Argentina's squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the following 23 players:
(Statistics up to and including May 23 2006)
1-Roberto Abbondanzieri (Boca Juniors) Born: 19.8.72. Caps: 21. Goals: 0.
Latecomer to international soccer who won his first cap at 31 in qualifier against Paraguay in June 2004 after string of titles with Boca including World Club Cup in 2000 and 2003. His reliability has been called into question after conceding six goals in two warm-ups against England and Croatia.
12-Leo Franco (Atletico Madrid, Spain) Born: 20.5.77. Caps: 3. Goals: 0.
World Youth Cup winner with Argentina in Malaysia in 1997 who helped Real Mallorca to win Spanish King's Cup in 2003 before moving to Atletico last year.
23-Oscar Ustari (Independiente) Born: 3.7.86. Caps: 0. Goals: 0.
Great hope of Argentine goalkeeping who has shown maturity beyond his years in Argentine championship, prompting calls for his inclusion. Helped Argentina to win World Youth Cup last year.
2-Roberto Ayala (Valencia, Spain) Born: 14.4.73. Caps: 99. Goals: 6.
Vastly experienced central defender whose fine timing makes him a commanding presence in air despite being only 1.77 metres tall. Played in 2001 Champions League final for Valencia and had a key role in their Spanish championship victories in 2002 and 2004. Ever-present at 1998 World Cup, did not play at all in 2002 tournament due to injury. Has just recovered from knee surgery.
17-Leandro Cufre (AS Roma, Italy). Born: 9.5.78. Caps: 2. Goals: 0.
Former World Youth Cup winner under Jose Pekerman who has earned inclusion on basis of solid late-season performances for Roma, helping them to reach a second successive Italian Cup final and fifth place in Serie A. Never-say-die fighter who joined Roma in 2002 from Gimnasia La Plata where he made Argentine first division debut in 1996. Spent 2003-04 season on loan to Siena.
15-Gabriel Milito (Real Zaragoza, Spain) Born: 7.9.80. Caps: 14. Goals: 0.
Fine ball-playing centre back who failed a medical at Real Madrid that scuppered a big move from Independiente two years ago but he put disappointment quickly behind him at Zaragoza and helped them to win the King's Cup in 2004.
6-Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United, England) Born: 19.4.78. Caps: 28. Goals: 1.
Skilled and committed player who won the fans' vote as player of the season in his first year at United after winning Olympic gold with Argentina at the 2004 Athens Games. Left back for United but usually central defender for Argentina. Made comeback in April from knee ligament injury he suffered in September.
21-Nicolas Burdisso (Inter Milan, Italy) Born: 12.4.81. Caps: 7. Goals: 0.
Another of the strong Argentine contingent at Inter who has played himself into Argentina's reckoning this season with his first cap for a year in the warm-up against Croatia in March.
4-Fabricio Coloccini (Deportivo Coruna, Spain) Born: 22.1.82. Caps: 23. Goals: 1.
Cuts a dashing figure charging out of defence with long curly locks flowing but is prone to reckless defending that often leads to bookings. Helped Argentina to win 2001 World Youth Cup in Buenos Aires and 2004 Olympic title.
3-Juan Pablo Sorin (Villarreal, Spain) Born: 5.5.76. Caps: 70. Goals: 10.
Coach Jose Pekerman's choice as captain after leading his Argentina Under-20s to World Youth Cup victory in Qatar in 1995. Had feud with 2002 captain Juan Sebastian Veron, who has been overlooked for Germany, in Champions League quarter-final. Left wing back who loves to join attack, has scored 10 times for his country. Has played club soccer in five countries including Brazil, Italy and France.
13-Lionel Scaloni (West Ham United, England) Born: 16.5.78. Caps: 5. Goals: 0.
Has played at right back for the Hammers and finished season with FA Cup runners-up medal after West Ham lost the final to Liverpool on penalties. Spent time in London on loan from Deportivo Coruna. Is a versatile defender or deep-lying midfielder.
8-Javier Mascherano (Corinthians, Brazil) Born: 8.6.84. Caps: 14. Goals: 0.
Given international debut by former coach Marcelo Bielsa in qualifier away to Brazil in 2004 despite not having played for the River Plate first team. Showed maturity beyond his years in key ball-winning role for Bielsa's 2004 team that reached the Copa America final and won Olympic gold. Recently recovered from foot surgery.
5-Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan, Italy) Born: 18.8.80. Caps: 21. Goals: 1.
At only 16 he captained the Under-20s to the world title in 1997, a year after joining Real Madrid. Solid ball winner who had loan spells back home with Independiente and River Plate before joining large Argentine contingent at Inter from Real last year.
22-Luis Gonzalez (Porto, Portugal) Born: 19.1.81. Caps: 27. Goals: 5.
"Lucho", a fast-running right-sided player, was a member of last great River Plate team that won back-to-back league titles in 2003 and 2004. Moved to Porto in April 2004.
18-Maxi Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid, Spain) Born: 2.1.81. Caps: 12. Goals: 2.
Right-sided former Newell's Old Boys player who helped Argentina to win World Youth Cup in Buenos Aires in 2001. Signed for now departed Atletico coach Carlos Bianchi from Espanyol of Barcelona in 2004 off-season.
10-Juan Roman Riquelme (Villarreal, Spain) Born: 24.6.78. Caps: 30. Goals: 8.
Gifted playmaker in traditional South American mould, with superbly weighted probing passes and deadly free kicks, at times slow for bustle of European football but near impossible to shake off the ball on his day. Helped Boca Juniors to beat Real Madrid to win World Club Cup in 2001, joined Barcelona the next year, failed to settle and moved on to Villarreal where he has found his best form. However his penalty miss against Arsenal in the last minute of the semi-final second leg in April cost his side the chance of a place in the Champions League final.
16-Pablo Aimar (Valencia, Spain) Born: 3.11.79. Caps: 40. Goals: 7.
Teamed up with Riquelme to inspire Argentina to World Youth Cup win in 1997. One of Argentina's few bright spots at 2002 World Cup where coach Bielsa tried his probing attacking play from behind twin strikers after Juan Sebastian Veron's loss of form. Recovered own form at right time for Germany after last year's injury woes.
19-Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain) Born: 24.6.87. Caps: 6. Goals: 1.
Latest teenager to be called "new Maradona", quick, skilled and brave, could fulfil promise after scintillating performances for Barcelona, whom he joined as a 13-year-old. Unaffected by Argentine record quickest red card on debut against Hungary in August. Struggled to get over thigh muscle injury in latter part of season, missing Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals.
9-Hernan Crespo (Chelsea, England) Born: 5.7.75. Caps: 54. Goals: 29.
Third-highest scorer for Argentina behind Gabriel Batistuta and Diego Maradona. Batistuta's understudy at previous two World Cups, set to lead attack in Germany despite rotating regular starting position at Chelsea with Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast. Was briefly the world's most expensive player when he joined Sven-Goran Eriksson's Lazio from Parma for $70 million in 2000. Captained his country for the first time in March warm-up against Croatia when Sorin was injured.
11-Carlos Tevez (Corinthians, Brazil) Born: 5.2.84. Caps: 20. Goals: 3.
Hailed when 17 as the new Maradona, helped Boca Juniors to win the South American and World Club crowns before playing the outstanding role as top scorer in Argentina's Olympic gold medal-winning team in 2004. Had tough time settling in Brazil before leading Corinthians to Brazilian championship victory in December and now rated best player in the country.
7-Javier Saviola (Sevilla, Spain) Born: 11.12.81. Caps: 30. Goals: 9.
Top scorer and inspiration of Argentina's World Youth Cup winners in 2001. Seemed set to have a bright future when he was leading the River Plate attack as an effervescent teenage striker but his Barcelona career turned sour with loan moves to Monaco in 2004-05 season and Sevilla since August.
14-Rodrigo Palacio (Boca Juniors). Born: 5.2.82. Caps: 2. Goals: 0.
Versatile striker able to give width to the attack, who can also play in a withdrawn position as an attacking midfielder coming through into scoring positions. Won his two caps against Mexico and Bolivia in March 2005. Helped Boca to add the Clausura title to their Apertura crown in 2005/6 Argentine season.
20-Julio Ricardo Cruz (Inter Milan, Italy) Born: 10.10.74. Caps: 15. Goals: 3.
Fine run of scoring form for club in Serie A won him first cap in nearly four years against England last November and a place in the World Cup squad, which he missed in 2002. Helped Inter to win a second successive Italian Cup title in May and was preferred by Jose Pekerman to talented Independiente teenager Sergio Aguero.