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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Argentina RWC team guide
A one-stop guide to all you need to know about Argentina for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Fixtures (Pool D):

  • v France - 7 September, 2000 BST, Stade de France, Paris
  • v Georgia - 11 September, 1900 BST, Lyon
  • v Namibia - 22 September, 2000 BST, Marseille
  • v Ireland - 30 September, 1600 BST, Park des Princes, Paris

    Recent form: Argentina still fall between the cracks of regular competition in the Tri-Nations and Six Nations. Last autumn they toured Europe and beat England and Italy before losing to France by a point. Back home they beat Ireland twice and Italy once this summer before a controversial reverse to Wales in Cardiff.

    Coach: Former centre Marcelo Loffreda, who played 44 times for his country, has set an absolute minimum of a quarter-final berth. The outspoken 48-year-old will want to leave the post with nothing less before he links up with Leicester after six years in charge of Argentina.

    Captain: Scrum-half Agustin Pichot is the face of Argentine rugby, as half-back partner Felipe Contepomi confirms: "Everyone knows his face - and his hair. Maybe if I grow my hair the girls will like me too." After 10 years on the international scene the 33-year-old may have lost some zip, but he remains a wily, key competitor.

    World Cup pedigree: The Pumas are World Cup ever-presents but have made the last eight just the once, in 1999, through the play-off knockout stages.

    World Cup high: They secured that quarter-final spot the hard way. Just to get into the play-off they had to come back from 16-3 down against Samoa in the pool stages, and then came the mother and father of fightbacks against Ireland. Trailing 21-9 in the second half, they ran out 28-24 winners.

    World Cup low: Losing to Ireland by a single point in 2003 denied them a quarter-final spot. "We lost composure in the final 15 minutes," reflected Pichot, after his side let slip a two-point advantage in the closing stages of a tight game.

    World Cup legend: Diego Albanese scored the match-winning try against Ireland in 1999, although it was a 15-man effort to keep the green jerseys at bay through a monumental eight minutes of added time.

    Present star: Juan Martin Hernandez - AKA The Magician. He wants to play at fly-half, but will have to do with the number 15 shirt for now. The Stade Francias full-back is renowned for his vision and bursting runs and has attracted the attention of Leicester.

    Maverick: Felipe Contepomi also wants the number 10 spot but may have to put up with 12 if Argentina opt for a more controlled game. The 30-year-old qualified as a doctor in May, and while he is an aggressive attacker with sublime skills, Leinster fans will testify he has a suspect temperament and can fade under pressure.

    Enforcer: Juan Manuel Leguizamon remains raw, but the man dubbed 'Spaniard' after Russell Crowe's character in the film Gladiator should get game time to show off his marauding prowess and high work-rate off the back of the scrum. The London Irish number eight is only 24.

    Strengths: A fearsome pack and increasing experience at the top level in Europe, including a full team who play in France. They have been given the longest amount of time to complete their four pool matches at 24 days.

    Weaknesses: Loffreda fears northern hemisphere referees are biased against his side and while the organisers have given them time, you get the sense their lenience may have been fed by guilt at the ridiculous nature of the seeding system that sees the Pumas play France and Ireland.

    Did you know? Just six of the squad play in Argentina.

    World Cup base: Lyon (from 8 September)

    They say: "In my craziest dreams nothing stops me from thinking of a parade in Buenos Aires. I'm a dreamer, a romantic. And dreams come free." Agustin Pichot

    You say: "Argentina are overrated." itachi22 on 606

    World ranking: 5

    Odds: 66/1

    Our verdict: Pichot's dreams may well be "free", but will they come true? While Argentina will not go the distance they can escape the 'Group of Death'. Even if they fail to catch France on the hop first up, that Ireland outing is more than winnable.

    Ranking and odds correct at 26 August. Odds supplied by William Hill.

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