Argentina: Attack, the best defence!
HindustanTimes.com acquaints you with Group C favourite for WC. Group BFIFA Rewind : England, 1966 World Cup | Picsindia Updated: Jun 04, 2006 02:37 IST
<table background="/wfsf/medium/2006/06.02/images/medium1711756.jpg" bgcolor="#ffffff" border="0" bordercolor="#c0c0c0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="HEIGHT: 37px" width="327"><tbody><tr><td> </td></tr></tbody></table>
ARGENTINA - Odds 13/2
Group C> Côte d'Ivoire, Holland, Serbia & M
Qualification> Runners-up in South America
World Cup wins> Champions in 1978, 1986
If there is one team that can give Brazil a run for its money in Germany this summer, it is going to be Argentina. At 13/2 odds to win the cup, it looks as powerful a contender as ever; and with sublimely gifted playmakers - Juan Román Riquelme and Lionel Messi - there seems to be no stopping this side.
However, considering the hype and the passion associated with it, the South American football giants have a poor record at their last three World Cup campaigns.
|Argentina - 9th|
|Netherlands - 3rd|
|Côte d'Ivoire - 32nd|
|Serbia & M - 44th|
In 1998, it was eliminated by Holland in the quarters via Dennis Bergkamp's late goal. And this time round, the orange is back to potentially haunt the blue and white.
It is interesting to note that Holland is ranked third in the world by FIFA, six rungs above Argentina. Even though the punters don't think much of the present untested crop for this tournament, there are always chances of an early upset.
The third team in the Group C is Serbia and Montegenero. Formerly known as Yugoslavia, the side boasts of the stingiest defence, conceding one goal in 10 World Cup qualifiers. It will be doubly hard for Argentines and Dutch to find their way past Serbian defence.
Côte d'Ivoire are considered the minnows of the Group, but they are in-form and look especially dangerous. At 9/11 odds - better than Holland - winner of African Group champions would certainly be a team to beat.
Who to watch:Juan Román Riquelme. Undoubtedly a wildly talented attacking midfielder, he is the fulcrum of the Argentinian side. Lacks pace, but his superb control and positional awareness make him devilishly hard to mark.
Who's missing:Javier Zanetti and Martín Demichelis. Veteran defender Javier Zanetti was dropped, his 32 years of age adjudged a more crucial number than his 100-plus appearances. 25-year-old Martín Demichelis was quoted as saying that he "no longer had the will to live" after his exclusion.
Argentina has held the upper hand against Côte d'Ivoire, winning the only game played.
Mark your date: Argentina v Ivory Coast, June 11, 0030 IST
Serbia and Montenegro are one of the few teams to remain undefeated throughout the qualifiers, winning six of their 10 games and drawing the other four. Even though, historically, Argentina have won more games; on present form, Serbia could be a big stumbling block.
Mark your date: Argentina v Serbia & Montenegro, June 16, 1830 IST
Netherlands versus Argentina is already being labelled as 'the' clash. Both teams play an attacking brand of football and do not let the opposition dictate terms. Argentina would be looking to avenge their '98 shock defeat.
Mark your date: Netherlands v Argentina, June 22, 0030 IST
Group D would be reviewed tomorrow.