Words: Mitch Freeley
Translation: Pablo Faggiano
Former Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta has talked up the chances of Argentina ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw in Moscow. Batistuta represented La Albiceleste at three consecutive World Cups and is currently the only player in the history of the tournament to score hat-tricks at two different tournaments. The former Florentina striker nicknamed Batigol spoke exclusively to beIN SPORTS about his country's chances in Russia.
Opening up the interview, Batistuta stressed that the “planets must align” in order for Argentina to lift their third World Cup. “Argentina always has a good side. Now they have a better team than in recent years, with players that are playing well everywhere. They lack a little bit of harmony when they come together, but if they all wake up together and the planets align, it is possible they can win no doubt.”
“Argentina is among four or five national teams and certainly has a chance. It depends on how healthy players are, it also depends on what happens in the first three or four matches and then you get a better picture from the fourth match onwards” added the striker, suggesting that Argentina will have to play their way into the tournament.
Argentina struggled at times during qualification for the World Cup, relying on a Lionel Messi Hat-trick against Ecuador to seal their spot in Russia. Many people have suggested that Messi alone can pull Argentina to World Cup glory in a similar fashion to what Maradona did with the national team in Mexico 1986. Batistuta was quick to disagree with this idea, stressing that the team unit would be key if Argentina is to go all the way in Russia.
“It wouldn't be a miracle if Messi becomes World Champion. Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, Romero. They are all great players and they perfectly can win a World Cup. They wouldn't be stealing it from anyone if they win it.”
Despite La Albiceleste having a squad full of world class talent, Batistuta acknowledged that Messi’s recent performances mean that it’s harder for the squad to share the responsibility of playing well at the World Cup. “When you have Messi how do you share the responsibility evenly with the rest of the team? It's hard. Messi will always be key and he'll be responsible for everything. He created that responsibility by playing so well. He’s made all of us place our hopes on him.”
Whilst Batistuta ended the interview with a view with the ongoing debate on Messi Vs Maradona, stressing that it's “useless” to compare the two diminutive playmakers. “There are many things that make them different. They are two geniuses. I lived with Maradona (playing with him during his time) and for me, he's still number one. However, that is only because I lived through that era. With Messi, I did not experience him the same way because I never played with him. It's useless to compare them, we don't need to say who is better between the two.”