Argentina has made a World Cup appearance every tournament since 1974 and naturally in the South American country it is expected to be an automatic deal every four years. So what happens when a talent heavy team featuring the world player of the year Lionel Messi and one of the greatest players ever as coach look like they are about to falter and miss the World Cup? Chaos. Charges of incompetence rained down on Diego Maradona and calls for his job were relentless when Argentina was in jeopardy of missing the cut for automatic qualification. The team responded and finished in fourth place in CONMEBOL with a record of 8-6-4 in qualifying and their response was not a flurry of victories rather a 5-5-0 record to finish out the campaign including an embarrassing 6-1 loss versus Bolivia and a 3-1 loss to powerhouse Brazil. For a fourth place finisher they didn’t get a very difficult draw in Group B getting Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece none of which have been performing in a spectacular way.
Argentina’s World Cup team is led by the aforementioned star player Lionel Messi. Messi is joined by Sergio Aguero a man who has no trouble striking the ball past the keeper and Carlos Tevez. Messi led the team in qualifying with six goals and four assists the man directly behind him in both of those categories was Boca Junior’s midfielder Juan Riquelme with four goals and three assists although he has not scored for Argentina in qualifiers since 2007 possibly due to troubles with Maradona. It is tough to see who Maradona will bring with him to South Africa having gone through so many different lineups during CONMEBOL qualifying and despite all the talent he has to work with it may prove to be the team’s undoing.
They will open up the tournament against Nigeria on June 12th and if they can avoid the upset bid they look to have an excellent chance to have six points going into the final game against Greece. South Korea will be Argentina’s opponent in the second game and look to be the weakest team in the group. If Argentina lives up to expectations and wins this group outright they may will most likely find themselves playing France or Mexico in round 2 or possibly South American foe Uruguay. All in all this team has the talent to make a deep run but with the question of stability and decent coaching in the air I wonder if they will make it past round 2 if they come across France or Mexico. I don’t expect them to make it past the quarterfinals but if the pull it together the sky is the limit.