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Argentina World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections

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Pictured: Lionel Messi.

  • Lionel Messi and Argentina head to the World Cup as second-favorites.
  • Here is everything you need to know about Argentina.
  • Read on for projections, tactical analysis and more.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network’s staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating. 

Read on for a full breakdown of Argentina ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.

Argentina World Cup Preview

Argentina head into Qatar with the third-shortest odds to win the World Cup, behind Brazil and France. La Albiceleste coasted through CONMEBOL to qualify for their 18th World Cup, being one of two teams not to lose a single game in qualification play, with Brazil being the other. 

They are ranked third in the FIFA World Rankings and have been unbelievable over the previous year and a half. Argentina are in the midst of a 35-game unbeaten run, the longest active undefeated streak, nearing Italy’s longest international unbeaten run of 37. The streak dates back to 2019 and includes a Copa America title run where they beat Brazil 1-1 in penalties, ending a 28-year trophy drought in major competitions.

In an offense led by seven-time Ballon D’or winner Lionel Messi, Argentina will never have a difficult time creating chances in the attack. And while this Argentina side might not be the most talented that they have ever had, they are certainly the most unified and have proven they’re willing to defend. They finished World Cup Qualifying with a +19 goal differential and at one point held a clean sheet in six consecutive matches. For context, during WCQ ahead of the 2018 World Cup, their goal differential was only +3. 

Chances To… Action Projections bet365 Odds
Win Group Stage 58.39% -250
Advance To Knockout Round 83.89% -1200
Win World Cup 5.00% +550
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

Argentina’s historic form has them as heavy favorites to finish atop Group C over Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland. They certainly learned their lesson about not playing their best soccer in the group stage in 2018. They finished second in the group behind Croatia that year, resulting in them having to play higher seeded France in the Round of 16, where they lost 4-3. 

Anything can happen in the knockout stage, but this is a team that is in great form and has the capability to go head-to-head with anyone in this tournament. If they remain in top form, this Argentina side will like their chances to claim their third-ever World Cup title. 

Key Player: Lionel Messi

How Messi moves, so does La Albiceleste. This will be the final chance for Messi to obtain the only coveted trophy missing from his legendary CV, and it can be more than expected that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will put on a show for his nation and the rest of the world. 

Messi is certainly on the back end of his career, turning 35 in June, but he still has the capability to turn any game on its head in seconds. He scored six goals and had 14 assists in 26 games in his first season with PSG in Ligue 1 play, although that was his lowest goal contribution count since the 2006-07 season. That said, Messi’s finding the form he showed at Barcelona with the French side and is clearly motivated heading into Qatar. To start the club season, Messi has 11 goals and 14 assists in 14 all competition matches. For Argentina, during WCQ, he led the team with seven goals. 

The former Barcelona icon and current PSG frontman can become Argentina’s leader in World Cup appearances should he play a part in all three group stage games, passing Diego Maradona’s 21. He is also five goals shy of becoming his country’s record goalscorer on this stage. 

Expect the little magician to play more freely in his last World Cup as he no longer has the burden of winning his first major international trophy for his country.

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Tactical Analysis

Lionel Scaloni took over as head coach in 2018 after Argentina fell in the Round of 16 during the 2018 World Cup. His preferred formation for this Argentine side is a 4-4-2; when they are on the attack, it will shift into a 4-3-3. 

Within the 4-4-2 formation, if everyone is fit and healthy, Scaloni plays Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes in center midfield, with Angel Di Maria and Giovani Lo Celso as wide midfielders, while Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez lead the top of the lines as forwards. 

The ethos of this La Albiceleste team is to keep the ball. In WCQ, they controlled an average of 59.4% of possession. When playing with the ball, they will bring one of their outside backs forward to increase their numbers in the attack and shift to a back three. With another player in attack, it frees up space for Messi to roam. Typically, Messi will drop lower in the midfield to pick up the ball or will shift to the right side closer to Di Maria, who plays close to the touchline for combination play and the ability to cut in on his deadly left foot.

Defensively, Scaloni encourages his team to play with very high pressure and squeeze the midfield. They won possession back in the final third an average of 6.8 times per game during WCQ, the most in CONMEBOL. That number is doubled from their World Cup qualifying matches ahead of Russia 2018 (3.4). 

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Argentina World Cup Schedule

Opponent Day/Time
Saudi Arabia 5 a.m. ET, Nov. 22
Mexico 2 p.m. ET, Nov. 26
Poland 2 p.m. ET, Nov. 30

Most Recent World Cup Result

Round of 16 (2018)

Argentina contested some of the most memorable games of the World Cup in 2018. They scraped out of their group with a 2-1 victory against Nigeria – and the winner came in the 86th minute – before losing to France in a 4-3 Round of 16 matchup. Of course, the French would go on to win the tournament.


Argentina World Cup Roster

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