Interesting news for the Argentine fan - coach Alfie Basile has released the list of players who will be called up for the friendly against Spain on the 11th of October.
Goalkeepers: Roberto Abbondanzieri (Getafe, Spain), Leo Franco (Atl. Madrid, Spain)
Fairly predictable there, nothing much to say.
Defenders: Roberto Ayala (Valencia, Spain), Rodolfo Arruabarrena (Villarreal, Spain), Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United, England), Pablo Zabaleta (Espanyol, Spain), Gabriel Milito (Zaragoza, Spain), Fabricio Coloccini (Deportivo, Spain)
Good to see Ayala back - he'll be getting his 106th cap, equalling an Argentinean record - as well as the surprise inclusion of Arruabarrena as Basile remembers another old Boca boy. Zabaleta being called up again is great news for the young right-back. Good to see Gaby Heinze back from injury as well.
Midfielders: Pablo Aimar (Zaragoza, Spain), Leonardo Ponzio (Zaragoza, Spain), Javier Mascherano (West Ham United, England), Leandro Somoza (Villarreal, Spain), Lucho González (Porto, Portugal), Daniel Bilos (St. Etienne, France), Maxi Rodríguez (Atl. Madrid, Spain), Federico Insúa (Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany)
A good list of players, and especially reassuring is the sight of Aimar's name on there. Good to see Somoza getting another call up, as well as guys like Bilos and Insua getting another shot. Same with Ponzio, although he hasn't really impressed me so far.
Forwards: Hernán Crespo (Inter, Italy), Sergio Agüero (Atl. Madrid, Spain), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain), Javier Saviola (Barcelona, Spain) and Carlos Tevez (West Ham United, England)
Crespo's name is very, very welcome. Good to finally see a proper striker on there who can put away the chances created by the shadow forward behind him, be it Messi, Aguero or Saviola. I'm assuming Tevez is going to be deployed as a first striker and Crespo's sub here, otherwise 4 players fighting for one position is too much.
Assuming Basile plays 4-3-1-2 again, this is what I'd like to see as a starting XI.
Just take my word for it that it's a 4-3-1-2 with one striker playing slightly behind the other and excuse my diagram skills please. Anyway, this would be similar to the old system with Riquelme with the midfielders behind Aimar covering for him, and Mascherano screening the back four, but would probably have a bit more pace since Messi and Aimar are both speedy players and link up well. Bilos is there instead of Lucho Gonzalez because of their respective performances against Brazil, and Maxi has been in great form so he should play the whole game if possible. Actually Tevez could very well be where I've put Messi since he's been Crespo's strike partner before, but given club form I'm not sure he should.
Second half, assuming Basile's going to make wholesale changes:
---M Rodriguez--Somoza--L Gonzalez--
Substitute Messi for Tevez in the event that Tevez plays with Crespo. I know that Ponzio is listed as a midfielder up there, but I really don't think he's going to play in midfield looking at the rest of that list. Of course I could be horribly wrong and then very embarrassed, but that looks unlikely so far. Milito should come in for Heinze who's still recovering from injury, and Somoza should get some deserved playing time. Insua is playmaker based on what the Argentine press have been saying. I don't actually want to see this line-up, especially in defence, but that's what things should look like if the coach is aiming to give all the players a run out.
An interesting list of players, and I have to say definitely a better looking squad than the one called up against Brazil. Defensively, at least, there should be improvements.
Cambiasso is injured, but it's interesting to note that there's only one guy who plays in Italy on that list, and he's the guy we can't do without, since he's our best center forward. Former captain Zanetti gets the cold shoulder yet again, having had his international career suddenly cut short with the exclusion from Pekerman's World Cup squad. What's Basile thinking about the Serie A boys?
Another omission that catches the eye is Andres D'Alessandro. The question, I suppose, isn't why he hasn't been given a chance now, but more whether or not he'll be given a chance in the future.
Also interesting to note that everyone on that list plays in Europe in a relatively big league. Players in the Argentinean league have been left out due to match commitments, which is fair enough. What I mean by the above is that guys like Clemente Rodriguez in Russia and Lucas Biglia in Belgium are overlooked and will probably continue to be. Incredibly, 14 of the 22 man squad play in Spain. Of those 14, 3 are from Atletico Madrid, 3 from Zaragoza, 2 from Villarreal and both of Barca's Argentines get the call.
Exciting times for the Albicelestes.