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The big question before any World Cup nowadays is ‘which Argentina is going to turn up?’. Will it be the efficient, almost machine-like performers of the late 70s and 1980s, the scandal-trailing 1990s version or the 2000s side that has always somehow managed to be less than the sum of its parts?
Despite this uncertainty, Alejandro Sabella’s team are second favorites to win the tournament, best priced at 6.0 across the board. However, first they have to overcome the fact that they’ve not passed the quarter finals since 1990 – a stage at which you can get 4.5 with BetVictor for their elimination this time – and yet won the tournament the last time it was played in South America.
All eyes will, of course, be on the strike force of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguerro and Javier Mascherano. Messi is 2.5 favorite to be Argentina’s top goalscorer in the tournament, perhaps slightly longer odds than one might expect, reflecting both the fact that he has team mates who are equally adept at finding the back of the net and also that he didn’t score at all during South Africa 2010. Aguerro is a decent price at 4.0 whilst Mascherano is as long as 67.0 (all odds courtesy of BetVictor). Argentina scored goals for fun in qualifying, no fewer than 35 of them, but tellingly they only conceded 15 whilst doing so. This is a team who will be interesting but not always exciting to watch as the tournament progresses.
Winning the group should set up a second round game against either Switzerland or France. Neither side should prove too much trouble for this particular Albiceleste squad, but the possible match up with Portugal in the quarter finals will be a very different proposition.