Here we go again, and for the millionth time or more I would repeat myself: Nevermind the Friend-lies. Yet, watching friendly games, and especially at the national teams’ level, might always give heads up or an idea of what to come. And for that, I watched Argentina play Venzuela and battle Nigeria.
The Asian tour of the Argentinean National Team in India and Bangladesh was the first official task for the newly assigned Sabella. Argentina managed two wins and Messi is yet to score for the Albicelestes (I know, I am prepared to be hammered by all kinds of bad words and shotguns for stating that last fact).
I watched those games to learn more about the new coach who took the job and became the fifth coach in the last eight years. I was hoping that he would bring an entourage with him to assist at the touchlines; and by entourage I meant a specific Ayala or Batigol. He ended up having Julián Camino and Claudio Gugnali instead. Well, he is head coach, he should know better.
Argentina played and won the two games with two different formations and some new faces; Ricky Alvarez for instance. The tactics and team play were vague except for the one point that I am afraid will be the trait of the team: Protect Messi and provide him as much space as needed. It might be a fact that Messi is the superstar of this Argentina, and it is also noted with previous coaches that he was not as free as he is now with Sabella, but what if Messi is injured or suspended? And for the records, Messi is not Maradona, and by that you can refer to the Argentina that Maradona built around him rather than Argentina being built around a Messi. Here are my extra notes:
- Argentina still doesn’t know how to defend – the good part about Nigeria’s game is that Sabella played with three defenders – the bad call was the selection of the midfield
- Playing a lone striker upfront is good – only if we had good flanks and creative players other than Messi
- Demichelis and Burdisso are not the best options at the back.
- When you want to free Messi, you need to remember that other players have more duties on the pitch.
- The Barcelona Syndrome can be the solution only if similar players were deployed in similar positions.
I saw a new Argentina in Asia, and I witnessed a new spirit. The team is still not as solid on the pitch, but I need to believe that Sabella knows what he is doing. The next challenge for Sabella will be in October, when Argentina plays Chile and Venzuela on October 7 and 11 respectively for the Brazil 2014 qualifiers.
A month from now, Sabella will have a lot of homework to do and plenty of decisions to make. Let’s hope he finds the right formation and deploy the better players in each position.
p.s. During the game against Nigeria, in Bangladesh, and towards the 35th minute the “Athan” or “Azan” or “Adhan” (which is the call for prayers in Islam) was heard in the stadium. A first in International Football, I guess. It was worth mentioning it especially that many people didn’t understand what it is.