Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: How Argentina’s final threat is dependent on six secret weapons

Argentina look to Lionel Messi but there are six other players just as important

For all the talk of Lionel Messi's magic, Alejandro Sabella’s unsung heroes are just as vital to their hopes of glory

Read more: Lionel Messi watches and waits for final chance to be a legend like El Diego
Philipp Lahm banks on German experience
Germany conquers the world
A cup of shocks, shame and lots of acclaim

Ezequiel Garay

Garay has always threatened to be among the best centre-backs in the game, and now, on the eve of the World Cup final, he is close to winning the big prize at least. Garay’s club career has never quite delivered on his obvious talent. He left Benfica this summer for Andre Villas-Boas’s Zenit St Petersburg, after three years in Lisbon in which he was on the losing side in two Europa League finals, winning just one league title. During his spell at Benfica, Garay did at least show the poise, natural reading of the game and athletic ability that made him such a celebrated youngster, and which finally secured his place in the Argentina side.

Lucas Biglia

Javier Mascherano has been heroic in the Argentina engine room, but he has been ably helped out by willing assistant Lucas Biglia, an honest, hard-working combative player who has usurped the rather more refined Fernando Gago in Argentina’s last few games. Like many of those in Alejandro Sabella’s team, the 28-year-old Biglia’s club career has been admirable but unremarkable. He plays his club football for Lazio, whom he joined last summer after seven seasons at Anderlecht. He won four Belgian titles, but was always looking for a step up to a bigger league.

Rodrigo Palacio

With Sergio Aguero injured and Carlos Tevez out of favour, Argentina have had to look elsewhere to bolster their attacking options. Sabella has turned to Rodrigo Palacio, a rather limited scurrier who came on against the Netherlands on Wednesday, causing some problems in extra-time.  Palacio is recognisableby his rat-tail hairstyle. Unlike many Argentine players, Palacio did not leave to play in Europe until the age of 28, but in five seasons in Italy – three with Genoa and two with Internazionale – he has been a success, scoring 17 Serie A goals last season, as many as Argentina’s main striker Gonzalo Higuain at Napoli.

Marcos Rojo

In an Argentina team rather short on pace and width, powerful young left-back Marcos Rojo has provided both. Operating up and down the  left-flank, Rojo has tried to replicate what the far more familiar Pablo Zabaleta gives them on the opposite side, and has often been let down by the lack of bodies in the opposition’s box. Rojo started off at Estudiantes and, as is increasingly common, was picked up by an eastern European club – Spartak Moscow. After one year there he joined Sporting Lisbon, and at 24 must be a likely target for one of Europe’s elite clubs.

Enzo Perez

The very difficult task of replacing the brilliant Angel di Maria has fallen to Enzo Perez, who came on for him against Belgium and kept his place for the semi-final. Perez does not have Di Maria’s pace or technical ability but is a hard-working and selfless player, who characterises the reliable values of this Argentina team. It is no surprise that Sabella trusts Perez: he was in the Estudiantes midfield, along with Juan Sebastian Veron, when Sabella led them to the Copa Libertadores in 2009. No-one else from that side is in this Argentina team. Perez now plays for Benfica, and he won Portugal’s player of the season this year.

Sergio Romero

Romero was the hero of the semi-finals, saving two of the Dutch penalties to win the shoot-out for Argentina. The 27-year-old was presented with the match ball afterwards, saying it was the best moment of his career, coming at the end of an emotional season in which he played just three league games. Romero went out on Monaco from Sampdoria, but had been barely involved, having been first choice at Sampdoria for the past two seasons. Before then he had won the Dutch title with AZ Alkmaar, managed by a certain Louis van Gaal.

News
news
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all