The football team from Argentina enters the 2018 World Cup as one of the great enigmas of any team that's legitimately considered a favorite in the tournament.
They could just as well win the whole thing as they could suffer an early exit. They feature perhaps the greatest football player of all-time in Lionel Messi, but for all the talent they have on their squad, they certainly don't play like it as often as they should.
The Argentinians qualified for this year's World Cup by the narrowest of margins, almost failing to qualify for the tournament for the first time in almost four decades.
In the CONMEBOL qualifiers, among a field of five teams looking to punch their ticket to the World Cup, Argentina seemed to be going through the motions, looking far from a squad who would consider themselves to be the best in the world. They suffered an ugly defeat against arch-rival Brazil, which almost left them without hope of qualifying.
If it wasn't for the heroics of Messi -- who came through with a hat trick against Ecuador on the last day of qualifying -- this team would have watched the tournament from home in a disastrous sequence of events.
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But even though Argentina has made the tournament, the road is far from easy. While they didn't draw any of the big names in their initial World Cup grouping, teams like Nigeria (who previously beat Argentina) and Croatia will not be pushovers.
If Argentina wins their group, they could face off against fellow South American nation Peru, the latter of whom Argentina could not defeat in qualifying efforts, or possibly European powerhouses like Spain or Portugal. Either of those would be anything but a walk in the park (though fans should be absolutely thrilled with the idea of Messi taking on fellow superstar Cristiano Ronaldo).
And if Argentina were to make it through that gauntlet, they'd likely be looking a two of the three teams favored to win it all in their last match: France or Brazil.
Make no mistake: this team is as talented as any entering the tournament, and they have the star-power to do great things.
Their final 23-man roster is finalized, and the group they're bringing rivals the talent of any South American or European nation on the pitch.
Even with striker Mauro Icardi not likely to make the trip, and top goalkeeper Sergio Romero out with a knee injury, this team is still loaded. But, again, the team simply doesn't play like it.
Clearly, new team manager Jorge Sampaoli has his work cut out for him. Argentina has improved since they installed Sampaoli in place of Edgardo Bauza midway through their lackluster qualifying efforts, but Sampaoli will need to install focus and resilience in a squad that seems to fold at the slightest bit of adversity.
In other words: Sampaoli has to do whatever it takes to keep reminding the Argentinian football players that they're among the best in the world, and they're playing for a team and a nation that fancies itself to be the best in the world.