Argentina's World Cup hopes rest with the man who almost single-handedly won them their last title in 1986. A brilliant, instinctive footballer who enjoys almost god-like status in Argentina, Diego Maradona was nonetheless a surprise choice to succeed Alfio Basile during qualifying, given he was a managerial novice. He called up 102 players in his first 14 months but poor results, including a 6-1 thrashing in Bolivia, left qualification in doubt.
However, since booking their spot with victory in Uruguay, Argentina may have found a winning formula. A backline consisting of four centre-backs is protected by Javier Mascherano, with Juan Veron supplying the ammunition for Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain. Maradona is not short of attacking options - as well as Messi and Higuain (the two leading scorers in La Liga), he can call upon Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero. If Maradona can get the best out of Messi, they could be contenders.
Aim: Given the depth of talent available, the target must be a third World Cup win. Elimination before the semi-finals would be a disappointment.
THREE KEY PLAYERS
ANGEL DI MARIA Jet-heeled Benfica left winger is one of the most coveted young talents in Europe. He scored the winner as Argentina won Olympic gold in 2008.
LIONEL MESSI The world's best player has failed to replicate his club form at international level, scoring four goals in 18 qualifiers. He revels in Barca's 4-3-3 system but is less suited to Maradona's 4-4-2 formation.
JAVIER MASCHERANO Argentina's captain and key player, according to Maradona, who says his side are "Mascherano and 10 more". Now regarded as one of the finest midfielders in the world, four years ago he was being kept out of the West Ham team by Hayden Mullins.
DIEGO MARADONA His only previous coaching experience came with brief spells in charge of Mandiyu and Racing Club during the 1990s, when he won just three of 23 top-flight games. He has left out Inter Milan duo Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti, while Boca Juniors playmaker Juan Riquelme says he won't play for Maradona.
ADOPT THEM BECAUSE...
You have to admire Diego Maradona's naked ambition - he will run through Buenos Aires in the nude if his side win. 'El Diego' celebrated qualification with a foul-mouthed rant broadcast live on Argentine television, earning him a two-month ban, a £15,000 fine and a stern warning about his future behaviour.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Argentina's World Cup qualifying highlights
W 2-0 Chile (H) W 2-0 Venezuela (A) W 3-0 Bolivia (H) L 2-1 Colombia (A) D 1-1 Ecuador (H) D 0-0 Brazil (A) D 1-1 Paraguay (H) D 1-1 Peru (A) W 2-1 Uruguay (H) L 1-0 Chile (A) W 4-0 Venezuela (H) L 6-1 Bolivia (A) W 1-0 Colombia (H) L 2-0 Ecuador (A) L 3-1 Brazil (H) L 1-0 Paraguay (A) W 2-1 Peru (H) W 1-0 Uruguay (A) Qualified in fourth place in South American standings
WORLD CUP BEST
1978 & 1986: Winners on home soil in 1978 and in Mexico eight years later, Argentina were also runners-up in 1930 and 1990.
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