Argentina has left for Brazil trying to temper the sky-high expectations that have taken hold among some media, fans and even national football officials.

The hundreds of Argentine fans who cheered the team on Monday as it left Buenos Aires in a chartered jet 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.

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.

Team captain Lionel Messi said after a friendly against Slovenia that it's great Argentines are excited "but we're taking it step by step. We know the World Cup is difficult and anything can happen."