Demichelis in, Coloccini out of Argentina’s World Cup squad
Manchester City’s Premier League winning centre back Martin Demichelis has returned to the Argentina national fold two-and-a-half years after his last cap, as Alejandro Sabella has included him on his preliminary World Cup roster.
There is no place in the 9/2 tournament second-favourites’ 30-man squad for Newcastle United counterpart Fabricio Coloccini, however. Right back Pablo Zabaleta and striker Sergio Aguero, Etihad teammates of Demichelis are called up, though.
Aguero joins Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona) in a star-studded attack, which also includes Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan) and former Chelsea flop Franco Di Santo (Werder Bremen).
Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria, and ex-Liverpool winger Maxi Rodriguez and defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano are other names familiar to English audiences. Ever Banega and Fernando Gago, who were teammates at Valencia before returning to domestic Argentinian football, are among the options in the middle of the park.
Italian-based duo Lucas Biglia (Lazio) and Ricky Alvarez (Inter) are also included. Enzo Perez (Benfica) and Fabian Rinaudo (owned by Sporting Lisbon, but on loan at Catania) have been selected by Sabella too.
Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo) and Jose Sosa (Atletico Madrd, on loan from Metalist Kharkiv) complete the midfield options. Demichelis and Zabaleta have a pair that play their trade in Portugal in Ezeuqiel Garay (Benfica) and Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon) for company in defence.
Napoli’s Federico Fernandez and experienced Inter man Hugo Campagnaro are also available at the back. Sabella favourites Jose Maria Basanta (Monterrey), Lisandro Ezequiel Lopez (Getafe, on loan from Benfica) and Nicolas Otamendi (Atletico Mineiro, on loan from Valencia) join surprise selection Gabriel Mercado (River Plate) in the rear-guard.
Goalies Sergio Romero (Monaco, on loan from Sampdoria) and Mariano Andujar (Catania, on loan from Napoli) have kept their places despite being a substitute and relegated this term. Boca Juniors stopper Agustin Orion is the third keeper.
Sabella has resisted temptation to recall Juventus top scorer Carlos Tevez as anticipated. Tottenham winger Erik Lamela has missed the second half of the season injured, while there is no way back into the fold for PSG attacking midfielder Javier Pastore.
Argentina preliminary squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Monaco, on loan from Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Catania, on loan from Napoli), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors)
Defenders: Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta (both Man City), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Nicolas Otamendi (Atletico Mineiro, on loan from Valencia), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Jose Maria Basanta (Monterrey), Lisandro Ezequiel Lopez (Getafe, on loan from Benfica), Gabirel Mercado (River Plate)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Ever Banega (Newell’s Old Boys, on loan from Valencia), Jose Sosa (Atletico Madrid, on loan from Metalist Kharkiv), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Ricky Alvarez (Inter Milan), Enzo Perez (Benfica), Fabian Rinaudo (Catania, on loan from Sporting Lisbon)
Strikers: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Man City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Franco Di Santo (Werder Bremen)
Argentina have been drawn in Group F with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria, and are odds-on 2/9 favourites to top the pool.