Argentina hopes to return to glory when they take to the pitch at the 2014 World Cup.
With odds of 9-2, the Argentines trail only host Brazil in World Cup futures wagering. La Seleccion is also heavily favored to finish atop Group F, quite possibly with three straight wins.
The only question left unanswered is whether there is a squad that can stop Argentina’s march to their first World Cup championship since 1986.
Argentina’s biggest group-stage challenge will likely coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Currently No. 21 in FIFA’s World Ranking and a solid 4-5 bet to advance to the round of 16, they are playing in their first World Cup.
While unlikely to challenge the Argentines for top spot in Group F, the Bosnians have the potential to test the Argentine defense. Not surprisingly, however, Argentina is a strong 2-5 favorite in their match against Bosnia and Herzegovina, who sit as a distant 15-2 underdog.
The Argentines will also take on Nigeria in group-stage action. The youthful Nigerians are pegged at 8-1 in group betting and will also be heavy underdogs against Argentina.
However, they will draw inspiration from their decisive 4-1 win in a friendly a year ago. It was a milestone victory over a major soccer power for the Nigerians, but it was against an Argentine squad which had left many of their top players, including superstar Lionel Messi (who remains a top pick in betting to lead the tournament in goals).
In the round of 16, odds are that Argentina will face either France or Switzerland—two squads heading in different directions. France arrives at Brazil 2014 seeking redemption after an embarrassing performance at the 2010 World Cup.
But the French have played well of late, recording clean sheets in five of their last seven matches. History is not on France’s side, however. They have never beaten Argentina, tallying just a single goal in four losses all-time.
Switzerland has emerged as a soccer power of late, recently rising to No. 6 in FIFA’s World Ranking. However, they too have never recorded a victory over Argentina, most recently dropping a 3-1 decision in a 2012 friendly.
The first true test for Argentina will likely come in the quarter-finals, where they could encounter a dark-horse opponent like Belgium or Portugal, pegged respectively at 18-1 and 25-1 to claim the World Cup title.
Argentina has little experience against the two emerging European powers, which both feature potent offensive weapons capable of dominating a match and bringing a premature end to Argentina’s bid to win a third World Cup championship.
Odds, stats and rankings courtesy of Odds Shark.