Argentina profile – unsung heroes give Maradona the edge
It could be the defenders and holding midfielders – not just Lionel Messi – who star for Argentina if they are to win their quarter-final clash with Germany.
Alkmaar’s 23-year-old Sergio Romero has been a dependable last line of defence, keeping two clean sheets in his four World Cup appearances to date.
Argentina have only conceded two goals from their last seven fixtures, though keeping out a German side who have scored 9 goals so far in South Africa will be a difficult task. An Argentina victory inside 90 minutes is priced at 6/5.
Maradona has been typically eccentric in his choice of defenders. His most notable wildcard selection to date has been to deploy left winger Jonas Gutierrez at right-back.
The Argentina coach has been a little more orthodox in central defence, however, where Walter Samuel has been as commanding as he was for Inter Milan as they won last season’s Champions League.
Javier Mascherano will be integral to Argentina’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals, which they are 4/7 to do. The captain will need to be at his tenacious best to stifle the fluid German midfield trio of Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller.
Either Juan Sebastian Veron or Maxi Rodriguez will partner Mascherano in central midfield, though defensive responsibilities will be primarily left to the Liverpool player.
Both Argentina and Germany are thrilling attacking sides but Argentina’s less celebrated, defensive players could give them the edge against Joachim Low’s side.
Maradona has an abundance of striking talent at his disposal, with even stars such as Diego Milito and Sergio Aguero having to settle for places on the bench.
Standing in their way are Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi and the World Cup’s joint top scorer, Gonzalo Higuain, who has four goals and is 2/1 to win the Golden Shoe.
Although he has yet to score, Messi has been his usual effervescent self, and his mesmeric performances make him a strong contender at 6/1 to be named player of the tournament.
Can Argentina exact revenge for their 2006 shoot-out exit to Germany? They are 10/1 to win on penalties. See the full Argentina vs Germany market.