Update from Thursday, May 22
Argentina boss Alejandro Sabella has cut four players from his 30-man preliminary World Cup squad, leaving just three more names to be chopped ahead of the tournament.
The following players saw their dreams dashed, reported by Sky Sports:
|Franco di Santo||Werder Bremen|
|Fabian Rinaudo||Sporting Lisbon|
|Gabriel Mercado||River Plate|
After consecutive quarterfinal exits from the World Cup, Argentina gear up for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with their sights set on redemption.
Back on South American soil for the first time since 1978, when they won as hosts, La Albiceleste are poised to make a deep run this summer.
Led by one of the planet's top players in Lionel Messi, Argentina will carry lofty expectations into a favorable group draw. After landing in the same group as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria and Iran, Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella was quick to express his relief, per Telam, via ESPN FC:
We are not in a group of death and the travelling is not too bad. We have drawn a group we are happy with. Brazil is a very big country with huge differences in climate and for us the journeys will be short -- otherwise, we’d have had to deal with a lot of travel and temperature changes.
Unsurprisingly, many experts are projecting Argentina to run the table in Group F and easily advance to the knockout stage. But the pressure to succeed is often an overlooked factor in a tournament of this magnitude, as noted by football journalist Danilo Colasimonho:
Sergio Romero says God wants this World Cup to be Messi's and Argentina's. That kind of talk is always worrying.— Daniel Colasimone (@ArgentinaFW) February 25, 2014
Will it be a triumphant return to South America for the two-time World Cup champions or another disappointing showing on the sport's biggest stage?
Only time will tell, but with Argentina's 30-man roster announced, let's take a look at who will be representing the South American giants in Brazil this summer.
World Cup 2014 Roster
|DF||Jose Maria Basanta|
|MF||Angel Di Maria|
Projected Starting XI
|D||Pablo Zabaleta||Manchester City|
|D||Jose Maria Basanta||Monterrey|
|M||Angel di Maria||Real Madrid|
|F||Sergio Aguero||Manchester City|
Argentina's biggest strength clearly lies at the top of their lineup. With Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain on board, there may not be enough touches to go around.
Although Aguero and Higuain have each scored 20-plus goals on the international stage, Messi's 37 trump every other player on the roster and are sure to guarantee him a spot in the starting XI. After all, only Gabriel Batistuta (56 goals from 1991 to 2002) has scored more goals for the Argentina national squad than Messi.
Javier Mascherano is another name to watch for in the starting lineup. The Barcelona midfielder, who will be 30 in June, is closing in on 100 career appearances for Argentina and brings tremendous leadership and poise to the table.
No active player has more career appearances for La Albiceleste than Mascherano.
In goal, 27-year-old Sergio Romero seems like the obvious choice. The Monaco goalkeeper has 44 appearances since 2009.
Defensively, Manchester City's Pablo Zabaleta and Napoli's Federico Fernandez appear to be locks. The veteran duo have combined to make nearly 60 international appearances and are unlikely to be overwhelmed by the moment in Brazil.
Regardless of what Argentina's starting XI looks like for their Group F opener against Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are sure to be plenty of familiar faces in the mix and notable star power on display.
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