Argentina’s Quest for Glory: Emulating Spain’s Golden Era

Argentina and Spain with their FIFA 2022 and 2010 World Cup trophies (Image: Olympics/FIFA)

Argentina stand on the brink of achieving a historic feat that would place them alongside Spain’s legendary teams that won it all between 2008 and 2012. With victories in the Copa America 2021 and the FIFA World Cup 2022, Argentina now have the opportunity to complete an extraordinary treble by winning the Copa America 2024. This would match Spain’s unprecedented sequence of winning a continental championship, the World Cup, and another continental championship in succession.

The Beginning: Copa America 2021

Argentina’s resurgence on the international stage began with their triumph in the Copa America 2021, held in Brazil. Under the leadership of coach Lionel Scaloni and the inspirational play of Lionel Messi, Argentina ended a 28-year title drought. The tournament saw Argentina play with a blend of grit and flair, epitomised by their 1-0 victory over Brazil in the final. Angel Di Maria’s deft chip over the goalkeeper secured the win. This marked a change in fortune on the international football landscape after multiple failures, such as the 2014 World Cup final loss, back-to-back Copa America finals losses to Chile, in 2015 and 2016, and numerous social media backslashes.

The Pinnacle: FIFA World Cup 2022

Riding the momentum from their Copa America success, Argentina entered the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar with high expectations. The team, led by Messi, demonstrated resilience and brilliance throughout the tournament. After a shock opening loss to Saudi Arabia, Argentina rebounded with victories over Mexico and Poland to advance from the group stage. In the knockout rounds, Argentina defeated Australia, the Netherlands (in a thrilling penalty shootout), and Croatia to set up a final against France. The final was a match for the ages, ending 3-3 after extra time, with Argentina prevailing 4-2 in the penalty shootout. Messi’s stellar performances, supported by Di Maria, combined with contributions from emerging stars like Julian Alvarez, and heroics from the Argentine goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez, underscored Argentina’s blend of experience and youthful energy.

The Final Chapter: Copa America 2024

As Argentina prepare for the Copa America 2024, anticipation and excitement are palpable. Winning this tournament would not only solidify Argentina’s place in football history but also see them emulate Spain’s remarkable achievements from 2008 to 2012. Spain’s golden era began with their victory in Euro 2008, continued with their World Cup win in 2010, and culminated with another European Championship in 2012. This sequence highlighted Spain’s dominance of world football, characterised by their innovative “tiki-taka” style of play.

Spain’s Golden Era: A Benchmark of Excellence

Spain’s journey began with Euro 2008, where they triumphed under coach Luis Aragones. Their campaign featured dominant performances in the group stage and a hard-fought victory over Germany in the final, with Fernando Torres scoring the decisive goal. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa saw Spain, under Vicente del Bosque, continue their winning ways. Despite an initial loss to Switzerland, Spain’s resilience carried them through to the final, where Andres Iniesta’s extra-time goal secured a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands. Euro 2012 saw Spain complete their historic treble with an emphatic 4-0 win over Italy in the final, demonstrating their tactical superiority and depth of talent.

The Stakes for Argentina

For Argentina, winning the Copa America 2024 would not only mirror Spain’s historic run but also mark a new chapter in their storied football history. Achieving this feat requires maintaining the tactical discipline, team cohesion, and individual skill that has characterised their recent successes. Messi’s leadership, coupled with the emergence of young talent, provides a strong foundation for this quest.

Other Historic Feats

While Spain’s back-to-back victories from 2008 to 2012 remain unique, other teams have enjoyed periods of dominance. West Germany’s success in the early 1970s is notable. They won the Euro 1972, showcasing their prowess with a 3-0 victory over the Soviet Union in the final. In the 1974 World Cup, under captain Franz Beckenbauer, West Germany won on home soil, defeating the Netherlands 2-1 in the final. Similarly, France experienced a golden period at the turn of the century. As hosts, they won their first World Cup in 1998, defeating Brazil 3-0 in the final. They continued their dominance by winning the European Championship in 2000, beating Italy 2-1 in the final with a golden goal from David Trezeguet.

Spain’s era of dominance from 2008 to 2012 remains a high watermark in international football, characterised by a unique style of play and a golden generation of players. If Argentina can replicate this success by winning the Copa America in 2024, they will join Spain in an exclusive club of teams that have conquered both continental and world stages in successive cycles. Such achievements highlight the cyclical nature of football dominance and the extraordinary talents that define these historic periods.