Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Argentina starting line-up against the United States

The Copa America kicked off with an upset today, Peru beating Uruguay 3-0. Peru does have a fairly talented squad, but many people - including yours truly - expected better of Uruguay. In the day's other game hosts Venezuela drew 2-2 with Bolivia. Good to see lots of goals being scored so far. Hopefully that will keep up throughout the tournament. I'll also be keeping an eye on matches such as Brazil v Mexico and Chile v Ecuador, but to be honest, my tournament really starts when Argentina take on the United States in their opening game.

Argentina coach Alfio Basile has revealed his starting 11 far ahead of time, which I thought was quite a strange move on his part. The big news is that Carlos Tevez drops to the bench in favour of Lionel Messi to partner Hernan Crespo in attack. Speaking of the undoubtedly talented Carlitos, Sports Illustrated has a lovely interview with him. In other squad news, captain Roberto Ayala had an injury scare on Saturday but seems to be fine now.

Argentina starting 11 (4-3-1-2):

---------Abbondanzieri
Zanetti--Ayala--Milito--Heinze
----------Mascherano
----Veron---------Cambiasso
-----------Riquelme
-----Messi
------------------Crespo

At first glance it looks broadly similar to the formation used at the World Cup, but in reality given the change of key personnel like (now former) captain Juan Pablo Sorin dropping out and former captain Javier Zanetti coming back in, as well as the presence of Juan Sebastian Veron and swapping Messi for Saviola I suspect it may work very differently in practice. In fact, that's the problem: no one knows how well it's going to work because Argentina haven't used this particular starting 11 before. Basile's results from friendlies have hardly been impressive, but this team is substantially different to the one that lost to Brazil or the one which beat France.

The defence looks very good on paper and should be fine as long as they've learned their lesson from the embarrassment of conceding 3 against Algeria, which, to be fair, wasn't entirely their fault. Hopefully Abbondanzieri, who was at fault for at least 2 of the goals will go back to the form he showed for his club during this season in Spain and during the '06 World Cup.

The questions that remain, at least in my mind, are these:
  1. Can Messi and Crespo form an effective strike partnership? They've played together before, but the jury's still out on their effectiveness as a duo.
  2. Can Riquelme and Veron work together?
  3. Lastly, and broadly speaking, will these players, many of whom have had excellent seasons, translate their club form into good performances for their country?
I guess we'll just have to wait and see. The United States have bought a relatively unexperienced squad who might benefit from the low expectations, and it would be wise to avoid underestimating them. At the same time, I'm always wary of the tag of 'favourites' before a ball has been kicked. Having a star-studded squad (which ours definitely is) doesn't guarantee anything unless they can play well together, and we'll have to prove that on the pitch. Can't wait.

Lastly, and I don't care how sappy this sounds: the evident desire of all the Argentinean players called up to wear the shirt and bring glory to their country makes me so proud to support the Albiceleste.

Vamos Argentina!

3 comments:

Rio said...

your last question obviously is about roman.

basile allowing veron to start means he has full confidence in either Roman himself, or the team's ability to perform without roman.

logic is quite simple.
Aimar is roman's sub. So if roman sucked, basile will have to put aimar in. but that could be an impossibility due to sub limits.

the safer option would be to have aimar on the field at a position he's not necessarily best at, but would be able to play. This way when roman isn't satisfying, you could just tell aimar and him to switch place, then worry about whether you have the slot to sub in a more dedicated outside midfielder for roman.

Option 2, you could risk playing rest of the game without a proper enganche if you start aimar on the bench and roman failed to perform. This option is less risky if the team could still function (to certain extend) without the enganche moving them around. which must of been basile's priority in the friendlies, because he started both games without enganche, and used a player who's not familiar with the methods at the position---messi.

Basile brought back veron as soon as the friendlies were over, indicating he was satisfied by the team's performances without enganche.
because by this logic,at that point the 2nd option became safe enough, so he could just sit aimar on the bench and use the best outside midfielder choice--- Veron.
Veron has issues with other players, so unless you know you have the spot to play him, he should be kept outside.

in other words, worry about roman when you see basile start aimar instead of either cambiasso or veron. I was therefore pretty worried when they said aimar was going in...

Rio said...

oh and roman and veron.

veron played enganche for inter, wasn't extremely well at it unlike roman, but he obviously has good understanding of the role by now.

he's definitely better if someone else is supporting him laterally. which is enganche's job. he support the more offensive outside mid laterally and position the more defensive mid vertically to restrict space...

anyway, veron and roman just need to know how to communicate with each other, since they've never really played togather. so as long as they can get that done, the pair should function pretty well.

linda said...

Rio: mostly Roman, but also Messi. I like your argument and agree that Aimar would be Roman's natural substitute. Hopefully we won't need that. As for communication between Veron and Roman, this is where I'm worried about the team not having played together as they are quite enough. As I keep saying, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.