Hosts and favorites Argentina tackle Bolivia, Colombia and Costa Rica in Group A.


Winners (x14) 1921,1925,1927, 1929, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1991, 1993

The Coach

Sergio Batista won the World Cup in 1986 as a player and is the man charged with succeeding Diego Maradona in the top job after coaching Argentina to Olympic Gold in 2008.

The Star

The obvious choice is Lionel Messi but captain Javier Mascherano will be key. The former Liverpool midfielder is charged with holding together the attacking side.

The Lowdown

Argentina have not won a trophy since the 1993 Copa and now as hosts the pressure is on for their talented side to deliver. Lead by the incredible Lionel Messi the hosts have been made favourites for the entire tournament but many questions remain over the what is Argentina’s best team. They still struggle to get the best from Messi and struggle to pick from their talented forward line. Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti have been recalled after missing out at the World Cup.

The Squad*

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar, HOL), Juan Pablo Carrizo (River Plate, ARG), Mariano Andújar (Catania, ITA).

Defenders: Gabriel Milito (Barcelona, ESP), Ezequiel Garay (Real Madrid, ESP), Nicolás Burdisso (Roma, ITA), Javier Zanetti (Inter, ITA), Nicolás Pareja and Marcos Rojo (Spartak Moscow, RUS), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City, ENG), Luciano Monzón (Boca Juniors, ARG).

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona, ESP), Lucas Biglia (Anderlecht, BEL), Ever Banega (Valencia, ESP), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter, ITA), Javier Pastore (Palermo, ITA), Diego Valeri (Lanús, ARG), Enzo Pérez (Estudiantes de La Plata, ARG), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid, ESP).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona, ESP), Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain (Real Madrid, ESP), Sergio Agüero (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli, ITA), Carlos Tévez (Manchester City, ENG), Diego Milito (Inter, ITA).

*Three outfield players still to be cut from this preliminary squad, Batista due to announce his decision on June 26th

Odds to win: evens (bet365)


Winners 1963

The Coach

Gustavo Quinteros was born in Argentina but played for Bolivia at the 1994 Word Cup and has coached top Bolivian outfits Blooming, Bolivar and Oriente Petrolero.

The Lowdown

Bolivia are on paper the continent’s weakest side and have a real mountain to climb if they are to escape this group. They will clog the midfield and hope to catch teams on the break with the pace of small forward Juan Carlos Arce. Their main aim is to qualify for the Word Cup in three years time.

The Star

Capatin and key defender Ronald Raldes will be busy and will need to draw on all the experience from his 53 caps to keep Bolivia in the tournament.

The Squad*

Goalkeepers: Carlos Arias (Maccabi Netanya, ISR), Sergio Galarza (Blooming, BOL), Daniel Vaca (The Strongest, BOL)

Defenders: Miguel Ángel Hoyos and Luis Gutiérrez (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Christian Vargas (San José, BOL), Ronald Raldes (Colón, ARG), Ronald Rivero, Edemir Rodríguez and Lorgio Álvarez (Bolívar, BOL), Santos Amador (Nacional Potosí, BOL)

Midfielders: Joselito Vaca and Jhasmani Campos (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Ronald García, Wálter Flores and Rudy Cardozo (Bolívar, BOL), Jaime Robles (Aurora, BOL), José Luis Chávez and Alejandro Gómez (Blooming, BOL)

Forwards: Marcelo Martins Moreno (Shakhtar Donetsk, UKR), Ricardo Pedriel (Sivasspor, TUR), Alcides Peña, Mauricio Saucedo and Juan Carlos Arce (Oriente Petrolero, BOL), Edivaldo Rojas (Naval, POR).

*Two outfield players still to be trimmed from squad

Odds to win: 200/1 (bet365)


Winners 2001

The Coach

Hernan Dario Gomez was Colombia’s assistant at the World Cups in 1990 and 1994 and took Ecuador to the World Cup in 2002 as head coach.

The Lowdown

Colombia have never recovered since the talented side of 1994 imploded in America with deadly consequences. Now they have produced some fine players in defence and up front. Centre-back Christian Zapata looks set to join Liverpool this summer while Radamel Falcao could be bound for Chelsea after an incredible goal scoring season for Porto. They have the talent on the day to upset anyone and should expect to progress from the group.

The Star

Radamel Falcao is the most in form striker in world football right now and could carry on his club form after winning the treble in Portugal with FC Porto.

The Squad

Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Nice, FRA), Luis Martínez (Once Caldas, COL), Bréiner Castillo (Independiente Medellín, COL).

Defenders: Mario Yépes (AC Milan, ITA), Aquivaldo Mosquera (América, MEX), Luis Amaranto Perea (Atlético Madrid, SPA), Cristian Zapata (Udinese, ITA), Pablo Armero (Udinese, ITA), Camilo Zúñiga (Nápoles, ITA), Yulian Anchico (Pachuca, MEX), Juan David Valencia (Junior, COL).

Midfielders: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Udinese, ITA), Elkin Soto (Mainz 05, GER), Abel Aguilar (Hércules, SPA), Freddy Guarín (FC Porto, POR), Carlos Sánchez (Valenciennes, FRA), Gustavo Bolívar (Tolima, COL).

Strikers: Hugo Rodallega (Wigan, ENG), Adrián Ramos (Hertha, GER), Teófilo Gutiérrez (Racing, ARG), Radamel Falcao García (FC Porto, POR), Jackson Martínez (Jaguares, MEX) and Dayro Moreno (Club Tijuana, MEX)

Odds to win: 33/1 (bet365)


The Coach

Argentine Ricardo La Volpe has spent most of his coaching career in Mexico and coached the national team at the 2006 World Cup.

The Lowdown

Costa Rica have been called into the tournament as last minute replacements for Japan. They will be hoping a young team can scrape through as a best third placed team along with Bolivia as both aim to avoid the wooden spoon.

The Star

Diego Estrada has so far failed to impress at senior level but his magnificent Under-20s career gives Costa Rica hope he could provide the creative spark the team need.

The Squad

Goalkeepers: Esteban Alvaro (AZ,HOL) Leonel Moreira (Herediano,COS)

Defenders: Pedro Leal (Puntarenas,COS)Jose Mena (Saprissa, COS) Roy Miller (NY Red Bulls, USA) Dave Myrie (Limon,COS) Rodney Wallace (Portland, USA)

Midfielders: Diego Estrada (Zaragoza, ESP) Alien Guevara (Alajuelense, COS) David Guzman (Saprissa, COS) Diego Madrigal (Cerro Porteno, PAR) Hanzell Arauz(Barrio, MEX)

Strikers: Joel Campbell (Saprissa,COS) Cesar Elizondo (Perez Zeledon, COS) Josue Martinez (Saprissa, COS) Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake, USA)

Odds to win: 250/1 (bet365)