Copa America 2011: Argentina vs Colombia Post-Match Analysis
Frustration, impotence, confusion; Lionel Messi's face said it all.
There was a feeling that something had broken in the cold evening of Santa Fe amidst the whistles and boos. A great deal of hope and expectation had accompanied this Argentine team going into the Copa America, but it took no less than 90 minutes of shocking football incompetence to prove that nothing has changed, and that this team's apparent potential is hardly more than an empty shell held together by multi-million dollar names.
Argentina was lucky not to lose their match against Colombia on Wednesday, July 6. The complete lack of organization and tactical structure was this time exacerbated by poor individual performances and by a rival with talent and a well-thought out and perfectly executed plan.
Argentine coach Sergio Batista repeated the same 4-3-3 formation which had failed against Bolivia, and his quest for "attacking flare" (much like Maradona's) once again produced a loss of equilibrium and a confusing of roles and identities on the pitch.
The result was an outnumbered, outflanked midfield, a lack of constructive play, of intelligence, variants, change of pace and direction; all making for an isolated and unaccompanied Lionel Messi.
What remained was a chaotic "offensive" stampede of players desperately attempting to weave or plow their way right through heavy traffic to no avail.
The fullbacks, too concerned with covering holes left by the midfield, were unable to participate in offensive manoeuvres, and this absence of proper wingers and attacking fullbacks meant that all of Argentina's attempts were destined to go hopelessly down the centre.
The centre-backs too were prey to the generalized mayhem and seemed nervous and disoriented, losing their footing on several occasions and giving up easy balls on others.
Were it not for a bit of good fortune and some brilliant goalkeeping by Sergio Romero, things could have taken an even more dramatic turn.
Colombia, on the other hand, seemed to combine organization and hard work in their own half with speed and savvy ball control going forward.
Every play pieced together by the likes of Dayro Moreno and FC Porto boys Fredy Guarín and Radamel Falcao was a potential knife in the heart of Argentina's aspirations. And at the helm of it all is an experienced and perhaps underrated international football manager: Hernán Darío Gómez.
Colombia will no doubt be looking to build on performances like this one if they hope to reclaim a spot in the World Cup which has eluded them since 1998.
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