Lionel Messi almost affirmed the belief of millions of his supporters, that he is the best player of all time at FIFA World Cup 2014 with Argentina. Even though the team had to face heartbreak in the final against Germany, this group of players will be looking to avenge the loss they suffered.

World Cup History:

This is going to be the South American nation’s 17th appearance in the World Cup. They have won the trophy twice. They did that in 1978 and 1986. Along with these titles they’ve appeared in three other finals of the FIFA World Cup. The country’s heritage at this tournament only gets better with their five semi-final appearances.

Diego Maradona was responsible for the 1986 world cup winning campaign and if Lionel Messi wants to transcend him in his own country let alone in the world, he needs to show can carry this team to victory as well.

Argentina is one of the most successful countries in the tournament’s history but their recent record has seen them fallen short of winning the tournament and the country’s patience with the team is running thin.

Analysis:

La Albiscelete in an intriguing spot in their position in the footballing world. On one hand, they have one of the best players of all time in Lionel Messi in their ranks and arguably the strongest attack in the world. While on the other hand, the balance of the team has always been skewed, and the philosophy the team wants to adopt has always taken a back seat because of it.

However, they have brought in Jorge Sampoali who is a master tactician, especially in tournaments. He orchestrated the success Chile had at the previous World Cup and got rave reviews for his managerial skills while he was the head of Sevilla.

Messi isn’t alone this time, he has more mature players to support him to carry the burden of expectations the nation has. Paolo Dybala is one of the finest young talents out there, and Gonzalo Higuain has cleaned up his act of inconsistency. Sergio Aguero is a fearsome option off the bench for their oppositions, and Javier Mascherano hasn’t lost his step.

The team had a tough time in their qualifying but they have always overshadowed that with their gritty displays in this tournament. How far can the team go, can only depend on how Lionel Messi can be the catalyst and leader for his country.

Argentina is clubbed in Group D with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers:  Willy Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres).

Defenders:  Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Nicolas Taglafico (Ajax), Javier Mascherano (Hebei Fortune), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino).

Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Angel di María, Giovani lo Celso (both Paris St-Germain), Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Enzo Perez (Boca Juniors).

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala (both Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).

Argentina

Argentina’s Lionel Messi is still his country’s talisman. Photo Courtesy: Twitter

Probable Playing XI:

Caballero, Salvio, Otamendi, Fazio, Tagliafico, Mascherano, Lo Celso, Dybala, Messi (C), Di Maria, Higuain

Key Players:

Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria, Javier Mascherano

Interesting Tidbit:

The infamous ‘Hand of God’ took place in 1986 World Cup when Diego Maradona used his hand to score a goal against England in the quarter-finals. It still remains one of the most talked about controversies in world football.

 

Argentina

The infamous Hand of God by Diego Maradona against England. Photo Courtesy: Twitter

 

Probability of winning the World Cup:

Bet 365: 9/1

Skybet: 10/1

Betfair: 10/1