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Di Maria In Strong Argie Squad

Angel Di Maria has been on fire for Real Madrid of late. And so the winger has been retained by Argentina for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers, even though he is suspended for one game and recovering from an injury sustained this week against Manchester United.

For the first time in years, Argentina are looking like a real team from front to back, and under coach Alejandro Sabella they have climbed to the top of the South America standings in the race to Brazil 2014.

Their home qualifier against Venezuela in Buenos Aires on March 22 and their visit to Bolivia four days later give them chances to tighten their grip on a ticket to Brazil with seven matches to go, and Sabella has picked a strong squad.

Led by Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, they are an intriguing blend of household names and hungry newcomers, with glitz and grit in equal measure.

"If we win these qualifying fixtures it would be a big step towards reaching the World Cup," Messi told Argentina's Radio Rivadavia.

"But first we must think about playing Venezuela at home and then travel to Bolivia to look for a good result."

Messi and co will be wary of their trip to La Paz in particular, despite their recent and ominous improvement.

The last time they played in Bolivia’s exceedingly high altitude capital city, Argentina- with Messi in tow- were thumped 6-1, and they will be desperate to avoid another humiliation.

Argentina Squad:

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Catania)

Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Hugo Campagnaro (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Federico Fernandez (Getafe), Jose Basanta (Monterrey), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon)

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Ever Banega (Valencia), Walter Montillo (Santos), Jose Sosa (Metalist Kharkiv), Augusto Fernandez, (Celta Vigo), Pablo Guinazu (Libertad), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Franco Di Santo (Wigan Athletic)

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