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World Cup 2018: 4 lessons Argentina must learn from the game against Nigeria

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5.24K   //    27 Jun 2018, 17:48 IST

Nigeria v Argentina : Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
The Argentine XI that took on Nigeria

In what was a do-or-die match for them, Argentina beat Nigeria 2-1 at the Saint-Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday night to secure a place in the last sixteen.

The breakthrough came in the 14th minute as Messi gave Argentina the lead, slotting home from a brilliant long-range ball by Banega.

But Victor Moses equalized from the spot shortly after half-time when Javier Mascherano conceded a penalty after dragging down Leon Balogun in the box.

The Super Eagles defended valiantly and showed intent in the second half as they often troubled the South American side with quick counters.

They looked almost certain to make it to the next round as Argentina looked bereft of ideas towards the fag end of the 90 minutes. However, it was the Argentine defender, Marcus Rojo who came up with the winner in the 86th minute to put the game beyond the Nigerians.

So, the dust has sort of settled now. Next up is France in a knock-out game on Saturday. Here are a few things Argentina must learn from their game against Nigeria.

#4 Javier Mascherano has lost his legs

Nigeria v Argentina: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Mascherano looked a shadow of the player he was at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Javier Mascherano was a defensive colossus at the 2014 World Cup for Argentina but four years down the line we can’t say the same about him. If anything, he seems to have lost his legs.

The 34-year-old left Barcelona in January and currently plies his trade in the Chinese Super League.

The decline of Argentina’s once so dependable warrior was evident since the last couple of years and yet, how he has been a regular starter in the recent games remains a mystery to many.

He’s had a forgettable World Cup so far and it would be fair to say that he was Argentina’s weakest link last night.

He found himself out of position most of the times and his passing, well, was horrendous to say the least.

And if that was not enough, he forced Leon Balogun to the ground in a silly foul to concede a penalty in the second half. Were it not for a late Marcus Rojo goal, Argentina would have been out of the World Cup at group stages.

Argentina look short in defensive midfield department with the only other option being, Lucas Biglia and it would be interesting to see Sampaoli’s selection in the game against France.

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