All the rosters are set for the 2014 World Cup, barring any crazy injuries (we’ve seen enough of them already) of course. On Monday, one of the most high-profile rosters yet to be set was that of Brazil’s rivals—Argentina.
Well, it wouldn’t be Argentinian soccer without a little drama and we got just that as three players were left out in the final cutdown. Not only did we have to wait for hours to get the roster announcement, but there was major buzz on some potential surprising shakeups in selecting the roster.
It appears we weren’t totally disappointed after the Twitter rumor mill was done spinning, so let’s look at Argentina’s official 23-man roster for the 2014 World Cup.
Biggest Surprise Exclusion: Ever Banega
There are always tough choices to make in how you put a roster together, and Banega appears to have been the odd-man out in the numbers game, despite being 25 years old and in the prime of his club career. Given Argentina’s proclivity to playing an aggressive 4-3-3 lineup, it made sense to sacrifice a midfielder for an extra forward and Banega was that man.
He played well for Newell’s Old Boys on loan from Valencia this last season, scoring one goal in 13 appearances and generally playing more of a holding midfielder role. Additionally, he started six of Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers and played in a total of 10 of the 16 qualifiers.
Biggest Surprise Inclusion: Enzo Perez
Instead of taking the 25-year-old Banega, Argentina’s manager Alejandro Sabella went with the three years older and less experienced (on the international stage) Perez. He’s made all of five international appearances for Argentina and one goal. Many will question this selection over Banega, especially if this group fails to go deep in to this tournament. Argentina expects greatness every World Cup, and with the tournament on its home continent, one can expect a huge amount of pressure on these 23 men.
Name That Will Interest American Fans Most: Lionel Messi
Like there was any other choice? Face facts America, we love us some front running and we also love us some amazing players. In Lionel Messi, the former four-time FIFA World Player of the Year, you’re going to get quality play nearly every time he steps on the field. However, he’s at his best in the Argentinian squad thanks to the formation they play and being surrounded by Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero. Those three play up front and are a nightmare because they are all capable of playing anywhere up front, and often are found swathing roles throughout the game.