By Mariano Tomás De Micheli
After a suffering qualification, Argentina arrives to South Africa hoping to get the best of Lionel Messi. The talented forward from Barcelona will be the key of Diego Maradona’s team. Let’s take a look at the list of Argentinians that will represent the country during the World Cup:
Photo from fOTOGLIF
Sergio Romero: He is AZ Alkmaar’s goalkeeper, and has been scouted by Arsene Wegner to join the Gunners squad. Incredible reflexes and amazing agility were the best attributes of ‘Chiquito’ (‘Shorty’, the nickname of the 6ft 3in player). When the team needed defensive backup, Romero’s response was awesome, making him the chosen keeper for the first match against Nigeria.
Mariano Andújar: After winning the Libertadores Cup with Estudiantes, Mariano Andújar arrived to Serie A’s Catania. He made a spectacular season in the Italian team, but he lost the goalkepper to Romero after Argentina lost to Brazil (1-3).
Diego Pozo: Colon de Santa Fe’s keeper, a team that had a very bad performance this year. Although he has done well over the years, he is not good enough to be in the football elite’s leagues.
Martín Demichelis: Besides losing the Champions League final with Bayern Munich, Demichelis completed an extraordinary season, winning both Bundesliga and League Cup. But his performance has not satisfied most Argentinian Fans. Maradona is surely going to include him in the first match.
Walter Samuel: The nickname ‘The Wall’ suits him perfectly. He was one of Inter’s key players who delivered the club’s latest Champions League. He knows how to position when the team is attacking, and has a perfect timming when it comes to closing lines.
Gabriel Heinze: The most criticized player in Argentina. Usually a central defender, Maradona has used him as a left back, a place where he feels uncomfortable. Without any dribbling technique, he is one of the team’s weakest points.
Nicolás Otamendi: Newly found talent. After being champion with Velez, Otamendi began to be taken into account by Maradona. But despite a huge season, his level began to fall in the last months. Like Heinze, he used to play as a central defender, but Maradona moved him to the right back, where he feels awkward.
Nicolás Burdisso: Great defender. It is one of the players with most titles in the history of Argentinian soccer. Quick to coverage, is known for its ability to play in any position of defense.
Clemente Rodríguez: Fast and agile, is the only pure wing-defender Maradona has. He is able to attack constantly, but neglects the defensive side easily. It will be an alternative, but depends on the strategy selected by Maradona.
Ariel Garcé: Maradona’s surprise. Shares team with the third goalkeeper Diego Pozo. He comes from a bad season and never managed to be a key-player in Argentinian football. The last friendly, when people farewell the national players, a banner expressed the feelings of many fans: “Garcé, get some candies”.
Javier Mascherano: The team captain. He had a disastrous season at Liverpool, where he lost the position of defensive midfielder. Beyond its weak level in Argentina is the starter midfielder. Within the court the captain title is an excuse, because the true leader of the group is Veron.
Juan Sebastián Verón: Experience, talent, precision and punch, all gathered in one of the best midfielders in the history of Argentina. In addition to fulfilling a key role on the pitch, Veron spends much time advising Messi, knowing that Argentina will need the best of him.
Jonás Gutiérrez: He played the all season in the second division of English football, and won promotion to the Premier League. He is a player with poor technique but and marvellous speed. Maradona plays him as a side midfielder, as well as an alternative to fulfill the right wing back position
Ángel Di María: It seems fragile physique, but he is a very complete player. Dribbling master, he has good vision and comes easily to attacking positions. He is currently sought by Real Madrid, who is willing to spend €40 million for his services.
Maximiliano Rodríguez: Another one who hasn’t played a lot. He moved to Liverpool from Atletico Madrid but failed to regain his best football. Often reaches goal positions, but does not participate in the development of the game.
Javier Pastore: Impressive talent. Despite playing in a tournament very physical as the Italian Serie A, Pastore has adapted and managed to be the leader of his team, Palermo. The team completed the best performance in its history thanks to Pastore’s performance. He has a lot of skill and is able to play across the midfield. Mario Bolatti: He scored the goal which earned the qualification for the World Cup. He has not played a lot at Fiorentina, but still remains a player to be followed. Whether playing as the only defensive midfielder, or accompanied by another DM, Bolatti can fulfill any role perfectly.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
Lionel Messi: The best player in the world. After scoring 47 goals and breaking all Barcelona’s records, ‘Leo’ focuses on winning the World Cup with his country. The press in his home country was very critical of their performance during qualifying, so the main goal of Messi is to win the championship.
Gonzalo Higuaín: Essential for Real Madrid, Higuain will be Messi’s attacking partner. Despite not being taken into account for many of the qualifiers, this player ended up being very important in Maradona’s strategy.
Diego Milito: He played brilliantly in the final of the Champions League, and was crucial to get Inter win three titles this season. It is a powerful striker and technically capable of unbalance at any time. Without being very taken into account by the Argentinian journalism, Milito is an idol for the fans.
Carlos Tévez: Sacrifice, talent and personality. Tévez has all the attributes of a great player, but also a plus that makes him beloved in all teams. Could start on the bench, but when he jumps on the pitch will be a fearsome looking for any rival. He’s the Argentinian fans’ favourite player.
Sergio Agüero: Comes from having a bad season at Atletico Madrid Spanish, but his talent is undeniable. Despite his weak performance, several teams in Europe are looking forward to having him.
Martín Palermo: The last of the strikers in Argentina. Idol at Boca Juniors, one of the biggest teams in South America, Palermo is Maradona’s under-the-sleeve card. It is a slow player, but an amazing header. His stats place him as one of the greatest scorers in the last decades.