Preview: Portugal vs. Argentina

BY foxsports • February 3, 2011

Besiktas winger Ricardo Quaresma is back in the Portugal squad for next week's friendly against Argentina.

The former Inter Milan player has been unavailable with a knee injury since Paulo Bento took over as Portugal coach in September.

"He's a skilful player and he's in good form so it's no surprise I've called him up," Bento said when he anounced his 20-man squad Thursday.

Portugal is without Real Madrid defender Pepe, who is recovering from a muscle injury, while Brazilian-born striker Liedson was left out.

Liedson, who is due to play his last game for Sporting Lisbon next weekend before moving back to Brazil with Corinthians, was kept out by Hugo Almeida, Quaresma's teammate in Turkey, and fellow Sporting Lisbon forward Helder Postiga.

"We have to establish some stability in the team, create an identity, and we're happy with how Almeida and Postiga have been playing and their attitude," Bento said.

Bento has revived Portugal's fortunes since he replaced Carlos Queiroz, racking up three straight wins including a 4-0 triumph over world champion Spain in a friendly match.

Queiroz was fired whilst under suspension for misconduct after Portugal took only one point from its first two qualifying games for the 2012 European Championship.

Portugal and Argentina meet in Geneva on Wednesday.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Genoa), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon), Ventura (Portimonense).

Defenders: Joao Pereira (Sporting Lisbon), Rolando (Porto), Ricardo Carvalho (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Zenit St. Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Benfica), Jose Bosingwa (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Paulo Machado (Toulouse), Carlos Martins (Benfica), Joao Moutinho (Porto), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Raul Meireles (Liverpool), Nani (Manchester United), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas).

Strikers: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Danny (Zenit St. Petersburg), Helder Postiga (Sporting Lisbon), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas).

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Argentina coach Sergio Batista dropped midfielder Enzo Perez on Tuesday from the squad to face Portugal in a friendly on Feb. 9 at the request of his club Estudiantes.

Batista, who has called up Cristian Chavez of Boca Juniors as a replacement, said he spoke with Estudiantes manager Alejandro Sabella and agreed to the change.

Sabella said he wanted his club to be at full strength for a Copa Libertadores match against Brazil club Cruzeiro on Feb. 16.

"The national team should be the priority," Batista said. "But I don't want to get into a discussion about this because Estudiantes have been very good about making their players available - at all levels."

Batista announced the squad on Monday for the match in Geneva with several key players omitted - Atletico Madrid forward Sergio Aguero and defenders Martin Demichelis of Malaga and Gabriel Heinze of Marseille. Also missing was injured Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi, who won his second straight FIFA player of the year award, headlines the squad.

Preparing to host the Copa America in July, Argentina plays the United States on March 26 at East Rutherford, New Jersey, then opens Costa Rica's new stadium three days later in San Jose.

Team:

Goalkeepers: Mariano Andujar (Catania), Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmar)

Defenders: Nicolas Burdisso (Roma), Ezequiel Garay (Real Madrid), Gabriel Milito (Barcelona), Nicolas Otamendi (FC Porto), Nicolas Pareja (Spartak Moscow), Marcos Rojo (Spartak Moscow), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan).

Midfielders: Ever Banega (Valencia), Lucas Biglia (Anderlecht), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Javier Pastore (Palermo), Cristian Chavez (Boca Juniors), Jose Sosa (Napoli).

Forwards: Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli), Juan Manual Martinez (Velez Sarsfield), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Diego Milito (Inter Milan).


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