Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina: Key Selection Decisions for Alejandro Sabella
Argentina's quest to overturn 28 years of World Cup disappointment begins now. The South Americans kick off their Brazil 2014 campaign on Sunday against Bosnia-Herzegovina, and nothing less than victory is expected for the side captained by Lionel Messi.
But the outlook is not all positive for coach Alejandro Sabella, who directs in his first-ever major international competition.
The former Estudiantes trainer has some tough decisions to make before the game, as he tries to keep up the winning formula for the Albiceleste.
The Argentine first team can be recited from memory. But there are a couple of injury concerns that threaten to cause a touch of amnesia ahead of their World Cup debut.
Who are the players in doubt, and what alternatives does Sabella have should the starters fail to make the cut in the Maracana?
Higuain or Lavezzi?
Sticking a world-class No. 9 on the opposite side is decent practice for the physical challenge posed by Edin Dzeko.
But there is another story there. Higuain did not play a single minute of the Albiceleste's two exhibition friendlies against Trinidad & Tobago and Slovenia. An ankle complaint has plagued the Napoli star, keeping him out of the picture so far in preparations.
The centre-forward loves to score for his nation, having smashed 20 in 36 appearances so far. Lavezzi, on the other hand, has a much more modest record of four in 31, albeit many of those coming off the bench. Picking the PSG man would obviously compromise Argentina in front of goal.
With fiercer challenges than Bosnia still to come, however, giving Higuain extra time to recover could pay dividends in future rounds.
Garay's Fitness at the Back
Ankles have so far been Argentina's Achilles' heel during their first training sessions.
As well as Higuain, right-back Pablo Zabaleta and forward Rodrigo Palacio have all been having trouble with the joint during the Albiceleste's preparations, per the Buenos Aires Herald.
But one of the most concerning injuries has been Ezequiel Garay's. He is carrying a muscular complaint that kept him on the sidelines during the two friendlies.
The Benfica star should make it to Sunday's game, which is a big boost for Sabella who does not enjoy great depth in defence.