By Mariano Tomás De Micheli
Argentina started its way to the World Cup by defeating Nigeria in a match where the team showed the best and the worst of aspects it has. Lionel Messi dazzled the world with his ability, while the rest of his fellow team-mates alternated good and bad choices, which is common during the first matches. The players showed good criteria to make offensive plays, but a remarkable disorganization on defensive duties.
The defense used to be a key for Maradona’s team, but against Nigeria it showed a lot of problems to keep the danger away from Romero. Jonas Gutiérrez had an awful performance as right back-defender, and the rest of his teammates were nervous when Nigeria decided to attack. On the other hand, the Argentinean offensive succeeded in generating numerous scoring situations, despite an unknown Di María and an erratic Verón (replaced because of an injury). Messi was the leader of the team and proved to be the best player on the planet. Barcelona’s number 10 generated the best opportunities which transformed the keeper Enyeama into Nigeria’s best player. The goal in the sixth minute by Heinze allowed Argentina to handle the game at its will.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
Despite the opportunities Argentina missed, the difference between the two teams was just a goal. It explains why Maradona remained uneasy throughout the match. “We cannot miss that much,” he said after the game. Unlike other top teams like France and England, Argentina was able to confirm its potential, based on Messi.
Verón is doubtful to face South Korea
Second game of Argentina in the World Cup against South Korea will be the toughest. The coach and his staff are working to adjust the defensive system. It’s very possible that Maradona is going to make changes to the formation In addition to Gutiérrez’s, other players might be replaced, like Di María. Instead of Newcastle’s player could enter Nicolas Burdisso, a defender who is able to play anywhere on the defense.
In the midfield there might be a forced change because Juan Sebastián Verón left the first match with muscular problems. He has no serious injury, but Maradona wants to make sure he will be able to play other games. If Verón can’t make it, as indicated by the last medical studies, there are two alternatives: Mario Bolatti and Maximiliano Rodríguez. The first is a natural central midfielder, known for its exquisite technique and ability to manage a team, the latter plays as a right midfielder, and can provide dynamic. Neither of themhad an outstanding season, Bolatti played little with Fiorentina, and Rodríguez went from Atlético Madrid to Liverpool; and its performance at the English club was really poor.
In the attack, there should be changes. Maradona knows that the Korean team is dangerous because of its stamina, so he will look forward to Tevez, Messi and Higuaín to help. Messi will fulfill the attacking midfielder position, joining Di María to create scoring opportunities. If Argentina takes the lead against South Korea, Tévez might be replaced and Messi will become Higuaín’s sole attacking partner, trying to exploit their speed on counterattacks.
Cautiously, as favorite to win the game, Argentina hopes to secure the qualification against South Korea. As usual, Messi will be responsible for leading the team, trying to reach the goal that was denied to him by Nigeria’s keeper.