The squad as expected by the Argentine press (and subsequently here) prior to Diego Maradona’s first press conference as Argentina boss yesterday turned out to be not quite accurate, so here’s the list as announced by the man himself in that press conference, along with a bit of opinion (my own and others’) on it. To say everyone in the country is over the moon with Maradona’s selection would be inaccurate – in fact there have been mentions of a list that was ‘almost a Basile team’. One or two good points, though. I think so, anyway.
Juan Pablo Carrizo (Lazio, Italy)
Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands)
Nicolás Burdisso (Internazionale, Italy)
Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United, England)
Martín Demichelis (Bayern München, Germany)
Daniel Díaz (Getafe, Spain)
Gabriel Heinze (Real Madrid, Spain)
Javier Zanetti (Internazionale)
Ángel Di María (Benfica, Portugal)
Fernando Gago (Real Madrid)
Luis González (Porto, Portugal)
Jonás Gutiérrez (Newcastle United)
Javier Mascherano (Liverpool, England)
Maximiliano Rodríguez (Atlético de Madrid, Spain)
José Sosa (Bayern München)
Sergio Agüero (Atlético de Madrid)
Germán Denis (Napoli, Italy)
Lisandro López (Porto)
Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli)
Carlos Tevez (Manchester United, England)
As reported yesterday, a number of Boca Juniors and Estudiantes de La Plata players are expected to be added depending on their teams’ results in the Copa Sudamericana tonight, along with Vélez Sársfield’s Emiliano Papa. Lionel Messi isn’t included in the squad due to the agreement between Julio Grondona and Barcelona president Joan Laporta that, following the player’s participation in the Beijing Olympics, he wouldn’t be called up for friendlies.
The Argentine press aren’t universally pleased by the list above. The inclusion of Nicolás Burdisso, who gifted Anorthosis Famagusta a goal in the extraordinary 3-3 draw between the Cypriot club and Inter in the Champions League, has been criticised by Olé, who’ve not pointed out anything about Martín Demichelis having given away a penalty in the Bundesliga at the weekend. Ezequiel Lavezzi’s call-up has been remarked on, and surely won’t be a temporary measure even in Lionel Messi’s absence, but there’s also a hope (expressed most clearly by El Gráfico) that Gonzalo Higuaín and Mauro Zárate haven’t been forgotten.
José Sosa’s inclusion suggests Carlos Bilardo might have slightly more say in selection than he claimed when Maradona’s impending appointment was first made public. El Narigón used Sosa right across the midfield during their coinciding time at Estudiantes, and is a known admirer. Javier Zanetti, in spite of what the press thought beforehand, keeps his place, whilst Esteban Cambiasso – probably Argentina’s best player during the last matches of the Alfio Basile era – is dropped. Diego doesn’t like his style, apparently.
The best news, in my opinion at least, is the return to the fold of Maxi Rodríguez and Lucho González, two players who were overlooked too often by Basile, along with Lisandro López, who given the chance could be the target man the selección has lacked of late. If nothing else, the presence of Maxi and Lucho – as well as Jonás Gutiérrez – combined with Cambiasso’s absence suggests Maradona’s Argentina will indeed be a little more forward-looking.
As for how it works on the pitch… let’s wait and see.