Argentina Advance to the Copa America Quarterfinals

There’s a trap that every head coach needs to avoid: Don’t let your game strategy be more critical that the players in your team. In other words, make do with what you have and avoid working around it.

This trap essentially explains the disaster that Argentina experienced during their last World Cup campaign in 2018. Jorge Sampaoli is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing coaches on earth, but his high-pressure tactics require a goalkeeper that is fantastic on his feet and quick defenders. Argentina doesn’t have either of these qualities, and therefore, chaos was the result.

Argentina Receives a New Manager

Sampaoli was on a long-term contract and to get rid of him, the football association in Argentina had to fork out a fat check to pay him off. Lionel Scaloni, the inexperienced coach, replaced Sampaoli permanently as he had a glowing record in qualification. Scaloni was also quite cheap compared to the previous coach.

Unfortunately, Scaloni fell into the same trap as the previous head coach. He created a bold strategy for the Argentina football team: be quick on transitions and use two wingers that will play the ball swiftly into open spaces. However, there was one massive problem that surfaced when the best player in Argentina returned for international duty. Scaloni’s plan did not fit around Lionel Messi.

One of the team’s wingers needed to be sacrificed, and therefore, the entire plan fell apart. Scaloni was well aware of this fact. So, when Messi made his return to the team for a friendly match against Venezuela, the head coach had the opportunity to tweak his overall strategy. He decided to have three centre-back players, which allowed him to have two attacking wing-backs that could provide the width. The only problem with the three centre-backs was the fact that they were unable to defend successfully against the pace of the wingers in Venezuela.

Scaloni decided to return to his original plan, one that he knew couldn’t work with Lionel Messi in the mix. The outcome of his decision was a defeat during the opening match against Columbia. Since this defeat, along with the immense pressure from the tournament, Scaloni has been trying to dig himself out of this trap.

Argentina’s Path to Victory

Everything started to come together when Sergio Aguero took over for Roberto Pereyra at half-time during the match against Paraguay, the second game for Argentina in the Copa America. Argentina finally started inching forward towards something more coherent. The same strategy was utilized when Argentina managed to defeat Qatar 2-0 to secure a place in the Copa America quarterfinals where the team will face Venezuela on 28 June 2019.

Argentina is making progress as the tournament unfolds but will it be enough to advance past the quarterfinals of the Copa America tournament? And if they defeat Venezuela, are they experienced enough to take on a side like Brazil that has been dominant since the first game?