We’ve written this Argentina Preview: World Cup 2018 to share our insight about La Albiceleste – Their strengths and weaknesses, likely starting lineup, the 23 man-squad and much more.
Argentina Preview: World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzman, Willy Caballero, Franco Armani
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Rojo, Marcos Acuna, Cristian Ansaldi, Eduardo Salvio
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Gio Lo Celso, Maximiliano Meza, Enzo Perez
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Cristian Pavon
- Manager: Jorge Sampaoli
- Captain: Lionel Messi
- Best Finish: Winners (1978, 1986)
Likely starting lineup
While many are disappointed by the failure of Italy, the Netherlands and Chile to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the prospect of Argentina not being at this tournament is almost unfathomable.
But in qualifying it was close, as the Albiceleste were one game—away at Ecuador—from elimination. Thankfully for Jorge Sampaoli and a fanatical football nation, in Lionel Messi they have a player with the mindset and talent needed to pull them through.
Ahead of the competition itself, even Messi has played down the chances of this Argentina team in Russia, as they have a number of deep-rooted issues within the side despite their individual talent. They will, as they have done in recent years, rely heavily on his influence.
That fact manifested on the field in March when Argentina met Spain in a friendly without Messi. The South Americans’ lack of cohesion and leadership showed, as La Roja ran their opponents ragged in a 6-1 win. It was an indication of how this team has regressed since reaching the final four years ago.
Still, as is always the case with Argentina, there’s potential for this team to be devastating in the attacking third should it click. After all, any nation capable of leaving out Mauro Icardi should be feared in terms of their firepower; they’re likely to line up Messi, Manuel Lanzini and Angel Di Maria in support of Sergio Aguero.
While this facet of the side hasn’t always functioned, there are structural issues throughout the rest of the XI. Lucas Biglia’s fitness has been a doubt in the buildup to the competition in midfield and at the back Javier Mascherano is not the force he once was. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero will also miss the tournament due to injury.
As a result, at this juncture it’s difficult to see Argentina being serious contenders for this title. Unless, of course, Messi can produce something spectacular.
Key Man – Lionel Messi
After a season in which everything at Barcelona was funneled through Messi, being the team’s talisman will be nothing new to him at the World Cup this summer. But with Argentina the pressure is arguably even more intense and the supporting cast around him not as talented.
In what was a moribund qualifying for campaign for Argentina the 30-year-old was sensational. He netted a hat-trick to help the Albiceleste win the crucial showdown with Ecuador. His dribbling, passing and goalscoring was the one shaft of light in dark times for the nation.
Should Messi turn up at this tournament and perform how he can, then Argentina can still go far. The Barcelona star, after all, has the ability to not only win matches singlehandedly, but lift the level of those around him. That inspiration is something this team is in dire need of.
Messi should be invigorated too. Argentina have made it to the final of the last three competitions they’ve played in, only to lose all three in heartbreaking circumstances; so much so that Messi temporarily retired from international football after the Copa America defeat in 2016 before changing his mind.
Two years on he heads to Russia relishing his role as a leader and having enjoyed one of his finest seasons for Barcelona. But even he surely can’t haul this dysfunctional outfit to another final.
Argentina’s Group Stage fixtures
Saturday, June 16
Thursday, June 21
Tuesday, June 26
Argentina’s path to the final
If Argentina wins Group D, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group C which will either be France, Australia, Denmark or Peru. If Argentina wins that Round of 16 game, Argentina will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group B (Spain, Portugal, Morocco or Iran) and the team that finishes second in Group A (either Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Uruguay). If Argentina advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the F1 vs. E2 versus H1 vs. G2 series.
If Argentina finishes second in Group D, Argentina will play the team that finishes first in Group C (either France, Australia, Denmark or Peru). If Argentina wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group A (either Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay or Egypt) and the team that finishes second in Group B (either Morocco, Iran, Spain or Portugal). If Argentina advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the E1 vs. F2 versus G1 vs. H2 series.
Argentina World Cup shirt (home)
Argentina & adidas have outdone themselves with their new home jersey for 2018. Featuring the iconic sky blue and white stripes, what sets this jersey apart is the faded pattern which mimics the laurels of the federation badge. The new design commemorates the Argentine FA’s 125th anniversary and their 1991 Copa America win. The subtle fading of the stripes will have you looking sharp, no filter needed. The shoulder features the classic adidas stripes in black to accent the look.
Argentina World Cup shirt (away)
Argentina’s championship legacy is built on superior ball control. Display your pride in that heritage with this soccer jersey. Modeled after the team’s away uniform, it features Climalite that sheds moisture to keep you dry, while the colors and crest capture the energy of Argentinean soccer.
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