Previous appearances in finals: 14
Argentina Team Fact Box
Nickname: La Albiceleste (White and Sky Blue)
Winners in 1978 and 1986
Runners-up in 1930 and 1990
Coach: Diego Maradona, who captained Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986 and the final in 1990. Controversially appointed in November 2008 despite minimal top-flight coaching experience to succeed Alfio Basile, who resigned midway through the qualifiers. Widely criticised for lack of a recognised tactical plan as team lost four qualifiers and almost did not reach finals for first time since 1970.
Captain: Javier Mascherano
World Cup Finals appearances: 3 (2006)
Potential match-winner who has struggled to repeat his excellent club form for his country although Maradona says he has done what has been asked of him. At 18, became youngest player to represent Argentina when he appeared at the 2006 finals though was kept mainly on bench. Will be one to watch this year, as, despite England’s Wayne Rooney winning the 2010 PFA Player of the Year Award, Messi is widely regarded (Rooney included) as the best footballer on the planet this year.
World Cup Finals appearances: 5 (2006)
Tactically astute ball winner and distributor who stood out at the 2006 finals but struggled, like the rest of the team he captains, to give convincing performances in 2010 qualifiers.
Club: Manchester City
World Cup Finals appearances: 4 (2006)
Carlos Tevez is one of the most dangerous Argentinians who will be on show in 2010. The two times South American player of the year, has been described as the new Maradona and the man to make Argentina a successful nation once again. In combination with Messi, Tevez is capable of punching holes in the best defences.
FIFA world ranking May 2010: 8
How they qualified: Argentina needed to win their 18th and last match to seal fourth place in the 10-team South American group at the end of a poor campaign that included a 6-1 rout in Bolivia and a 3-1 home defeat by Brazil. They won their last game 1-0 in Uruguay to go through.
Prospects: Despite their poor qualifying campaign, Argentina possess a great pool of players and are always a major threat at big tournaments.
World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar/NED), Mariano Andujar (Catania/ITA), Diego Pozo (Colon)
Nicolas Otamendi (Velez Sarsfield), Martin Demichelis (Bayern
Munich/GER), Walter Samuel (Inter Milan/ITA), Gabriel Heinze
(Marseille/FRA), Nicolas Burdisso (AS Roma/ITA), Clemente Rodriguez
(Estudiantes), Ariel Garce (Colon)
Midfielders: Jonas Gutierrez
(Newcastle/ENG), Maximiliano Rodriguez (Liverpool/ENG), Javier
Mascherano (Liverpool/ENG), Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes), Angel
Di Maria (Benfica/POR), Javier Pastore (Palermo/ITA), Mario Bolatti
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona/ESP), Gonzalo
Higuain (Real Madrid/ESP), Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors), Sergio Aguero
(Atletico Madrid/ESP), Diego Milito (Inter Milan/ITA), Carlos Tevez