Netherlands vs Argentina: Lionel Messi has carried his side to the quarterfinals. Will his side carry him over the line now?

For a workforce that got here into the match on a 36-game unbeaten run, Argentina look unusually fragile. They opened their marketing campaign with a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia, and have seemed uneasy in every of their video games since, regardless of profitable all of them.

Invariably, the principle drawback space appears to be their reliance on Lionel Messi. Match soccer groups are normally well-organised and structured, counting on particular person expertise to supply moments of brilliance. The issue for Argentina, nevertheless, is that with a Copa America triumph and a really stable build-up that led to them gaining favorite standing, that is precisely what that they had promised to not be. That not like different variations of the Albiceleste, they’re not the ‘Lionel Messi workforce’.

But, that’s what they’ve seemed like of their 4 video games up to now. They have been on the verge of an early exit when Messi got here up with a second of magic of their group-stage recreation towards Mexico, scoring a belter from outdoors the field. In opposition to Poland and Australia – Messi scoring one more hard-to-execute strike and usually making it look simple within the latter fixture – the 35-year-old was his facet’s biggest inventive outlet.

He would come deep to obtain the ball, spray passes into open areas within the huge areas, drop his shoulder to beat a couple of gamers and create area, and go on a couple of dizzying runs with the ball. With out him, nevertheless, Lionel Scaloni’s facet have proven an alarmingly low stage of creativity on the ball. A lot in order that, if the Dutch can successfully mark Messi out of the sport, on the proof of the previous 4 video games, it appears nearly not possible that Argentina will be capable of create any purpose risk in any respect.

Their midfield lacked a lot management, which has been subsequently aided by the introduction of Enzo Fernandez, however Rodrigo De Paul and Alexis Mac Allister have largely performed workman-like roles on account of that. Papu Gomez was supposed so as to add a inventive spark within the absence of Angel Di Maria – it says quite a bit {that a} 34-year-old is seen as so essential by Scaloni, not just for creativity, but in addition power and tempo – however didn’t make a mark.

Issues in assault and defence

Up entrance, Lautaro Martinez’s poor type would have been way more regarding had Julian Alvarez not stepped up, scoring two objectives and displaying power and starvation, however not fixing their creativity drawback.

They don’t implement a excessive press to win the ball up the pitch, don’t have midfield creativity, and don’t have a giant goalscoring presence going ahead. At occasions, their sluggish build-up has been so irritating that Messi would drop all the way in which in entrance of the defence in his personal half to gentle a spark and create one thing out of nothing.

Even in defence, the centre-back partnership of Nicolas Otamendi and Cristian Romero has seemed unconvincing, particularly with Lisandro Martinez on the bench. Goalkeeper Emi Martinez has been referred to as upon to make a couple of last-ditch saves, in addition to bail them out of self-inflicted hassle whereas they play out from the again. They play very slender, and their full-backs should not have the identical incision from huge areas like different groups at this World Cup.

But, Argentina have gained three on the trot, and in every recreation seemed higher than the earlier one. As a workforce of tremendous stability, they proceed to evolve positively. Given the stature of the groups they’ve performed up to now, they may afford to undergo that course of. Counting on the most effective gamers on the earth, and of all time, shouldn’t be the worst technique in case you are made up of a workforce of arduous employees, in case you are a workforce that’s nonetheless discovering itself.

In opposition to Louis van Gaal’s well-drilled Netherlands, nevertheless, their World Cup dream may come to an finish in the event that they fail to be the completed product.

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