Nickname: La Albiceleste (The White And Sky-Blue)
Best World Cup: Champions, 1978, 1986
Last World Cup: Runners-Up, 2014
Odds To Win: 9/1 (Bet365)
How Did They Reach The World Cup?
Argentina’s qualification to reach the World Cup in Russia was in no means a stroll in the park as many expected it to be.
It got off to a disastrous start as they suffered a 2-0 defeat against Ecuador, before being held to draws by Panama and Brazil.
Things seemed to be getting better for La Albiceleste as they won four games on the bounce, by beating Colombia, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay. Then, proceedings seemed to be tumbling once again, as Argentina were held by Venezuela and Peru, before being beaten by Paraguay and Brazil.
Victories against Colombia and Chile were followed by a shock defeat at the hands of Bolivia, before three successive draws against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru. Their shaky qualification phase ended with a 3-1 victory against Ecuador.
Argentina finished third in their large group, only two points clear of Peru and Chile.
Sampaoli had an early retirement from football at the age of 19 due to an injury in 1979, but took some time before moving into management.
His first team as a manager was Peruvian side Juan Aurich in 2002, followed by multiple short-term stints. Between 2012-2016, he was manager of the Chile national team, winning the Copa America in 2015, against his native Argentina.
During his time at Sevilla, between 2016-2017, Sampaoli ended Real Madrid’s 40-match unbeaten all-competition streak before returning to international management with his home country last year.
Statistics show that Argentina just can’t be without Lionel Messi.
La Albiceleste only managed 7 points from 8 games during his injury absence, whereas they accumulated 21 points in the 10 games which featured the Barcelona star in qualification.
The current all-time top goal-scorer for Argentina has just come off the back of a great season for Barca as he scored the most goals in La Liga (34, 8 more than second placed Ronaldo) and also joint-highest assists with 12.
He has the ability to turn the game on its head in an instant and he will be the focal point of this Argentina side, as they look to go one better than four years ago and claim the famous trophy.
This will be Paulo Dybala’s first World Cup.
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder managed to net 22 times in 33 games in the Calcio A for Juventus, and it will be interesting how Jorge Sampaoli will decide to use Dybala.
Argentina are known for having a host of attacking options, with Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero also vying for a starting place.
Chances Of Spain Playing Argentina
Should Argentina and Spain win their respective groups, and then win their last 16 game then we would see them face each other in the Quarter Finals.
It would be the first meeting between the two nations in the World Cup since the South Americans beat La Roja 2-1 in 1966.
World Cup Predictions
For all the attacking power that Argentina have at their disposal, their defence is nowhere near that level.
Argentina are without Sergio Romero due to an injury so they are taking Nahuel Guzman, Franco Armani and Willy Caballero as their goalkeeping options, with all due respect, none of them are world-class.
When they get to the latter stages of the tournament, they will be coming up against elite strikers and I just don’t think they are of a high enough level to keep out the goals, so will be beaten in the quarter finals, potentially against Spain.
World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Willy Caballero, Franco Armani, Nahuel Guzman.
Defenders: Gabriel Mercado, Federico Fazio, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Nicolas Tagliafico, Javier Mascherano, Marcos Acuna, Cristian Ansaldi.
Midfielders: Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia, Angel Di Maria, Giovani Lo Celso, Cristian Pavon, Maximiliano Meza, Eduardo Salvio, Enzo Perez.
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero.