I think it is important to note that no European nation has ever won a World Cup on South American soil and given the talent boasted by Argentina, you have to think they'll make a solid run in the tournament. I am not sure if this means a place in the final given the tremendous power of nations such as Spain, Germany, and Brazil, but Argentina has the players to beat anyone on their day. I envision a Quarter Final berth at the least so plan your fantasy teams accordingly. Let's take a look at Argentina's Group F matches:
June 15th - Bosnia and Herzegovina
June 21st - Iran
June 25th - Nigeria
As you can see, Argentina probably start with their toughest match, in the group opener against Bosnia. Expect all their big guns to be blazing for that one. The schedule eases up as the group stages close, so your only worry is that Argentina wrap up advancing by the Nigeria match and decide to rest and rotate players. Let's check out Argentina's World Cup roster:
Argentina's 26 player roster:
Defenders: Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Jose-Maria Basanta (Monterrey), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Nicolas Otamendi (Atletico Mineiro), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City).
Midfielders: Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Ever Banega (Newell's Old Boys), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell's Old Boys), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Jose Sosa (Atletico Madrid),
Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris St Germain), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan).
Fantasy Players to Watch:
Pablo Zabaleta - We all know the Manchester City right back well from our near obsessive interesting in all things Premier League. Zabaleta's foraging runs down the flank and crosses from deep mean the Argentine should garner attacking and defensive returns. With the relative ease of Group F's fixtures, Zabaleta will potentially be a wise investment given the chance for clean sheets are so high. While we normally like to recommend cheaper defensive options (Zabaleta will probably be a touch expensive), paying a bit more for this player could reap potential reward.
Ezequiel Garay - Plying his trade for Benfica in Portugal, Garay has been linked to many top clubs including Manchester United given his dominated displays from the back. I am not as familiar with Garay as I am other Argentine players (namely those in the Premier League), but he certainly offers a better pick to the often self destructive Demichelis. I wouldn't be looking to double up in the defensive department per se, but as listed above, Argentina have a relatively cushy group that could pay out big defensive returns with clean sheets.
Angel di Maria - The Real Madrid winger is a real talent and explosive on/off the ball. Although he isn't a natural goal threat like Messi or Aguero, di Maria is a great passer and crosser of the ball. He should get plenty of action after being deployed centrally for Argentina and racking up 6 assists for Argentina in qualifying. With cover from Javier Mascherano, expect di Maria to be constantly involved in orchestrating the attack.
Javier Mascherano - It is hard for me not to love the former Liverpool defensive midfielder. Mascherano has always held a special place in my heart with his tough tackles and no nonsense style of defending. Often used as a converted CB for Barcelona, we should see Mascherano move into his preferred central defensive position. If points will be awarded for tackles, passes intercepted, and blocked shots, then Javier is going to be a presumably cheaper midfield option, possibly good for the bench.
Lionel Messi - The 4 time Ballon D'or winner and possibly the greatest footballer of the modern era, Messi will carry the hopes and dreams of Argentina to the World Cup finals. This pick speaks for itself, you know exactly what you are getting for the amount paid. To say that Messi isn't as good for his national side or that he doesn't have the same players around him than at Barca is rubbish. Argentina are stacked in just about every position and with the likes of di Maria, Aguero, and Lavezzi supporting the little striker, goal returns look on the cards. Given the match ups in Group F, this is surely a must have pick.
Sergio Aguero - Despite being only Argentina's third top scorer in qualifying, Aguero has undoubted talent and an incredible eye for goal. Although he was hampered for much of the 2013-14 Premier League season, Aguero remains a strong pick when healthy having helped Manchester City to their second league title in the past 5 years. It might be hard not to try and squeeze both strikers in considering the potential goal fest matches against Nigeria and Iran. The bottom line is one of Argentina's strikers is a must for your froward line this World Cup.
Lavezzi/Higuain - The glut of riches in the attacking department just doesn't stop for Argentina does it? The exceptionally skilled Lavezzi, who lys his trade for PSG, with almost certainly play a major link up role with the likes of Messi and Aguero. Often the man behind the goal, Lavezzi has also proven to be a clinical finisher when called upon. But his main assest is his delivery into dangerous positions and late runs to the box. Higuain is another big talent having formally played for Real Madrid with success and now over at Napoli. I don't see many starts for Higuain given the other attacking riches in the squad, but he may get plenty of action against Nigeria if Argentina can wrap up 2 wins in their opening matches.
Well there you have it! Another break down of the amazing mass of players/nations competing in this years World Cup finals! I is going to be extremely difficult to formulate a starting 11 given the amount of premium talent in this years pool so I expect a huge variance in team selection. One thing is certain however, it would be wise to snag 1-3 Argentine players for the opening group stages!