After finishing just a step away from glory at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Argentina rebuilds their dreams of the ultimate glory as they prepare for their trip to Russia. On paper, they look much stronger than they were last time around, but their performances have been speaking otherwise. Coach Jorge Sampaoli has to take a few tough decisions on his final squad which only speaks of the massive pressure his side is facing going into the World Cup.
Though Lionel Messi resumed his national duties, his decision of retiring from International Football after the Copa America loss only indicates the fact that this could well be his last shot at glory in the national colors. Without a second thought, the end of Lionel Messi will be the end of football for thousands and millions of fans across the globe. He has had a legacy of his own, carrying Argentina alone on his shoulders for ages now, a legacy that just can’t be matched.
Argentina Team Analysis
To deny that from happening, Jorge Sampaoli and his men will have to deliver against all the odds and for sure will have to prove that Argentina is not all about Messi. Is that possible? The definite answer for that will only come once the action kicks-off in Russia, but for now, an in-depth analysis of Argentina should be enough to know their chances at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Yes, Lionel Messi can make any attack look strong, but Argentina has a frontline that can look good on its own. With Kun Aguero, Paulo Dybala, and Gonzala Higuain playing around Lionel Messi, it will be difficult for any defense to stop them. Their recent results of 4-0 against Haiti and 2-0 against Italy were just examples of how destructive that lineup can be. Above all of that will be Lionel Messi for sure. Irrespective of the other names in their lineup, Messi will always be the man for Argentina. Unlike the last time around, Messi will have the likes of Dybala and a much more mature Kun Aguero, that is most likely going to make things for the little maestro.
Spain 6-1 Argentina, read the scoreline when the final whistle was blown in their recent friendly a couple of months ago. That scoreline aptly explains what can go wrong for Argentina in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Their defense lacks experience before anything else, and a good attack will be more than enough to destroy that feeble defense wall. To add to that, Sergio Romero, their first choice goalkeeper stands ruled out of the entire tournament. Their midfield too looks offbeat. Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano have, to an extent, failed to keep the attack and defense in sync. Jorge Sampaoli will have to get both his midfield and defense right to ensure he ends up fulfilling all the expectations of the Argentine fans.
Lionel Messi, when imagining football without him is difficult, then how can it be possible to imagine Argentina without him? The next big names for them will present on either side of Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, and Sergio Aguero. Coming to the midfield, more than a lot will depend on Angel Di Maria. Lo Celso has been good throughout this season and will be another name in this lineup to watch out for. In the defense lineup, the key player for Argentina will have to be Nicolas Otamendi. Injury to Sergio Romero has made Willy Caballeroa key man as well.
FIFA World Cup Record
This will be Argentina’s 17th appearance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, having ended up as the champions twice, first in 1978, and then in 1984. They’ve made it through to the quarter-finals twice in the last three editions and finished as the runners-up last season. Their worst finish dates back to 2002 when they were kicked out of the tournament in the group stages itself and ended as the 18th best side.
FIFA World Cup Qualification and Recent Form
Pitted in the 10-teams CONMEBOL FIFA Qualifications, Argentina needed a Lionel Messi special in their last qualification game to seal a spot in Russia. They finished third eventually behind Uruguay and Brazil with 28 points from their 18 games. The other seven nations battling it out were Peru, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Bolivia. Their recent form too has been just like their qualification campaign, full of ups and downs. After getting demolished at the hands of Spain, they bounced back to get the better of Italy and Haiti in style. They were scheduled to play Israel ahead of their World Cup campaign, but the match was called off as they refused to play against a war-prone country.
Argentina World Cup Schedule
Argentina found themselves a tough grouping as they take on Croatia, Nigeria, and Iceland in the Group D of 2018 FIFA World Cup. They will open their campaign in Russia against Iceland on 16th June, followed by their next game against Croatia on 21st June. At last, they’ll take on Nigeria, the side that got the better of them in their previous meeting, on 26th June. With their last friendly against Israel getting called off, Argentina has already departed for Russia and sweating it out for their first challenge from the passionate Icelanders.
It is going to be a pain for any football expert to predict an exit for Argentina without lifting the trophy, as that could very well mean the end of Lionel Messi in the Argentine colours. However, looking at how easily their defense gets torn apart, a journey that lasts till the very end doesn’t look to be on the cards for Argentina. While EA Sports predicts a round of 16 exit for The Albiceleste, our prediction sees them go through at least to the quarterfinals. Yes, a tough outing could well end their road to glory even before that, but considering their group, a quarter-final finish looks to be the most likely outcome for them.
Argentina will play their opening game against Iceland on 16th June 2018. Find all details about the match here.