5 Players Who Should Be Part of the New-Look Argentina Squad
New Argentina coach Gerardo Martino is desperate to show his talent as a coach after a disappointing spell with Barcelona. The Rosario native could not have asked for a better start, though, as the Albiceleste beat Germany 4-2 in Dusseldorf on Wednesday to gain some consolation following their World Cup final defeat in July.
Martino has one year with the squad before their next competitive challenge, the Copa America in Chile. The base of the squad is already present, but there is still space for players hopeful of making an impression on the trainer.
The following five players are just a few of those with an excellent chance of breaking into the squad. A solid year could see all of them knocking on the door in 2015.
5. Matias Kranevitter
Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano was immense during the 2014 World Cup, driving his team forward with a series of fantastically brave and committed displays. Alongside the former Argentina captain, however, there are spaces available for young players willing to show their worth.
Tucuman native Matias Kranevitter is one such individual.
The River Plate star has shone so far this year as part of a three-man midfield in Marcelo Gallardo's new system, firing his team to an unbeaten Transicion start and into first place in the table.
Quick, strong and assured on the ball, Kranevitter is just one of a new generation of young midfield talent that will be putting pressure on the likes of Fernando Gago and Lucas Biglia in the coming years.
4. Federico Fazio
Although Argentina fans were happy with the 4-2 win over Germany on Wednesday, the defence remains a worry.
Martino's commitment to attacking football meant that the nation's fragility at the back was once more exposed, and more clinical finishing from the Europeans could have meant a very different scoreline.
Tottenham's Federico Fazio is one man who would love the chance to break into the squad. The centre-back is well known to Martino from his time in Sevilla. Along with Villarreal star Mateo Musacchio, he represents a solid alternative to play alongside Ezequiel Garay in the middle.
3. Cristian Ansaldi
When looking over his new charges in the Albiceleste, Martino will be happy to see both sides of the defence settled and well-covered. Pablo Zabaleta and Marcos Rojo both enjoyed impressive World Cup campaigns, although there is room behind the two starters for a strong candidate off the bench.
That is where Cristian Ansaldi comes in. The versatile full-back can cover either flank and has the perfect chance to shine on a year-long loan with Atletico Madrid.
If things go right in the Spanish capital, Ansaldi deserves to be considered as part of Martino's long-term plans.
2. Mauro Icardi
The striker has appeared more in the gossip columns in Argentina during 2014 than the sports pages. However, at just 21 years old, it is clear that he has an excellent chance to break into the Albiceleste team if he can maintain his focus.
Indifferent performances in the World Cup from Gonzalo Higuain and Rodrigo Palacio have left spaces open in attack for a physical, powerful No. 9. Icardi fits the bill perfectly, and a strong season for Inter would leave him well-placed for a Copa America place in July 2015.
1. Erik Lamela
Tottenham youngster Erik Lamela was a last-minute call-up for the Argentina team, drafted in when it became clear Lionel Messi would not be fit. However, the forward made sure he took full advantage of his first start in national colours.
Lamela was a revelation alongside Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria in an improvised attacking trident, holding the ball up well and filling in admirably for Messi as the axis of the forward line. A perfectly executed volley was just reward for El Coco, who was unrecognisable in comparison to the uncertain, injury-plagued figure of 2013/14.