Pros and cons remain same for Argentina ahead of Copa America
This summer has no World Cup or European Championship to keep football punters happy, but Chile is hosting the Copa America. Coral football experts are profiling the main contenders for this tournament, and we start our detailed look at this Latino inspired action with Argentina.
Former Barcelona boss Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino must endure the tag of favourites, as La Albiceleste are 2/1 chances to end a 22-year wait for a major trophy. Argentina last won the Copa America in 1993, meaning the Batistuta/Crespo/Zanetti generation never tasted silverware.
Their obvious strength is awesome attacking depth that is the envy and equal of anyone else in world football. Any country that can call on Lionel Messi, Javier Pastore, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi has a real chance of winning something.
For all their club accolades, this Argentine arsenal have not delivered at a tournament, reaching the World Cup final in Brazil last summer without dazzling, and those big question marks about striking the right balance remain.
Defence is still La Albiceleste’s only weakness with Ezequiel Garay and Pablo Zabaleta their most decorated regulars, though there may be a swansong for the latter’s Manchester City teammate Martin Demichelis on the international stage here after he was named on their preliminary roster.
Left back remains a problem position with Marcos Rojo seeing action more at centre half for Manchester United. Lucas Orban (Valencia) has beaten off competition from Cristian Ansaldi (on loan at Atletico Madrid this term) and young Jonathan Silva (Sporting Lisbon) to be selected as understudy.
Martino hasn’t brought many new faces into the fold, which is a pity as young forwards Paulo Dybala (Palermo) and Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan) have really lit up Serie A this term. Luciano Vietto has also shown glimpses in La Liga at Villarreal that he may be able to step up.
Juventus attacking midfielder Roberto Pereyra looks likely to go to the Copa and left-footer Federico Mancuello (domestically based at Independiente) may have forced his way into the manager’s thinking with a debut free-kick goal.
Players on the fringe with reasons to be worried are ex-Liverpool winger Maxi Rodriguez, now 34, and Benfica creator Nico Gaitan. Anchorman Fernando Gago may also miss the cut, while Sunderland loanee Ricky Alvarez has dropped out of contention alongside another over the hill defender in Hugo Campagnaro.
Continuity, certainly in the spine with Sergio Romero in goal, Garay at centre back and Javier Mascherano in the holding role behind Argentina’s lauded frontline, is the main message of Martino’s reign so far. It appears he’s delaying the more difficult decisions of who to cast aside until after this Copa America.
Preliminary Argentina squad for 2015 Copa America:
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Napoli), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres UANL), Agustin Marchesin (Santos Laguna)
Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis (both Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Federico Fernandez (Swansea City), Ezequiel Garay (Zenit St Petersburg), Nicolas Otamendi and Lucas Orban (both Valencia), Facundo Roncaglia (Genoa, on loan from Fiorentina), Milton Casco (Newell’s Old Boys)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Javier Pastore (PSG), Enzo Perez (Valencia), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica), Roberto Pereyra (Juventus), Federico Mancuello (Independiente)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Carlos Tevez (Juve), Sergio Aguero (Man City), Angel Di Maria (Man Utd), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG), Erik Lamela (Tottenham)