Argentina enters the 2019 Women’s World Cup after beating perhaps the greatest odds of any team competing to make it to the tournament for the third time in their history. After the 2015 Pan-Am Games, funding issues left the team basically disbanded until the 2018 Copa America, as reported by The Guardian. They did well enough to secure a place in the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL playoff, where they defeated Panama 5-1 over two legs.
To make the World Cup after a 12-year absence, along with the complete absence of women’s international soccer for several years, is already a massive accomplishment for the women of Argentina. Led by manager Carlos Borrello, who has been the manager of every Argentina team to qualify for the World Cup, the team will hope that only a handful of recent friendly matches will be enough to prepare them for the sport’s largest stage.
While there haven’t been many opportunities to play matches before the World Cup kicks off, Borello has found a fairly consistent starting 11 that he has gone with since the 2018 Copa America. The manager has consistently featured a midfield triangle led by star Estefanía Banini in the attacking role and four defenders, with the option to drop to three due to having two players out wide.
Banini is the most well-known player in the squad, with the current Levante player having established herself overseas while playing for teams such as Colo Colo, Washington Spirits, and Valencia. Her style, size, and nationality have garnered her the”La Messi” moniker, but Banini has established a legacy of her own.
Argentina is aided by a veteran defense backed by Adriana Sachs, Agustina Barroso, Aldana Cometti and Eliana Stabile, along with plenty of talented goalkeeping options in 2007 World Cup member Vanina Correa, Laurina Oliveros, and Gabriela Garton. Other than Banini, some of the players that play featured roles abroad include Ruth Bravo, Florencia Bonsegundo, and Sole Jaimes. Two stars of the Argentinian league, Lorena Benítez and Mariana Larroquette, are represented in the squad as well.
While a deep run in the tournament would make for an incredible story Argentina, as well as the exposure that would give them the funding to properly compete, a group containing three top-20 ranked teams in England, Japan and Scotland make an already difficult task quite nearly impossible. However, there is no doubt that Argentina will play with the same desire and fight that brought them from the brink to the Parc des Princes in Paris — and hopefully this unexpected qualification, as well as the nation’s top club division going fully professional — will give the sport a boost in a country dominated by men’s soccer.