BUENOS AIRES – With arguable the best soccer player in the world in Lionel Messi, Argentina is the team to beat in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
While long-time bitter rival and host nation, Brazil, ranked No.3 by FIFA the proverbial favorite due to playing on it’s home soil, few teams outside of Brazil rival the fifth-ranked Argentina in terms of talent, style and skill.
There are many great international soccer rivalries such as Italy-Germany, Germany-England and Italy-France, but none have the intensity and bad blood of Argentina-Brazil.
While the Mexico-United States rivalry is in it’s adolescence, the Albiceleste-Selecao blood feud is unique as it involves both of soccer’s greatest players—past, present and future. Fans of both sides can make a case for Pele vs. Maradona, the same can also be made for Messi vs. Neymar—and they play on the same at F.C. Barcelona.
While Brazil has the likes of Dani Alves(F.C. Barcelona), Thiago Silva(Paris Saint-Germain), David Luiz(Chelsea), Fernandinho(Manchester City), Marcelo(Real Madrid), Hulk(Zenit Saint Petersburg), Paulinho(Tottenham Hotspur), Oscar(Chelsea), Ramires(Chelsea) and Luiz Gustavo(VfL Wolfsburg), Brazil—despite it’s awe-inspiring and beautiful form—has come up short in recent World Cups, and due to the usually very high expectations for Canarinho in addition to playing at home, it may be too much for a soccer-mad nation such as Brazil to endure—especially against Messi and the much-reviled Argentineans.
Thanks to a creative and talented group of players such as Angel Di Maria(Real Madrid) Sergio Ageuro(Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Rodrigo Palacio(Inter Milan) and Lucas Biglia(Lazio) Argentina has a great chance to advance all the way to the final, thanks to a favorable Group F draw that has Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria and potentially claim their third World Cup—on Brazilian soil, no less. Such a grand triumph on a global stage would also cement Messi as one of the greatest—if not the greatest soccer player of his time—and join the likes of Pele, Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer.
With Messi orchestrating Argentina’s finesse-filled and quick pace, Argentina has a great opportunity to do just that.