Argentina have no obligation to win the World Cup, coach Lionel Scaloni said ahead of their opener against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, adding that it was mere details that will decide who will become the champions.
Argentina won the 2021 Copa America but despite always being one of the World Cup favourites they have not lifted football’s most precious trophy in the last 36 years.”In a national team like Argentina you always carry pressure being the coach. And if the results don’t go your way, I know how it works”, Scaloni told a news conference on Monday.”But I am also clear about the path I choose. Let it be clear that under no circumstances are we obliged to win a World Cup. Not at all. We are wrong if we believe that.”We are going to compete with other very good teams. We are going to enjoy this World Cup. And we hope that both the Argentinians and the rest of the fans will be happy to see a team that plays the kind of football we like.”
Argentina’s two World Cup triumphs came in 1978 and 1986 and they have lost in the final twice since then in 1990 and 2014 – both times to Germany.
Their current brand of attacking football and the presence of talisman Lionel Messi makes them popular with neutrals around the world but Scaloni knows that does not always count when it comes to the World Cup.
“The big favourites don’t normally win World Cups,” the coach said.
“There are no less than eight or 10 big teams that can win the World Cup, most of them European. For reasons, which I don’t think are football-related, the South Americans have not had a chance to reach the final lately.
“I think it’s not because of playing well or badly, but because of the details, and I think this World Cup will be no different.
“It’s the details that will make one team a world champion, and it doesn’t have to be the one that plays the best — nor the one that is the favourite.”
Argentina, however, do possess one weapon that could help them win in their captain Messi, who is about to play his fifth and probably last World Cup.
“Whenever I can train him, we enjoy it. What we hope is that everyone enjoys him, the Argentinians and the rest of the world, because it’s wonderful to see him and that he can play in a World Cup,” Scaloni said.
“All the praise for Leo is an understatement and will not end because he is going to continue and we have to enjoy him – nothing else.”