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Germans Messi-Tall Up For Argentina

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 03:   Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Quarter Final match between Argentina and Germany at Green Point Stadium on July 3, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
Joern Pollex/Getty Images
David JacobsCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2010

Germany have blitzed Argentina 4-0 in a thrilling display of attack, counter-attack, and solid defense ("The Berlin Wall" as I like to call it).

In just three minutes, rising star Thomas Müller touched a header on from a free kick.
The ball took a slight deflection off of Romero's shin. Argentina looked as if they were about to fold already due to Germany's constantly successful attacking play, but were spared a few blushes as Miroslav Klose shot over the bar.

In the second half, Argentina shifted gears and came up with some great passing plays which kept Germany on their toes and down to earth. The likes of Angel Di Maria and Carlos Tevez had a myriad of chances to score, but each shot was either off target, blocked by the Berlin Wall or cooly collected by top-notch German goalie,
Manuel Neuer, who has grabbed his international opportunity with both hands just like the shots fired at him.

Neuer is the German number one goalkeeper and a great replacement for Rene Adler who had to withdraw from international selection with a rib injury.

I'm pretty certain that Joachim Löw knew a certain Argentine weakness which quite a few people are now starting to see. Strangely enough, it is the subduement of Lionel Messi who may have had the most shots for his national team, but did not score a single goal. Germany placed at least three players in the centre midfield, specifically nearer the "D" around the box where Messi tends to switch to his favored left foot and prepare a strike.

All Messi could do here was pass to relieve the constant pressure on him coming from Germany. Messi overall was powerless. I think this dependence on him is the achilles heel of the national team when the opposition knows how to handle such a world-class individual player. Once Messi was tackled De Michelis and Heinze were stuck too far forward and pretty much out of the game, allowing the likes of Ozil and Klose to counter with the force of a Luftwaffe attack. A classic case of German organization.

There was a huge difference between the German and Argentine defense and that was the ability to track back. Lahm did so with ease while Heinze wasn't so sharp. Also, Argentina risked two defenders rather than one most of the time.

Back to the topic of Lionel Messi now. At Barcelona, on the right wing, he is a footballing God! Rings a bell doesn't it (*coughs* Maradona *coughs*). Maradona's class from the past oozes from Messi in the present day, but much more refined as he hasn't handballed yet. Messi in the exact style of Maradona, Ribery and Robben, cuts inside on the right to force full-backs....well...back and pass to another striker to create chances or strike. Variation of movement is available when you're a winger.

However, there was a fatal mistake which Maradona made when selecting Messi's position for the Germany game. Messi was placed in the center forward position. I don't know if that was so he could have more shots at scoring a world cup goal, but it didn't work. Nor did it show off how brilliant he truly is. It limited Messi's ability to play balls in from the right with the added option of scoring.

By putting him in the center forward position (unnatural to him), he was restricted to one robotic movement (forward to shoot). Tevez should've been swapped with Messi as Tevez has a better physical presence and a unique tenacity which could get him through three Germans less problematically and one-on-one with the goalie. Power at the front, speed and skill on the sides (Di Maria did well on the other wing).

Maradona, two steps to future success:

1) Get better at counter-attacks involving all the team rather than just Messi and Tevez all the time.

2) Don't do a Capello by placing one of your best players in an unnatural position. If you want to get the best out of him every time, follow this instruction. If Messi has proven to be a terrific player on the wing for his club, KEEP HIM IN THAT POSITION when it comes to internationals.

Argentina may have maintained the playing style of Argentina this afternoon, but they have suffered the same scoreline as England. And Maradona, that was done "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with an act of God" ;)

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