Argentina enter the 2014 World Cup as one of the favorites to win it. However, they first must advance beyond the group stage, which could end up being difficult.
As the No. 3 team in the FIFA World Rankings, it made sense that the squad earned one of the seeded spots in the draw. However, FIFA's release of the pots and draw procedure could make things a little tougher.
The seeded teams will be in Pot 1, followed by a combination of African and South American clubs in Pot 2. Pot 3 will feature squads from Asia and North America, with the remainder of the European teams in Pot 4.
Paul Carr of ESPN offers a look at the possibilities:
With this in mind, here is a projection for the best- and worst-case scenarios for Argentina for the World Cup draw.
Pot 2 is really the X-factor for the upcoming draw. There is no chance that Argentina will face another CONMEBOL squad, so that fortunately eliminates Chile and Ecuador.
However, the fact that there are only seven squads in the group will lead to an extra team being brought in from Pot 4, which includes some very talented European teams. These will automatically be attached to either Argentina, Brazil, Colombia or Uruguay.
This means that it is possible to be placed in a group with two elite teams from Pot 4, such as the Netherlands, Italy or France. That would really be a "Group of Death."
Even if Argentina are able to avoid this fate, there are still a few African teams that could cause problems in Brazil. Ivory Coast feature plenty of talent that could challenge almost anyone offensively, while Nigeria have been dominant.
Neither of these would be considered easy matchups at the group stage, especially when this is added to another European squad.
Of course, the group also has to include a team from Pot 3, which presents some even bigger challenges. The United States reached the Round of 16 in 2010 and are coming off an impressive 2013, while Mexico are always tough to beat, even in a down year.
Although Argentina have the talent to make a deep run in this tournament, a tough draw could lead to an early exit.
Toughest Possible Draw: Netherlands, United States, Italy
The good news with this draw is that there are certainly possibilities for a relatively weak group. While nothing is truly easy at this high-level tournament, there is no denying that some opponents would be easier matchups than others.
If Argentina are able to avoid the second European team, they can be paired against one of the weaker African squads. This includes Algeria, which barely earned a bid with an aggregate win over Burkina Faso, or Cameroon, which are only No. 51 in the world rankings.
Pot 3 also has some weaker squads, including all four teams from the Asia confederation. Australia, South Korea, Iran and Japan are unlikely to advance regardless of the group.
This only leaves one European opponent and there are quite a few that are considered beatable.
Based on matchups, Croatia or Greece might work out well for Argentina based on their offensive struggles. Neither squad will be able to keep up on the scoresheet against a squad that has Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and more.
Additionally, Argentina could do well against a side with less experience, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the pressure of the big stage could create problems.
If these teams show up in a group with the No. 3 team in the world, you can almost guarantee a spot in the knockout stage for Argentina.
Easiest Possible Draw: Cameroon, South Korea, Croatia
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