fearsome looking triumvirate of attacking players. But they are a flexible trio, giving Argentina’s attacking forays wonderful flexibility.
Argentinians will be looking to Messi to replicate his Blaugrana form in the blue and white stripes. If he can do that, any country that comes up against the Albiceleste will be trembling at the prospect of facing this football phenomenon.