Look at the six forwards Diego Maradona has selected in his Argentina’s 23-man squad for the World Cup: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Carlos Tévez, Sergio Agüero, Diego Milito and Martín Palermo all combined have mustered up 134 goals in league football in the past season and 171 in all competitions.
If we take out Palermo goals and leave just the European based players, the combined league goals will then be: 118, and in all competitions: 155.
Compared to 78 goals combined in the league, from the 5 forwards Fabio Capello selected in his provisional squad, and 100 goals in all competitions.
It’s fair to say at Maradona’s disposal he has the most lethal strike force in the World Cup and possibly international football.
But and there is always a BUT, Maradona of course won’t be able to field all 6 forwards (even by his standards of coaching) so there has to be a compromise to who and how many will start.
Lionel Messi is a certain inclusion, the last two seasons after many promising ones; he’s emerged as the premier player in world football. He goes to South Africa on the back of equalling Ronaldo’s Barcelona club record – for most goals scored in a season with 47.
Mardaona himself has highlighted the importance of Messi: “He’s the best player in the world and better by far compared to others.
“In Mexico (WC 1986) I did it with the ball. I grew up and my team-mates followed. Now I’ve explained that Leo must do it in South Africa and he has understood.
“We need him to lead by example. He has to be the leader.”
No pressure then.
The rest have had indifferent if not spectacular seasons in particular Diego Milito, finished top scorer for Inter Milan, his goals won Inter the Champions League, Coppa Italia and secured Seria A.
Sergio Agüero helped Atlético Madrid win the first Europa League, despite having a frustrating season. Carlos Tévez move to Manchester City from Manchester United, raised many eyebrows and caused much furore but he put that behind him to nearly guide City to a top 4 finish in the Premier League.
As for Gonzalo Higuaín, finishing as top scorer for Real Madrid may not even guarantee him a place in the team for the forthcoming season, summing up the club. Much blame was attached to him, unfairly, in the Champions League exit but no one can deny his evident talent, only making his international debut on the backhand of Argentina’s difficult qualifying campaign, scoring on debut against Peru.
Martín Palermo inclusion may have surprised many, just as the omissions of Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso, but his experience and having Maradona as a fan does help, oh and we can’t forget his goal securing Argentina’s qualification against Peru, how did Maradona dub it: “Un milagro más de San Palermo” (One more miracle of Saint Palermo).
Quickly back to the Zanetti and Cambiasso omissions, let’s not forget Cambiasso hardly featured under Maradona, so should not be a surprise. However Zanetti on the other hand being a regular under Maradona, his ommision is a real shock.
Another reason for having such an influx of quality forwards is maybe Mardaona’s own way of admitting the other areas of the squad may not be the strongest.
In his short tenure as coach of the national side, Maradona has chopped and changed the side on a regular basis, especially in the defence.
Despite all of this he has given chances to other emerging talent, who may write their own future, in support of whoever gets the nod up front: Benfica’s Ángel di María and Palermo’s Javier Pastore.
Whatever happens, with Maradona and the array of attacking talent on show, things could be very exciting in South Africa.
Argentina go into the tournament as one of the outside favourites, maybe even a dark horse, given how difficult qualification was for them and the erratic nature of the coach, they could be a lot worse.
You can follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/jouracule
Written By Mohammed Moallim