What went wrong for Argentina?
Well, it must have sunk in by now that Argentina is no longer a part of the World Cup. It is truly heartbreaking to see a team's fall from grace in the manner in which it happened.
However, many people are just pointing to the fact that Lionel Messi never truly shone in this tournament. As accurate as it may be, it is also worth noting that they never got to play their strongest team. And when a statement like this is put forward, it all stems down to the manager and his team selection.
Most of the times it is unfair to put all the blame on the coach of a team when they exit a big tournament. Here, however, it is safe to say that Sampaoli did not exactly do himself any favours by selecting the team and leaving out his main men.
Aguero left out
Take Aguero as well. Even he was not afforded the chances that a player of his calibre deserves. Although he was replaced by Gabriel Jesus for Manchester City this season, he can still play good in the big games and was bound to play a bigger role for his country than he eventually did. He scored in their first game in Russia and even a late goal against France before they bowed out.
Sampaoli the man to take them further?
Jorge Sampaoli missed a trick in this tournament when he did not play Messi and Dybala from the start in all the group games as well as the Round of 16 tie against France.
Dybala, who has been a revelation since moving to Juventus, has been in astounding form over the past couple of seasons. His stats back up his talents really well.
Sampaoli in the past stated that Messi and Dybala cannot play together due to similar styles of playing. But, at the end of the day, it is down to the manager to make the team play in a manner which will win you games. Dybala could have been the different thing that this team needed in this tournament.
What could have been done?
Two ways in which they could have played with him are in a 4-2-3-1 with Messi behind Dybala who would have been the striker or even a 4-3-3 with Messi and Di Maria on either wings and Dybala through the middle.
The very fact that Meza was the last substitute brought on when they needed the striking abilities and sharpness of the young Argentine, shows us that the manager had not thought that one through and had to ultimately pay for it.
Messi looked clueless and lost and needed some inspiration himself. He was not finding it. His teammates were looking lost as well which added to their misery.
It is sad that we never truly got to see Dybala being in action in Russia when he could have been the difference between Argentina staying on in the tournament or boarding the flight home.
But, then again, we will never know.