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2019 World Cup Preview: Argentina

Banini or bust

Panama v Argentina - Women’s World Cup Qualifier Play Off Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

I just want to make clear that I am extremely happy for Argentina. The gap between the haves and have-nots in South America is a chasm, and after watching two straight World Cups played without them, the Albicelestes are back in the tournament. This, I’m afraid, is the good news.

The Team

Despite a smattering of players in Spain’s top flight, and one in France’s, the cupboard is mostly bare for Argentina. The team has a long way to go to challenge the likes of Brazil, and could use even a fraction of a fraction of the support from their federation that the men’s team gets.

How They’ve Fared

This is Argentina’s third World Cup. In their previous two tournaments, they were outscored, on aggregate, 33-2. That’s just six games. They’ve yet to make it out of the group stage.

How They Qualified

Argentina finished second (to Brazil) in Group B of the 2018 Copa America, qualifying for the final stage, where they finished third. That got them into a playoff for a World Cup spot, where they beat Panama to qualify.

Group

D, with England, Scotland, and Japan.

Player You Know

If you’ve watched the NWSL, specifically the Washington Spirit, you’ve heard of Estefania Banini. After scoring five goals for the Spirit in a campaign that ended in a loss in the 2016, Banini toiled on two consecutive reprehensibly bad Jim Gabarra-led teams. In the fall of 2018, Banini moved from the Spirit to Levante in Spain, where she plays now. I have to think that if Argentina score any goals this summer, it’s going to be because Banini assisted...

Player You’ll Know Soon

Sole Jaimes. After bouncing around from Argentina to Brazil to China, the 30-year-old Jaimes found her way to Lyon at the start of this year, on a 6-month contract. The 6’0 forward doesn’t have a great résumé. She’s credited with 21 goals in 29 games for Santos in Brazil over three years from 2015 until 2017, but she’s logged just seven appearances for Lyon, and 13 caps for her country. That said, she’s proven that she’s capable.

World Cup Outlook

2019 has not been particularly kind to Argentina. They got shut out in three matches in the Cup of Nations in Australia, losing by scores of 5-0 (South Korea), 2-0 (New Zealand), and 3-0 (Australia.) They spent the spring winning just two of four World Cup warm-ups against American college teams in Utah and Nevada. I really don’t expect that Argentina are going to do much better, if any better, than their last two World Cup appearances. Just making it here is great for their team going forward, but that’s all I can say.