There was an incident during the last international break that summarizes the current state of the Argentinian national team.
Having been left out of the team’s World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia in September, Angel di Maria lashed out at coach Lionel Scaloni. The PSG star was understandably bitter about his omission and suggested it was due to his age, and not his performances, that led to him being dropped.
While Scaloni brushed off the winger’s criticism, it was thought that he would use the incident to stamp his authority in the team. Rather, he timidly invited Di Maria back to the fold for this month’s World Cup qualifiers without putting him in his place first.
Since going from caretaker to substantive coach of Argentina, Scaloni is yet to fully convince and his ability to command respect from his players is very key if he’s going to succeed.
For a team that has underachieved for many years, there have been many conspiracy theories over what has been the main cause of Argentina’s trophy drought. La Albiceleste haven’t won a major trophy in almost three decades.
Argentina’s last major trophy came in 1993 when they won the Copa America. Since then, it’s been a consistent run of underachievement and near-misses.
But the team’s challenge has been more down to personality than coaching or talent. Argentina has produced some of the best players in the world in the past years and currently has, arguably, the greatest footballer of all time in their ranks.
They have also chopped and changes coaches many times, yet continue to perform below their full potential. It’s surely not a problem of coaching, talent or ability. It’s rather the personality to move the team to where it deserves to be that is lacking.
Very often, Lionel Messi has been criticized for failing to inspire his international teammates when need be. What hasn’t been said, though, is the fact that the Barcelona superstar also needs inspiration from the national team handlers.
The lack of personality stretches from the Argentine FA to the coaches and then to the individual players. The difference between the current crop of Argentina players and the ones that won titles is leadership.
A player like Diego Maradona was a natural leader and even when there wasn’t much personality and leadership shown by the FA and his coaches, El Pibe de Oro readily exuded both.
Until Argentina muster the needed personality and leadership, the team will continue to struggle despite boasting some of the best talents in the world.
The recent 1-1 draw against Paraguay was a perfect case in point. Despite having better players than their opponents, Argentina couldn’t match the intensity of Paraguay. It takes personality, and not talent alone, to win titles and La Albiceleste are finding that out the hard way.Published 16 Nov 2020, 16:46 IST