Outright odds: 9/2
To win group: 1/4
To qualify: 1/20
Full squad: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Jose Basanta (Monterrey), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys), Enzo Perez (Benfica), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris St Germain).
Manager: Alejandro Sabella
World Cup record: Two-time winners (1978, 1986), runners-up (1930, 1990), quarter-finals (1966, 1998, 2006, 2010)
We’ve seen the top class forwards come to the fore already at this World Cup and if they’re to be the tournament’s deciding factor then with four players who would get into almost any international side, Argentina are well stocked in terms of firepower.
Lionel Messi’s amazing exploits for Barcelona have seen him acclaimed as a modern great while also weighting the little maestro down with massive expectations and while many feel his time on the international stage has not been as productive, he may finally have the conditions in his favour to strike here. It may be due to those expectations that a season in which he scored 36 goals in 39 appearances for Barcelona has been labelled as disappointing; despite the fact he missed two months off with a hamstring problem in the middle.
Sergio Aguero, who could well start the opener instead of Gonzalo Higuain, scored 28 goals in 34 games despite struggling with injury for Manchester City, and Hugain himself scored 9 in qualifying, just one behind Messi. As backup is Eqeziel Lavezzi, highlighting the depth to the squad.
Angel Di Maris makes an awesome attacking foursome, having had his best ever season for Real Madrid, earning man of the match in the Champions League final and excelling himself in general with his supporting play at Real Madrid with 22 assists throughought the season.
The defence has been a worry for many but Ezquiel Garay won a domestic treble and reached the Europa League final for the Benfica side that shutout Juventus on their way there. Federico Fernandez played 26 games for third places Napoli in Seie A, while Pablo Zabelta won another league title with Manchester City. Hugo Campanagro is playing his last World Cup but has been the most solid Inter Milan player by some distance and even Martin Demchelis improved for Manchester City after some poor opening performances.
In midfield, Jaiver Mascherano provides much better cover as a deep lying midfielder ahead of the back four rather than in a defence and Fernando Gago’s fitness is timely for a squad that has the tools to go all the way this summer.