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Maradona eccentricities could see Argentina fall short

| 02.06.2010

As the circus engulfing Argentina’s World Cup preparations continues, Maradona seems to be unusually calm as he remains coy about his team plans.

The controversial coach says that he has yet to decide his starting line-up, which could be viably read as either mischievous mind games or genuine indecision from the 1986 World Cup winner.

Along with Brazil coach Dunga, Maradona is hoping to emulate Franz Beckenbauer by becoming the second man to win the World Cup as a player and as a manager.

This particular quest has been made difficult, however, by some dubious decisions of his, such as the mystifying exclusion of Inter Milan midfielder Esteban Cambiasso from the 23-man squad.

While there is an abundance of attacking riches in the forms of Carlos Tevez, Diego Milito, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi, Cambiasso will be missed in his holding role.

In Cambiasso’s absence, defensive responsibilities could become a burden for captain Javier Mascherano, who will also have to shoulder leadership duties following the surprising omission of former skipper Javier Zanetti.

The decision not to include Cambiasso and Zanetti could cost Maradona, yet with a reasonably favourable draw, Argentina still seem good value to reach the semi-finals at 6/4.

Maradona can be forgiven for not determining his starting eleven; such is the goldmine of creativity at his disposal. Apart from the aforementioned headline-grabbers, midfielders Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore are two of South America’s most coveted young players and they could have big roles to play.

Despite these undoubted talents, however, the key element lacking in this Argentina squad is international goals.

Only Messi (13 goals) and Maxi Rodriguez (12) have scored more than 10 goals for their country, which is an alarming statistic for a team who are 6/1 to win the 2010 Football World Cup.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.