Goalkeepers: Mariano Andujar ( Catania), Diego Pozo (Colon), Sergio Romero (AZ).
Defenders: Nicolas Burdisso (Roma), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Ariel Garce (Colon), Gabriel Heinze (Marseille), Nicolas Otamendi (Velez Sarsfeild), Clemente Rodriguez (Estudiantes), Walter Samuel (Inter).
Midfielders: Mario Bolatti (Fiorentina), Angel Di Maria (Benfica), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Javier Pastore (Palermo), Maxi Rodriguez (Liverpool), Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes).
Fowards: Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Gonzalo Higuian (Real Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Diego Milito (Inter), Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors), Carlos Tevez (Man City).
Maradona not Interested
Perhaps the most notable feature of the squad listed above is two names which are missing, namely those of Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso. For anyone who watched Inter Milan secure a magnificent treble this season, the descion to omit this pair appears to be pure madness. However, this is Maradona and in reality these omissions should not have come as a surprise. Zanetti has not been called upon since the 1-0 defeat to Paraguay in September and Cambiasso has been selected just once, for November’s freindly against Spain.
It would seem that Maradona has a select group of favourites and the Inter pair are not included. Indeed, it has been speculated that a close relationship with former manger Alfio Basile, is responible for Zanetti and Cambiasso’s exclusion. However, it would be unfair on the rest of Argentina’s squad to focus solely on these omissions, thus we now turn to those players that Maradona has chosen.
Maradona’s decision to give Sergio Romero the goalkeeping gloves has proved inspired, as the AZ star has established himself as undisputed number one. However several other defensive decisions appear questionable. Rodriguez, Otamedi and Garce all ply their trade at home in Argentina and one has to wonder if they have the necessary experience to compete at this level.
Walter Samuel’s inclusion is a huge releif, as the Inter star’s excellent form may compensate for Demichelis and Heinze who have looked far from secure recently. Nicholas Burdisso, who has just finished a fine season with Roma may be a better option. Of the seven defenders selected, only two are out and out full backs and this has lead to speculation that Maradona may in fact start with four centre backs. This would certainly be a break from convention, but whether it would prove effective remains to be seen.
Maradona appears certain to go with a four man midfeild containing two central players and two wide men. In the centre captain Mascherano will protect the defence, while vetran Veron is expected to use his passing abilty to dictate the tempo. Benfica’s Angel Di Maria is an exciting prospect on the left and has been linked with almost every big club in Europe. Meanwhile Newcastle’s Guttierez is baffalingy one of the first names on the team sheet and will start either on the right wing or at right back.
Further options include Maxi Rodriguez who will hope to re-capture his excellent form of four years ago and central midfeilder Bolatti . A star in the making may be Javier Pastore, similar to Kaka in style and build, the 21 year old has had a fantastic debut season in Europe with Palermo and could take South Africa by storm if given the opportunity.
There can be little doubt that when it comes to attackers Argentina are head and shoulders above the competition. Aguero, Higuain, Messi, Milltio and Tevez have scored an astonishing 154 goals across all competions for their clubs this season, and if they can take that form to South Africa La Albiceleste will be very hard to stop. However, these players, Messi included, have often struggled on the international stage and possess a paltry 35 international goals between them.
As well as the fearsome five Maradona has selected vetran striker Martin Palermo. The 36 year old recently became Boca Juniors all time top scorer and has an impressive strike rate of eight goals in 14 games for the national team. His physical presence and ariel ability are likley to be utilised by Maradonna if Argentina find themselves chasing a game.