ABU DHABI, 5th May 2023 (WAM) -- Argentine football had a long history of achievements in the local leagues and the international stage, even before the national team won its first World Cup title in 1978.
Argentinian fans showed their passion and support for their national team during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with a stunning presence and a high attendance that surpassed many other teams.
Led by the great Lionel Messi, the Argentine national team achieved its third world title, a long-awaited feat since their second title in 1986 under the late legendary Diego Maradona.
Nevertheless, Argentine football had to wait longer before their team could lift its first world championship trophy. It finally happened in 1978, almost half a century after the inaugural World Cup in 1930. That year, the team was close to glory but fell short against the hosts, Uruguay, who came back from a 2-1 deficit at halftime to win 4-2.
The Argentine League championship has changed its system and format over time. Now, it consists of 28 teams playing against each other in a single round-robin league.
River Plate, the team with the most titles in history (37), faced its fierce rival Boca Juniors, who has 35 titles. The matches between these two teams are known as "Super Classico" and are among the most famous and exciting in the world. They have a huge fan base in Buenos Aires and beyond.
Besides the two leading teams, the Argentine league also saw the remarkable achievements of other teams such as Racing, Independiente, San Lorenzo, Velez Sarsfield, Estudiantes, Newell's Old Boys, Rosario Central, Argentinos Juniors and Lanos.
Furthermore, Argentina has produced many talented and skilled footballers who made their mark in their teams and international careers.
One of the most extraordinary talents in football history was the late legend Maradona. He started his brilliant career in Argentina, then moved to Europe and led Napoli to a golden era. He helped the Italian club win its first league title in 1987, a year after he lifted the World Cup trophy with Argentina. He repeated both feats in 1990, winning another league title with Napoli and reaching the World Cup final with Argentina in Italy.
The legendary Lionel Messi has left the stamp of Argentinian football in Europe with his historic tenure at Barcelona FC in Spain. He led the club to many local, continental and global titles with his blazing talent. He also captained the national team to win the 2022 World Cup a year after winning the Copa America.
In 1921, Argentina hosted and won the fifth edition of the continental championship, marking its first title. A century later, in 2021, the team claimed its fifteenth title in the same tournament.
The team has been a world champion three times and a runner-up in several other editions of the World Cup, most notably in 1930, 1990 and 2014.
One of the most memorable moments in World Cup history is Maradona's legendary goal against England in 1986. He dribbled past several defenders from the midfield and scored a stunning goal that has not been surpassed yet. This is just one of the many stories and events that mark the Argentine participation in the World Cup tournaments.
In the 2002 World Cup, Claudio Caniggia got a dramatic red card from the Emirati referee Ali Bujsim while on the bench during the match between Argentina and Sweden. He had been injured before this match and was benched. He passed a remark to an official and was sent off by the Emirati referee. He became the only player in the history of the World Cup to be expelled from the bench without his foot touching the ball. Argentina, a strong contender for the title, were down to ten men and eliminated in the first round.