Argentina is persistently ranked as the second-best team in South America. They have topped the FIFA World Rankings on many occasions, including as recently as 2017. Argentina is the fifth favorite in Qatar’s upcoming 2022 World Cup Finals. But after a shaky qualifying campaign, many have written them off altogether, with the first World Cup being held in the Middle East.
But that could be a massive mistake because history has proved that Argentina is not a team you should be writing off when the World Cup is concerned.
How Many Times Has Argentina Won the World Cup?
There have been two World Cup victories for Argentina:
1978 World Cup
The mighty Argentina hosted the World Cup for the first time in 1978, and it was two years after a military coup that led to a somewhat controversial tournament.
Argentina was actually on the brink of exiting this tournament in the second round. They needed to beat Peru by at least four clear goals to get through, but in the end, they beat their fellow South Americans by a total of 6 goals before beating the Netherlands in the final.
During the final, Argentina took the lead toward the end of the first half and held onto that lead throughout, only to lose control of the match with just 8 minutes to go. With both teams deadlocked, the game went into extra time, and Argentina scored twice, winning the game 3-1.
Mario Kempes, who opened the scoring in the final, was the tournament’s top goalscorer with six goals. While the tournament and their win against Peru were shrouded in controversy, the only thing that the record books show is that Argentina could win their first World Cup with relative ease.
1986 World Cup
Argentina qualified automatically for the Spanish World Cup in 1982 thanks to their status as defending champions, but they ultimately flopped, finishing 11th overall. In Mexico ’86, however, they came back in style and won their second-ever World Cup just eight years after the first.
As with the 1978 World Cup, the 1986 success was also shrouded in controversy, this time courtesy of the tournament’s best player, Diego Maradona. During their Quarter-Final game against England, he leaped to contest a crossed ball with Peter Shilton, the English goalkeeper, and punched it into the back of the net.
The officials missed the handball, which would later become known as the “Hand of God.” This was also the game in which Maradona scored what many fans consider one of the best World Cup goals ever.
Argentina beat Uruguay, Belgium, and England to the final before clinching the trophy with a 3-2 victory against West Germany at the Azteca stadium. The same stadium had witnessed the “Hand of God” only seven days earlier.
World Cup Near Misses For Argentina
Argentina is a country where controversy is never far away. Diego Maradona offered the Brazilian left-back a drink spiked with tranquilizers during the half-time break of the 1990 World Cup game against Brazil. He declined.
Maradona was still near the peak of his form, though, so he didn’t need the help of those pills. Instead, his blistering run set Claudio Caniggia for the game’s only goal, sending Argentina through to the quarter-final.
They would then get the better of Yugoslavia and Italy, both on penalties, before losing to West Germany in the final.
In the five World Cups that followed this, Argentina failed to make it past the quarter-finals, but they made up for those poor showings in Brazil 2014 when they once again made it to the final and once again lost to Germany.
Although many fans think of Argentina as a modern force in world soccer, their success goes back much further as they also finished as the runners-up in the first-ever World Cup. This tournament was held in Uruguay in 1930 and was contested by just 13 teams over the course of 18 matches.
Argentina recorded big wins against Mexico and the United States and was beaten by the hosts in the final. Guillermo Stabile finished the tournament as the top goalscorer, going down in history as the first-ever golden boot winner.