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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Argentina Fails To Launch….Again

Written by on July 6, 2011 | 12 Comments »
Posted in Argentina, Copa America

If you look hard enough you are sure to find a silver lining in almost everything bad that happens. But after a scoreless draw with Colombia, Argentina fans may not even bother to look for a little glimmer.

In that case let’s make it easy – despite enjoying more possession and dictating large portions of the game Argentina could very well have lost this game.

Any hope that a rejuvenated Argentina would make up for a stuttering display last Friday against Bolivia was quickly put to rest against a defensively resolute Colombia side that simply relished the challenge of facing the home nation in front of a partisan crowd in Santa Fe.

Compared to Friday’s match there may have been a bit more jump from the Argentine side as they endeavoured to move the ball more quickly to the front three of Lavezzi, Messi and Tevez. But more times than not it was met with some excellent tackling from Colombia and a much greater threat on the counter-attack than Bolivia carried.

Colombia was unwavering in the centre of defence with Perea and Yepes exceptional as was Carlos Sanchez who sat just in front of he back four.

Argentina Coach Sergio Batista will no doubt come in for criticism after a second straight draw but he can’t be accused of not trying a number of different tactical approaches – especially in attack.

Lavezzi started wide on the right with Tevez on the opposite flank and Messi in the middle. Before the first forty-five minutes were up Batista had tried two other distinct formations. At one time he overloaded the left side of his attack with Lavezzi flipping over to join Tevez; then there was Tevez playing in the centre with Messi dropping deeper.

None of the changes made much difference. Clear cut chances for Argentina were few and far between with the best falling to Lavezzi after a delicious pass from Messi.

In fact Colombia created the better opportunities with Ramos skying one over the bar from six yards and Moreno missing an open goal about 12 yards out.

The second miss came after what looked like a foul and certain penalty kick after Burdisso felled Ramos after he had rounded the Argentina keeper Romero.  A replay showed that Burdisso had in fact got a touch on the ball before colliding with the Colombian.

Any hope of an early second-half goal settling Argentina’s nerves – both players and the crowd – were neutralized by Colombia as they continued to battle Argentina in every area of the pitch.

Ominously for Argentina, Colombia looked more dangerous as the influence of Guarin grew and more mistakes crept into the home countries play.

Batista rang more changes and this time it was from the bench. A double substitution around the hour mark saw Cambiasso and Lavezzi replaced by Gago and Aguero. That was followed by Higuaín for the ineffective Banega.

Still the break-through goal did not come for Argentina. Rather it was Romero who saved Argentina’s blushes with two very good stops late in the match.

Colombia is guaranteed a spot in the last eight and a win over Bolivia would see them move on as group winners.

Sergio Batista is now caught between a rock and a hard-place. Argentina’s third and final group match is against the Costa Rica kiddies-side.

Does Batista stick with what has been his first choice side (10 players have started both matches) knowing that a win is almost certain and hope that this acts as a confidence booster? Or does he ring the changes and then feel obliged to stick with his “new” side when the knock out stage gets underway?

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12 responses to “Argentina Fails To Launch….Again”

  1. Ring the changes, ring the changes. If Batista doesnt find a form now, how can he risk trying to find a form later.
    I have to admit, i pegged Argentina to come out magical, but the reality is, Tevez and Messi don’t work. The subs of Higuain and Aguero dont work.
    The team is not built around Messi but built to look starpowered.
    Cambiasso seems slow around Messi. Can you state how many times Tevez passed to Messi, I just want someone to answer that for me. Zanetti seems right to me, and I feel sorry for el capitane. It is not what he likes, but if he could get behind messi in central midfield, I think it could work. When he is involved in the forward push it aligns better to me. Tevez can not play with Messi. I wish diego milito could be in. Put him right above Messi or realistically Higuain, Put Zanetti behind Messi, with di Maria and Aguero to his sides. Then a back 4 of Cambiasso and MAcherano, with two others on the wings. It is a slower team, it doesnt have the offensive potency on paper, but Messi will find the space. Higuain isnt moving so fast, but he knows how to hug the lines well. Messi can cradle that all day and Zanetti seems to me to be one of the few truly open eyed players.

    I dont know for sure of course:) but they cant waste that costa rica game trying to get Tevez to pass to messi, or more silverfears await us.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/8209759/argentina_columbia_predictions.html?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150367375733868_19728804_10150367701133868&cat=9#f392e6d

    Finally, you said fucking joking:) hilarious.

  2. Gabe says:

    Messi is playing so deep that he’s half a field away from goal. Simply is too far for his runs and most of his passing to be effective.

    If he is going to play that deep then I would go with the Brasil formation. Two holding midfielders Mascherano and Cambiasso or Banega. Messi in front of them a la Ganso. De Maria impersonating Nilmar; Aguero or Tevez or Lavezi doing a Robinho and Higuain or Milito mascarading as Pato.

    The difference in this team is that Messi is better than Ganso and Higuain and Milito are true center forwards.

  3. LA says:

    To me, it seemed that Messi depends on perfect service in Barcelona to receive the ball in dangerous positions and take on players.

    Two holding midfielders completely starve him of this quality support.

    I am not an expert on Argentina, but who can play the offensive distribution role?

  4. rory mcilroy says:

    pastore can play the offensive role when he played against inter in the coppa, he had 94% complete passes. As for messi, he is wasting too much energy going deep and outmuscling defenders two times his size. Argentina needs to bench messi and play the psychological game against opponents certainly the opposition is going to be distracted when they know a revitalised messi is waiting on the touchline. that’s the perfect game plan even though it’s OUTRAGES.

  5. I think the pressure to play Pastore will be enormous.

  6. LA says:

    Rory,

    As a distant fan, I am also thinking that not starting Messi may unlock the potential on paper on this team. Messi is special but unconventional, and maybe they have not figured it out on the national side.

    Question is if it is too controversial.

    Agree get Pastore on if going to start Messi. Argentina should be taking it to teams. Two defensive mids is quite wrong here and playing at home.

  7. Alberta Gooner says:

    Bobby,

    Totally agree with your comment about Pastore.

    Messi seems miscast in the role of trequartista, which is what he seemed to be playing against Columbia.

  8. Batista made a big strategic mistake in talking of Argentina as a mirror image of Barcelona. Never going to win that one.

    You really have to wonder sometimes about the advice people in key positions get – or whether they listen to it.

    It would be interesting to find out how much input the clubs communications managers have in positioning what managers say regarding the playing side. Or is it a case of just winging it.

  9. @Gabe,
    PErhaps put Tevez behind Messi. Messi is going deep but tevez penetrates to deeply. I think of Barcelona and Iniesta when he links up with Messi. Iniesta is rarely at the back line, he is usually to center and behind the backline with Messi. When Tevez had the ball in the run of play, he tends to be pushed to the side and keeps penetrating per his nature. Like in ManCity, Tevez links up well with Silva when they are both in the midfield, making up the core, playing around the same line.
    Put Tevez behind Messi, Tevez’s workrate and penetration has been excellent, but his position in the formation isnt, put him behind messi, put Higuain in front of Messi. Higuain proved last game he is not offering speed, for that you need di Maria, but di maria is not a center forward.
    Put Zanetti in the midfield with Tevez, for defensive control.
    I disagree with Cambiasso and Macherano as holding midfielders, put them both in the backline. Cambiasso has to get out of the midfield, the last game he looked at of sorts with messi’s and tevez’s positioning at times and he should because at inter, he usually plays as a sitter in front of the backline with Lucio and Maicon and Zanetti who go forward as he maintains the defensive role. But, Argentina dont have a team with lucio, maicon and zanetti, who can be at the back. Zanetti must come to the midfield and cambiasso stay back.

    @LA
    I think Tevez can if his position is changed. Tevez can get the ball from behind the halfline and penetrate, leaving Messi to roam the front of the midfield behind Higuain.

  10. Tim says:

    everyone is missing the fact that Lavezzi has been terrible…and why is Gago the change off the bench…btw…i watched every Barca match for the last 2 years and every match, i mean every match that Gabby Milito has played in, HE has made glaring mistakes. this is a mess….and its the coaches fault…GAGO..really!!!!!!!

  11. LA says:

    One thing to add is there are no easy games in CONMEBOL today. Given the level of the opposition, I would like to see Cambiasso in defense as well; he defends well, but not helping offensive talent in midfield.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Aguero on right, Huguian up front, Di Maria on left, Tevez withdrawn.

    I am not sure of the right midfield to support. Sub in Messi for Tevez when oppositions tire and he does his most damage.

    Amateur opinion on Arg.

  12. @LA sub in Messi, unfortunately, while that might be a winning idea, subbing in Messi for Tevez. The argentine coach will be told not to do that

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