Why Argentina were no match for Croatia

Last night, Luka Modric’s and co left Argentina’s World Cup hopes on a knife edge as Croatia beat the South Americans 3-0.

As always going into the tournament there was plenty of optimism that arguably the greatest player of all time Lionel Messi, could help his nation to glory. However, after just one point in the opening two games, the chances to do so are becoming less.

Runners up in 2014, Argentina would have been hoping to go one better this year, before the tournament started.

That looks unlikely now.

The Croatians would have gone into the game with an expectation of a tough encounter. In the end it was rather simple. Where did it go wrong for Argentina?

Reliant on Messi

Anyone involved with football knows the ability that the little wizard Messi has, with feet like wands he really can produce magic given the opportunities.

Four years, ago in Brazil the Barcelona man was crucial in helping Argentina to the final. An outstanding player. An outstanding tournament.

Despite eventual defeat in the final at the hands of Germany, Messi was still awarded with the Golden Ball for his efforts. A reward that is given to the best player in the tournament. Contributing to five goals in just seven goals, the importance of Messi was clear for all to see then and even more so now.

So far in the current tournament he has struggled to really find his rhythm we had all hoped to see prior to the tournament, something that seems to have affected the whole squad. A team that possess so much attacking quality but yet still look so toothless going forward, Argentina just portray the image of a side waiting for someone to drag the all up from the wreckage together.

Selection issues

Having already caught the eye when Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi were both snubbed for Argentina’s friendly squad in March, the attention was now be on the squad selection for such a big tournament.

Manager Jorge Sampaoli doesn’t seem to have used the squad available to him in the correct manner. A decision to opt for a back three doesn’t really seemed to have paid dividends.

Looking at the options at the players at Sampaoli’s disposal I personally would have looked to play four at the back. With a lack of quality in both the back line and the midfield, it perhaps would have been more beneficial to play with a back four.

What I would personally have looked at with the squad Argentina have is how to maximise the attacking line while also ensuring the back line were sufficiently protected.

Croatia continuously exploited the fact that there were two wingers slotting in at wing back, with a lack of discipline it simply didn’t work. Another issue that was quite evident was the fact they got over run in the midfield.  The midfield pairing of Javier Mascherano and Enzo Perez proved to be no match against Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic.

An aging Mascherano alongside Perez, who isn’t used to playing against some of the quality players opposition teams possess in World Cup matches simply isn’t going to win a tournament of this calibre.

My Argentina line-up:

Cabellero

Mercado, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico

Mascherano, Biglia

Messi, Benega, Di Maria

Aguero

An unhappy camp

Remarkable reports today have surfaced regarding the future of Sampaoli. It is said that the Argentinian players have demanded that he is sacked as manager before their final World Cup game with Nigeria.

Astonishing to say the least when you consider the fact that they still have a chance of remaining in the competition. Although, when you watch the side play, they just don’t seem to strike the look of a side that are really desperate to do well for their country. They just don’t look as unified in comparison to a side like Croatia who were clearly working for each other, together as one. That never came across with Argentina.

Maybe the require new leadership.

What’s your thoughts, let us know in the comments.

By James Miller

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