History in the World Cup
Twice winners in 1978 and 1986, it has been a case of so near, yet so far since then. The La Albiceleste have no problem getting out of the group stage but the knockout stages have proved to be a monumental challenge for them in recent years.
They were runners up in 2014, losing 1-0 to a Mario Gotze goal. The Argentineans will be looking make up for the pain and travel that final distance in this edition of the World Cup.
After losing a World Cup final and two Copa America finals in three consecutive summers, Argentina went into turmoil. Messi flirted with retirement and at times, it looked like Argentina might not even make this edition - a not so convincing qualifying campaign saw Sampaoli's men win just 7 out of 18 matches.
It would be anyone’s guess on how this Argentinean side will fare in Russia. There are a lot of big names up front, and gaping holes everywhere else in the line-up for Argentina. Another intriguing cause for concern is that their top-heavy squad have scored just 19 goals during the entire qualification campaign - the lowest tally of any South American team in this edition of the World Cup.
Manager: Jorge Sampaoli
Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzmán, Wilfredo Caballero, Franco Armani
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado, Nicolás Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Nicolás Tagliafico, Marcos Rojo, Cristian Ansaldi
Midfielders: Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia, Giovani Lo Celso, Ángel Di María, Manuel Lanzini, Eduardo Salvio, Marcos Acuña, Maximiliano Meza
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Agüero, Cristian Pavón
Lionel Messi, and it isn't even close. He's the top scorer in national team history and is well on his way to cementing his legacy as the best player the world has ever seen. Some feel he needs a World Cup to validate that status, and there's no doubt Messi himself would have only one objective.
After all, he's the reason they qualified for the World Cup. Unexpected defeats at home against Ecuador and Paraguay, a draw against Venezuela and a 3-0 loss in Brazil meant Argentina would have not qualified for the World Cup if it wasn't for Messi; the captain’s hat trick in the final qualifier against Ecuador in Quito saw Argentina seal qualification in the final game of the Qualifiers. Heading into Russia, Argentina's hopes rest squarely on the shoulders of Lionel Messi.
FIFA: Current - 5
Highest - 1
ELO: Current - 4
Highest - 1
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