Predicting Argentina's World Cup Squad Following Latest Internationals

Daniel EdwardsFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2014

Predicting Argentina's World Cup Squad Following Latest Internationals

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    Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has been nothing if not consistent with his selections since taking over in 2011. The ex-Estudiantes man and Copa Libertadores winner has kept faith with the same group of players, valuing squad unity and experience over experimentation. 

    For that reason, and given Argentina's form in finishing first during the South American World Cup qualifying competition, we are unlikely to see too many surprises come the tournament itself. 

    However, there are still places up for grabs. With Wednesday's 0-0 draw against Romania marking one more match down before the start of Brazil 2014, the following players are in hot discussion to make the final list of 23. 

On the Edge

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    Willy Caballero

    The Malaga keeper is highly regarded in Europe thanks to his time in Spain. However, he has rarely figured in discussions for the national side and, barring injuries, it is difficult to see him in the final 23. 

     

    Cristian Ansaldi 

    A versatile full-back with experience in the Albiceleste, Ansaldi has been hurt by limited exposure in the Russian league and would need a big effort to make the cut. 

     

    Lisandro Lopez

    A big talent in the middle of defence, on the young side but one for the future. An unused substitute against Romania. 

     

    Ricky Alvarez

    A tricky prospect with great dribbling ability, but still very much an unknown quantity at the highest level. 

     

    Jose Sosa

    One of Sabella's go-to men from his Estudiantes days. No flash, but a reliable man in the middle of the pitch and a decent alternative. 

     

    Carlos Tevez

    The favourite of the Argentine public and media alike, but has never figured for Sabella since he took over the coach position. 

     

    Mauro Icardi

    A forward of rare talent and instinct in front of goal, but the media frenzy that has surrounded the youngster in recent months seems to have lowered his stock for now. 

Goalkeepers

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    Sergio Romero 

    A great shot-stopper, but question marks remain over his ability to order the defence and a lack of playing time at club level. 

     

    Mariano Andujar

    Another of Sabella's stalwarts from Estudiantes, a solid keeper but hardly a match-winning name. 

     

    Agustin Orion

    The successor to Andujar in La Plata lifted the 2010 Apertura under Sabella's conduction. Arguably the pick of goalkeepers based in Argentina, and a champion with three different clubs. 

Defenders

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    Pablo Zabaleta

    The only world-class defender possessed by the Albiceleste. Not the most exciting player going forward, but a solid presence whose experience will be vital in Brazil. 

     

    Hugo Campagnaro

    The Inter stopper is again far from scintillating, but his versatility in the middle or on the right makes him a valuable squad presence. 

     

    Jose Basanta

    Far from convincing in many of his appearances under Sabella, but his ability to fill in on the left wins him a place in the coach's plans. 

     

    Ezequiel Garay

    The best central defender Argentina have at the current time. Strong, intelligent and steady with the ball, his presence was missed against Romania. 

     

    Federico Fernandez

    Full of heart and enthusiasm, if lacking somewhat in precision. A Copa Libertadores winner in Estudiantes while barely out of his teens. 

     

    Marcos Rojo

    Yet another Pincha old boy. Is yet to fulfil the promise he showed with Estudiantes, but going forward adds another dimension to the Seleccion. 

     

    Gino Peruzzi 

    A tough, tenacious defender who can also fill in through midfield. 

     

    Nicolas Otamendi

    Was left out in the cold for years following a torrid World Cup quarter-final out of position against Germany. Now regaining confidence and hopeful of making the cut. 

Midfielders

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    Javier Mascherano 

    No longer captain, but his tenacious tackling and solid distribution make the Barcelona star one of the first names on the team sheet. 

     

    Fernando Gago

    Highly thought of by the Argentina staff, possesses an excellent range of passing and vision. But with a history of fitness problems, his condition will be watched closely ahead of the competition. 

     

    Angel Di Maria

    Another undisputable choice amongst the first XI. Plays on the left side of a midfield trio, bursting forward and forming the link with those further up the pitch. 

     

    Lucas Biglia

    Can cover either Mascherano or Gago in the middle, making him a useful utility man in the squad. 

     

    Ever Banega

    Injury has seen the ex-Valencia star fall down the pecking order internationally. But back in fitness and in form with Newell's Old Boys, Banega adds a more delicate touch in the middle. 

     

    Erik Lamela

    The closest that the Argentina of 2014 will have to an orthodox playmaker. The Tottenham youngster is a great talent, with the ability as well to deputise for Di Maria further wide. 

Attack

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    Lionel Messi 

    Argentina's captain, creative linkman and inspiration. If Messi has a good tournament and hits his immense potential, the Albiceleste will be very difficult to beat indeed. 

     

    Gonzalo Higuain

    Powerful, direct and deadly in front of goal, the Napoli forward will hope to improve on an impressive four strikes hit in the 2010 World Cup. 

     

    Sergio Aguero

    The Manchester City forward has been in devastating form for his club and gives Argentina a creative edge as well as another potent goalscoring threat. 

     

    Ezequiel Lavezzi 

    Admired for his tireless work-rate and sacrifice every time he pulls on the Argentina shirt, which combined with his talent has assured him a place in Sabella's plans. 

     

    Rodrigo Palacio

    The habitual foil for Aguero during Argentina's successful World Cup qualifying campaign. Not the most prolific of strikers, but has a great football mind and adds subtlety to the side's game. 

     

    Maxi Rodriguez

    The ex-Liverpool man has been rebooted to great effect as a wide forward with hometown club Newell's. Even at 33, Maxi can perform a valuable service for the Seleccion, either up front or in midfield.