Messi included in strong Argentina squad
By Football News
Lionel Messi in the squad for Argentina's final FIFA World qualifiers, despite the side having already sealed their spot in Brazil.
Argentina face Peru and Uruguay in their final two qualifiers, which will end a campaign that has seen them lose just one game on their march to next year's tournament.
Still, coach Alejandro Sabella has gone against convention and selected a strong group for the contests, with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain all called up.
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Javier Pastore has been omitted, however, after only recently returning from injury.
The selection of Barcelona midfielder Mascherano is a particular surprise, given that the 29-year-old has been struggling with a thigh problem.
Sabella's men secured their place at the 2014 finals with a 5-2 win over Paraguay last month.
Messi netted a double in that game, and is tied with Luis Suarez at the top of goalscoring charts in the CONMEBOL qualifying section, with both players having scored 10 goals each.
Argentina's trip to Uruguay will likely have a crucial impact on who fills the other qualification spots, with Oscar Tabarez's men level on points with Ecuador as they battle it out for the final automatic place in the finals.
The two-time World Cup winners host Peru on October 10, before travelling to Uruguay four days later.
Argentina squad in full: Sergio Romero (Monaco), Mariano Andujar (Catania); Hugo Campagnaro (Inter), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle United), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Cristian Ansaldi (Zenit), Jose Basanta (Monterrey); Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Ever Banega (Valencia), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Jose Sosa (Metalist Kharkiv), Erik Lamela (Tottenham); Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Man City), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain).