Will this finally be Argentina’s year? We think so! With everyone looking at the Brazil’s and Spain’s of the World, nobody is really giving the other South American giant a chance, but I have a funny feeling they will do it. Aguero, Messi and Higuain have all had good seasons (Messi not as good as usual, but still not that bad!), scoring around 60 goals between them, and also have a strong midfield in Di Maria, Gago and Mascherano. Their defence could be questioned, but Federico Fernandez and Ezeqiel Garay is a good partnership. Here is their squad:
GK’s: Sergio Romero, Mariano Andujar, Agustin Orion
DF’s: Pablo Zabaleta, Federico Fernandez, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo, Hugo Campagnaro, Martin Demichelis, Jose Basanta
MF’s: Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago, Lucas Biglia, Ricardo Alvarez, Augusto Fernandez, Angel Di Maria, Maxi Rodriguez, Enzo Perez
FW’s: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Rodrigo Palacio, Ezequiel Lavezzi
Coach – Alejandro Sabella
Missing – Carlos Tevez, Javier Pastore, Erik Lamela, Ever Banega.
With Brazil already qualified, it made life easier for Argentina, who finished top of the 9 team group with 32 points, two clear of 2nd place Colombia. There were never any dodgy moments – they always looked safe on their route to Brazil.
Ones to Watch:
Ezequiel Garay – With a rather unexperienced centre back pairing, Benfica’s Garay will be key in the latter rounds keeping world-class strikers quiet. He is also a big threat from set pieces.
Lionel Messi – after a disappointing season with Barcelona, Messi will be glad to get away with the national team where he has a little more freedom, and is not expected to play keep-ball like he is at FCB. He has never really performed at a World Cup, but this time, with Ronaldo now holding the Champions League and Ballon D’or – we think Messi will shine!
Angel Di Maria – as the most experienced and attacking of what will be a midfield three, Di Maria will be vital in connecting defence and attack. After a stunning season with Real Madrid, he will go into the competition full of confidence, and looking to add the World Cup to his Champions League!
(4-3-3): Romero, Zabaleta, Garay, F Fernandez, Rojo, Di Maria, Gago, Mascherano, Aguero, Messi, Higuain.
A brilliant first 11, with the likes of Lavezzi and Palacio on the bench. Messi is playing the ‘False 9’ role, like he does at Barca. Aguero and Higuain will both be out of position playing on the wings, but players of this quality can do it no problem. The back four is solid, and the midfield three very experienced. All in all what should be an interesting World Cup for them!
Winner – 9/2
Group Winner – 1/6
Over 6.5 Group Goals – 4/5
Group Points: 9 – 5/4
For me, I think Argentina will win the competition. At 9/2, it is a great price, and they have a team full of class. This time Messi will shine, and probably get at least 3 in the Group Stage. Assisted by Di Maria, Aguero, Higuain and the likes of Garay and Zabaleta who chip in with a few goals, they should romp the groups with 9 points. Bosnia poise the only real threat. Our Top Tip for Argentina is 9 Group Points @ 5/4 and Over 6.5 Group Goals @ 4/5 – and Winner @9/2!