Argentina's 5 Greatest World Cup Strikers

Daniel Edwards@@DanEdwardsGoalFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2014

Argentina's 5 Greatest World Cup Strikers

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    With two World Cup trophies, the Argentine national team has one of the most illustrious records of any country in the famous competition. The Albiceleste have also brought some of the best players ever to step on a football pitch onto the world stage. 

    From goalkeepers to goal-scorers, tough defenders to outrageously talented playmakers, all manner of stars have pulled on the blue and white shirt over the years. 

    Although the No. 10 shirt has a special mystique in the nation, those wearing No. 9 have also been received as heroes. Who are the greatest centre-forwards to have represented Argentina in the World Cup? Here are five of the best. 

5. Luis Artime

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    Associated Press

    Luis Artime is not a well-known name outside of his native South America. However, inside the continent, the striker is known as one of the deadliest attackers ever to play, winning national titles in both Argentina and Uruguay as well as Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup titles with Montevideo's Nacional. 

    His record of 24 goals in 25 games for the Seleccion gives him an incredible strike rate of 0.96 per match. Three of those came in his only World Cup, as he led the offensive line for one of Argentina's most historically underrated teams. 

    In 1966, Artime smashed three in his nation's four appearances, including a memorable double to down a dangerous Spain side in the group stages.

    Argentina's campaign was ended in controversial circumstances by England in the last eight, but their striker continued his glittering career for many years still before retiring in 1974.

4. Claudio Caniggia

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Unlike the other names on this list, Claudio Caniggia was not an out-and-out striker. The blonde superstar was more of a second striker—a No. 7 in the Argentine football lexicon—mobile, intelligent and a valuable link between midfield and attack. 

    When he did hit the net, however, they were goals to remember.

    Caniggia's partnership with Diego Maradona in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups formed one of the most dynamic, exciting duo's in the tournament's recent history, with the two extroverts combining perfectly in an otherwise staid competition.

    El Pajaro's goal against Brazil was one of four notches in World Cup competition, and just one of several vital strikes he converted while wearing his nation's colours.

3. Guillermo Stabile

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    Guillermo Stabile's World Cup history is nothing if not curious. The prolific striker occupies a similar place to France great Just Fontaine: He may have only played one tournament, but it was certainly one to remember. 

    The then-Huracan star burst on the scene in what was his international debut in 1930. Luis Monti scored Argentina's first goal in that competition, but Stabile was soon amongst the goals, bagging the nation's first World Cup hat-trick in a 6-1 demolition of Mexico. 

    El Filtrador finished with an incredible eight goals from four matches as Argentina went down in the final to hosts Uruguay.

    Even more amazingly, that final was his last game for the nation. A move to Genoa beckoned, and his glittering international career was over almost as soon as it started. 

2. Mario Kempes

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    Only a select group of players reach such acclaim that they have a stadium named after them. That particular distinction was achieved by Cordoba native Mario Kempes in recognition for his part in bringing home Argentina's first World Cup in 1978. 

    The Valencia man was the nation's only overseas-based player as they hosted the event under the direction of Cesar Luis Menotti. He more than justified his place, finishing with six goals despite not scoring in any of the side's first three matches. 

    Two majestic strikes in the final sank a dangerous Netherlands team, assuring Kempes' place in Argentine folklore. Curiously, despite going to three World Cups, it was only on home soil that El Matador found the net.

1. Gabriel Batistuta

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    There can only logically be one contender for the top spot in this illustrious list. The 1990s was a time of great scorers, and few were as prolific or as imposing as Fiorentina and Argentina legend Gabriel Batistuta. 

    Batigol has the unique distinction of scoring two World Cup hat-tricks, a feat unequalled by anyone else in Albiceleste history. The star scored a total of 10 goals over the course of three World Cups, more than any other Argentine national. 

    His record of 56 goals in international colours, moreover, may be one of the few records still out of reach for current captain Lionel Messi.