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The 5 Argentina Players with Point to Prove vs. Brazil

The 5 Argentina Players with Point to Prove vs. Brazil

Posted by Juan Gavasa on October 08, 2014

New Argentina coach Gerardo Martino could not have asked for a better start to his career at the helm of La Albiceleste. The nation kicked off a new era with a resounding 4-1 friendly win over weakened Germany, showing a verve and dynamism which was not too evident during an otherwise extremely impressive World Cup campaign.

That squad, however, was an homage to ex-trainer Alejandro Sabella. Martino had made it clear from his first day that his debut would be a reward to those who fought to the final in Brazil. Now, the ex-Barcelona coach has showed his hand with a squad that brings several forgotten men back into the fold.

Derbies against Brazil are always tough affairs. On October 11, the South American heavyweights face off again, and the five players mentioned here have more reason than most to give their all as they look to impress Martino and consolidate their place in La Albiceleste's setup.

Gonzalo Higuain

It seems strange to single out Napoli star Gonzalo Higuain as a player under pressure in the Argentina ranks. Pipita has been an automatic choice for the last five years, scoring 22 goals in 43 international appearances to establish himself as the nation's go-to centre-forward.

But now more than ever, questions are arising around the ex-Real Madrid man. A disappointing World Cup, in which he looked badly out of shape, raised doubts about his condition. And now, with Carlos Tevez and Mauro Icardi scoring for fun in Italy, the pair are legitimate challengers for the No. 9 shirt.

A strong showing against Brazil would allow Pipita to reclaim the ground lost in Brazil 2014, convincing Martino he still has what it takes to lead the line in an Argentina side full to the brim with attacking talent.

Ever Banega

The absence of Newell's Old Boys midfielder Ever Banega was one of the few surprises sprung by Sabella as the coach named his final World Cup squad. The industry and explosion of Enzo Perez was preferred to Banega's more cerebral talents, but ultimately, he paid the price for a tepid season in the Argentinian club.

Equally, it is no surprise to see Newell's legend Martino call back another Lepra favourite for what is effectively his first squad. Now with Sevilla, Banega has received another chance to show he has what it takes to shine in international football, and he must grab the opportunity against Argentina's fiercest rivals.

Nicolás Otamendi

The inclusion of Nicolas Otamendi to take on Brazil is a just reward. The Valencia defender has been in brilliant form as Los Che have taken La Liga by storm, even getting up the other end and scoring to seal a vital victory over Atletico Madrid at the weekend.

The 26-year-old was thrown in at the deep end by Diego Maradona in the 2010 World Cup, and his international career has never quite recovered from the humiliation he received at right-back at the hands of Germany. Now is the time for the ex-Velez wonderkid to prove those scars have finally healed.

A place alongside Ezequiel Garay in the Argentina defence is wide open. A good display against Brazil would see Otamendi leapfrog the likes of Martin Demichelis and Federico Fernandez to claim the spot as his own.

Nicolás Gaitán

Benfica wideman Nicolas Gaitan has been tipped as a future Argentina star since his very first days making headlines for Boca Juniors. But perhaps playing outside the limelight in Portugal has led to a certain ignorance on the part of the coaching staff; certainly, a paltry total of six caps is criminally low for a player of his stature.

Gaitan will have the chance to change that against Brazil. The Benfica star has enjoyed a decent start to the 2014/15 campaign, and if he gets on the pitch, his strong running and talent out wide could just convince Martino that the 26-year-old is a valid alternative for La Albiceleste.

Javier Pastore

No other player reveals the depth of attacking talent in the Argentina national team than Javier Pastore. In almost any other country, the Paris Saint-Germain playmaker would already be on the way to 50 caps, while for La Albiceleste, he has racked up just 13, not featuring in a single squad for over three years.

A perceived attitude problem has also held El Flaco back, but the 25-year-old looks a new man for this season as he plays an integral role in the PSG attack. Pastore must seize the opportunity against Brazil if he finally wants to live up to the potential he has in abundance and emerge as a world-class attacking midfielder.

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