Argentina were always going to be viewed as one of the top contenders heading into the 2014 World Cup. Now that the draw is complete, the Albiceleste know their path through the group stage.
In the four World Cups between 1978 and 1990, Argentina won two championships and also secured a runner-up finish. In the five tournaments since that impressive run of success, the Albiceleste haven't advanced beyond the quarterfinals.
Argentina have a great chance to end the drought of runs to the final in 2014 with the event being held in South America. Led by Lionel Messi and a strong cast of supporting players, the squad will enter the international showcase alongside Brazil, Spain and Germany as the main title threats.
Knowing that, let's take a look at all the key group information for Argentina now that the draw has been completed and make an early projection of what the team's roster will look like next summer.
|National Team||FIFA Ranking|
If there's a team who lucked into an easy group, it's Argentina. There's no reason to expect any of these teams to come close to winning a match against the mighty Argentines, and la Albiceleste should have no trouble at all advancing out of their group in first place.
|Date||Start Time (Local Time)||Start Time (EST)||Opponent|
|June 16||8 p.m.||6 p.m.||Bosnia-Herzegovina|
|June 21||2 p.m.||12 p.m.||Iran|
|June 25||2 p.m.||12 p.m.||Nigeria|
Argentina Roster Prediction
|Goalkeeper||Agustin Orion||Boca Juniors|
|Defender||Pablo Zabaleta||Manchester City|
|Defender||Marcos Rojo||Sporting Lisbon|
|Defender||Jose Maria Basanta||Monterrey|
|Defender||Fabricio Coloccini||Newcastle United|
|Defender||Hugo Campagnaro||Inter Milan|
|Midfielder||Angel di Maria||Real Madrid|
|Midfielder||Fernando Gago||Boca Juniors|
|Midfielder||Augusto Fernandez||Celta Vigo|
|Midfielder||Maxi Rodriguez||Newell's Old Boys|
|Forward||Sergio Aguero||Manchester City|
|Forward||Ezequiel Lavezzi||Paris Saint-Germain|
World Cup Prediction
The most important factor for Argentina is a healthy Messi. The Barcelona superstar has endured a stretch of consistent injury woes, most recently a hamstring issue expected to keep him sidelined until around the new year. If he's not at full strength next summer, the team's chances take a serious hit.
If Messi is ready to roll, however, the Albiceleste will feature one of the most dangerous attacking groups in Brazil. The trio of Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain will be a nightmare to defend for opponents, and Angel di Maria is an outstanding playmaker in the midfield.
How far will Argentina advance in the World Cup?
The biggest question mark is whether manager Alejandro Sabella could opt to carry another natural striker like Rodrigo Palacio instead of eight midfielders. Augusto Fernandez and Erik Lamela can both play up front on the wing if needed, though, which means Palacio could get left out.
As for the back line, the starting four should be solidified if current form is maintained. Pablo Zabaleta and Marcos Rojo will line up on the outside with Federico Fernandez and Ezequiel Garay handling the crucial central roles.
The battle for the reserve spots will likely be a little more intense. Ultimately, experience is usually the deciding factor when a manager is making final calls, which bodes well for players like Fabricio Coloccini.
Finally, the goalkeeper situation should be pretty straightforward. Argentina hope Sergio Romero is able to find top form leading up to next summer or play in goal could become an issue, but the upside is definitely there to round out the roster.