Argentina are for many the favourites to win the World Cup, with many pointing to the fact simply that it would complete the narrative arc for Lionel Messi, who is likely playing his final World Cup.
Messi has been present before though and many seemed far less confident in the Albiceleste than they do now, although perhaps their 36-game unbeaten run has something to do with it. Last summer Argentina also broke a 28-year trophy drought winning the Copa America last year.
However Sergio Aguero believes that this Argentina is entirely different to the sides that have come in the past decade before manager Lionel Scaloni, many of which he was a part of.
“I think that Messi was adapting to this new team. If Leo is one hundred percent, he can be lethal. But I would also say that a Messi at 60-70% would also work in this Argentina, because Scaloni’s team helps Leo a lot, something that didn’t happen so much before. This team is prepared so that Messi does not always have to be one hundred percent.”
He was then asked by Marca whether this Argentina were a better team, despite not possessing the star power of previous years.
“Exactly. Argentina was always a team with a lot of possession, having the ball. But now is a team that does not attack so much. Scaloni changed everything. Now Argentina are better armed, we don’t have the ball that much… but when we do, we do damage. And this is good. The coach put together a fixed line of four, which don’t push up much. And that helps Messi, because the team is solid at the back, they help each other. There are not 11 stars perhaps, but there are very good supportive players.”
In addition to Aguero’s analysis, the mood in the camp seems far better than it has ahead of major tournaments. There is a strong bond between the group Scaloni has put together and far less pressure, having won the Copa America. For perhaps the first time since Messi became a global star, playing for Argentina has become fun for the players.