Argentina’s 1986 World Cup-winning star Jorge Burruchaga feels the current Albiceleste side are as good as any other top teams at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The two-time world champions will begin their quest for a third title when they take on Iceland on Group D on Saturday.
They will also face Nigeria and Croatia in the group.
In a chat with FIFA.com, Burruchaga, who scored the winning goal when Argentina beat West Germany 3-2 in the Mexico 1986 World Cup final, said the squad have been fantastic in training and should have a very good outing in Russia.
“I think the team is in good shape,” team general manager Burruchaga said.
“From the first training sessions in Ezeiza up until today, they’ve been making progress, without a doubt.
“With every day that passes, they’re feeling better within themselves, looser, more engaged in the sense of what the coach is looking for. We’ve got a great squad, as good as any in the world, and we’re hopeful of having a great tournament.
“I say that we have to reach the last four at the World Cup. That way, you’re guaranteed to play seven games. It’s not easy to get to the semi-finals of a World Cup when you consider the great teams who’ll be there, so it’s not an easy target.”
Burruchaga stated that dwelling on what happened at the 2014 World Cup (when they lost in the final to Germany) is no use as Argentina have another opportunity to become world champions in Russia.
“It was a target well achieved: coming runners-up at a World Cup is no mean feat. Of course you end up wanting more, turning things over in your head, and with a knot in your stomach. But it’s in the past now – you have to move on,” he added.
“Right now, we’ve got to focus on what’s about to begin. Without thinking about revenge, because I don’t like that word. They’ve been given a new opportunity to win, or aspire to win, another World Cup.”
He commented on criticism the 1986 squad faced, relating it to what the current squad is going through in terms of criticism also.
“That team was criticised for its style of play and because we hadn’t been getting results. Today it’s more based on whether one player or another should be playing,” he added.
“There was a lot at stake for Argentina, it wasn’t easy. The most recent change of coach, when Sampaoli replaced Bauza, was very intense. It’s normal for that to have an impact.
“Those of us who have played a World Cup know that there will always be criticism, but what’s important is to remain calm, to stay solid.”
And ahead of Argentina’s opening game against Iceland, he said: “The way I see it, the game on Saturday – the first one – is always the most important. Getting the win gives you confidence, assurance and a boost to your self-esteem.”