Sports

World Cup title favorite Argentina travels to Brazil trying to avoid hubris

  • Argentina's national soccer team T-shirts hang for sale outside the Argentine Soccer Association before the team heads the airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, June 9, 2014. Argentina's team is leaving Monday to compete in the Brazil's 2014 soccer Word Cup. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    Argentina's national soccer team T-shirts hang for sale outside the Argentine Soccer Association before the team heads the airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, June 9, 2014. Argentina's team is leaving Monday to compete in the Brazil's 2014 soccer Word Cup. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)  (The Associated Press)

  • A fan of Argentina's national soccer team waits to say bye to the bus taking the players to the airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, June 9, 2014. Argentina's team is leaving Monday to compete in the Brazil's 2014 soccer Word Cup. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

    A fan of Argentina's national soccer team waits to say bye to the bus taking the players to the airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, June 9, 2014. Argentina's team is leaving Monday to compete in the Brazil's 2014 soccer Word Cup. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)  (The Associated Press)

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."