18th World Cup, Nigeria-Argentina: Three Ideas for Albiceleste Reverse Trend

After a draw against Iceland (1-1) and a heavy defeat against Croatia (0-3), Argentina is back to the wall. To hope to reach the round of 16 and avoid the fiasco, the team of Jorge Sampaoli must imperatively win against Nigeria. Here are three proposals to reverse the trend.

Associate Messi and Dybala
To get out of this delicate situation, this Albiceleste will need its most talented players. And despite obvious shortcomings in this group, there is a lot of talent, especially in the offensive sector. Starting with Lionel Messi. “The Pulga” had two difficult first matches, like their team, with a penalty kick against Iceland. For sure, he is not spared in the country, by the press and fans, while he was eagerly awaited for what could be his last World Cup, his ultimate chance to raise the prestigious trophy. While his downcast face and his lack of revolt against Croatia are not positive signals, but Messi remains a genius of football. This kind of player can win a game on his own. He showed it against Ecuador (tripled for a 3-0 win) to send Argentina to the World Cup.

And why not associate him with Paulo Dybala to start facing Nigeria? The player of Juventus is also full of talent, but he struggles to express it in selection (0 goals in 12 capes). What if it’s time for him? It would be to put aside the questions around his agreement with the Argentine captain to finally associate them in a major tournament. In Albiceleste’s jersey, Messi and Dybala have played only five times together (around 250 minutes of play), too little to say they cannot be lined up at the same time on the pitch. Regardless of the system, 3-4-2-1 or 4-2-3-1, Jorge Sampaoli must find a way to integrate both players. It must be said that a trio Dybala-Agüero-Messi would be really attractive. In any case, on paper.
Install Lo Celso in the midfield
This team also needs a fresh wind. In front of Croatia, Argentina seemed rusty, with no chance to compete with their opponent in the evening. And if Giovani Lo Celso was the player able to reinvigorate this aging formation? At 22, the Parisian has five selections and did not participate in the first two meetings in this World Cup. After a very successful second half of the season with PSG, he certainly deserves to have a chance against Nigeria, while Argentina is at the worst. Especially since it did not shine in midfield until then, especially against Croatia led by Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. Excellent in 2014, Javier Mascherano (30) lost his superb (scored 3 and 4 by FF on the first two games), while Lucas Biglia (32 years) was catastrophic against Iceland (rated 3 by FF). Then in a middle of the hard-pressed, Lo Celso could bring his quality of passes, to break lines,”What Gio has is being able to connect with Leo (Messi) in the field. He has a lot of technical qualities, Sampaoli explained in a press conference last autumn. It will be decisive to create links on the ground with Messi. We must not wait all the time for it to be our only argument. ” Words must now give way to action.
Permanently give up the defense to three
After 4-2-3-1 against Iceland, Sampaoli decided to (re) move to a 3-4-2-1 to face Croatia. A resounding failure. Although this system is not new – the Argentine technician had used it several times with Albiceleste – Argentina seemed completely lost in the field. Playing with a defense to three requires a lot of rigor. It is necessary to work the automatisms, to shape certain players to unusual positions, basically to have an almost irreproachable organization. This has not really been the case against Croatia. In the role of the pistons, Marcos Acuna and Eduardo Salvio have not been convincing, leaving far too many spaces behind their backs. But is it really amazing for players who do not really have used to defend? Sampaoli must also know how to adapt to the group he has, a group he has chosen. Knowing that he also has the Roman Federico Fazio to evolve alongside Nicolas Otamendi in a central hinge. History not to retry the experience of left-back Nicolas Tagliafico in a more axial position or Marcos Rojo, lacking pace and exceeded against Iceland. To avoid the nasty surprise, the defense four seems to offer a few more guarantees. experience of the left-back Nicolas Tagliafico in a more axial position or Marcos Rojo, lacking pace and exceeded against Iceland. To avoid the nasty surprise, the defense four seems to offer a few more guarantees. experience of the left-back Nicolas Tagliafico in a more axial position or Marcos Rojo, lacking pace and exceeded against Iceland. To avoid the nasty surprise, the defense four seems to offer a few more guarantees.

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