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Nickname: La Albiceleste (White and Sky Blue)
Number of World Cup appearances: 14
Best World Cup finish: Winners (1978, 1986)
Mario Ariel Bolatti’s 84th-minute strike in the final qualifying match against Uruguay was celebrated from Buenos Aires and Córdoba to Rosario and Mendoza. That’s because had it not been for such a timely winner, Argentina would be watching the World Cup from home this summer.
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A fourth-place finish in CONMEBOL (South America region) means no one has more to prove in South Africa than Argentina, so buyer beware. But to that same point, the last time this world football power had a stress-filled, near-failed World Cup qualification, Argentina made a storied run in 1986 to become world champions. Will this year’s team prove to pave a similar road or will their shaky qualifying be a sign of a complete collapse in South Africa?
Guided by head coach Diego Maradona, the former brilliant striker who led his country to that title in ’86, the main man in charge has just as much pressure and expectations as do his players. Part disgruntled gnome, part genius schemer on the pitch, who knows how his wild, uncalculated moves will affect the play from his footballers? He served a FIFA-imposed two-month ban following his outburst with the media after that clutch win last fall against Uruguay. Watching him, his actions on the touchline and his team’s performance on the pitch will certainly be atop the list of must-sees in this year’s tournament.
2010 Argentina World Cup Odds
Argentina is currently 8/1 to win the World Cup.
They are 1/2 favorites to win Group B.
Key Player To Watch
Argentina has some of the finest players in the globe. In fact, they have the best player in the entire world in Lionel Messi. The reigning FIFA World Player of the Year will amaze this summer. Simply put, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe his play. At only 22, his accomplishments already are lofty enough to ramble on about for days. He made his club debut for Barcelona at age 17 and he and his side won the UEFA Champions League last season. He also has competed in the U-20 World Cup in 2005, the 2006 World Cup and won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On the field no one is better on the ball than this young dynamo and watching him navigate past multiple defenders should be enjoyed with a bag of popcorn, because it is nothing short of an epic display best served for the big screen.
Best Team Asset
Argentina comes at you in waves with their abundance of attackers. The previously mentioned Messi is just one threat from a host of players that need to be accounted for. Carlos Tevez has been tearing up England’s Premier League and is as good a finisher right now that there is in the game. Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuaínare doing the same in Spain’s La Liga. And it’s not just the strikers up top, but also the midfield with talents like Javier Mascherano, Maxi Rodríguez and Esteban Cambiasso. This dangerous outfit scored 23 goals in qualifying, and this was during their inconsistencies. Watch out world.
Key Team Weakness
The team’s greatest strength is arguably a curse. Now it is up to Maradona to find the right balance and combination and see what works best with his starting team and key reserves. And just think, of all the names above you didn’t hear Alberto Diego Milito and Lisandro López, who are dominating Europe just the same with over 25 collective goals in the current campaign for club sides Inter Milan and Lyon, respectively.
Argentina World Cup Predictions
Despite the struggles they endured in qualifying and the many criticisms they received along the way, anything but a championship is going to be considered a disappointment by supporters’ expectations. Any time you have the collection of players who are capable of doing special things, nothing but the best is always the result people want. Nigeria, an African nation that can match Argentina’s willingness and success pushing forward in attack, will be a tough out. But as a whole, Group B is very winnable and quite frankly needs to be won to avoid a match-up with another group winner in the Round of 16.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
Talent alone will make Argentina an obvious favorite in all three matches, and I doubt you will find a price below -150 at any point for Argentina until the knockout round. That being said, if you want value with just as good a chance to win, look at their totals. They are a very skilled offensive team, and in their opener June 11 v. Nigeria look at the ‘over’. Nigeria can get up and down the pitch with tempo just the same, so we could have a very entertaining match-up in the Group B opener. That’s a good focus for Argentina in these first three matches.
Argentina World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. Nigeria, June 11, 2010 – 7:30 a.m. ET at Ellis Park (Johannesburg)
v. South Korea, June 17, 2010 – 2:30 p.m. ET at Soccer City (Johannesburg)
v. Greece, June 22, 2010 – 2:30 p.m. ET at Peter Mokaba (Polokwane)
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