by Jordan Adams - 05/25/2006
Get more World Cup betting information including betting bonuses, World Cup odds and our famous World Cup picks, which in 2006 earned $100 bettors over ten times their initial investment. ($100 bettors earned $1,820 click here for details)
The team was ranked ninth in May's FIFA World Rankings, has been seeded seventh in the 2006 World Cup and was also given the third best odds at 9/1 to win gold in Germany, but why is no one speaking highly of Argentina? Well, maybe because they come from the same qualifying region as the best football nation in the world: Brazil.
In South America, if its soccer nations were the women, Brazil would be none other than its own Adriana Lima and Argentina would be the cute girl next door that gets the occasional smile. Do not take this as a low blow to the talent of Argentina or its actual chances of winning this tournament, but there is a reason why you should not compare another football nation to Brazil's. The reason is they are just ridiculously loaded with world-class talent on a level all its own.
The 2006 World Cup will be known for its depth of teams that could prevail and capture FIFA gold. One could simply be trite and say that this tournament has been Brazil's since the field was announced, but, truthfully, Brazil will be pushed to its limits. France, England, host Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy all have a good chance to play deep into the summer. But Argentina, Brazil's little brother, is a team that needs to be taken seriously as top contender for the FIFA Trophy.
One reason why Argentina's players do not get the hype they should is because they do not play on top-notch club teams away from their national team. Juan Roman Riquelme leads his team this summer as a midfielder equally capable of controlling the ball and the pace. Pablo Aimar and Maxi Rodriguez are two other midfielders who compliment their star Riquelme.
Experience comes from the likes of Roberto Ayala and Juan Sorin, who set the table defensively. Ayala, a strong tackler, has been at the international level for more than a decade and is equipped with the intangibles to help his younger backs. Sorin, who plays in the same backfield as Ayala for club team Villarreal, has come up Argentina's ranks with his central defensive capabilities.
While Argentina has yet to emerge from the former success of Diego Maradona, the Albiceleste's newer corps of strikers could compel the rise of a new South American power. Veterans Javier Saviola and Hernan Crespo have played on this stage before and will consistently produce. The wildcard will be young Lionel Messi. At just 19 years old, he has already cemented himself as one of the finest players of his generation, both coming up to Argentina's senior team and with Spanish club power FC Barcelona.
The left-footed Messi has all the tools to wow in Germany. He has exceptional vision and his technical skills are as sound as any player for his age. Attacking defenses with the greatest of ease, he can penetrate holes and create opportunities with the explosiveness he was blessed with.
Doubts may have surfaced with this team perhaps due to the difficult group play draw they received. They assume the role as a favorite to advance along with fellow top contender the Netherlands. The other two nations selected for Group C are both first-time qualifiers. Ivory Coast and Serbia and Montenegro will look to create parity throughout the draw stages. Ivory Coast is much more of a threat than the latter and this African nation will play very competitive in its three group matches.
Advancing through to the elimination round would be a great step for Argentina. Whether they win their group or are runners-up, they would be matched-up with a nation from a weaker Group D. Possible match-ups would be Mexico or Portugal, but regardless of whom Argentina is paired up with, a showing similar to 2002 in Korea would be a true letdown. Reclaiming the trophy for their faithful after a 20-year drought will be a month-long journey but certainly in their grasps.