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'I'm going to rule Argentina out' | The three teams that can win the World Cup now

Only three teams can win the World Cup off the back of their opening games, and Argentina is not one of them, according to OTB Football Saturday.



Only three teams can win the World Cup off the back of their opening games, and Argentina is not one of them, according to OTB Football Saturday.

The Qatar World Cup has seen it's fair share of off-field headlines both before and during the tournament. From issues of sportswahing to protests against governments in power of competing nations, there has been about as much conversation around the off-field issues in Qatar than there have been about the football itself.

However, following the first round of matches, every team has given their first real audition to be World Champions.

For broadcaster and journalist Johnny Ward, League of Ireland legend Graham Gartland and former Republic of Ireland defender David Connolly, the pool of potential winners has narrowed significantly.

Narrowing down World Cup challengers

Speaking on Football Saturday, Ward, Gartland and Connolly looked back on the opening week of competition. Ward, in particular, felt that France and Brazil were very impressive.

"[France] look a team that could possibly go all the way if the cards fall a bit right for them," Ward said. "Their threat on the break with pace is so great. [Olivier] Giroud is almost like the perfect foil who doesn't have pace but will score goals.

"As much as we give out about the World Cup, there are so many narratives involved in it. [Killian] Mbappe is one of them.

"He's 23, and what he's achieved at this stage of his career and what he could go on to achieve is phenomenal."

With this analysis in mind, Ward confidently claimed that he had narrowed down the field to just three countries.

"I am narrowing it down officially," Ward said. "It can only be won by Spain, France or Brazil! You might say that's very obvious... but nobody else can win it, am I wrong?"

As part of his licensing courses, Gartland looked at some of the research into the Euros performances. That research suggested why France are not a high pressing side, which could impact their World Cup chances.

"France are one of the teams that didn't press," Gartland said. "They were one of the teams that went into a medium block rather than a high press.

"One of the reasons that the coach who was analysing it gave was because it saved Mbappe's energy for when they won the ball back and he could be more energetic on the counter attack.

"It was interesting that France adopted that when most teams were talking about a full press. This year, you can see similar to that.

"I'd agree, out of the European teams, France would be the ones that have the firepower. Them and Spain. I am going to narrow it down to Brazil, Argentina, France and Spain."

Ruling Argentina out of contention

However, one of the favourites heading into the tournament is not even in consideration, according to Connolly. In spite of being unbeaten in their previous 35 matches before the World Cup, Argentina's opener against Saudi Arabia was enough to write them off.

"I'll be controversial here, and I'm going to rule Argentina out," Connolly said. "I know it is only one game, the first game, but I saw so many flaws.

"They are a side that's not blessed with pace. You tell me in the Argentina side, who's got pace? It is quote astonishing there's nobody in that starting team that has any pace."

While there is no doubt in Connolly's mind that Argentina are a side stacked in talent, when matching up against the pace of the rest of the world, they come up short.

"[Ángel] Di María is a top player," Connolly said. "These are incredible players, but let's compare them to who they are up against.

"Di María is not as quick as he used to be, and he's lacked an awful lot of football of late. He's on one side, Lautaro Martínez is not quick, he was caught offside about 10 times.

"Lionel Messi is quick, but he's not as quick, and he dropped very deep. [Nicolás] Tagliafico, left back, not quick. It's a side that has got a few flaws that came to the surface in one game.

"I don't think you can put pace into a side that doesn't have it. They are incredible players, don't get me wrong," Connolly added. "I think they've got a couple of flaws."

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