The adage “no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.” is a favorite among military personnel. In a circumstance that Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has already encountered twice in his young coaching career, we may reasonably replace “enemy” with “opposition.”
One was in his team’s inaugural World Cup match. A patient, possession-based midfield would hold the ball, bring Lionel Messi into the game frequently, and many of them near enough to the opposition goal to inflict major damage. This is how Argentina arrived in Qatar riding high on a 36-game undefeated streak.
With a fierce high line that drove Argentina into a style of game they were not accustomed to and forced Scaloni to reconsider, Saudi Arabia delivered Scaloni a rough introduction to the World Cup. Since then, a lot of experimenting has taken place, virtually all of it successful. To accommodate Messi’s more inconsistent play, the front line must be more mobile, which is why Julian Alvarez was selected over the struggling Lautaro Martinez.
There will be instances when switching to a back-three is advised if the team can’t always control the ball. Therefore, the first encounter with the opponent forced Argentina’s coach to develop modifications to his strategy. Make sure you check 18bet out!
But Scaloni had to make a much more significant change closer to the beginning of his rule. He was forced to abandon a whole project. Scaloni was hired after the 2018 World Cup, originally temporarily, and had previously worked as an observer for Argentina’s rivals. France, the squad that defeated Argentina in the second round, was the one that made the most impression.
“France robbed the ball and were in a position to shoot in three or four seconds,” he said in his introductory news conference. “That’s the way football is going, it’s the football I like and the moment has come to introduce this in Argentina. We’re going to be more direct and vertical.”
And as was to be expected, his France-inspired Argentina was a failure. Messi and the tools at Scaloni’s disposal were not suited for this type of play. The opening game of the 2019 Copa America versus Colombia served as the first competitive game under the new administration. Argentina performed horribly, sprawled out across the field, and was easily picked off on route to a 2-0 loss. It was obvious that Scaloni’s strategy had failed at initial touch with the opponent, and the coach had the excellent judgment to row back. Argentina scribbled out the possession-based approach that has since greatly benefited them over the remainder of the campaign as they stumbled towards something more logical.
And now is when the real work begins. Scaloni most likely anticipated playing either Brazil, Spain, or Germany in the semifinal. It was a nice surprise to see Croatia, a team with a great midfield — Scaloni praised Croatian captain Luka Modric and his colleagues after the game and said the 3-0 result understated La Albiceleste — but without the firepower to seriously test his defense.
This has changed, and for Argentina to win the championship, they must defeat a lethal front four with Kylian Mbappe as the star of the show. How is it possible for Scaloni to plan a win against a group he publicly admires and undoubtedly fears? The results of earlier contests provide evidence that France is vulnerable. Didier Deschamps, the manager of France, will undoubtedly be worried about the left side of his defense since Mbappe does not drop back to assist and full-back Theo Hernandez can be vulnerable there.
Messi is a meticulous game reader and will identify any weaknesses. At some point during the game, Angel Di Maria will undoubtedly be let loose. Even though he wasn’t at full strength, Di Maria sprang onto the scene in the closing moments of the quarterfinal matchup with the Netherlands, scoring both solo goals and rapid combos with Messi. He wasn’t necessary against Croatia, but he’ll undoubtedly be crucial on championship day.
Argentina appears to have the best chance of overtaking France if Messi and Di Maria play down the right side. However, it is a classic instance of the balancing act. How can Argentina deliver its blows while dodging the opposition’s haymakers? For stretches of the game, they might be able to keep midfield under control, but eventually, the French counterattack will be launched. How can Scaloni’s club defend against a level of skill they have never encountered?
Center-backs in the likes of Nico Otamendi and Cristian Romero will be tested, especially Romero who provides protection on the field’s edge where Mbappe marauds. Will Scaloni switch back to three at the back and bring Lisandro Martinez back? Guido Rodriguez, a defensive midfielder who was ill-advisedly selected for the second game against Mexico, may come in handy at this point. Argentina’s coach will undoubtedly devise some sort of strategy, but the intriguing issue is how well it will hold up in the face of the current world champions.