Best: Winners 1978 & 1986
Group: F (vs Bosnia, Nigeria & Iran)
Coach: Alejandro Sabella
Argentina are serious contenders for this title. Well, at every tournament they like to think of themselves as “serious contenders,” but seriously, this time they are. With so much talent upfront, coach Sabella is so spoilt for choice he could even afford to not call up Tevez. While coaches in recent times (read as: Maradona) just threw together the attackers, crossed fingers and hoped for the best, Sabella has focused on building a foundation. Its for this reason I consider Argentina as one of this years favourites. They will also have an edge over the European teams with the “continent advantage”. Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero & Angel di Maria’s form will be crucial to break the “Quarter Final Jinx”
Man to Watch:
Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi. With 4 Balon d’Ors under his belt, the diminutive Barcelona striker has little to prove. Its hard to believe he still has his doubters. Having won everything possible at a club level, some folk feel he doesn’t rise to the challenge with the national team. I guess this will be his opportunity to prove them all wrong. The naysayers consider his last season at Barca as lackluster, although any striker would dream of producing his stats, that is a testimony of what is expected of “la Pulga.” I feel he will reach his peak in Brazil.
While the front line is strong, and Mascherano and Gago are more than capable of handling the midfield, Argentina’s biggest problem will be the back line. They cruised through the qualifiers without much of a challenge, and may be able to get by in the group stages, but they are likely to face Portugal in the Quarters who
may will prove to be lethal. Another problem they face, since so many of their star players ply their trade in Europe, will be exhaustion and injury from the prolonged seasons.
So can they do it?
They are more than likely to win their easy group and face the runner up of Group E. They should sail through to meet Portugal, who I firmly believe they will overcome. A semi-final finish is my prediction.
Goalkeepers: Mariano Andujar (Catania), Sergio Romero (Monaco), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors)
Defenders: Lisandro Lopez (Getafe), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Jose Basanta (Monterrey), Nicolas Otamendi (Atletico Mineiro), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Jose Sosa (Atletico Madrid), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Ricky Alvarez (Inter Milan), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Ever Banega (Newell’s Old Boys), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys), Enzo Perez (Benfica), Fabian Rinaudo (Catania)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain), Franco Di Santo (Werder Bremen)