Gonzalo Higuain may ride Argentina pine

Last updated 06:47 13/06/2014
Gonzalo Higuain
ARGENTINA STAR: Gonzalo Higuain.

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It's hard to think of another team in the World Cup that could leave a player like Gonzalo Higuain on the bench. Argentina might.

The Napoli target player was normally coach Alejandro Sabella's first choice to link up with Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero in Argentina's three-man attack.  

But it was Ezequiel Lavezzi who was playing with the presumed starters at the beginning of Argentina's practice overnight, three days before the team's World Cup opener against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

That was suggesting that Higuain wasn't back to full fitness, even though he no longer appeared to be bothered by an ankle injury that's kept him sidelined since May.

It could also mean that Sabella favoured Lavezzi's speed over Higuain's aerial game against the tall Bosnian defence.

With 21 goals, the 26-year-old Higuain was the Argentine squad's second highest scorer, after Messi. Higuain scored 25 goals in 46 games for Napoli this season.

Lavezzi, 29, scored 12 times for Paris Saint Germain in 2013-2014. He has four goals for Argentina.

Another prolific striker, Carlos Tevez of Juventus, was left out of the squad altogether.

Argentina's defence may not have the same wealth of talent in the defence, but centre back Ezequiel Garay didn't agree with a Brazilian reporter who called it ''soft'' in a news conference.

''We are a compact team in which everyone helps out in defense,'' Garay said.

Midfielder Lucas Biglia said it's wrong to assume that strength in one part of the game means weakness in another.

''Argentina is a very offensive team, but that doesn't mean that the defense is soft,'' Biglia said.

Argentina, chasing its first World Cup title since 1986, faced tournament debutant Bosnia on Sunday (NZT Monday) in Rio de Janeiro.

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- AP

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