Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni needs to change his strategy to win Copa America 2021
Having played three group stage games, they are on course to finish at the top of the group with a victory over Bolivia in their last match. Even with a good start to the campaign, the manner in which Lionel Scaloni has them playing is a little concerning.
The Albiceleste's current strategy is to score early and defend that lead for the rest of the game. This has resulted in two narrow victories against Uruguay & Paraguay with a margin of just one goal.
The possession figures in their first three matches of the group stage gives the idea: 48% possession against Chile, 45% against Uruguay, 43% against Paraguay.
The strategy of giving the ball to the opposition after scoring a goal and trying to counter attack has worked against teams that are not very good at having a lot of possession.
Uruguay & Paraguay are themselves known to defend deep and hit on the counter attack. They were not able to move the ball quickly when having possession and create goal scoring chances.
Argentina's gameplan will fall short against better footballing teams
This strategy didn’t work so well against Chile. After Lionel Messi scored a sumptuous free kick in the 33rd minute, Argentina sat back and tried to defend for the rest of the match. They couldn’t grind out a victory as Eduardo Vargas of Chile scored a rebound goal from Arturo Vidal’s penalty miss.
For a team that has the ambition of winning the trophy, this is a risky strategy and will not work against a team that is good in possession, such as Brazil. Brazil are known for their free scoring abilities and Argentina will need to take the game to them if they are to have any chance of winning.
With a team full of attacking players, Argentina has the ability to play better than they are doing right now & Lionel Scaloni needs to give his players more freedom to move forward. Right now, only Messi seems to have that license to move forward whereas others are just told to sit back.
In the 2020-21 season with Udinese, de Paul has scored nine goals and assisted nine more times but with Argentina, his main role seems to be of winning the ball back and giving it to Messi.
Lionel Scaloni has tough decisions to make if Argentina are to have any chance of breaking their trophy drought. The last group game against Bolivia offers the best chance to try out a new system and strategy before the knock outs begin.
If Argentina go deep in the tournament, they will have a couple more games to perfect the system before they ultimately face Brazil in the finals.
Argentina’s unbeaten run of 16 games started after their last loss in the semi-finals of the Copa America 2019, which was against Brazil. They will have to do something really special this time around to have the upper hand in this fierce South American rivalry.