Few teams in world football have generated the passion and success of a national football team, as Argentina. With 19 titles, they lead the way for all others, along with Uruguay, in winning the most number of international titles. Along with France, Argentina are also the only national team to have won the three most important international tournaments, recognized by FIFA – The World Cup, The Confederations Cup and The Olympics.
Known as the Albicelestes, Argentina have reached the finals in 4 editions of the World Cup – 1930, 1978, 1986 and 1990. The 1930 World Cup, their first brush with the tournament, unfortunately ended in loss, with Uruguay taking away the title, 4-2. They made up for the failed attempt the second time with 3-1 win against the Netherlands, lifting the World Cup trophy for the first time. Their second victory came in their third appearance, in 1986, led by none other than Diego Maradona, against West Germany. Argentina’s last appearance was against Germany, in 1990, who stopped their winning spree and nabbed the trophy 1-0.
The Copa America is another tournament Argentina has had considerable success in, with 14 title wins under their belt, as well as victory at the ‘extra’ South American Championships in the years, 1941, 1945 and 1946. Some other title wins include the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1992, as well as the Kirin Cup in the same year. The Olympics football tournament was conquered by the Argentinians in Athens 2004 and Biejing 2008, Argentina’s Olympic team won the Silver Medal in 1928 and 1996. Also to their credit are 6 football competition wins, in 1951, 1955, 1959, 1971, 1995 and 2003, of a total of 14 competitions at the Pan American Games. In addition, Argentina has also won the Artemio Franchi Trophy in 1992 and the Nations’ Cup in 1993.
Despite all these wins, it took Argentina till March 2007 to reach the top of the FIFA World Rankings, for the first time.
World Cup 2006
Despite being one of the top favorites to win, Argentina was unfortunately eliminated during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. This resulted in the team bearing more pressure to win at the 2006 World Cup at Germany. Everything went on perfectly with Argentina beating Ivory Coast, Serbia and Montenegro and the Netherlands to qualify in the knockout stages.
Moving onto the quarterfinals, Argentina was up against hosts Germany, and a tightly fought match, ended with a 4-2 win for Germany, in a penalty shootout. The game was so competitive that eventually the teams became violent, with unused substitute Leandro Cufre being sent off for kicking Per Mertesacker, followed by teammate Maxi Rodriguez following suit by hitting Bastian Schweinsteiger. Both players were given 4-game and 2-game suspensions after FIFA reviewed the videos of the match later. But it was not just the Argentinians who were fouled, German player Torsten Frings was also suspended after he punched Julio Ricardo Cruz.
This dramatic match was followed with Argentina being eliminated from the World Cup, and the resignation of coach Jose Pekerman. Alfio Basile took up the coach’s position after him.
Copa America 2007
Argentina cleared the group stage after wining against USA, Paraguay and Colombia, and then the quarterfinal and semifinal, beating Peru and Mexico respectively. Argentina faced Brazil in the finals, but could not manage to keep up their winning streak, and lot out the title 0-3.
Argentina shares the record of having played the most number of internation matches between two countries with Uruguay. The number currently stands at 161, from 1901.