Argentina struggled to qualify for the World Cup, but Willy Caballero believes their exploits at previous editions means they are still respected.
Lionel Messi secured Argentina’s place at Russia 2018 with a hat-trick in the crucial 3-1 win over Ecuador in their final qualification game last October.
The South American giants are two-time World Cup winners and finished as runners-up in 2014, beating Belgium and Netherlands before being denied the trophy by Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner for Germany in the final.
Chelsea goalkeeper Caballero thinks Argentina’s reputation for performing on the big stage holds more sway than one tough qualifying campaign that was overseen by three different coaches.
“When I saw the draw for the World Cup groups, I was out of the national team, I had not been mentioned, but the noise of Chelsea’s locker room was that Argentina had qualified with a lot of luck in the last game,” he said.
“They have already started to think differently. Argentina is respected because of the last World Cups, for the players it has, for the way they play and for the way they compete, and in the possible meetings they will respect us a lot.”
[SELECCIÓN MAYOR] A tres días del debut en #Rusia2018 , el equipo dirigido por Jorge Sampaoli sigue trabajando en Bronnitsy. pic.twitter.com/fWN6F9NGaB
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 13, 2018
Argentina are without first-choice keeper Sergio Romero in Russia due to a knee injury, but Caballero is not banking on beating Franco Armani and Nahuel Guzman to the vacant starting spot.
“I think we all want it, but until we hear the coach’s list we are not going to be 100 per cent sure,” he added.
“We all keep competing for that position day by day.”
Argentina’s first game in the World Cup is against Iceland in Moscow on Saturday.