For a team of their stature, it’s been quite some time since Argentina last won the tournament, and that’s despite an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the obvious talent available to them every four years.
Lionel Messi is a case in point. The PSG man, arguably the greatest player of his generation, is yet to taste World Cup glory and, interestingly enough, has never scored a goal in the tournament that didn’t come in the group phase stage.
When it comes to the World Cup betting odds, the South American side rank just below Brazil and France with most football betting sites, but can they really secure their first World Cup success since 1986? Let’s take a closer look.
Veteran Lionel Messi has already announced this will be his last World Cup tournament, and that may well act as additional motivation for Lionel Scaloni’s team, which is jam-packed with established talents.
In the attacking third, Scaloni has a variety of options, from the likes of Messi and Juventus star Angel Di Maria, who have almost 300 caps between them, to Man City’s young forward Julian Alvarez and AS Roma’s Paulo Dybala, who has experienced something of a renaissance since moving to the Italian capital.
Let’s also not forget Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, who has been remarkably consistent when on international duty, scoring 21 goals in 40 appearances, 13 of which came in competitive matches.
One potential area of concern is the team’s midfield, which is perhaps missing a real leader of high quality. Players such as Leandro Paredes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid’s Rodrigo De Paul are solid, if not spectacular. Exciting young Benfica talent Enzo Fernandez may be given a chance to impress, and Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister is in fine form.
Defensively you can expect Man United’s Lisandro Martinez to put in solid and passionate displays, probably alongside Tottenham’s Cristian Romero, so you can expect yellow and reds as a likely result.
Wide defenders are in short supply, at least very effective ones are, though Nicolas Tagliafico is at least experienced at this highest level.
Aston Villa fans can expect Emiliano Martinez to be competent between the sticks, offering Scaloni a very strong last line of defence.
All in all, Scaloni’s 2022 squad isn’t the best Argentina has produced, but it is a squad of players that are very much better than the sum of its parts.
Argentina have a very straightforward group to negotiate, with matches against Saudi Arabia, Poland and Mexico unlikely to cause much distress.
Scaloni knows that failing to finish top may lead to a clash with France in the Round of 16, something they’ll want to avoid (not least because in 2018, this same chain of events occurred, and they were dumped out following an enthralling game that ended in a 4-3 defeat).
Finishing top will probably mean a more amenable opponent in the first knockout round, more than likely Denmark.
We’d back Argentina to make the quarter-finals before they get knocked out via penalties by the Netherlands.
On that note, the 9/4 offered by BoyleSports on Argentina being eliminated in the last eight is a bet we’d happily take.
Though many hope for a romantic conclusion to Messi’s competitive national team career, with the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner finally winning a World Cup, it’s not a dream we can see coming to fruition.
However, it might be worth betting on Messi to get the Golden Boot, especially as he could rack up goals against Saudi Arabia and others. Grosvenor Sports are offering 11/1 on that outcome; why not back that bet?