After an Argentine capitulation and a unconvincing performance by Uruguay, both South American giants have left much to be desired. With the tournament favourites squaring off against the reigning champions, this Copa America might get the shot of samba spice, it’s been quite bereft of.
On paper Argentina have the most hair-raising attack line. Flooded with talent such as Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, Higuain, Tevez . , Pastore and Dybala, Argentina seem to have little to no connection between defence and attack.
Labelling their draw to Paraguay a Jekyll-and-Hyde showing, wouldn’t be enough, as it was down right schizophrenic. The frenetic pace of the attack in the first half, seemed utterly absent in the second forty five, as Argentina were outdone by simple pressing and a stroke of luck.
This is largely due to a problem the Albiceleste have been unfortunately accustomed to- a Lack of Balance.
While this might like a problem of talent upfront versus mediocrity at the back, it is far from it. Argentina’s defensive control in crunch World Cup games nearly won them the title, as their attack continued it’s profligacy.
Tata Martino has the tactical nous of real estate agent with far too much land. Like at Barcelona, the attacking and defensive resources at his disposal were amongst the world’s best, yet his makeshift midfield and choice of attacking options wore his chances very thin.
His midfield trio of Banega, Mascherano and Pastore hadrly provided the stimulus for attack, or the defnsive shape to prevent against the counter. Plying Pastore as an inverted winger, and Di Maria as a play breaker from central midfield would’ve provided a a more fluid dynamic, that would’ve enabled Aguero and Messi to wreck havoc through the centre. If Martino is to pull out all the stops, shifting Messi centrally behind the Aguero and possibly Tevez or Higauin, could give Argentina an attacking force that should be able to break down the brick wall of Godin and Gimenez.
Like his domestic performances, Aguero has the skill and ability to prove a catalyst on his own
Moreover, the likes of Mascherano and Garay show signs of fatigue, from having played without a break since the World Cup last summer. If they are to test well against Uruguay, They will have to be at more than 100%, as even the tiniest of slip ups’s can have catastrophic outcomes.
In similar fashion, Holders Uruguay flattered to deceive as their 1-0 victory over minnows Jamaica, showed how little they respected their opponents.
Such underestimation will be costly against the attacking firepower of their opponents, as Argentina willbe willing to exploit any chink within the Uruguayan armour.
However, Uruguay’s greatest strength lies in their defensive combination of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, two of La Liga’s finest central defenders. Their cohesion in midfield aids their defensive strength, and with Cavani and Christian Rodriguez, they boast a modicum of firepower that sees their team over the line, for the most part.
Uruguay however, are lacking the mercurial magic that Luis Suarez brings, every time he dons the shirt of La Celeste. In his absence, through his own inexcusable actions, Uruguay have been struggling to find the right amount of firepower to win and do so convincingly. His ability to dictate attacks and change play at his own accord, makes him one of the deadliest attackers in the world, a characteristic displayed perfectly in Barcelona’s treble winning campaign.
In his absence, Cavani has been unable to inspire the same magic. Despite an impressive campaign with PSG, Cavani is still unable to consistently display his talents as the apex of an attack, as he often goes missing in big games. Cavani will have a lot to prove against Argentina’s shakey defense. If he is allowed to be on point, Argentina must be warned of his strength and acute aerial threat, that can often be too hot to handle.
Godin will have to prove the guiding light to defend against an Argentine onslaught
Despite these uncertainties, both Managers have been dogged in their defence of their respective sides. Matino vows that his team will ‘bounce back’ while Oscar Tabarez has admitted, ”We will continue to work in these few days. We were not at our best but that’s not the case just for us, not many teams arrive in their best form and it is widely expected that teams improve.”
Both sides will want to finish things and try to top the group as soon as possible, in order to avoid Brazil at all costs in the next round.
With what looks like the tournaments biggest clash just yet, Both teams will have to display a performance that backs their credentials as World Cup finalists, and defending Copa champions.