How they qualified
After a 4-1 win against Chile to begin their FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign, Argentina then stumbled against Venezuela and drew 1-1 at home to Bolivia, which raised doubts as to whether coach Alejandro Sabella, who took over after Copa America 2011, was up to the task. La Albiceleste, however, got back on track with 2-1 win over Colombia in Barranquilla, which began Argentina's 14-match unbeaten run through the remainder of qualifying, where they finished atop the South American table. Argentina tallied 35 goals while only surrendering 15 on the way to winning the preliminary competition for the third time. The rest of South America could only chase Argentina throughout the final qualifying fixtures.
FIFA World Cup finals history
Argentina have contested four FIFA World Cup Finals in all, the first of them at the inaugural tournament, Uruguay 1930, when they went down 4-2 to the host nation. Respective contributions from Mario Kempes and Diego Maradona inspired them to the biggest prize in football on home soil in 1978 and again at Mexico 1986, while their last showpiece appearance came at Italy 1990, when they were denied by an Andreas Brehme penalty. Since then they have been unable to progress beyond the quarter-finals.
The key players
With the landmark achievement of claiming four consecutive FIFA Ballon d'Ors (2009-2012), Lionel Messi in the undisputed leader of the Argentina national team and a multiple-trophy winner with Barcelona. Breaking all kind of goal-records, La Pulga is now looking to achieve greatness with his country after failing, somewhat surprisingly, to find the back of the net at South Africa 2010. Supporting him will be an all-star cast featuring Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and Angel Di Maria, all of them on top of their game with some of Europe’s leading clubs.
Coach: Alejandro Sabella
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Argentina 1978, Mexico 1986 (Winners), FIFA U-20 World Cup Japan 1979, Qatar 1995, Malaysia 1997, Argentina 2001, Netherlands 2005, Canada 2007 (Winners), FIFA Confederations Cup Saudi Arabia 1992 (Winners), Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 (Winners)
Former stars: Daniel Passarella, Diego Maradona, Gabriel Batistuta, Mario Kempes