Argentina should dominate 2014 World Cup

July, 30, 2010
07/30/10
10:54
AM ET

While Diego Maradona mourns the demise of his employment as Argentina manager, a little inspection of Argentina's player pool reveals that there is much to rejoice about.

While Argentina has seldom dazzled in the past years, its core of talented players is young. So young, in fact, that it should peak exactly four years from now, just in time for a little tournament that will be taking place in Brazil. The Albiceleste's fabulous foursome of forwards, for example, will all be in the 25-30 age bracket, the sweet spot for players to reach their peak.

Consider this, in Brazil in 2014:

Lionel Messi will be 27.

Gonzalo Higuain will be 26.

Sergio Aguero will be 26.

Carlos Tevez will be 30.

Super solid players such as Angel di Maria, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Gago will be 26, 30 and 28, respectively. Even sometimes shaky goalkeeper Sergio Romero will be only 27.

With plenty of prospects feeding Argentina's conveyor belt, any gaps should be easily plugged.

This is all to say that Argentina must choose wisely when selecting Maradona's successor. The federation needs to find someone who not only thrives in bringing along prospects, but can also mold this bunch into the team that, on paper, should be a juggernaut.

While Spain has enough talent to carry the torch from the current class of world-beaters, many players -- including David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso -- will be past their primes. And key mainstays Carles Puyol and, perhaps, Xavi Hernandez, will likely miss the 2014 party altogether.

If no nation suddenly comes out of the woodwork with an unfathomable amount of previously undiscovered talent, Argentina should be World Cup 2014's team to beat.

And that, after all, should make even Maradona smile.

Leander Schaerlaeckens

Contributing writer, ESPN.com
Leander Schaerlaeckens is a contributing writer for ESPN.com. He has previously written for The Guardian, The Washington Times and UPI.

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