It is quite exhilarating to be in Argentina at this time. The national soccer team has advanced to the World Cup Finals after 24 years and the country is euphoric! After the semi-final game on Wednesday the entire country went to the streets to celebrate the win against Holland. Over 5,000 people were estimated to have flocked to the Obelisk in the center of Buenos Aires and I was one of them!
Everyone is anxious to see who will win this Sunday as Germany and Argentina face each other at the Finals for the 3rd time. Argentina won in 1986 and Germany in 1990, but who will win in 2014?!?!
To get prepared to cheer on the Argentine team, or “la selección” as they are called here, I’ve shared a post written by Diego, a host at Anuva Wines:
WORLD CUP! Once every 4 years, the event where every time Argentina plays a game the whole country stops is back! Everybody stops working, no buses, no taxis, no trains or subway, nothing else matters. Friends and Family gather to watch “La Seleccion”, the Argentine Futbol Team. Next week, on June 12th the first game takes place between Brazil and Croatia, and 3 days after the first game of the Group F: Argentina Vs Bosnia, which is on Sunday so it is perfect to have an Asado with a traditional Argentine Wine Tasting.
It has been a long wait until the coach Alejandro Sabella provided the official list of the 23 players that are going to represent Argentina in Brasil 2014, just 2 days ago we had the final squad. Here are the names:
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Mariano Andujar, Agustin Orion.
Defenders: Federico Fernandez, Ezequiel Garay, Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta, Marcos Rojo, Jose Basanta, Hugo Campagnaro.
Midfielders: Fernando Gago, Augusto Fernandez, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, Lucas Biglia, Maxi Rodriguez, Ricardo Alvarez, Enzo Perez.
Forwards: Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Rodrigo Palacio.
This team represents Sabella’s idea of mixing young professionals who are having great success in their teams with experienced players to guide them through the process of being part of a World Cup. Although this is a great opportunity for the first timers in a World Cup to show their skills, they are representing a whole nation and the pressure is huge. It has been almost 30 years since the last time Argentina was a World Champion, and in a country where Futbol is so important, the only thing that is on everyone’s mind when the World Cup starts is: WE ARE GONNA WIN THIS!
So lets review a little bit about each of the players that are going to represent “La Seleccion” and if all goes well, will return the glory to the Argentine Futbol!
Sergio Romero: playing for Monaco in France. He played 45 games with the national squad and was part of South Africa 2010 World Cup. He will be part of the starting line up. On his last game at the World Cup against Germany the match ended 0-4 for the Germans, not all the goals where his fault, but he is hungry to show that it won’t happen again and why he was picked as the first choice.
Mariano Andujar: Today plays at Catania in Italy. Has been in 8 matches with Argentina. He holds the record in the Argentine League without conceding goals for 800 minutes. He went to South Africa 2010 as substitute goalkeeper.
Agustin Orion: Right now he plays for Boca Juniors in Argentina. He played 3 games with the national team and even scored a penalty shot against Brasil in 2012. Second substitute goalkeeper. He never played a World Cup but he has great experience under pressure and is one of the most secure and with attitude goalkeepers in the national league.
Federico Fernandez: with experience working with Sabella in Estudiantes and good performance at his current team Napoli and La Seleccion. He definitely won a place to be part of the World Cup. Games with Argentina:24 Goals: 2. First time in the WC for Fernandez.
Ezequiel Garay: with a past in Newells Old Boys, Racing de Santander and Real Madrid. The current player of Benfica in Portugal was chosen as the central defender for the Argentine team. 18 games played and no goals. First time in the WC for Garay.
Martin Demichelis: The most experienced defender among the team. Martin Demichelis is a senior here. Today he plays at Manchester City and had a prosperous career playing for Bayern Munich where he won 11 Major titles. He was with La seleccion in 37 games and scored 2 goals. He was one of the surprises in the list, but definitely a good choice to help the “kids” in the team. He was part of the team in south Africa 2010.
Pablo Zabaleta: the right back defender of the team play for the Manchester City in England. He didn’t make it to the previous World Cup, although he was a strong candidate Diego Maradona didn’t include him in the list. He was the first pick of Alejandro Sabella for Brasil 2014. With 36 games with Argentina, his talent is undisputed.
Marcos Rojo: Another defender who worked before in Estudiantes with Sabella. In his 20 games with La Seleccion in the last years he gained a place to be in his first World Cup. He plays for Sporting Lisboa in Portugal.
Jose Basanta: Great surprise! This 30 year old defender who has only played 8 games with the Argentine team is another of the players with a past in Estudiantes de La Plata. Today he plays at Monterrey in Mexico. His talent during the qualifying stages made him win a place at his first World Cup.
Hugo Campagnaro: with a huge career playing in Italian teams, nowadays Hugo Campagnaro is a defender at Inter Milan. He played 12 games for the national team, a 33 year old experienced, talented and tough defender. This is his first and probably last appearance in the World Cup, so i bet that he is going to live his life on the field to defend the white and light blue jersey.
Fernando Gago: One of Sabella’s favorites. Gago play in Boca Juniors in Argentina. He has always proved to be a great midfielder distributing the ball marvelously and not letting the rival take it away from him. He has 46 games with Argentina and believe it or not this is his first World Cup. His hunger to show what he can do to the rivals in Brasil 2014 must be giant!
Augusto Fernandez: the 28 year old midfielder from Celta de Vigo in Spain has only played 7 games with La Seleccion and scored one goal. This was more than enough to convince Sabella that he should be part of the 23 to represent us in Brasil.
Javier Mascherano: An obvious pick for Sabella. Mascherano is the most experienced player of the Argentine team. Attitude, strength and inteligence in the field distinguish this player who has been capped 95 times to be in the team (more times than anyone else in the squad). Messi’s teammate in Barcelona was part of Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. Will Brasil 2014 be his opportunity to finally win the cup?! Let’s hope so!
Angel Di Maria: a great dribbler, fast and precise. Di Maria was always there for Sabella. An undisputed piece in the Real Madrid, also part of the essence of the Argentine team. He has 42 games and 8 goals record and was part of South Africa 2010.
Lucas Biglia: an important piece during the qualifying stages, Biglia has played in the Belgium league the most part of his career at Anderlecht and now he plays for Lazio in Italy. He has a total of 16 games with La Seleccion and this is his first World Cup.
Maxi Rodriguez: another experienced player. Nowadays he plays for Newells Old Boys in Argentina, where he came back just to be champion with his beloved team. He played 49 games and scored 16 goals with Argentina, every Argentine remembers his amazing goal to Mexico in Germany 2006. He went to South Africa 2010 as well.
Ricardo Alvarez: Ex Velez Sarsfield, currently playing for Inter Milan. His skills took him to be part of the 23 to go to Brasil 2014. He just has 5 games with the team and no goals. Probably he won’t be a part of the starting line up, but watch him if he enters the field, he may surprise everyone.
Enzo Perez: He plays for Benfica in Portugal where he knew how to be an important part of the team. Also was part of Estudiantes when Sabella was the coach. He played 6 times with the squad with great performances, and scoring one goal. First time in a World Cup for Perez.
Sergio Aguero: the great forward of Machester City is one of the most important parts of the team. An amazing attacker that doesn’t forgive the goalkeepers and has a great chemistry with Messi and Higuain with which he already played in South Africa 2010. 47 games with Argentina. Goals scored: 23.
Gonzalo Higuain: a fantastic scorer. With a great past with Real Madrid and currently playing for Napoli, Higuain is a must in the Argentine team. If you give him a minimum space, he scores, as simple as that. Great power shots and he really knows where to be at the right time, as only the best forwards know how to do it. Games: 37, Goals: 21. World Cups: South Africa 2010.
Lionel Messi: the all winner with Barcelona and best player in the whole world has only one objective left in his career: win the World Cup with Argentina. Messi is without a doubt the player that everyone will be waiting to explode in the World cup. He couldn’t score goals in South Africa 2010 and only scored 1 in Germany 2006 against Serbia & Montenegro. He is the top scorer of the team, he has 84 games where he scored 37 goals. I got a feeling that this is gonna be his World Cup, Go Messi!!
Ezequiel Lavezzi: the forward player from Paris St Germain has the strength of a horse on his legs. He wasn’t selected for the previous World Cup, so now is his chance to proof what he is made of. A player with an outstanding presence and attitude. Games: 27. Goals: 4.
Rodrigo Palacio: a fast forwarder, with great experience in the field. He went to Germany 2006 but was left out by Diego Maradona for South Africa 2010. Rodrigo is back in Brasil 2014, probably he won’t be part of the starting line up, but he is more than capable to show his great skills. Games: 20. Goals: 3.
Alright! This is the team, there has been many controversy among the players picked by Mr Alejandro Sabella in the last weeks (being Carlos Tevez the one player that everyone wanted in but Sabella left out), but this always happens, you can’t satisfy everyone. This is the final list and there is nothing more to do than to wish all of them the best in the upcoming World Cup. Go Argentina! VAMOS ARGENTINA!!!