Argentina are hoping to build off of their 2nd place finish in the 2014 World Cup where they narrowly lost to Germany in the Final. They have a talented attacking squad but you could say they lack in the defensive areas of the pitch. Still they will have lots of confidence heading into the tournament with the likes Talisman Lionel Messi and star strike Sergio Aguero leading the line, despite their shaky qualifying campaign.
Road to qualification
Argentina will have high hopes for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after securing qualification through the CONMEBOL qualification group. After a good start to qualification they had a bad run of games towards the end of 2016, this includes a 2-2 draw with Peru, a 1-0 loss to Paraguay and a 3-0 loss to Brazil. After this bad run they had some patchy form in qualification beating Colombia and Chile but then going on to lose to Bolivia and draw with Uruguay and Peru. This lead to doubt over Argentina’s chances of qualification which is unlike Argentina who were finalists at the 2014 edition of the tournament and are 2 time winners. Argentina had to wait until the final match of qualification to secure their place in the World Cup. After going 1-0 down to Ecuador in the first minute from a Ibarra goal, it took a Messi inspired comback for the Argentine’s eventual 3-1 win with the little magician bagging a hat-trick, to not only secure the win for his country but also qualification to the World Cup.
Squad and key players
Full squad list:
Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzmán, Willy Caballero, Franco Armani.
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Rojo, Marcos Acuna, Cristian Ansaldi.
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Manuel Lanzini, Gio Lo Celso, Maximiliano Meza
Attackers: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Cristian Pavon, Angel Di Maria, Eduardo Salvio,
The Argentinian squad contains many world class attackers including 5 time Ballon D’or winner Lionel Messi and 3 time Premier League winner Sergion ‘Kun’ Aguero. The squad however lacks a presence of class in defense which could ultimately be their downfall, with their only really accomplished defender being Manchester City star man Nicolas Otamendi. Their midfield however has a nice balance of experience and youth, with Argentinian legend Javier Mascherano and PSG youngster Giovani Lo Celso, along with Lucas Biglia and Ever banega they should be able to organise a solid midfield to support their world class front line.
There are a few noteable exclusions from the squad, with Mauro Icardi not being selected despite scoring 29 Seri A goals in just 34 games for Inter Milan this season. Everyone including myself were shocked when Argentina’s squad did not include Icardi with head coach Jorge Sampaoli opting to select Cristian Pavon and Gonzalo Higuain instead. Another noteable exclusion is Sergio Romero, with the Manchester United second string goalkeeper being left out after making only 10 appearances during the 17/18 season.
Meet the Manager
Jorge Sampaoli started his career at Peruvian side Juan Aurich but eventually worked his way up the ranks to become manager of the Chile national team. He led Chile to success at the 2015 Copa Libertadores. In 2o15 he was named on the final three man shortlist for the FIFA World Coach of The Year Award. He later resigned as manager of Chile in January 2016. He was appointed as head coach of Sevilla in June 2016. He had no real success with Sevilla trophy wise he took over the Argentinian national team on the 1st of June 2017.
He is known for his effective defensive style of play
Leo Messi’s Last Chance?
Lionel Messi is one of if not the greatest footballer of all time. Some people are of the opinion that he cannot be considered the greatest footballer of all time until he lifts the World Cup. This could be Messi’s last real shot at a World Cup as the Argentina squad is an aging one and by the next World cup Messi will be 34 years old. Can Lionel Messi make history and cement his legacy as the real GOAT of football in Russia? we will just have to wait and see.
Argentina while not being one of the outright favorites to win the tournament are still backed to do well. Bookies odds are 30/1 on Argentina to win the World Cup (888sport). They could go far and even win the whole thing but their lack of defensive quality and shaky qualifying campaign make it doubtful. They could still upset the tournament and win it if they show some determination and fight and with some magic from Messi who knows what’s possible.
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