Sporting one of the greatest footballers in history and an emerging cast of top-notch talent, La Albiceleste has its best shot at World Cup glory in years.
You may have heard of him. Four-time FIFA world player of the year. Record for most goals scored in a calendar year. Countless awards and accolades. Lionel Messi is without a doubt the greatest soccer player of this generation, and possibly all-time.
But the thing that still haunts his career is a lack of impact on the world stage. Messi was essentially non-existent in the 2010 World Cup. The prolific Barcelona striker failed to score a goal during the tournament, and that was a main factor in Argentina’s quarter-final exit.
He’s only 26, but still, Messi only has so many more chances to make his mark internationally. If he can manage to have a strong showing with this talented Argentine side, chances are good that he’ll be lifting the World Cup over his head in July.
Road to Rio
Argentina’s scintillating run in South American qualifying bolstered confidence in the squad and expectations in Brazil. An early loss to Venezuela and 1-1 draw against Bolivia had fans wondering if new manager Alejandro Sabella was up to the task, but a 14-match unbeaten run saw La Albiceleste cruise to qualification.
- World Cup Group: F
- Nickname: La Albiceleste
- Manager: Alejandro Sabella
- Captain: Lionel Messi
- FIFA World Ranking: 5
- Best World Cup Result: Champions in 1978, 1986
- Qualification Method: 1st in CONMEBOL
How they Fared in 2010
Despite Messi’s struggles, Argentina looked poised for a deep run in South Africa after a perfect showing in the group stages, where La Albiceleste scored seven goals and only conceded one. But Germany slammed the brakes on Argentina’s run in the quarter-finals, thrashing La Albiceleste 4-0 and sending them home from the World Cup exit early once again.
- Sunday June 15 – Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 6 p.m. ET
- Saturday June 21 – Argentina vs. Iran, Noon ET
- Wednesday June 25 – Nigeria vs. Argentina, Noon ET
Anyone that thinks Argentina is only Messi is sorely mistaken. With elite talent like Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and others entering the tournament in top form, La Albiceleste has a good shot to contend even without Messi firing on all cylinders. A very favourable group draw and schedule (no matches in the punishing heat of the North-Eastern region) play in Argentina’s favour as well.
But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the diminutive maestro. If Messi can finally put it all together and shine for his country, there’s a very good chance Argentina will be hoisting its third World Cup trophy at tournament’s end.