Can the Argentine forward line cover their defensive weaknesses?
Argentina will be looking to spoil the party for the hosts this summer and led by Lionel Messi, they are undoubtedly amongst the favourites to lift the World Cup.
Alejandro Sabella’s side finished top in qualifying, although it didn’t pass without some concerns after losses to both Venezuela and Uruguay, while Colombia and Chile won as many matches en route to making the tournament.
Nevertheless, Messi will be looking to prove a point this summer after failing to really have a telling influence in the biggest tournament in football in his previous outings.
The Barcelona star scored 28 goals in just 31 league appearances along with 11 assists this past season, yet he has received criticism for what was perceived as a below-par campaign which was blighted with various injury issues.
Having now recovered, he will lead the Argentina assault which boasts some of the best attacking players in the world, with the likes of Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain likely to fire them to glory.
However, looking at the starting line-up, it is apparent that the level of talent decreases as you look further back, with the defensive line looking anything but solid.
Aside from Pablo Zabaleta, Sabella isn’t blessed with the greatest of defenders, but he will hope they can do enough to provide a solid base on which Messi and Co. can rely on and deliver moving forward.
Javier Mascherano will in all likelihood provide cover in front of the defence which will be key, while Angel Di Maria has been singled out as a vital component of this team, with his ability to link play between the lines complimenting his tireless running and coverage in midfield.
In a group consisting of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria, the Albiceleste will rightly fancy their chances of progressing into the knock-out stages at the very least, and if their strikers are firing, they will undoubtedly be one of the most entertaining teams to watch.
Ezequiel Lavezzi and Rodrigo Palacio will have to be content with places on the bench, but ultimately, this is a very strong Argentina that will cover up the cracks in defence by looking to score as many as possible.
However, they will need to improve on recent campaigns as they haven’t progressed past the quarter-finals since 1990, but naturally a World Cup held in South America will help the cause.
Argentina expected starting line-up for the World Cup: