Argentina Players Who Need to Step Up If Team Is to Challenge for World Cup

Dan ColasimoneContributor IJune 24, 2014

Argentina Players Who Need to Step Up If Team Is to Challenge for World Cup

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    Having earned six points from two games, Argentina are already assured of a place in the knockout stages of the Brazil World Cup, but thus far, their performances have been less than convincing.

    Captain and talisman Lionel Messi has been the difference on both occasions, scoring magnificent goals against both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iran to secure consecutive wins for his side.

    Argentina cannot continue to rely solely on moments of brilliance from Messi, however.

    Against tougher opposition, they won't be allowed to get away with such poor displays.

    Here are four players who need to improve in La Albiceleste's last group game against Nigeria and into the round of 16 and beyond if Messi and co. have aspirations to win the tournament.

Lionel Messi

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    Yes, Messi has almost single-handedly won Argentina's first two games for them.

    But he can be better.

    Against both Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iran, the No. 10 misplaced passes and lost possession on various occasions when he ran into areas of the pitch crowded with opposition defenders.

    His second-half display against the European side, when he was given slightly more space, was his best of the tournament so far, but he will need to be more influential against the top sides if Argentina are to go all the way.

    The fact that Messi has not yet hit peak form in Brazil is mildly concerning for Alejandro Sabella, but it should also be worrying for Argentina's next opponents, who will be well-aware of what the little maestro is capable of.

Sergio Aguero

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    We have certainly not seen the best of Sergio Aguero thus far at this World Cup.

    His season with Manchester City may have been interrupted by injury, but when Aguero did play, he showed his sharpness in front of goal had not been diminished.

    In Brazil, however, he has been less effective.

    He hasn't scored a goal, but nor has he demonstrated the kind of movement and linkup play that makes him such a valuable partner in crime to Messi.

    Aguero may just need to get off the mark in this tournament. Once he does, Argentina fans will be hoping he doesn't stop scoring.

Gonzalo Higuain

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    The third member of Argentina's impressive attacking trident, Gonzalo Higuain, has also failed to fire thus far.

    The Napoli man has the excuse that he is only just coming back from an ankle injury, but he was well and truly off his game against Iran, turning over possession several times and making poor decisions when La Albiceleste were sweeping forward in attack.

    What was surprising about such a muted showing was that Higuain had actually played very well when he came on as a second-half substitute against Bosnia and Herzegovina, providing his side with a focal point up front.

    Even if he doesn't score many goals at this World Cup, Higuain must find something close to his best form, or Argentina's forward line will lack bite.

Angel di Maria

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    The lanky winger, Angel di Maria, is coming off a sensational season with Real Madrid and was expected to continue that form with his national side.

    His displays in the first two games were fair, but he must do more in terms of creating chances in order to take some of the pressure off Messi.

    Di Maria's mixture of hard work and flair on the left-hand side is crucial to the balance of Sabella's team.

    He needs to be not just good, but excellent for the rest of the World Cup. Luckily for Argentina, he is talented enough to be just that.