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28.05.2010 11:07

Barça's World Cup: Argentina (II)

Marc Guillén

After a difficult qualification stage Diego Maradona's Argentina head to the World Cup Finals with doubts surrounding them, but they will have the best player in the world in Lionel Messi to drive them on.

"I see Argentina as one of the candidates to win the cup despiet nobody having us down as favourites," Messi told reporters as the build-up to the tournament continued.

Messi ready to shine

The Albiceleste side revolves around the FC Barcelona star and there has been clear proof of how important he is in the fact that Maradona changed his tactics in training recently to a classic 4-4-2 to allow Messi to play in a free role.

Expectations are high that the Blaugrana forward will shine on the biggest stage of all and he believes that playing for Barça will help him wirthstand the pressure that will be placed on him in South Africa. "I will try to do for Argentina what I do for Barcelona," he stated. Alongside Messi are a littany of outstanding stars with Gonzalo Higuaín, Diego Milito, Carlos Tévez, Martin Palermo and Sergio Agüero.

Group B

After winning the World Cup in 1978 Argentina regained the trophy in 1986 when Maradona was the star and they will be looking to end a run of 24 years without being crowned as the best. Before they can think about that though they must edge out Nigeria, South Korea and Greece in the group stage.

If Argentina fulfill their billing as favourites to win the group then they are likely to meet either Thierry Henry's France or a Mexico team containing rafael Márquez and Jonathan Dos Santos.

Preparation in Buenos Aires

Argentina travelled to South Africa on Friday after spending a few days preparing in Buenos Aires, where they also defeated Canada 5-0 in a friendly. Messi did not play due to a muscle strain as Maradona was keen to rest him.
Barça's World Cup: Argentina (II)
Milito omitted
FC Barcelona defender Gabriel Milito was unable to earn a place in the final Argentina squad for the tournament. During his 20 matches as the national team coach Diego Maradona has tried and tested no lses than 108 players and has left out such star names as Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti.

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