First of all check out Paraguay’s goal against Argentina. Its the best goal I’ve seen this season, and it will take something special to displace it. Anyways, on to Argentina.

1) Formations matter: I read Jonathan Wilson’s ‘Inverting the Pyramid’ this summer and will be referencing it extensively on this blog. One key point he makes is that teams with the same formation can be totally different depending on the style in they play it. Another is that a lot of the tactical innovations in football have been the result of accommodating special talents. One of the things Barca achieved last year is to put Iniesta and Messi into positions in which they would thrive. Maradona on the other hand is randomly flicking from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 with Veron on the right, hoping he stumbles upon something.

2) Old guys can be good but use them smartly: I didn’t think Veron played great against Brazil but most people including the all-knowing Tim Vickery thought he was Argentina’s best player in that match, so props to SuperPippo for having faith in the selection. Having done that though, trying to play him in 2 matches in a week was crazy. In the same way I love Zanetti and he’s one of my favourite ever players – but he’s 36 years old and totally exposed when Veron is the one giving him protection.

3) Do all teams need a ‘target man’? Capello has resisted calls to start Defoe by continuing with Heskey. The fact that Heskey is back in the team is one of the more remarkable stories in English football, and proof that you can get the English media onside if you are winning and they are in awe of you.

Argentina on the other hand are trying to play with short guys. I don’t think that this is completely crazy, but it definitely doesn’t work in a 4-4-2. In the first game Messi was one of the 2 and had to drop back into the heart of Brazil’s holding midfielders. Meanwhile Tevez doesn’t have the physique or game style to hold the ball up and bring others into the game. However, if you play 3 guys and put a lot of pressure on the other side’s defence without the ball, and then have a lot of interchanging when you attack, it could work. Tevez is a great guy to have on the left of a 4-3-3 and Messi obviously plays on the right for Barca. That would allow you to play Aguero in the centre.

4) Maradona Has Some Weird Biases: Higuain doesn’t even get a callup to the squad. Milito comes on a sub against Brazil but is replaced on the bench by a 36 year old Martin Palermo who wasn’t even great in his prime. No Walter Samuel or Gavay either. There are too many good players who aren’t in the Argentina squad.

5) Giving a 36 year old centre back his debut, when you are 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go in a crucial match is never a good idea, and a sign you’ve screwed things up royally somewhere along the line.

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