As the World Cup starts to draw closer, Argentina have slipped in the betting and after being installed as early joint favourites with Brazil, Alex Sabella’s team have now lengthened to a best odds of 5/1 with Coral to lift a trophy that they last claimed in 1986.
We know that the Argentines will make the short trip to Brazil with a talented squad and in South American conditions, Sabella’s men may well form the strongest challenge to the home side. Before they can progress to the knockout stage however, Argentina need to negotiate their qualifying group.
On paper at least, it seems as if the draw has been fairly kind to an Argentina side whose main threat will come from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nigeria have also been placed in the section and while the African squad has produced some impressive performances in previous tournaments, they aren’t as strong as they have been in the past.
Group F is completed by an Iran side who are fully expected to finish bottom and it would be one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history if Argentina did not progress into the nest phase. Sabella’s squad are quoted at 2/7 with Coral to win the section and while that price may not be tempting, it’s an indication of how safe the tournament’s second favourites should be.
We await news of Sabella’s squad but it’s expected that Sampdoria’s Sergio Romero will remain as first choice keeper. The one concern is the lack of game time in Ligue 1 as the 27 year old has been loaned out to Monaco where he has played just once.
Overall, the back four lacks a little bit of experience and while Manchester City’s Pablo Zabaleta has 36 caps, this isn’t the most settled defence in the tournament. Sabella may have some important decisions to make in terms of selection as this looks to be the team’s most vulnerable area.
If Argentina do progress to the knockout stages, Javier Mascherano should collect his 100th international cap and the defensive midfielder has an important role to play in Brazil. With a questionable back four behind him, the former Liverpool and West Ham player needs to be on form and to keep his discipline as the finals develop.
Mascherano is likely to be joined by Maxi Rodriguez, Fernando Gago and Angel Di Maria in what looks to be Argentina’s most balanced midfield for some time.
Argentina’s captain and main goal scoring threat Lionel Messi has scored an incredible 243 goals in 275 games for club side Barcelona but at international level, his stats just don’t compare. Prior to his country’s friendly match with Romania in March 2014, the forward had managed 37 in 84 matches for the national side and aside from that subdued ratio, the 26 year old has so far failed to make his mark in a major tournament.
In 2014, Messi has Sergio Aguero to share the scoring burden while Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi join to form what could be the most formidable front line in the competition.
Can Argentina Win the World Cup?
Argentina at 5/1 odds to win the World Cup is a tempting proposition if Lionel Messi can somehow translate his club form onto the international stage. Honestly, the Argentines have an easy group and a quarter final place at 2/7 seems a certainty.
With the benefit of playing in South American conditions, we also expect the Argentines to progress to the semis and to deliver a profit at 11/10 with William Hill but their progression beyond that point will rely solely on their captain and inspiration.