So – it’s the turn of perennial favourites Argentina. So many quality players that the issue every manager has – including the last two (Sabella and Maradona has been how to fit them into a team that works. The issue they have is fluidity – teams are so afraid of the likes of Aguero, Messi and Di Maria they sit so deep it becomes difficult to break down, and the play becomes static. Just take Iran for an example in the last World Cup – pretty much a flat back 10, making no attempt to attack – and only a Lionel Messi wonder-goal could get them the win.
Gerardo Martino took over from Sabella after the loss in the World Cup final, and two months later he did what Sabella could not – beating Germany. Since then, a mix of losses to Brazil and Portugal, wins against Ecuador, Hong Kong, Croatia and a few others. Recalls for Carlos Tevez and Nicolas Otamendi were great astute, with both being in fantastic form. Here is their squad:
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Nahuel Guzman and Mariano Andujar.
Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta, Facundo Roncaglia, Ezequiel Garay, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo and Milton Casco.
Midfielders: Lucas Biglia, Roberto Pereyra, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago, Ever Banega, Javier Pastore, Erik Lamela and Angel Di Maria.
Attackers: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Possible Lineup: (4-3-3) Romero, Roncaglia, Garay, Otamendi, Rojo, Banega, Di Maria, Mascherano, Lavezzi, Messi, Aguero
Coach – Gerardo Martino
It’s pointless picking out players because they are all so well known. Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, will be the main men in the starting 11, but the likes of Rojo and Banega will be important, making the right runs/passes, while substitutes such as Tevez and Higuain could be sent on later on in the games to grab important goals. At the back Otamendi and Garay are a fantastic pairing that should prove to be impenetrable.
What to Expect?
During the last year, when playing friendlies they have mainly picked some youngsters like Orban, Mancuello and Mori, giving the big names 45 minutes or so. Now it is a big tournament they are all back in and the games will be taken very seriously – winning this competition is up there with the biggest achievement, to have bragging rights over the rest of the continent. 3 wins in the groups should happen, and then the latter rounds should be very interesting!
- To Reach the Final @ Evens
- Winner @ 2/1
- Highest Scoring Team @ 13/8
- Top Scorer: Messi @ 7/2 or Aguero @ 6/1
To win their group is just 2/7, so these three bets represent good value for me.
To be frank, anything less than a final will be seen as failure by Martino – as well as the Argentine board. That should happen, even if they meet Brazil, Chile or Colombia. If they face better opposition, I believe it will be best, as previously mentioned a lot of teams shut up shop against this side down to the fear factor of getting a mauling. A final appearance is my expectation here.