Group B starts off with a bang, as one of South America’s football powerhouses plans to show the world that they’re the team to beat.
Colors: Blue and white
This squad is loaded with talent, and they should have made it to South Africa with no problems. Such was not the case, and legendary player Diego Maradona is now managing the team, which could be problematic.
Although Lionel Messi is widely regarded as the best player in the world, the team’s heavy reliance on him up front may be a detriment. Albiceleste has enough talent to capture the Cup, but unstable team chemistry and the former player as coach could prevent them from making a run.
Key Players: Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano
If you claim to be a soccer fan, you know about Messi. The ’09 FIFA Player of the Year has performed spectacularly in big games for his club team, Barcelona; but La Pulga (The Flea) has been inconsistent on the national team. If he gets fired up to make amends, Argentina’s opponents will get bitten.
Though Tevez’s temper can get the best of him, his bulldog approach and refusal to back down are exactly what Argentina needs to knock out other top teams. Captain and defensive-minded midfielder Javier Mascherano will focus on closing the passing lanes of opponents and keeping them out of the defensive zone—critical for a team that has been known to let goals sneak by them.
Key Matchup: Argentina vs. Nigeria
To make fans forget their poor performance in the qualifying stage, Argentina will have to dominate in the opening game. That would set the tone for the tourney, especially if Messi performs some new magic tricks on the pitch.
Prediction: Albiceleste will advance out of the group, but depending on the quality of Maradona’s coaching, they may not get far in the knockout stage. No matter how good Messi is, one man can’t do it alone, so others on the squad must step up if the team hopes to move up.
Related link: World Cup 2010 Countdown