Argentina fell at the last-16 hurdle in Russia four years ago, but their revived fortunes under Lionel Scaloni suggest they could go far in the World Cup in Qatar.
There have been few more underachieving nations than Argentina, who had suffered so many near misses before last year's Copa America success over Brazil ended a 28-year wait for a major trophy.
Before that 1-0 success, secured thanks to Angel Di Maria's solitary goal, Argentina had lost four Copa America finals between 2004 and 2016 since their last continental triumph in 1993.
It would have been almost unthinkable to see Lionel Messi end his career without lifting a trophy at senior level for his country and now the Paris Saint-Germain superstar can play with freedom in Qatar, where Argentina are quoted at 8/1 to win the World Cup.
This could be the last realistic chance for 35-year-old Messi to win a World Cup and he is also 14/1 to claim the Golden Boot.
|When:||20th November - 18th December 2022|
|How to watch:||All matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV|
|Odds:||Brazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Spain 8/1, Argentina 7/1|
Mario Kempes was the Argentina hero on home soil in 1978 and Diego Maradona inspired the Albiceleste to their last success in the scorching heat of Mexico in 1986, going from the ridiculousness of his controversial "Hand of God" goal against England in the quarter-finals to the brilliance of his sensational solo effort just four minutes later.
Maradona also grabbed both goals to see off Belgium in the semi-finals, although it was Jorge Burruchaga who turned out to be the match-winner in the final in a 3-2 success over West Germany.
However, only once have Argentina been beyond the quarter-finals since losing the 1990 final to West Germany at Italia '90. That came in Brazil in 2014 when Messi's men reached the final, losing 1-0 to Germany.
|Runners-up||1930, 1990, 2014|
La Albiceleste finished unbeaten in their marathon qualifying campaign, taking second place behind Brazil although the great South American rivals won't finish their qualifying until the two teams meet on 21st September after the fixture in Brazil was abandoned.
The teams played just six minutes of the first meeting when Brazilian officials entered the pitch to demand the withdrawal of certain players who the hosts said had not complied with medical protocols. The reverse fixture finished 0-0.
Argentina are 2/5 shots to finish top of Group C in Qatar and they deserve their status as strong favourites, with Poland, Mexico and Saudi Arabia for company.
An almost unthinkable group stage exit is quoted at 7/1 and they will fully expect to get off to a flyer considering Saudi Arabia are Argentina's first opponents on 22nd November. It's 2/11 Argentina to win, with the draw priced at 6/1.
Topping the group is set to be crucial, with the runners-up from Group C meeting the winners of Group D in the last-16.
That is likely to be France, but if Argentina can secure first place their early knockout path could look something like Denmark and the Netherlands, before a possible potential semi-final showdown with Brazil.
Lionel Scaloni became Argentina's manager after their World Cup 2018 flop and has done well in his first job as the main man.
As a player, defender Scaloni was best known for his stint at Deportivo La Coruna between 1998-2006, although Premier League observers may remember him as the West Ham player who gave away possession in the FA Cup final as Steven Gerrard broke Hammers' hearts in 2006.
There will always be arguments as to who is the best player of all-time, but few can deny Messi deserves his place in the conversation with a record-breaking seven Ballon d'Or awards.
Messi played 778 matches for Barcelona, scoring 672 goals and registering a further 288 assists according to official club records.
He won La Liga 10 times and the Champions League on four occasions, although his debut season at PSG in 2021/22 did not go as smoothly.
Some have suggested Messi does not perform at his best for Argentina, however, 86 goals in 162 caps is not too shabby and he finally delivered on the international stage at last year's Copa America.
Julian Alvarez is a versatile forward who has been snapped up by Manchester City after shining for River Plate.
Alvarez scored six goals in a Copa Libertadores match for River against Alianza Lima and Pep Guardiola has cleared out his forward line this summer to make room for the exciting 22-year-old and Erling Braut Haaland.
Argentina predicted line-up (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez; Gonzalo Montiel, Nicolas Otamendi, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Tagliafico; Rodrigo de Paul, Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso; Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria.
Argentina can go 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 and the only difference is whether Messi plays alongside Lautaro Martinez, or off the right.
Giovani Lo Celso is more important for his country than at club level and is tasked with supplying Messi, while defensively Scaloni is settled on Nicolas Otamendi alongside Cristian Romero.
Attacking depth is one of Argentina's main strengths and the likes of Alvarez, Joaquin Correa, Paulo Dybala and Angel Correa could all have major parts to play off the bench,
Argentina will come into the tournament with the ambition of winning the World Cup and buoyed by their Copa America success and 3-0 trouncing of Italy at Wembley in Finalissima - a meeting of the two European and South American champions.
Scaloni's side are unbeaten in 33 matches in all competitions - a national team record - and they have conceded just two goals in their last 12 fixtures.
If they can defend well and Messi brings the magic then expect fireworks. A safer bet for those not wanting to back Argentina to go all the way is to take the 2/1 for them to reach the semi-finals.