What's buzzing:

Argentina travels to Brazil fighting hubris

AP - Sports
Argentina travels to Brazil fighting hubris
.

View gallery

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) -- Argentina traveled to Brazil on Monday trying to temper the sky-high expectations that have taken hold among some media, fans and even national football officials.

Hundreds of Argentine fans cheered the team on as it left Buenos Aires in a chartered jet and a smaller number greeted the players when they arrived in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.

They have good reason to be confident. Argentina has a more close-knit team than when it got crushed by Germany in the quarterfinals four years ago, and 10 goals in qualifying helped star forward Lionel Messi shake off his reputation of underachieving for the national team.

But its full potential is hard to assess because it hasn't played a major football power since losing to Uruguay in its final World Cup qualifier in October.

''It's great that people are excited, but we're taking it step by step. We know the World Cup is difficult and anything can happen,'' Messi said after Argentina beat Slovenia 2-0 in its last warm-up game.

Ahead of the team's arrival, an Argentine federation official had a greeting put up on the gate of the team base in Belo Horizonte saying ''Welcome future champions.'' He acknowledged that some players, including Messi, weren't thrilled by the triumphalism, and the sign was quickly removed.

After the Slovenia match Messi brushed off a TV reporter who asked whether he should bring a flag saying ''Argentina campeon'' to Brazil.

''You bring what you want, we're taking it easy,'' Messi said.

Among the other title favorites, Germany has tested its strength in friendlies against England, Chile and Cameroon - all World Cup teams - and defending champion Spain took on three-time world champion Italy in March. Meanwhile, Argentina booked dress rehearsals this year against Romania, Trinidad and Tobago and Slovenia, none of which made it to the World Cup.

Argentina didn't concede a goal in those games, easing some concerns about its defense, but they don't say much about how the team will measure up against stronger adversaries.

Argentina was drawn in what looks like one of the least competitive groups, with Nigeria, Iran and World Cup debutant Bosnia-Herzegovina. It's widely assumed that the Albiceleste will breeze through the group, though coach Alejandro Sabella won't be drawn into speculating about potential opponents in the next phase.

''I can't do futurology. We didn't end up in the most difficult group. But we're playing against physically strong teams,'' Sabella said Saturday. ''We'll try to advance from the group phase, and if we do, get there with our players in good condition.''

View Comments (1)
  • Messi & Argentina shining together, closer to elusive title

    Messi & Argentina shining together, closer to elusive title

    Lionel Messi is a step closer to finally breaking through with Argentina. The Barcelona star heads into the Copa America final with a chance to end his nation's 22-year title drought, and prove that he can replicate his club-level success with the … More »

    AP - Sports - 22 minutes ago
  • Paraguay warn Chile about giving Argentina too much space

    Paraguay warn Chile about giving Argentina too much space

    Paraguay, the only team to have scored against Argentina at the Copa America, can talk with authority about what it is to face the favourites when they are in full song. “Chile must be careful because we know that if you go out to attack Argentina … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 24 minutes ago
  • Atletico's Miranda in Milan for medical at Inter

    Atletico Madrid's Brazil defender Miranda has flown to Italy for a medical with Inter Milan ahead of a proposed move to the Serie A club. Miranda joined Atletico from Sao Paolo in 2011 following a spell with French club Sochaux and was a key part … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 51 minutes ago
  • Messi, Argentina storm into Copa final

    Messi, Argentina storm into Copa final

    Lionel Messi helped set up five goals as Argentina trounced Paraguay 6-1 in the Copa America semifinals on Tuesday, setting up a final against host Chile. Messi assisted in first-half goals by Marcos Rojo and Javier Pastore and one of Angel Di … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 58 minutes ago
  • Lloyd sparks US by Germany into final

    Lloyd sparks US by Germany into final

    Carli Lloyd remembers putting the ball on its spot and shutting out the noise of more than 51,000 anxious fans. Lloyd's penalty kick got the United States on the board, and the Americans went on to a 2-0 victory over top-ranked Germany in the … More »

    AP - Sports - 1 hour 59 minutes ago