Argentina ended 28 years of hurt in the final of the 2021 Copa America.
La Albiceleste beat Brazil 1-0 in Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana Stadium to win the tournament for the first time since 1993.
It was a memorable night for Argentina, although the country did have something to celebrate in 2008 as well.
That year, the South American nation won gold at the Olympic Games. While it’s not a major international trophy, it’s certainly something to be immensely proud of.
Argentina beat Ivory Coast, Australia and Serbia in the group stage, before achieving victories over Holland and a Brazil side led by Ronaldinho to qualify for the final.
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Nigeria were the last obstacle they had to overcome to secure gold in Beijing, which they did courtesy of a 1-0 win.
So what happened to the XI that started the final? Well, we’ve decided to find out and the main conclusion from our research is that it’s one of the greatest teams ever assembled at an Olympic Games.
Take a look for yourself…
GK | Sergio Romero
One of the most underrated goalkeepers in modern times, Romero was a key figure in the Argentine senior setup for many years and he excelled during their run to the 2014 World Cup final.
Romero is now a free agent after spending the past six years at Manchester United, where he was criminally underused due to the presence of David De Gea.
RB | Pablo Zabaleta
A Premier League legend. Zabaleta was a world-class defender in his heyday, helping Manchester City win two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups.
He also played 58 times for Argentina. After a three-year spell at West Ham, Zabaleta retired from the sport in 2020.
CB | Nicolas Pareja
Despite representing Argentina at the 2008 Olympics, Pareja only made one appearance for the country’s senior team.
The now retired centre-back’s club career – which included stints at Anderlecht, Espanyol, Spartak Moscow and Sevilla – was sadly hindered by injuries as well. He hung his boots up in 2019 after a season with Mexican side Atlas.
CB | Ezequiel Garay
Garay only announced his retirement from the sport this week, the 34-year-old citing a long-term injury problem as the reason.
He represented Argentina 32 times and was also a pretty tidy player for Benfica, Zenit St Petersburg and Valencia.
LB | Luciano Monzon
Monzon’s career never really took off after his success at the 2008 Olympics, the left-back earning just seven senior caps.
The 34-year-old is still playing in his homeland with Atletico Tucuman, having previously turned out for the likes of Boca Juniors, Real Betis, Nice, Lyon and Catania.
CM | Fernando Gago
Despite a number of serious injuries, Gago still enjoyed a fairly successful career. He played for Real Madrid, Valencia and Boca Juniors, while also making 61 appearances for his country’s senior team.
The 35-year-old called time on his playing days back in 2020 and he’s now the manager of Argentine top-flight side Club Atletico Aldosiv.
CM | Javier Mascherano
What a footballer Mascherano was in his prime. The no-nonsense midfielder played 147 games for his country and rarely turned in a sub-par performance.
Following stellar spells at West Ham, Liverpool and Barcelona, the terrier-like superstar retired last year after a brief stopover at Estudiantes.
CAM | Juan Roman Riquelme
Remember him? Riquelme was one of Argentina’s three overage players at the 2008 Olympics and unsurprisingly, he was absolute magic throughout the tournament.
The supremely-gifted playmaker spent five years in Europe with Barcelona and Villarreal, before returning to Boca Juniors in 2007 – where he’s heralded as a footballing God. Riquelme retired back in 2014 following a short stint at Argentinos Juniors.
RW | Lionel Messi
Whatever happened to that guy, eh? Messi was electric in Beijing and has since gone on to cement his place among the greatest footballers in history.
The 34-year-old is Argentina’s captain and record scorer with 76 goals, while he’s netted close to 700 goals for Barcelona. Oh and he’s also won six Ballon d’Ors, just to further highlight the absurdity of his career.
ST | Sergio Aguero
Aguero scored two in the semi-final victory over Brazil at the 2008 Olympics and has enjoyed a hugely successful career in the years since.
The diminutive striker smashed it at Atletico Madrid before joining Manchester City, where he evolved into one of the finest strikers of all time. He’s now on Barcelona’s books after joining on a free transfer this summer.
LW | Angel Di Maria
The man who netted the winner in the 2021 Copa America final did the exact same against Nigeria 13 years ago. Not bad, Angel.
Di Maria has since made 111 appearances for Argentina and is still going strong at Paris Saint-Germain after previously enjoying success at Benfica and Real Madrid. The less said about his spell at Manchester United, the better…