Thanks to a squad brimming with attacking quality, led by Lionel Messi, Argentina head into the World Cup with their customary favorites tag.
But high expectations at each World Cup are not unfounded. La Albiceleste are one of the tournament’s most successful nations, having won it in 1978 and 1986, as well as finishing runner-up on three occasions, the last of which came in Brazil in 2014.
This time around, the South American giants, now coached by the highly-regarded Jorge Sampaoli, will be hoping to go one better.
Considered to be back among the contenders ahead of this summer’s tournament in Russia, our friends at Football Whispers have studied Argentina’s statistics and form to pick out the best three ways to bet on them at the 2018 World Cup.
Back both teams to score
While Argentina have an abundance of talent going forward, they have encountered defensive issues in some of their most recent matches.
Sampaoli’s side was a mixed bag during the CONMEBOL qualifying campaign, with seven wins, seven draws and four defeats enough for a third-place finish on 28 points, but only two ahead of sixth-placed Chile, who failed to qualify. Argentina also ended a whopping 13 points behind Brazil.
In the friendlies leading up to the tournament, Argentina have continued to show inconsistency, beating World Cup hosts Russia and Italy, but losing to Nigeria.
The two-time winner was also humiliated by Spain, losing 6-1 in March.
Argentina have conceded two goals per 90 since qualifying and, considering the quality of their opponents in Group D with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria, it seems probable that Argentina will struggle for clean sheets, especially now that first-choice goalkeeper Sergio Romero has been ruled out of the tournament.
Nigeria found a way to unlock Argentina’s defence during their friendly in November, shocking the South Americans with a 4-2 win.
Iceland have been in poor form leading up to Russia, though, so back both teams to score in Argentina’s clashes with Croatia and Nigeria. Argentina v Croatia is +350 for both teams to score in an Argentine win with bet365.
Lionel Messi to be top scorer
Argentina’s underwhelming form in qualifying and recent friendlies has led many to write off their chances. With Messi in their ranks, however, that is a bold move.
The Barcelona forward netted seven times during qualifying, with all of those goals coming on matchday six or later.
When Argentina have struggled under Sampaoli, Messi has usually stepped up. Needing to beat Ecuador to ensure their passage to the World Cup in the final qualifier, the Argentina captain scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win.
Although he will be facing stronger opponents, it’s difficult to look past the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to take the Golden Boot with an international career goals per game average of 0.51, including four at the last World Cup.
Messi is currently +900 with bet365 to finish the tournament as top scorer.
Argentina to reach last eight
Despite defensive issues, this Argentina side have more than enough firepower to top Group D. That will set up a last-16 clash with the runner-up of Group C, which is likely to be one of Australia, Peru and Denmark with France heavily expected to finish top.
Should Argentina win the group, they will fancy their chances against any of the aforementioned trio, which should be enough to pave a way into the quarter-finals.
Argentina are currently -138 to reach the last eight with bet365.