It was a familiar tale for Lionel Messi on his go back to international obligation.
As he took the sector in Madrid for Argentina’s pleasant in opposition to Venezuela, a fan held up a banner together with his call written on it.
But the banner changed into the other way up – the correct symbol for the idea that the Barcelona genius is left blended up and shaken up through the deficiencies of his compatriots.
Venezuela’s 3-1 win highlighted a hassle that Argentina has struggled to solve for years – one that turned into all too glaring in the disastrous World Cup campaign in Russia.
The team’s shielding assets are a grave fear. Coach after instruct has wrestled with the problem of balancing out the side, locating enough solidity on the back to get the maximum from Messi’s flashes of the proposal.
The trendy, caretaker teach Lionel Scaloni, got his starting lineup incorrect in opposition to Venezuela.
The problems have been made all the greater apparent through the early Venezuelan goal – a punt from left-again Roberto Rosales spraying a beautiful long ball behind the shielding line for massive center-forward Salomon Rondon to lash domestic at the volley.
Rondon had worked himself the incorrect facet of Gabriel Mercado – an ordinary desire to anchor a line of 3 center-backs. Mercado is a gutsy right-back who can play inside the center. However, this function demanded a person who can organize the ones around him.
It becomes asking too much, and the selection of a lower back 3 in widespread changed into questionable. Argentina’s wing-backs – Gonzalo Montiel and Nicolas Tagliafico – aren’t Cafu and Roberto Carlos, and would no longer seem to provide enough attacking threat to make the device profitable.
As it was, Scaloni’s protecting system could not address the power of Rondon or the pace of wingers Jhon Murillo and Darwin Machis. Venezuela, with little ownership, led by using two goals on the interval – and it may have been with the aid of four.
Argentina had a few moments. All of them worried Messi, and his partnership with new center-forward Lautaro Martinez as a minimum seems promising. Martinez is lean and aggressive, and every time Messi played the ball into the threat area, it becomes attacked with savor using the Inter Milan guy.
Venezuela’s 21-12 months-antique goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez largely gained the war although, and as a graduate of the facet that reached the very last of the 2017 Under-20 World Cup, it is a brilliant symbol of Venezuela’s practical hopes of creating their debut in the senior model of the competition in 2022.
The want to guard the heart of their defense in opposition to Messi compelled the Venezuelan lower back 4 to play tightly together, funneling in close. It left gaps down the facet, and Messi observed one in the 2nd half, putting in place Giovani Lo Celso, whose quick, the low center turned into swept domestic via Inter Milan’s Martinez for his first worldwide goal.
By then, Scaloni had changed Mercado and reverted to an orthodox returned four. With Argentina extra compact, Venezuela’s breaks have been more sporadic – but they released one who wrapped the sport up with 15 mins to head.
Argentina’s defense turned into undressed on the left, and alternative Josef Martinez changed into introduced down within the box using Juan Forsyth. The penalty award could have been a touch harsh, but Venezuela probable should have had one a couple of minutes earlier.
Besides, it was worth seeing Martinez’s uncommon penalty run-up, which featured a hop and a pass and ended with his guidance the ball to the left of the beaten goalkeeper Franco Armani.
So, coach Rafael Dudamel’s Venezuela passes from strength to strength, with a clean tactical plan and a dream of taking part within the 2022 World Cup. Argentina, in the meantime, seems stranded within the corridor of uncertainty. What is their course? What could be their lengthy-time period fashion of play?
The biggest query facing them is a smooth one: Who shall be the instruct to take them forward? Scaloni has had seven suits in fee. No eight comes up on Tuesday, when, with out Messi, Argentina tour to Morocco. Then comes the Copa America, while a caretaker will have been in charge for a yr.
This put off is actually in big element because of the fact that the 2022 World Cup qualifiers do no longer get underway until subsequent March. The Argentine FA are strapped for coins – paying off the previous instruct Jorge Sampaoli left a hole in already precarious accounts, and so the federation had been in no rush to call the following permanent boss.
But there’s a danger in keeping Scaloni on for goodbye. What if, by using some threat, his team have to win the Copa America?
Argentina has no longer landed a senior title given that 1993, and securing one of these lengthy-awaited triumphs could place Scaloni in a firm position and in all likelihood pressure Argentina to stick with him.
So, it will indeed be exciting to peer while Messi next wears the blouse of Argentina – because it’s miles hard to see how they could win without him.
Will he be supporting Scaloni in Brazil this June and July? Or will he take the summer season off, recharge his batteries and are available lower back next season – which appears set to culminate in a Copa America at least partially staged on the home floor?