Argentina have finally discovered their rhythm in the Copa America 2019 with a 2-0 win against Qatar. It was a strange win as Argentina did not have to depend on the magic of their talisman, Lionel Messi, to get over the line and goals from Sergio Aguero and Lautaro Martinez sealed their win against the Asia Cup champions. However, Lionel Scaloni and his men have a lot of work to do ahead of their quarter-final clash against Venezuela.
Lionel Scaloni seems to have found the right line-up for the Argentine players and Argentina might go in with the same formation against Venezuela as well.
Using Messi as a No.10 in a false nine-ish role behind two strikers gave him the positional freedom and relieved him of defensive duties on the pitch, and with three hard-working midfielders behind him, the team found it easier to build up and penetrate through the center of the park.
However, Scaloni might make a few changes from the line-up he used against Qatar in terms of personnel.
Scaloni is expected to replace Marcos Acuna with Giovani Lo Celso and Renzo Saravia with German Pezella, while Juan Foyth would be occupying the right-back position.
The changes seem to be tactically good as Argentina were not exactly perfect against Qatar. La Albiceleste looked better when Acuna was brought on as a left midfielder in place of Lo Celso. In the presence of a natural LM, Tagliafico found it better to combine with the Sporting CP man rather than Lo Celso, who was too much central at times.
Moreover, using Juan Foyth as a right back and Acuna as a left midfielder would make Argentina defensively stronger on the flanks. While the right back-spot has been the weakest link for Argentina in this tournament, Venezuela are a side who look to play through the wings. This was pretty evident when both the sides had met earlier this year in an international friendly. While Foyth would be a much better option for Argentina defensively on the right side of their defense, Acuna can fill in as a temporary left back in case Tagliafico is caught out of position. This tactic could be crucial to reduce the number of crosses or long balls Venezuela play into the box.
In addition to that, the center-back pairing of Otamendi and Pezella have to be extremely wary of Salomon Rondon who is an aerial threat in the box and Lionel Scaloni's men have always seemed to struggle against aerial balls.
Meanwhile, Venezuela are very compact defensively, which was evident in their 0-0 draw against Brazil. They have usually lined up in a compact 4-1-4-1 system in this tournament which eventually changes to a 4-3-3 while attacking.
While defending, they have hardworking and tenacious central midfielders who look to overload the central areas of the pitch along with the wide midfielders, whilst leaving open spaces on the wide areas.
Hence, Argentina would need the services of Dybala, Lo Celso or even both as substitutes much earlier in this match. This would allow Argentina to have more players in between the lines, while one of the central midfielders or Lautaro Martinez (depends on which player is replaced) could afford to drift out wide to occupy the wide spaces and stretch the opposition defense. However, Argentina are really slow in possession and have to take the risk of playing quick passes across the field if they are to break this compact Venezuela defense. Last but not the least, Venezuela do have a fantastic goalkeeper in Wuilker Farinez who can be tricky to score against and Lionel Messi and Co. have to be wary of him.
The bottom line
Argentina will have to play at their best in every match from now on, as we have reached the knockout phase of the tournament. Each and every player in this squad, especially their talisman, Lionel Messi, have to be at the top of their game in order to beat a tricky Venezuela side.Published 27 Jun 2019, 13:10 IST