THERE is rightly lots of optimism about Argentina's chances of World Cup glory and I'm certain they will be one of the most entertaining teams to watch this summer.


Outright odds: 4/1

To win group: 2/9

To qualify: 1/66


Full squad: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Jose Basanta (Monterrey), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell's Old Boys), Enzo Perez (Benfica), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris St Germain).

Manager: Alejandro Sabella World Cup record: Two-time winners (1978, 1986), runners-up (1930, 1990), quarter-finals (1966, 1998, 2006, 2010) How they qualified (most recent first): Argentina finished top of the South American qualifying section, winning nine, drawing five and losing just two of their 16 matches.

v Uruguay (away) 2-3 (HT 2-2) - Rodriguez 14, 41

v Peru (home) 3-1 (HT 2-1) Lavezzi 23, 34, Palacio 47

v Paraguay (away) 5-2 (HT 2-1) Messi 12, 52, Aguero 32, Di Maria 49, Rodriguez 90

v Ecuador (away) 1-1 (HT 1-1) Aguero 4

v Colombia (home) 0-0 (HT 0-0)

v Bolivia (away) 1-1 (HT 1-1) Banega 44

v Venezuela (home) 3-0 (HT 2-0) Higuain 29, 59, Messi 43

v Chile (away) 2-1 (HT 2-0) Messi 28, Higuain 31

v Uruguay (home) 3-0 (HT 0-0) Messi 65, 79, Higuain 74

v Peru (away) 1-1 (HT 1-1) Higuain (37)

v Paraguay (home) 3-1 (HT 2-1) Di Maria 3, Higuain 30, Messi 64

v Ecuador (home) 4-0 (HT 3-0) Aguero 19, Higuain 29, Messi 31, Di Maria 76

v Colombia (away) 2-1 (HT 0-1) Messi 60, Aguero 83

v Bolivia (home) 1-1 (HT 0-0) Lavezzi 60

v Venezuela (away) 0-1 (HT 0-0)

v Chile (home) 4-1 (HT 2-0) Higuain 7, 52, 63, Messi 25

Goalscorers: Ten-goal Lionel Messi was second to Luis Suarez in the top goalscorer list for the South American qualifying section. Gonzalo Higuain was just one goal behind with nine and Sergio Aguero bagged five.

Half-time/full-time: Argentina were behind at half-time in just one of their 16 qualifiers but they came from 1-0 down to win 2-1 in Colombia. Eight of the matches were level at the break - four 0-0, three 1-1 and one 2-2. Argentina won all seven games in which they led at half-time.

Clean sheets: Argentina only kept a clean sheet in four of their 16 qualifiers so that's clearly a concern heading to Brazil with attack the side's strong suit.

Win to nil: Three of the clean sheets came in wins to nil.

Cards: Looking at Argentina's final eight qualifiers you can see a mixed bag with regards to their disciplinary record. Half the matches saw them pick up just one yellow card, two games saw just a couple of cautions received.

Then comes the but. The matches with Ecuador and Colombia - that both finished in draws - saw a red card received in each and a loss of discipline with seven bookings accumulated. It could be feast of famine for followers of cards in Argentina's matches.

Other competitive internationals: None since the qualifying campaign began.

Build-up (most recent 1st): Argentina are unbeaten since qualifying ended and haven't conceded in their four friendlies.

v Trinidad & Tobago (home) 3-0 (HT 1-0) Palacio 45, Mascherano 51, Rodriguez 65

v Romania (away) 0-0 (HT 0-0)

v Bosnia-Herzegovina (neutral) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Aguero 40, 66

v Ecuador (neutral) 0-0 (HT 0-0)


Team verdict: There is rightly lots of optimism about Argentina's chances of World Cup glory and I'm certain they will be one of the most entertaining teams to watch this summer.

Any starting XI that contains Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero is sure to cause defences problems and get fans off the edge of their seats.

It's well known Messi hasn't lit up football's biggest stage yet but his run of 20 goals in his previous 21 games for Argentina (up to the 0-0 friendly draw with Romania) shows his Barcelona form is being reproduced at international level.

All opposition managers know of Messi's qualities but there's much, much more they need to be wary of.

My player to watch in the Argentina line-up is Gonzalo Higuain.

He was second top scorer in the South American qualifying section with nine goals (one behind Messi) and enters the World Cup on the back of a hugely successful first season in Serie A with Napoli.

The major worry is the defence for coach Alejandro Sabella.

Argentina only kept a clean sheet in four of their 16 qualifiers and questions continue to be asked about goalkeeper Sergio Romero heading into the tournament.

Those worries put me off backing Argentina in the outright market but they are rightly one of the favourites and its hard to see them not going far before their defence deficiencies are really tested.

It will also be well worth looking at the both teams to score market throughout the tournament in Argentina's games.

You can get 10/11 for both teams to net in their opener against Bosnia.