FIFA World Cup 2014 Preview: Team Argentina
Lionel Messi has scored 37 goals for his national team, and is definitely the best player in the world today. But to be recognized and revered as an “all-time great”, he will have to win the world cup. (Photo: FIFA)
The preview of the special edition of FIFA World Cup 2014 continues with Argentina, or Les Albicelestes as they're famously known around the world; denominating their white and sky-blue colors. Argentina goes into 2014 world cup for the 16th time in history, drawn in group F together with Nigeria, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Iran. An easy group as it may sound, but an intriguing one in deeds, as soccer is settled on the pitch within 90 minutes of play, and a bouncing ball in arbitration. Argentina is without a doubt one of the title contenders to lift up the Jules Rimet Trophy come July 13th, thanks to their terrific form, the world's best player, and a talented crop of young players with an immense experience on European style of football/soccer.
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Argentina hosted and won the World Cup for the first time in 1978 in a defeat of the Netherlands by 3-1. In 1986 tournament that was held in Mexico, with Diego Maradona as the darling of the tournament, Argentina won it for the second time after defeating West Germany in the final match by 3-2. In 1990 tournament held in Italy, Argentina celebrated their third appearance in the finals of the world cup, a tradition that has seen them reaching the finals on four occasions in history, even though they lost 1-0 in a renewal of the rivalry against West Germany. The history and hoodoo of losing to the Germans goes on and on. If the 4-2 results in the penalty shootouts in 2006 version held in Germany were not enough in terms of dominance of one over the other, the 4-0 thrashing in the quarter-finals of the 2010 (in South Africa) clearly was (Play Video). It's clear that les albicelestes will not only be playing with might and main hoping to avoid the Germans, but also praying.
Despite some stuttering campaigns before and during the qualifying stages that hinted a disarrayed team lacking character and leadership, les albicelestes are in a terrific form at the moment as a team, and confidently, back where they belong with a coach to reckon: Alejandro Sabella. A notable quality of Alejandro Sabella that distinguishes him markedly from his predecessor, Diego Maradona, is his confidence in team selection, exemplified by the appointment of Lionel Messi as the national team captain. Sabella has won 19 games, and lost only 4 in as many as 32 games since taking charge of les albicelestes. "We have the best player in the world and we are also playing on the patio beside our house- the only problem is that that house is owned by the five-time world champions," Alejandro Sabella was quoted in FIFA.com. Currently in third position in FIFA's World Rankings, and having reached the finals of the World Cup on four previous occasions, Argentina will be heading to Brazil with a merited confidence, form, and a player who's larger than life: Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi has won the FIFA's Ballon d'Or awards on 4 occasions; the first soccer player to claim the award on four occasions, all consecutively. He has also won the European Golden Shoe award on 3 occasions; a fitting allotment of rewards and recognition for a player who has steered the Blaugranas, Barcelona FC into 6 Spanish League titles, 3 Champions League and 2 Copa Del Rey trophies. His, composure, skills and mettle on the pitch are qualities to behold; the foremost attributes which stands as a testament that he's indeed the best player in the world. But, for a player who has rightly come into his own as the best soccer player of world magnitude on four occasions, a consideration for "all-time great" without winning a world cup is devoid of pith and meaning. If Pele, Maradona, Ronaldo, Johan Cruyff (reached the finals in 1974), and/or Franz Beckenbauer received this distinction after lifting the World Cup, Messi has to. Winning the Ballon d'Or alone, with the European club competition[s] only as a yardstick of greatness might not be enough. Lionel Messi, having tasted the world cup for the first time in 2010 in South Africa without scoring a single goal, will have an opportunity this time to prove that he really belongs to the pantheons, by lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy. At a tender age of 26, and having scored 37 goals for the national team, the 2014 tournament in Brazil should provide the Argentine with a glorious opportunity to shine and silence the critics. In the 2018 tournament that is due in Russia, Lionel Messi will be 30 yrs. old, and in the twilight of his career. It's difficult to imagine him playing with vigor and juggle the way Argentine's football is accustomed. This is his time to shine, and in cahoots with a talented roster comprising of Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Javier Mascherano, Maxi Rodriguez, Angel Di Maria, and Gonzalo Higuain, much is expected from Argentina. "I want to do what Maradona did, first [to] win the World Cup and then the Scudetto. He triumphed in Mexico in 1986 and, a year later, he made Napoli go crazy. If I could do this it would really be the ultimate dream," said the striker and leading scorer for les albicelestes in 2010 World Cup Gonzalo Higuain, as he was quoted in FIFA.com. Argentina will play two more friendly matches in April and early June as dress rehearsals, against Trinidad & Tobago and Slovenia before opening their group F on June 15th against Bosnia & Herzegovina in Rio de Janeiro. Will Les Albicelestes display their usual dribbling skills in control and distribution of the ball or set the beautiful display aside in an attempt to win their third world cup trophy? To find out which team will be profiled next week, visit isportstimes.com on a regular basis.
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