Argentina World Cup Roster 2014: Final 23-Man Squad and Starting 11 Projections

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Argentina World Cup Roster 2014: Final 23-Man Squad and Starting 11 Projections
Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

So deep and talented is Argentina's roster that manager Alejandro Sabella was able to ignore big-name talents like Carlos Tevez, Javier Pastore and Erik Lamela even when naming his provisional roster. 

Now Sabella has named his final 23-man squad, and Nicolas Otamendi, Ever Banega and Jose Sosa are the three men to miss out in the final cut, reported by the Press Association via the Guardian.

The star power in this team is off the charts, and no other country in the world can match the quality of attackers the Argentines boast, with players like Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Rodrigo Palacio, among others.

But how do all of these superstar puzzle pieces fit together? Let's take a look.

 

The Roster

Here's is the team's final roster:

Argentina's 23-Man Roster
Position Player
GK Sergio Romero
GK Mariano Andujar
GK Agustin Orion
DF Ezequiel Garay
DF Federico Fernandez
DF Pablo Zabaleta
DF Marcos Rojo
DF Jose Maria Basanta
DF Hugo Campagnaro
DF Martín Demichelis
MF Fernando Gago
MF Lucas Biglia
MF Javier Mascherano
MF Angel Di Maria
MF Maximiliano Rodriguez
MF Ricardo Alvarez
MF Augusto Fernandez
MF Enzo Perez
FW Sergio Aguero
FW Lionel Messi
FW Gonzalo Higuain
FW Ezequiel Lavezzi
FW Rodrigo Palacio

The Guardian

And here is Argentina's projected starting lineup:

Argentina Projected Starting 11
Position Player
GK Sergio Romero
LB Marcos Rojo
CB Federico Fernandez
CB Ezequiel Garay
RB Pablo Zabaleta
CDM Javier Mascherano
CM Fernando Gago
CM Angel Di Maria
F Lionel Messi
F Gonzalo Higuain
F Sergio Aguero

 

Analysis

Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

There aren't too many major question marks in the starting 11 for Argentina.

Messi, Aguero and Higuain will feature together in the attack, which is just horrifying for opposing defenders to contemplate. Di Maria, Fernando Gago and Javier Mascherano have played well together in the midfield of Argentina's 4-3-3 setup. Sergio Romero is the first-choice keeper. 

But if there are concerns, it is with the team's defence, which has been shaky at times. It's a bit odd that they've struggled, as centre-backs Ezequiel Garay and Federico Fernandez are coming off excellent seasons with Benfica and Napoli, respectively, while Pablo Zabaleta is one of the steadier right-backs in world football. 

But there are some serious questions to be answered at left-back, where Sabella hasn't quite found a permanent solution. Ed Malyon of the Mirror went through the manager's options back in March:

Marcos Rojo of Sporting Lisbon played under Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella at Estudiantes and, despite the coach's tendency to pick players from his former club, the fact that Sabella has persisted in trying other options tells us that while he may trust Rojo, he doesn't think he is of the required level.

Most observers of Argentina games in recent years could have told you as much, but as the The Sloth as found, there are few alternatives. Jose Maria Basanta will be the name that nobody recognises when the Argentine World Cup squad is announced in May but he is more of a central defender and likely travelling for when and if Sabella reverts to a back three/five.

Nearly three months later, a better solution for the position has yet to make itself known. Expect to see Rojo in the role.

There may be questions in the midfield as well, outside of Di Maria, who is a lock for the starting lineup. Traditionally a winger, Di Maria has thrived when playing in a midfield trio this season for Real Madrid, and will look to reprise that role in Brazil.

Meanwhile, Mascherano was a midfielder in the past but has almost exclusively played centre-back for Barcelona of late. And some folks would likely prefer to see Lazio's Lucas Biglia over Gago, as Biglia regularly faces much stiffer competition in Seria A than Gaga sees with Boca Juniors.

Elsa/Getty Images

The problem for Argentina, at times, is that they struggle to facilitate the attack through the midfield. There isn't really a traditional playmaker in this midfield, even if Di Maria slots into that role. 

But perhaps this is simply nitpicking. Argentina finished as the top team in South American qualifying, after all, no small feat. And the defence and the midfield really just need to bide time until Messi, Aguero or Higuain produce a bit of magic. 

Messi alone might be enough to beat most teams. While his season with Barca had its ups and downs, he seems eager to begin his World Cup preparations, as he told Marca:

'I know that now I'm here with the national team I'll change my frame of mind, as often happened the other way round, when things didn't go so well with the national team and then I went back to Barcelona and played well. Let's hope it's the other way around this time,' said the striker.

'When I get together in preparation with my teammates, with my friends, then it'll change my headspace and things will change,' he said. 'We have a great group. We're all coming into it on good form and hopefully we can achieve our objective. The national side is very strong,' he underlined.

To win the World Cup, 'first you need to be in good shape and have a strong group, which I think we do, and then you need a little luck,' he explained.

This was always going to be an attacker-centric team and style of play. So long as the defence doesn't start springing leaks and the midfield doesn't get pushed around or make things easy for an opposing teams' creative players, Argentina are going to be very, very hard to beat.

We shouldn't expect much less from a squad good enough to leave several stars at home, after all.

 

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