With Ángel Di María having now reported to Argentina’s pre-World Cup training in Ezeiza after his Champions League winning exploits, Alejandro Sabella now has all 26 members of his squad available. Judging by Sabella’s sides in training, his first 11 is exactly as expected but with 3 players still to be dropped from the final squad on Monday, there is still a lot at stake for the reserve side.
Celta Vigo midfielder, Augusto Fernández and Boca Juniors’ Fernando Gago both fit and Di María now back in the fold unscathed, Sabella now appears to have a complete bill of health for the entire squad.
Prior to the return of Real Madrid’s indefatigable midfielder, Maxi Rodríguez had taken his place in what is obviously Argentina’s starting 11. Maxi will drop back to the reserves now Di María has arrived and so provided there are no late injuries, once more Sabella will line up with: Romero; Zabaleta, Garay, Fernández, Rojo; Mascherano, Gago, Di María; Messi, Agüero, Higuaín.
So, the question lies in who from the second-string will drop out? Sabella probably knows the answer to this already but speculation suggests that there are just a couple of battles to decide this.
The first player likely to drop out and perhaps a little surprisingly given his close relationship with Sabella from their time together at Estudiantes is Atlético Madrid’s, José Sosa. Since his loan spell in Madrid, Sosa has found playing time hard to come by and is already one of the players who comes in for criticism due to his place in the squad being born out of his previous experience with Sabella, rather than current form.
With 3 goalkeepers guaranteed and the 5 strikers all certain of a place on the plane, the remaining 2 decisions will come from the defence and the midfield.
It has been suggested that 2 of the more surprising names when the initial 30-man-squad was named have done enough to remain in Sabella’s plans, namely Manchester City’s, Martín Demichelis and Benfica’s, Enzo Pérez.
The fight for the remaining defensive position will be between Nicolás Otamendi and Hugo Campagnaro. Otamendi has been on loan to Atlético Mineiro while Campagnaro has had a difficult season with Internazionale. Both players are perhaps more natural centre backs but have some experience filling in at right back, in the event of Pablo Zabaleta being injured or suspended.
The conundrum in midfield comes down to a decision between, the now fit-again, Augusto Fernández and Internazionale’s, Ricky Álvarez. Sabella and his team will want to absolutely certain on the fitness of Fernández but the 2 players also offer slightly different characteristics.
Sabella’s decision will be announced on Monday but with everyone fit and after the hullabaloo over the 30-man-squad announcement, it looks as though Argentina will take a pretty predictable 23 to the World Cup.