With just two weeks to go for the eagerly awaited FIFA World Cup 2022 to begin in Qatar, teams across the world will be finalising their strategies and honing their tactics to take home the coveted trophy. Argentina are no doubt one of the favourites to win the World Cup this year, with Lionel Scaloni’s men entering the tournament high on confidence after an outstanding run in friendlies and tournaments over the last two years.
Let’s take a look at Argentina’s squad for the World Cup, their tactical approach to the game, and their chances of taking home the title:
Despite boasting one of the greatest players of all time as their captain, Argentina’s performance in international tournaments has been underwhelming over the last decade. A cup drought ensued after their Gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and it was thought that Lionel Messi would retire without winning a major international tournament for his country. A change of leadership after their disastrous exit in the 2018 FIFA World Cup saw a change in management, with Lionel Scaloni taking over in a temporary capacity before being appointed as full-time manager of the team.
The team continued its rocky performances in its first year under Lionel Scaloni, but the 44-year-old manager has been able to lay a solid foundation for the team revolving around their star Lionel Messi. Since July 2019, Argentina have extended their unbeaten streak to 35 matches – the longest unbeaten streak of any team now playing and just two games short of Italy’s record.
To complement their winning streak, La Albiceleste have added the coveted Copa America to their trophy cabinet by winning it in 2021, ending Lionel Messi’s drought of international trophies. The 3-0 win over Italy in the Finalissima in June cemented their position as one of the favourites, if not the top favourite team of the World Cup.
Predicted Starting XI For The World Cup
Lionel Scaloni has selected a perfectly balanced team for the World Cup – a mix of experience and youth to bring out the best Argentina’s players have to offer. Since he took over, Lionel Scaloni has opted to favour homegrown talent playing in Argentina’s domestic leagues over big names playing in European squads, especially among the young players.
Lionel Messi is expected to headline the team every game of the tournament, with the 2022 World Cup expected to be his last major international tournament, and perhaps his best shot at winning the World Cup. Lautaro Martinez is expected to play alongside Messi for most of the games, although Lionel Scaloni has Joaquin Correa and Lucas Alario to fall back on if injury or fatigue affects the fitness of the main trio.
As for the midfield, Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul and Giovani Lo Celso will form a fluid and dynamic trio. Lionel Messi often falls back to the midfield, which requires the midfielders to be responsive and quick on their feet. Argentina have a very strong defensive unit, with the likes of Nicolas Tagliafico, Otamendi, Cristian Romero and Gonzalo Montiel forming a wall before Emiliano Martinez.
Expected Tactical Strategy
Although Lionel Scaloni had zero prior experience as a manager before taking over the Argentinian national team, he learnt quickly on the job. A 4-3-3 formation on paper might look pretty straightforward, but La Albiceleste have adopted a dynamic and fluid style of play that can swiftly turn into a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-3-2 formation within minutes depending on the direction of the game.
Argentina’s tactics are also impacted by a clear lack of wingers in the team, apart from Angel Di Maria who doesn’t fit comfortably into Lionel Scaloni’s current strategy, there are no other notable wingers in the team. The task of attacking thus falls to the full-backs. Numerical superiority over the ball has been one of the defining features of La Albiceleste over the past three years, hence the emphasis on the mobility of the players in the training sessions.
An added advantage of this approach is that it allows Lionel Messi to play to his full potential. Messi thrives in tight environments, passing the ball regularly to progress further towards the goal. Lionel Scaloni built up a system where each individual plays to his full potential, guided by their instincts and experience while supporting their captain to win matches for the team.
While defending, Argentina have been near perfect this year – conceding just one goal every four games on average. The entire midfield is fluid enough to instantly turn into a 4-4-2 formation while out of possession, with Lionel Messi serving as the outlet for the team. This allows La Albiceleste to catch the opponents by surprise through counterattacks.
Overall, Argentina under Lionel Scaloni have not only some of the best players participating in the World Cup but also some of the most versatile tactics to back up their talent.
Argentina will be playing in Group C of the FIFA World Cup, facing Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia. La Albiceleste are expected to advance to the knockout rounds with ease, as both Poland and Saudi Arabia are relatively lightweight opposition. The main contest will come on 27th November against Mexico, and Lionel Scaloni is expected to save most of his firepower for that fixture.
As Argentina are expected to top the group’s table, they will likely face France or Denmark in the Round of 16. A reunion with France in the Round of 16 would increase anxiety among Argentinian fans, as the defending world champions won a hard-fought 4-3 victory in the 2018 World Cup against La Albiceleste in the same round. More challenges lie ahead for Lionel Scaloni’s men, as they are likely to face their archrivals Brazil in the semifinals.
A game between Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal in the finals will be the perfect ending to this FIFA World Cup, and the likelihood of such a fixture is extremely high given the great form of both teams.
La Albiceleste’s chances of winning the World Cup this time are very high, barring any upset wins. A World Cup trophy would be the perfect finishing gift by Lionel Messi for his nation.
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