Football in Argentina is governed by the Argentine Football Association, which administers the Argentina national football team. Buenos Aires is home to Argentina’s national stadium, the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti.
Known as La Albiceleste, the National Team participated in five World Cup finals, losing to Uruguay 4–2 in 1930. In 1978, Argentina defeated the Netherlands 3–1 in extra time to win their first World Cup final.
Argentine captain Diego Maradona inspired his team to victory in the 1986 World Cup final, winning 3–2 against West Germany. A controversial penalty call in the 87th minute cost them the trophy when they 1–0 against West Germany in 1990.
A 5th World Cup final appearance by Argentina was concluded by a 1–0 extra-time loss to Germany in 2014, this time led by Lionel Messi. In 1978, César Luis Menotti managed Argentina to win the World Cup, and in 1986, Carlos Bilardo did the same.
In addition, the Argentina national football team has also won 15 Copa América titles, most recently led by Lionel Messi in 2021, and is currently tied with Uruguay for most wins. Two CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions victories (1993, 2022) make La Albiceleste the most successful nation in the tournament.
History Of Argentina National Football Team
Argentina is arguably among the top-performing teams in the FIFA World Cup. The team is one of the strongest in the tournament’s history, rivaled only by Italy, Germany, and Brazil. Despite taking a 20-year break between 1934 and 1954, Argentina’s record remains among the most desirable.
1930 World Cup
FIFA organized the inaugural World Cup in 1930, featuring just thirteen teams. The Argentina National Football Team was among the participants of the tournament. Before the World Cup, Argentina had just won a second consecutive South American Championship.
The World Cup presented a chance for Uruguay, the hosts, to defeat Argentina after losing to them in the final of the South American Championship.
The Argentine national team opened the 1930 World Cup by beating France 1-0. The squad proceeded to win all their group stage matches, beating Mexico (6-3) and Chile (3-1). Argentina demolished the USA in the semi-finals, beating them 6-1. Uruguay ended Argentina’s unbeaten record by defeating them 4-2 in the World Cup Finals.
1966 World Cup
In 1966, the Argentina National Football Team took another swing at the FIFA World Cup in England. Argentina landed in group 2 with Spain, West Germany, Switzerland, and England.
In the group stage, Argentina collected enough points to proceed to the quarter-finals by beating Spain (2-1) and Switzerland (2-0).
West Germany proved to be a tough nut to crack by holding them to a 0-0 draw. The match was not without its fair share of drama, as Rafael Albrecht got a red card in the 25th minute by kneeing a German player in the groin. England beat Argentina 1-0, knocking them out in the quarter-finals.
1978 World Cup
Argentina hosted the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 1978. It was the second time the Argentina National Football Team reached the final. Their previous effort was in the 1930 inaugural World Cup, where they lost to Uruguay in the Finals.
This time, however, Argentina was not to be denied as they powered through to beat the Netherlands 3-1 in the Finals. Argentina became the fifth winning host of the World Cup, joining England, Italy, Uruguay, and West Germany.
1986 World Cup
After its title triumph in 1978, Argentina did not reach the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals until 1986. Argentina joined Italy, Bulgaria, and South Korea in Group A. They defeated South Korea (3-1) and Bulgaria (2-0) and drew 1-1 with Italy to proceed to the knockout stage, where they defeated Uruguay 1-0.
In the quarter-finals, Argentina did away with England in a 2-1 victory and proceeded to the semi-finals, where they beat Belgium 2-0.
The 25-year-old Diego Maradona was the Argentina National Football Team captain and was instrumental in their World Cup victory. Maradona scored two historical goals in their clash against England in the quarter-final.
Maradona did not score in the final against West Germany, but he set up the winning goal for Jorge Burruchaga in the 83rd minute.
1990 World Cup
Argentina was eager to repeat its 1986 performance in Mexico. The two-time World Cup winner joined Romania, Cameroon, and the Soviet Union in group B. This time, their performance in the group stages was not as decisive as their previous tournament appearances.
The Argentina National Football Team started their campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Cameroon. The Cameroonians held on to their 1-goal lead despite two players receiving red cards.
Although Argentina narrowly went through to the round of 16, they proceeded all the way to the final. West Germany had a bone to pick with them after the previous World Cup’s final defeat. They beat Argentina 1-0 in the final.
1998 World Cup
In its 1998 appearance in the FIFA World Cup, Argentina breezed through the group stage. The team won their first two group games to guarantee a place in the Round of 16. Croatia, Jamaica, and Japan were the other teams in Group H, with Japan playing the role of a point donor after losing all its games.
England held them to a 2-2 stalemate forcing a penalty shootout, which Argentina won by four goals to three to enter the quarter-finals. However, the Netherlands proved too strong for them and sent them away with a 2-1 defeat in the semi-final.
2006 World Cup
Most people considered Argentina to be the favorite in Group C. The other teams included the Netherlands, Ivory Coast, and new nation Serbia and Montenegro. Like the Netherlands, the Argentina National Football Team won two games and drew in one.
In their round of 16 clash, Argentina had difficulty thwarting Mexico. Both teams scored before the tenth minute of the game. However, none could take the lead by the end of regulation time.
Maxi Rodriguez won the game for Argentina with a 98th-minute goal. Argentina met Germany in the quarter-finals, and even extra time could not break the 1-1 stalemate. Germany ended Argentina’s campaign with a 4-2 win by penalties.
2010 World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup group stage was not particularly strenuous for Argentina. Its rivals in Group B included Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece. Argentina narrowly won the first game against Nigeria with a solitary goal. Thanks to the 4-1 win, its performance against South Korea was more convincing.
Things got spicier in the round of 16, where Argentina met Mexico. There was a controversial goal in their 3-1 win, but it was clear that they were more than a match for Mexico.
Germany, Argentina’s nemesis, forced them out of the tournament in the quarter-finals with a resounding 4-0 defeat.
2014 World Cup
Argentina got an excellent start in Group F of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Argentina National Football Team defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, and Nigeria to cruise to the Round of 16. Argentina got a hard-won 1-0 round of 16 victory over Switzerland, scoring a solitary goal in the 118th minute.
For the quarter-finals, Argentina met Belgium. Gonzalo Higuain put them ahead early in the 8th minute. They defended their lead to the end. The team went all the way to penalties in its win against the Netherlands in the Semis.
Argentina met Germany in the final and lost by a single goal in the 113th minute.
Argentina National Football Team Most Famous Players
No player has more appearances for the Argentina National Football Team than Messi. Messi also holds the record as Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer. Messi won the first big cup for Argentina when he was 18 years old. He scored the two winning penalties in the Under 20 FIFA World Cup against Nigeria.
At the end of the tournament, Messi was the top scorer and the best player. Messi debuted in the senior team in 2005 and became the youngest Argentine to score in the World Cup in 2006.
Three years later, he led his team to victory in the 2008 Summer Olympic games. Messi has won the Ballon d’Or a record seven times, with the latest coming after he led Argentina to win the 2021 Copa America.
Diego Maradona is arguably in the top 3 of the greatest soccer players of all time. He earned 91 caps in his International career in Argentina, scoring 34 goals. Among Maradona’s crowning achievements was when he led his team to victory in the 1986 World Cup.
In the quarter-final game against England, Maradona scored the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal in their 2-1 victory. However, voters at FIFA.com voted his second goal as the “Goal of the Century,” cementing his place in the record books.
Even after his participation as a player ended, Maradona would come back to the team as the head coach. He led the team to the World Cup in South Africa, where they bowed out in the quarter-final after a defeat by Germany.
Alfredo Di Stefano
Alfredo Di Stéfano debuted on the Argentina National Football Team in December 1947. The game was against Bolivia in the South American Championship. Di Stéfano scored his first goal for the national team in that match, where Argentina thoroughly beat Bolivia with a 7-0 win.
Di Stéfano scored his first hat-trick for Argentina in the 1947 South American Championship. He scored a total of six goals in the tournament.
Due to upheavals in the team, the six games Di Stéfano played for Argentina in 1947 were the only ones he played for his country. He proceeded to earn numerous achievements playing for other countries in South America and Europe, winning the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959.
Mario Kempes was a prolific striker for Argentina, earning 43 caps and scoring 20 goals. He represented the Argentina National Football Team in three consecutive World Cups. His star shone brightest in the 1978 World Cup as he became the top goalscorer in the tournament.
In the 1978 World Cup final, Mario Kempes scored the winning goal against the Netherlands in the 105th minute. Kempes handled the ball to prevent Poland from scoring in their second-round match. Their goalkeeper, Ubaldo Fillol, stopped the resulting penalty kick to secure their win.
Batistuta debuted for Argentina in 1991, winning the Copa America title with the team. He was also present in the lineup that won the Copa America two years later. Among his remarkable achievements in the tournament was becoming the top scorer in 1991 and 1995.
Gabriel Batistuta played in three World Cups in 1994, 1998, and 2002, scoring ten goals. These goals made him the all-time World Cup goalscorer for Argentina.
Out of 78 international matches, Gabriel Batistuta scored 54 goals. He was the team’s top scorer until Lionel Messi beat his record in 2016.
He was a pillar of the Argentina National Football Team. Passarella was the captain when Argentina won the FIFA World Cup in 1978, making him the first to hold the World Cup trophy.
Daniel Passarella also helped Argentina eliminate Peru in the 1986 World Cup qualifiers. Passarella made a superb assist that allowed Ricardo Gareca to score the winning goal in the game’s final minutes. Daniel Passarella was the only player in both teams Argentina used to win the World Cup. He later became the Argentina National Team coach and led them to the 1998 World Cup.
He was arguably Argentina’s best all-time goalkeeper. Fillol participated in three FIFA World Cups in 1974, 1978, and 1982. The team won the 1978 World Cup, in which Ubaldo Fillol was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper.
Although goalkeepers usually wear the number 1 jersey, Fillol wore a number 5 jersey. He got the number because Argentina gave players jersey numbers alphabetically instead of their position on the pitch. Fillol also wore a number 7 jersey in the 1982 World Cup. The numbering convention was last allowed in 1986.
Javier Zanetti is the third most-played team member on the Argentina National Football Team. He played 145 games for the national team between 1994 and 2011.
Zanetti played in the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. He was also part of the contingent that won silver at the Summer Olympics in 1996. In his World Cup appearance, Javier Zanetti’s memorable contribution was when he scored the equalizer in the round of 16 match against England. Argentina won 4-3 on penalties.
During his time on the national team, Javier Zanetti reached the 2004 and 2007 Copa America finals. He also reached the finals of the 1995 and 2005 Confederations Cup.
Antonio Rattin earned 32 caps for the Argentina National Football Team. Rattin participated in the 1962 FIFA World Cup and returned to the tournament as the team captain in 1966.
One of his most controversial moments came when he was sent off in the quarter-final game against England. Rudolf Kreitlein, the German referee during the match, sent him off for what he termed ‘violence of the tongue,’ even though he didn’t speak Spanish. Antonio Rattin had refused to get off the soccer field and was eventually escorted out of the field by policemen.
Enrique Omar Sivori debuted for the Argentina National Football team in 1957. Sivori would proceed to play eighteen games for the national team, scoring nine goals. He was the tip of the Argentine attacking spear and got assistance from Humberto Maschio and Antonio Angelillo. The trio got the nickname “caras sucias” or “dirty faces,” because they played like dirty-faced mischievous children.
Omar Sivori won the South American Championship with Argentina in 1957, in which the team dominated every game. They thrashed Colombia 8-2 and defeated archrival Brazil 3-0.
Argentina National Football Team Most Famous Managers
Guillermo Stábile came from a career as a center-forward to coach the Argentina National Football team. He led the team to six victories in the South American Championship in 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1955, and 1957.
Guillermo Stábile’s role at the helm ended when the team exited the 1958 FIFA World Cup in the first round. They lost 6-1 to Czechoslovakia. However, Argentina called him back to lead them in the last Panamerican Football Championship in 1960. Stábile led the Argentina National team in 123 games, winning 83. He is one of the few Argentine coaches who oversaw more than 100 international matches.
César Luis Menotti
César Luis Menotti became the Argentina National Football team coach in 1974. He transformed the team that went out of the 1974 World Cup limping to a world-beater in only four years. César Luis Menotti was a tactical genius with his unique coaching style drawing heavily on philosophy.
César Luis Menotti also coached the Under 20 team. He led them to victory in the World Youth Championship in 1979, with Diego Maradona as the star player. Menotti led Argentina into the 1982 World Cup. They lost their first match to Belgium but proceeded to win two games to qualify for the next round.
Former physician Carlos Bilardo became the Argentine National team manager in 1983. He guided the team to win the 1986 FIFA World Cup. During Bilardo’s time as the manager, Diego Maradona rose to become the team’s most dominant young player.
Argentina had a bountiful international harvest with Bilardo at its helm. After their 1986 triumph, they almost defended the title, reaching the final in 1990. Carlos Bilardo frequently used the unpopular 3-5-2 formation and tactics. He is one of the few coaches to succeed with the formation.
Bielsa became the Argentina National Football team manager in 1998, taking over from Daniel Passarella for a four-year stint. Under his guidance, Argentina qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The team failed to proceed beyond the Round of 16. However, the team kept him on as its manager.
The team played in the 2004 Copa America cup, going up to the finals. They lost the game but, during the same year, they played and won a gold medal in the Olympic Games. No South American team had won the Olympics since 1928.
Argentina had crashed out of the 2011 Copa America earlier than expected, leading to the appointment of Alejandro Sabella as the new manager. Shortly after, he made Lionel Messi the team’s captain. His debut game was against Venezuela in India. They won the game 1-0.
Sabella was at the helm during Argentina’s 2014 World Cup Campaign. The team had not made it to the final of the World Cup since 1990. Unfortunately, Germany gave them the first loss of the 2014 World Cup during the final.
2022 Chances To Win The World Cup
Argentina’s Home Stadium: Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti (River Plate stadium)
Governing Body: Argentine Football Association
Biggest Rivals: Brazil, Uruguay, England, and Germany
National Teams First International: Uruguay 0–6 Argentina (Montevideo, Uruguay; 20/07/1902)
National Teams Biggest Win: Argentina 12–0 Ecuador (Montevideo, Uruguay; 22/01/1942)
National Teams Biggest Defeat: Czechoslovakia 6–1 Argentina (Men’s International – Helsingborg, Sweden; 15/06/1958), Bolivia 6–1 Argentina (La Paz, Bolivia; 01/04/2009), and Spain 6–1 Argentina (match played in Madrid, Spain; 27/03/2018)
- Most Appearances: 162 – Lionel Messi
- Most Goals: 86 – Lionel Messi
- Greatest Goals: 1986 World Cup Quarter Final – Diego Maradona
- Most Goals In A Game: 5 – Manuel Seoane
- Most Goals In A Year: 12 – Leo Messi
- Manager With Most Caps: Guillermo Stábile 127 (1939-58 and 1960)
- Youngest Ever Player: Diego Maradona (16 years, 120 days)
- Oldest Ever Player: Ángel Labruna (39 years, 260 days)
Current FIFA Ranking As Of July 2022: No.3 in the world
- Best FIFA Ranking – 1
- Worst FIFA Ranking – 20
CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions Appearances: 2 (1993 and 2022 Winners)
Copa América Appearances: 43 (1921, 1925, 1927, 1929, 1937, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1991, 1993, and 2021 Winners)
FIFA Confederations Cup Appearances: 3 (1992 Winner)
Pan-American Championship Appearances: 2 (1960 Winner)
World Cup Tournament Appearances: 17
World Cup Final Appearances: 5 (1978 and 1986 Winners)
Argentina Kit Supplier: Adidas 2001-current
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!