Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Mariano Andujar (Estudiantes), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres UANL)
Defenders: Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton), Facundo Rocaglia (Fiorentina), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate), Jonathan Maidana (River Plate), Victor Cuesta (Independiente)
Midfielders: Angel Di Maria (PSG), Javier Mascherano (Barcleona), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Guido Pizarro (Tigres UANL), Javier Pastore (PSG), Augusto Fernandez (Atletico Madrid), Erik Lamela (Tottenham), Matias Kranevitter (Atletico Madrid)
Attackers: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebei Fortune), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica)
The Skinny: If the team with the most talented roster won the Copa America every year, this year would be Argentina’s.
The tournament is theirs to lose. Not only do Argentina have the world’s best player in Lionel Messi, but they have world class talent like Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuian up front, and equally talented players like Javier Pastore, Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano in the midfield.
Two notable names missing up front are Boca Juniors striker Carlos Tevez, who has been passed by the national team in the past, and highly coveted young striker Paulo Dybala, who might not have been considered experience enough. However, up front the Argentines will feature Higuain, who broke the single season goalscoring record in the Serie A this season, and Aguero, who on his day might be the best player in the Premier League. Off the bench Argentina has experienced options in Ezequiel Lavezzi and Nicolas Gaitan. Oh, and they have this guy named Messi. You might have heard of him.
Gonzalo Higuain set the Serie A on fire for Napoli this season, scoring a single-season record 36 goals
The Argentinian midfield looks just as deep as the attack, with the aforementioned Di Maria, Pastore and Mascherano likely to start. Beyond them are the dangerous Ever Banega and Erik Lamela. It will be interesting to see how Argentina line up and who they choose to start to try and maximize their attacking potential. Pastore, Di Maria and Mascherano seem to be the likely starters, but manager Gerardo Martino will want to get Lamela, whose Spurs team were excellent all season, and Banega, whose Sevilla team has won three straight Europa league titles involved.
If you were to pick a weakness in Argentina, it would have to be the back line. However, even there Argentina should be solid, albeit with some soft spots. Marcos Rojo is a hard-working left back who likes to roam forward and zip crosses into the box. In the middle, Nicolas Otamendi played himself into a big-money move to Manchester City last summer, but has failed to impress for the Citizens in his first year in Manchester. On the other hand, if he can find his old self for the national team, he can be a rock for this defense. The weakest link in the group is Ramiro Funes Mori, who plays for Everton, a team whose open style of play and poor defensive record lead to the sacking of manager Roberto Martinez. Even so, Funes Mori is a talented, mobile centre half who could perform well alongside a player with Otamendi’s ability.
Behind them is Sergio Romero in goal. Romero probably won’t win any goalkeeping awards anytime soon, but he is a solid keeper and he is Argentina’s best. Defensive depth could be an issue for the Argentine side, especially if there are any injuries. The cost of so much depth in the attack and attacking midfield is that there is no room for extra defenders. If a player like Rojo, who has been injury prone in his time at Manchester United, misses any time it could become an issue for Argentina very quickly.
Argentina have the most talented and deepest squad in the whole Copa America, which is why they are a favorite to leave with the trophy. They should finish first in their group, as Chile is the only team that can compete with them at all. After that, it will be on to face the second place winner of group C, likely either Mexico or Uruguay, and then likely either Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, or the United States after that, and then on to the final.
Many pundits have picked Argentina to win it all at the Copa America Centenario, and with good reason. The Argentinians should expect to lift the trophy on June 26th in East Rutherford, New Jersey, because anything less would be a disappointment given the quality of their players.
Key Performers: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano
Predicted Finish in Group D: First Place