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2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Argentina

Argentina
Argentina has lifted two trophies in the last year and a half and will be looking to add one more in December at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. (Photo by Carl de Souza / AFP)

2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Argentina

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Argentina.

Only one team in history has had a longer unbeaten streak than Argentina’s 35-match streak — Italy who set the record in 2021 by going 37 matches unbeaten.

This is the perfect form for “The White and Sky Blue” to have heading into the 2022 World Cup. During that streak, Argentina won the 2021 Copa America, 2022 Finalissima, and qualified for the World Cup by finishing second in CONMEBOL qualifying only behind archrival Brazil. In 2022 they won seven of their eight matches with one draw. The No. 3 ranked team in the FIFA men’s rankings has nothing less than winning the World Cup title on their minds now. 

World Cup Appearances

Of the 22 World Cups in history, Argentina has only missed four with the 2022 World Cup being their 18th appearance. “The White and Sky Blue” have qualified for 16 of the last 17 World Cups — they missed the tournament in 1970 — since missing three straight from 1938 to 1954.

Best Finish at a World Cup

Argentina has made it to five World Cup finals, but only twice left as champions. The first time came at home in 1978 when they beat the Netherlands 3-1. Then eight years later on the back of Diego Maradona, Argentina became champions once again by beating West Germany 3-2. Despite not scoring in the final, Maradona bagged five goals, including the infamous “Hand of God” and “The Goal of the Century” which he scored four minutes apart against England in the quarterfinal.

Key players

Argentina has had two of the sport’s GOATs in Maradona and Lionel Messi. Maradona won his World Cup and if Argentina is going to win the 2022 World Cup, Messi will need to produce similar magic. Messi is in great form for Argentina having scored nine goals in his last three matches for “The White and Sky Blue.”

Unlike in 2014 when he had little support and outscored the rest of his team 4-3, he has a solid supporting cast around him. Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martínez and Manchester City’s Julián Álvarez give a boost to the goalscoring part of things and Atletico Madrid’s Rodrigo de Paul is controlling the midfield. A defense that has allowed just two goals this calendar year is held down by Nicolás Otamendi and Cristian Romero. Emiliano Martínez, the hero during Argentina’s 2021 Copa America championship, will be in the net.

Manager

While one Lionel leads the team on the pitch another Lionel leads it from the touchline. Lionel Scaloni became the full-time manager of “The White and Sky Blue” late in 2018 after being named a caretaker following the 2018 World Cup. Since taking charge Argentina has gone 33-12-4 under Scaloni and most recently won the 2022 Finalissima 3-0 against Italy in June in a match between the Copa America champions and the UEFA European Championship champions.

Biggest Group Game – vs. Mexico on Nov. 26

As long as Argentina do not lose to either the UAE or Saudi Arabia then a win or draw against Mexico will see them break Italy’s record unbeaten streak. It would be shocking if they did not break that record. That is because Argentina has the most complete team surrounding Messi since he started playing internationally in 2005.

Prediction

Argentina should have no issue in Group C and will beat Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland with ease to advance to the knockout stage. I do not think the winning ways end there. The toughest match for Argentina in the knockout stage would be Brazil and sadly, if both win their group, they would meet in the semifinal. I believe Argentina will beat Brazil and then win in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final on Dec. 18. An additional prediction is that Messi will retire from the national team after that.

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