The entire world will be watching Brazil in 2014, but the majority of the world will be watching to see who gains the upper hand in the race for the Ballon d’Or this year in the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. While Ronaldo’s Portugal has been pinned in the “Group of Death”, Argentina seems to be destined to make the quarterfinals before having to possibly play at full speed, which pre-cup speculations have them playing against Germany. Messi and Argentina are in Group F with Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Iran. If they win the group, which they should do rather easily with their attacking power up top, then they will play the group E runner-up.
Being able to play in your neighbors backyard will definitely have its benefits, but their near-home field advantage will not be enough: their lineup will have to be close to flawless with the best teams in the world all battling to achieve the World Cup Trophy.
With all Argentina’s fire power in 2010, which boasted many similar names as this year’s roster, Germany crushed the South Americans 4-0 from the result of poor defensive work. This year could be a little different, with many Argentine defenders coming off spectacular seasons for their clubs.
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has preferred Sergio Romero to be his number one in goal, so there should be no surprise in seeing him starting against Bosnia & Herzegovina. It is a little unclear who will start in front of Romero, as his main buffers at the central of the defense. Federico Fernandez has done excellent work this year for Napoli and Martin DeMichelis ,sporting a new haircut, has made a resurgence back into the international team. Between DeMichelis’ experience and Fernandez’s size and athleticism, Romero might have to resort to mostly a spectator.
On one side of the defense, Pablo Zabaleta is one of the top right backs in the world and was instrumental in Manchester City winning the English Premier League. Meanwhile, the left outside back seems to be tied down by Marcos Rojo, although nothing suggests he has done anything necessarily to keep it but he also has done nothing to lose it.
The anchor for their midfield will be in the form of Javier Mascherano. The Barcelona makeshift center back will be able to push into his previous role of the defensive mid. Fernando Gago will be playing alongside Mascherano, while Angel Di Maria will be looking to feature as Argentina’s creative spark at the attacking midfielder in their 4-3-3 formation. Although these three should find themselves into the starting XI, don’t be surprised to see Lionel Messi drop back deep and help out the midfield when, and if, they fall behind at any point of the tournament.
Finally, the climax of their formation: the forwards. As mentioned already in this article, Lionel Messi, playing his familiar role on the right wing, will be the headline name in the entire starting lineup. The Four Time Ballon d’Or Winner has the possibility to seal his case on being the best player ever, if only Argentina could walk away from Brazil hoisting the World Cup Trophy.
Although Messi has the potential of creating highlight goals by himself, the forward line boasts the likes of Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero as well. Higuain moved to Napoli from Real Madrid and was one of the brightest spots on their roster on their way to a 3rd place finish in Italy’s Serie A this season. Aguero, however, was one of the top scorers in the English Premier League this year despite being hurt for several games throughout the season with multiple injuries. Higuain will be the center-forward in this formation, while Aguero will make some dashing cuts in towards goal from the left flank.
This impressive trio may just be one of the deadliest forward combinations in the entire tournament this year. Argentina has one of the best chances of winning the 2014 World Cup outside of host team Brazil. Look for Argentina to make a good run this summer and pass the quarter finals for the first time since 1990 and Lionel Messi might just be able to lift the trophy, his final obstacle to hurdle on the way to being the best player ever.