The year was 1986. Over a 100,000 people had gathered at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico to witness one of the most historic FIFA World Cup finals.
It was a competition which the magician Diego Maradona made his own by leading Argentina to a spectacular victory over West Germany in the final. Although this was the Albiceleste’s second World Cup triumph, it became an immortal event in the history of Argentinian football mainly due to the legendary performance and immaculate leadership of Maradona.
However, history didn’t repeat itself for Argentina in the tournament’s subsequent editions. Maradona again led his side to the finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, but his form suffered due to an ankle injury and he was unable to guide his team to a second successive World Cup triumph.
The 1994 World Cup was to be Maradona’s swansong, as his prolific career ended on a sad note after he was tested positive for ephedrine doping.
Since then, Argentina have struggled to keep up with the legacy left behind by Maradona in the World Cup. Surprisingly, the former champions haven’t even reached a World Cup final since 1990. They couldn’t get past the quarter-finals stage in the last two World Cups hosted in South Africa and Germany.
One of the biggest challenges of Alejandro Sabella’s team in the tournament’s current edition will be to end the 28-year old trophy drought which continues to irk Argentina’s fans and followers. Their star-studded team which boasts of names like Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta will be one of the favourites to qualify for the finals, but these players will have to replicate their club form with the national team to inch closer to World Cup glory. Furthermore, they will have the arduous task of beating Brazil, if they meet, in their own backyard.
Lionel Messi: Aged 27, Lionel Messi has already established himself as one of the greatest players in the history of football. His stature and playing style has often been compared to former great Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup.
Messi recently became the world’s highest paid footballer after signing an improved contract with his club Barcelona FC. This was not a huge surprise for his supporters, as the Argentine’s impeccable record for Barcelona has taken the Spanish club to dizzying heights of success and popularity. Earlier this year, he overtook Paulino Alcantara as Barcelona’s all time top-goal-scorer with a tally of 370 goals.
At 1.69 m, Messi does not possess a tall and imposing stature, continued…