With the Copa America group stage matches finalized on Sunday, the world gets a look in at the following fixtures in the Quarter-Finals of Chile 2015. As the tournament has transpired there have been many upsets to big teams such as Brazil, Colombia and Argentina; teams that were expected to cruise into an easy 9 points at the culmination of the group stage. Things changed for one of the favourites Argentina when they collapsed in their opening match against Paraguay ( with a 2-0 half time lead ) conceding 2 goals to equal the match at 2-2. The failure was attributed to a bad substitution by Argentine coach Gerardo Martino, but things recently for the Argentine national team have been looking shaky, winning a tough “Clasico Rio Platense” 1-0 and only managing to beat a Jamaican side which had recently been eliminated 1-0, in games that many pundits saw as being large wins for L Albiceleste. What’s gone wrong for Argentina? Is it because of Gerardo Martino, fatigue, or a lack of skill?
Copa America 2015 : Is There a Crisis for Argentina?
Opponents : If you paid attention to the World Cup last year, particularly Argentina, you’d have noticed that the teams they played had one strategy to block a deadly attacking trio of Di Maria, Messi and Aguero. This strategy is notoriously known as “ parking the bus “, a heavily defensive strategy which is used to play for a draw and go for the counter attack. Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria where not very skilled teams up front, but they could hold themselves defensively, frustrating a powerful Argentine attack. As the World Cup went on Argentina started playing teams like Belgium who played on the defensive side of things but were not completely shy from throwing men forward. In the end Argentina lost to a German side that was immaculate everywhere, attacking yet defending well. Recently all of Argentina’s opponents have ‘parked the bus’ and have prevented their attacking trio from shining.
Strategy : Argentina during World Cup qualifiers used to play at an extremely efficient rate, scoring massive amounts of goals even against the likes of Chile and Colombia. Alejandro Sabella; the former Argentine coach used to play a very counter attacking style which saw more opportunities for players like Di Maria, Messi and Higuain to score. Argentina’s new coach Gerardo Martino prefers to play a slower paced passing game, one which he became accustomed to at the Camp Nou. Without a fast break mentality, Argentina seem to look sluggish and slow, while in reality this is all part of Gerardo Martino’s strategy.
Importance : Let’s face it, when you’re playing in the oldest and one of the most prestigious trophies on earth, you tend to value opponents differently, you also prefer to save your energy and health for bigger opponents. This is exactly the case in these games, when you know you can control a game and win by a small margin while preventing injury why wouldn’t you? There is no need for this talented Argentine side to smash small teams to prove a point, especially when it is particularly risky for high profile players like Lionel Messi who are keen on performing well against teams like Colombia or Brazil. Fitness comes first, especially against lower profile teams.
For Argentina there is really no crisis, they aren’t losing and they are picking up points and victories left and right, just not in the prettiest way. Most of these Argentina games leave fans thinking, ‘why can’t they score more? We have Messi, why can’t we win 4-0 or 5-0?’ The answer is in the strategy and the risk that is met with going all out in smaller games. Argentina faces Colombia this Friday at 8:30, a team that certainly does not park the bus, something that could lead to a very, very interesting match in the Copa America.