5 questions about Argentina’s chances in the World Cup

Argentina wants to make good the old legend that says World Cups in America are won by American countries, while the ones in Europe by…
5 questions about Argentina’s chances in the World Cup

Argentina wants to make good the old legend that says World Cups in America are won by American countries, while the ones in Europe by Europeans. Of course, if they managed to do it in Brazilian soil this would become the best World Cup in history.

Having the –arguably—best player in the World is definitely a plus but, what good is Messi in his present condition? Is his present condition a conscious decision to make it to the World Cup at one hundred percent?

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Does Sabella have much more than Messi to make his case in Brazil?

All these are unanswerable questions at this point, but we wanted to note the five top ones in any fans mind that are actually undermining Argentina’s confidence for the Brazilian tournament:

How is Messi really doing physically?

Argentina’s Lionel Messi reacts during an international friendly soccer game against Romania on the National Arena stadium in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, March 5, 2014.. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

After coming back from his injury rehab session in Argentina last December many in Barcelona said that Messi had done the needed work to perform at his top-level for the rest of the year. His first few games were quiet, but the Argentine then exploded in a frenzy of goal-scoring matches, and almost caught up to Cristiano Ronaldo at top of the Pichichi stands. Then, without any reason or rhyme, Messi shut down.

He was missing in action in Anoeta and Valladolid, two games in which Barcelona mostly kissed his Liga chances good-bye, only to return triumphantly at Bernabeu with a hat-trick. Then, again, nothing. Barça has lost all chances of winning the Copa del Rey, the Champions League and La Liga in a span of a week, and Messi –although having played all 90 minutes of every game— has not done much to stop the bleeding.

Many think he may be saving up for the World Cup, but is that so? No one can really tell until June rolls in with the sounds of Samba from Brazil.

Gago is injured. Who can rule the midfield?

Argentina has always had talented attackers, but every great number 10 had a reliable number 5 behind him. That’s where Argentina’s superiority over Brazil –when it has existed in history—has come from. Maradona had Batista and Redondo, Ortega and Aimar had the likes of Cholo Simeone or Veron, Riquelme has Cambiasso. Who does Messi have?

Well, Gago was seen as the great hope of this team, and that’s saying a lot, as the now Boca Juniors midfielder has done little to prove his worth at the top-level, be it at Real Madrid, Roma or Valencia. But he has gotten injured and there’s no saying if he’ll be ready in time to make it to Brazil.

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Without Gago another “child star” like Banega should own up the middle next to Mascherano and Di María, but again, no one can really vouch for his performances in a World Cup after disappointing at Valencia.

Sabella could trust Lucas Biglia with the job, but the lack of clarity practically a month shy of the competion is unnerving.

Is Argentina’s defense strong enough for World Cup level play?

Argentina's defense was shaky during World Cup qualifying.

Argentina’s Pablo Zabaleta, top, challenges for the ball with Romania’s Rat, bottom, during an international friendly soccer game on the National Arena stadium in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, March 5, 2014.. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

This is perhaps the easiet question to answer of all, although that may not calm down fans at all. The answer basically points towards a clear, “no”.

Not one single defender in Sabella’s plans for Brazil is competing at the highest level in Europe; well, one is…but he will play in the midfield for Argentina: Mascherano.

Zabaleta has not had a great season at Manchester City, but is perhaps the most solid defender Sabella has at this point. Veteran Clemente Rodriguez will most likely remain at the left back, although he’s never been a fan favorite, and Marcos Rojo has had a decent season with Sporting Lisbon; decent enough to challenge Rodriguez for the spot.

In the middle, Garay, Otamendi and Fede Fernandez will compete for the two spots, but none are established enough as the center backs who have historically had the responsibility of defending this jersey.

Sabella’s options in the back are limited, and he will need to pray each of the chosen players performs at a decent level if Argentina wants to have any chance of taking the trophy home.

Why is Willy Caballero not considered for the goalkeeping spot?

This is probably the biggest mystery around this squad. Sabella’s starting goal keeper is Sergio Romero, who has played one match in Ligue 1 this year with Monaco, and is very much off his best competitive level.

Meanwhile, in Spain, Willy Caballero keeps stealing headlines with Malaga. He was one of the top goalkeepers in Europe last season, and this year, with a very diluted squad, Caballero has proved to be the most reliable man in the entire Boqueron team.

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Even so, Sabella hasn’t even given him the chance of proving his worth with the Albiceleste and fans can’t really get around understanding why.

With Aguero in and out of the trainers’ room, why is Carlos Tevez not being considered?

Carlos Tevez is a potential replacement for Sergio Aguero, in case he cannot get back to 100 percent health.

Juventus forward Carlos Tevez, of Argentina, celebrates after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between Catania and Juventus at the Angelo Massimino stadium in Catania, Italy, Sunday, March 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Carmelo Imbesi)

There are a million theories about this one, and not a single one makes sense. To have the chance of calling up the potential top scorer in Italy and not do so –even more so when your starting forward has spent more time injured than on the pitch the whole season— truly makes no sense.