An early goal by assisted by Manchester United’s Angel Di Maria to Gonzalo Higuain meant Argentina beat Jamaica to top Group B with two wins and a draw as FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi was largely kept quite in his 100th game as by Jamaica.
Uruguay drew 1-1 with Paraguay with Jiminez giving the lead to Uruguay in the 29th minute only for Lucas Barrios to draw Paraguay levels on the stroke of halftime. The result meant Paraguay finished second in group B and Uruguay also making sure of going through with four points and third position in Group B owing to a rule that sees two best third placed teams qualify for the quarter finals.
Argentina continue to churn out results despite unconvincing performances.
Argentina topped a difficult group, but, with largely unconvincing performances with a 2-2 draw against Paraguay followed by 1-0 wins against Uruguay and, with all due respect, lowly. Argentina did hit the frame of the goal twice, first with Higuain and then with Manchester United star Di Maria, but, could not build on the 1-0 advantage that had taken thanks to a wonderful turn and neat finish by Higuain. While Argentina’s forward line depth is envy of many national teams, they struggle to find a combination that works well. Sergio Aguero gave way to goalscorer Higuain for this one. And while they have a very talented midfield, to an extent it is short of a playmaker who can carry the ball from deep.
The manager has great options, but, for years now Argentina have not been able to find the right balance in their side and thereby, continue to play unconvincing football.
Just like the Uruguay game, after scoring a brilliant opener, Argentina should have won easily thereafter, but almost succumbed to the same problem they experienced in their opening two games, as they failed to kill the game off. They looked likely to open the floodgates after an early opening, but could not breach Jamaicaa s rigid defense.
Martino was watching from the stands after being sent off in their previous game for remonstrating too much on the touchline had rested Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi, but, Argentina still had a very talented team on the pitch and the lack of flow and penetration to their game begs to ask the question again, that does Argentina have an identity to their game? A philosophy of how they will play?
Uruguay miss Luis Suarez more than Liverpool FC miss him.
Liverpool FC may have endured a very poor season following the departure of the mercurial Uruguayan to FC Barcelona, but, that could be explained with the team losing Daniel Sturridge as well to injury for most part of the season. The problem with Uruguay when they miss Luis Suarez is, the other player with the biggest pedigree, Edinson Cavani, hardly ever steps up. The midfield simply does not have either the creativity or guile to create chances that Suarez does for the side on his own. A one man army, to simply put it, as Liverpool FC fan would testify the way he single handedly won them game after game in the 2013-14 season.
What Uruguay do have is a superb spirit in their camp and a back line that is relatively solid. But, with Luis Suarez gone, a player known across the footballing world for his fierce winning mentality, that does admittedly cross the line a few times, the Uruguay team look short of inspiration and the famous spirit the Uruguayan teams since the times of Deigo Forlan have had.
While Uruguay do have a solid defense and the highly reliable Diego Godin in their back four, the fact that the team has failed to keep a single clean sheet against, both, Argentina and Paraguay, it does not bode well for their chance to defend their trophy given that the defense is their area of strength.
And while a good defense is the base on which teams build their trophy winning squads, the lack of cutting edge upfront in the absence of Luis Suarez, a one man goal machine, means that Uruguay need a lot of luck to have any chance to win the trophy they won four years ago.
Argentina countinue to not get the best out of Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi played his 100th game for Argentina, but, questions still keep popping up on his performances for the national side in comparison to his FC Barcelona form.
Argentina have now gone 22 years without a major international trophy and it has coincided with one of their greatest sons donning the White and Blue. While Messi has won the Olympics and World Cups at junior level with Argentina, a World Cup and a Copa America final defeat in 2014 and 2007 respectively is the best he can show for his 46 goals with the national side in those 100 games.
The FC Barcelona star does hold records for being youngest Argentine goalscorer at the World Cup, most goals by an Argentine in World Cup qualifiers (10), the player recently said he regrets not having won any major trophy with the team.
So, how does the player who looks simply faultless for his club side, suddenly, becomes human? People have come up with many theories, including the lack of motivation on behalf of the player, lack of chemistry that every national squad may have in comparison to club sides, or issues with the system.
But the more you look at Lionel Messi over the last four years with Argentina, the more you will be convinced it is not about the motivation at all. And the fact that most of the players in the national squad have been playing with each other since their exploits for Argentina in youth tournaments negates the chemistry theory to some extent if not all.
The problem looks very much with managers and their systems. Lionel Messi cannot play the same role he plays with FC Barcelona, i.e. having an equal hand in playmaking and goalscoring. He has to take up more, and more if the playmaking role. Primary reason being Argentina is massively short of a deep lying playmaker or a central midfield playmaker.
Lionel Messi has to an extent played the chief playmaker role, but, it does seem he gets tempted to play the FC Barcelona role often in games, as well. It is the job of the manager to make a system, give each players their roles very clearly. And so far, none of the Argentina managers have recognized this primiarly that Lionel Messi cannot be a goal-getter in chief, but, a goal creator-in-chief for Argentina.
And the quicker everyone works on that plan, the better they will bring out of both, Argentina National Team and the FC Barcelona star.