Pablo Zabaleta Lionel Messi Argentina
Argentina players Pablo Zabaleta and Lionel Messi share a laugh during a training session in Buenos Aires, 31 MayReuters

One of the favourites for the World Cup – Argentina – named their final 23-man squad with English Premier League champions Manchester City being represented by three players, as Martin Demichelis made the cut.

Demichelis was preferred to Nicolas Otamendi after the City defender's role in helping his club side to the Premier League title, while Ever Banega and Jose Sosa were the unlucky two to miss out in midfield.

Midfielder Fernando Gago was named in the final squad despite the Boca Juniors man having a few injuries to deal with as coach Alejandro Sabella looks to lead Argentina to their first World Cup title since 1986.

All hopes will obviously rest on Lionel Messi, who will look to recover from the disappointment of not winning a major title with Barcelona this season, as well as an injury-ravaged campaign, by guiding his country to glory on the international stage.

Messi will have plenty of quality company in the attacking half with Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Angel Di Maria all capable of winning Argentina matches on their own.

But the cynosure of this Argentina side, one of the heavy favourites for the title along with Brazil, Spain and Germany, will be the Barcelona wonder. Messi has not quite shown his obvious prowess in the international stage, but then there is no better platform than the World Cup.

Messi usually handles pressure at Barcelona quite well, but it remains to be seen if he can keep the faith of his nation as well. If that left foot of his moves into overdrive, then Brazil's nightmare of Argentina winning the World Cup on their own soil might just become a reality.

Squad: Argentina: Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Monaco), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors).

Defenders: Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Jose-Maria Basanta (Monterrey), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell's Old Boys), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Enzo Perez (Benfica).

Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan).

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