Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has been named in Argentina’s provisional World Cup squad.
The four-time Ballon D’Or winner will captain the South American giants, and is one of six La Liga players included in Alejandro Sabella’s selection. The list will be reduced to 23 and must be submitted to FIFA by June 2.
Barca teammate Javier Mascherano has also been included in the 30-man party, along with Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria. Midfielders Jose Ernesto Sosa of Atletico Madrid and Celta Vigo’s Augusto Fernandez are also in, as well as Getafe’s on-loan defender Lisandro Ezequiel Lopez.
Former Spanish-based players including Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Ever Banega, Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta, Maxi Rodriguez, Ezequiel Garay and Fernando Gago also feature. Messi endured a fairly torrid tournament in South Africa four years ago where he failed to find the net, and will be looking for his first goal in the finals since 2006.
His 41 goals in all competitions this season may have been his lowest total in five seasons, but he will be confident of carrying his amazing goalscoring exploits with Barcelona onto the world stage this time around.
Sosa has contributed six assists in 18 games towards Atleti’s quest for league and European glory, while Fernandez’s two goals and four assists have helped Celta Vigo climb to eighth in La Liga.
At the back, Lopez was immediately sent out on loan by parent club Benfica and has played in 25 games as Getafe look to secure their top division status for next season this weekend.
Argentina are clear favourites to progress as Group F winners above Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria and Iran. Their tournament will begin against Bosnia on June 15, before taking on Iran six days later.
They then take on Nigeria in their final group game. It will be the fourth meeting between the sides in the last six finals. Should they avoid France, the Argies should face a slightly easier second-round clash with Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras amongst other possibilities.
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