How Argentina should line up vs. Nigeria, Nandagopal writes...
It’s fair to say that it was not the kind of spot that Argentina wanted to be after the first two games. Having drawn the first game and lost the second, they find themselves in an extremely difficult situation. They need to win against Nigeria and need to have a better goal difference than Iceland if they win against Croatia. In this article, we will be looking at the line up, formation and a bit about the set up which can have the best chances of beating the African side, in my humble opinion.
It’s a bit tricky but I believe that a 4-2-3-1 type set up is what Argentina need at the moment. It has been Sampaoli’s second most favorite formation, ranking only behind his famous back three set up. This offers balance and enough attacking fire-power, which is undoubtedly Argentina’s greatest strength on paper. It’s easier to implement compared to a back three and it has produced more results for this squad than any other formation. So, it’s only logical to go for a tried and tested formation at this do or die scenario.
Goalkeeper and defenders:
Among all of the Argentine goalkeepers, it was Franco Armani who has had the most stellar of the seasons. When Sergio Romero got injured, it was widely believed that the 31 year old keeper from River Plate would start in Russia. However, Sampaoli chose to go for European experience and picked Caballero. It’s safe to say that Caballero didn’t impress, especially in the second game. He was directly responsible for the first goal that Argentina conceded in that match. Armani edges him out, based on the recent form of both players.
Nicolas Otamendi walks into the heart of Argentina’s defense as the Manchester City man’s quality and form is unmatched amongst the Argentine defenders. As for his centre-back partner, it’s between Fazio’s form and physicality versus the experience of Rojo. Personally, I think that Fazio is a better fit for the system, but I wouldn’t mind Rojo either. Tagliafico has no competition there at the the left-back spot, so he starts. At the right flank, it’s between Salvio’s marauding runs and Mercado’s solidity. Both can be used depending on the set up but in this instance, I choose Mercado because of the threat of Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa, who is in red-hot form at the moment.
Midfielders and forwards:
Lucas Biglia is struggling for fitness; therefore Mascherano gets the defensive midfielder spot. He should be partnered by Giovani Lo Celso, who hasn’t put a foot wrong in his limited appearances so far. He is the player that Argentina desperately need at the moment. Argentina’s build-up play has been sterile at best and disastrous at worst. Lo Celso is a player who can hold the ball
even in pressure. He is more than capable of picking the right passes in the final third and his defensive attributes are an added bonus. He is a must but from the recent news, it seems unlikely that he will start and it is a shame. In front of them, the trio of Dybala, Messi and Pavon should start. Dybala could be Argentina’s answer to reduce Messi’s creative burdens and he can score from range as well.
Line up: (4-2-3-1)
Armani ; Mercado, Otamendi, Fazio, Tagliafico; Mascherano, Lo Celso ; Dybala, Messi, Pavon ; Aguero
This team might be a bit too attack minded but it seems that Argentina would need it since they need to boost up their goal difference if Iceland are to win against an already qualified Croatia. Sampaoli’s teams are always known for their intense pressing and it should be a must for Argentina to have a hold in this match. It’s very much unlikely for some of the aforementioned players to start, especially the likes of Lo Celso and Pavon but the purpose of this piece is to discuss the best line up that Argentina can field vs. Nigeria.
FIFA 2014 World Cup: Argentina vs Nigeria highlights