Tuesday, June 09, 2009

MESSI and TEVEZ to start up front v. Ecuador

That's not the only breaking news. While we wait for the official confirmation from MARADONA, reports in the main sports TV channels in Argentina are suggesting that the starting XI will look like the one in the picture we're offering you at Mundo Albiceleste:
Now it's the time to discuss it.

Here are the outstanding aspects I see in this probable lineup:

1. Nicolás OTAMENDI will make his full international debut. He played against Panamá in a friendly match, but on Wednesday it'll be a whole different matter and the youngster from Velez Sarsfield will have a tough task of making his debut in the altitude of Quito. OTAMENDI has surprised me during the current Clausura tournament in Argentina. He's fast, he's strong, he's got perfect timing and he's good in the air. He's the whole package and on Wednesday he'll have the chance to show what he is capable of doing.

2. Mariano ANDÚJAR remains Diego's keeper, as he confirmed it at a press conference after the match against Colombia.

3. Gabriel HEINZE. Two ways of looking at this:
a) Being negative: He'll be a liability on the left as MARADONA will move him from the centre-back position to a left-back slot.
b) Being positive: He could get a yellow card and miss the match against Brazil!
Seriously speaking, Diego has chosen HEINZE instead of PAPA because he'll rely on HEINZE's aerial game and experience. He'll surely be the captain too.

4. GAGO and BATTAGLIA will share the centre of the midfield like they did when they played together for Boca and became the most exciting pair of defensive midfielders in Argentine domestic football. GAGO will do a lot more chasing than he does when he partners MASCHERANO (suspended).

5. Jonas and Maxi on the flanks. GUTIERREZ and RODRIGUEZ will be two keys for our game in Ecuador. Their box-to-box play will be tested again by the altitute. Jonas' runs from the left and Maxi's long and mid-range efforts could be the weapons we need from our outside midfielders.

6. MESSI will be risked. He'll play carrying a yellow card and I applaud MARADONA's decision. It's not like he's the kind of player that's always on the verge of being booked. It's very rare that he sees a yellow card and all he needs to do is not to dive (he's not a diver by any means), avoid talking to the ref or his rivals. I think he can do it. I think this match against Ecuador is probably the most important of our next three games (the following two are Brazil at home and Paraguay away). Why am I saying this? Because if we win on Wednesday we'll separate ourselves from Ecuador and from all the teams that are below us in the standings. The game against Brazil will be huge in terms of the mental aspect. You win that game and the confidence you get will be second to none. You lose it and you risk to fall into a never-ending crisis. But in terms of points, the three at Quito are worth the same as those against Brazil or Paraguay.

To travel to Ecuador without our best player would have been a mistake and I'm happy that MESSI will get to play.

7. TEVEZ will form a striking partnership with Lio. Two Champions League winners (TEVEZ 2007/2008; MESSI 2008/2009). Not an easy task for the Ecuadorian defense and the chance for the two of them to show if they can play together. Also, TEVEZ will be happy to play in a role that will be more suited to his game, instead of having to run up and down the field on the left. TEVEZ will play near to the box and he'll have room to move up front and create havoc.

In my opinion, those are the main points we can make by looking at this lineup.

What is everybody's opinion on this?

Also...if you still didn't do it, you can listen to Mundo Albiceleste's podcast.

If you want, you can simply click the audio player above or right-click on the following link and save it as an MP3 file or listen to it in your computer: download.

Don't forget to send us your views to argentina.correspondent@gmail.com or right here in the comments' box.


Sebastian said...

Now I hear there are couple of doubts.

If OTAMENDI is not chosen, then it could be Cata DIAZ or BURDISSO.

The other doubt?

Jonas or VERON.

I'm still thinking the lineup above will be the definitive, but there could be a couple of changes here or there and I thought I'd let you know.

Anonymous said...

Well vs Ecuador this team on paper should win but will they? I do not know. They can win 3-0 and they can lose 3-0, this is how unpredictable the team is. I think how Maxi and Jonas will play with one another. Gago and Battaglia holding the fort down. I still hate seeing Heinze, and that back line is so slow. I kind of like Otamendi I have seen a few games from him for Velez. Risking Messi, I do not know if that is smart. I know Messi is not a risk but people like to get under his skin and instigate things. Now that we are not playing the three midgets is good, but maybe a Licha and Tevez duel would of been better for this game. I am not holding my breath for this game, a point will be ok but a win will almost lock us in for the tourney. Then after that one more difficult round then I think it could be clear sailing. From our next 3 games if we can manage 7 points then it will be written in stone I believe. But after that it will be time to get our real team some games and see what they are made out of. If they are a contender or pretender.


johnny said...

No playmaker with this lineup. I would say Gago, but he will be closer to the back than the front. Maybe that's the reason for the question between Jonas and Veron. Maybe Messi will be in a position to distribute as well. I like Montenegro rather than Maxi, particularly if it is Jonas and not Veron.

Seba, I agree with your reasoning about Messi playing, UNLESS Argentina loses Wednesday and Messi gets carded. Let's not think about that.

Despite the fact that he is a very good player, Battaglia is no Mascherano. Who is ? It will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Papa on the Bolivia match? I think he won't use him here because he's probably got some problem with the heights. I wouldn't take seriously what I say, but who knows. I don't remember him having a great match that day (obviously, like the rest).
Nice to see Maxi again, he is a great long-distance striker.

Anonymous said...

hallo! can someone please tell me what about aimar? doesn't maradona want him to play? or saviola? is the potential (not performance) of the team still the same as in the wc 2006?

then i wanted to say this blog is great! i am a huge fan but don't have the chance to see argentina qualy and friendly games and don't know some of the players, so this blog really helps here (sorry for bad english).

looking forward to the wc, i think the most important thing for argentina is the defense. the most games are decided by dead ball situations, mistakes, dives (sad but true) and penalty-shootouts, and with a great defense you can at least avoid the first two points.

Sebastian said...

Hi "Anonymous", thanks for writing here and for your kind words about our blog. It's really great for us to hear.

Also, if you don't mind me asking, we would like to know where you're from. We've got people from all over the world getting together here and it's always nice to meet somebody new.

Regarding your questions, I would like to think MARADONA likes the way AIMAR plays (I'm sure he does), but unfortunately for AIMAR, he's been bothered by a lot of injuries in recent years and even though he's been playing a few matches for Benfica in Portugal, I don't think his form is up there where it used to be.

SAVIOLA didn't have to suffer from injuries, but he fell out of favour at Real Madrid and he's not playing. Maybe if he leaves Madrid during the summer (a move to England is being rumoured), then he'll be back in our national team radar.

As for the playmaker thing, Johnny, well...it could be the case that we play without one. It could be as you say that MESSI or TEVEZ take turns to drop back a little bit and bring the ball forward. Or that we attack (or counter-attack) on the flanks.

What I see with this lineup is a clear sign that Diego wants a combative midfield and wants to keep it tight at the back and then (if possible) unleash the forwards.

And to the other "Anonymous", you are correct. PAPA did play in the altitude of La Paz.

Anonymous said...

This formations is a disaster waiting to happen....

It's no different from what we had against Bolivia. 4y ago, Pekerman did something rather similar (playing very defensively) and we ended up losing 2-0.

Paulina said...

Hey guys --

I'm from Ecuador, but also a big Argentina fan (always post on the world cup arg baords).

Of course, I want Ecuador to win, but thinking about this lineup -- I think that it's ill advised to play Messi. Games played at altitude almost always draw more cards than per usual for the teams that aren't used to the conditions.

This means that either messi gets the dreaded yellow, misses the Brazil game, or someone on the Arg team could draw a red, which happens ALL THE TIME at altitude.

I think that maradona should just use the players that have experience playing Liga and other Quitenian teams in the Copa LIb. Bergessio (sp?) did a fine job at La Casa Blanca with San Lorenzo, scoring goals last year. You don't need your best player in the world, you just need someone who can score.

Anyway, I really enjoy your podcast.

mac said...

good observations that paulina. i think so too. people like gimenez and bergessio should be given a chance coz they have experience playing at altitude. jonas and tevez will prob tire themselves out with their style of play. Veron or rolfi wld be a better option than messi. He can come in later. One striker is good enough and i believe either one of milito, bergessio or licha will be sufficient as they can take half chances better than tevez.

rolfi (free role)
either milito/ licha/ bergessio

Rune said...

Great work again, guys! I had your thoughtful analysis for breakfast before going to work yesterday :-)

I think it’s a big risk to play Messi. To face Brazil without him would be terrible. Why not use Messi as a sub when the Equador players get tired in the second half??? If he plays only 30 minutes or so, it will be ok, he won’t pick up another card for sure. But to play him the whole game is a big risk. Use Tevez and a clinical poacher like Milito or Bergessio from the start. Lisandro is also a good choice if we are to play on counter attacks.
In this game I would actually go for Veron together with Battaglia, but he’s maybe a bit tired after the last game and this game is after all played in altitude. I am hoping to see Otamendi, heard such great things about him. I both hope and believe this game will end in a 1-1 draw. I mean I hope we will win of course, but Equador in Quito is a very tough game so I will be happy with a draw. I hope Antonio Valencia doesn’t make Heinze look like a donkey……

Allan said...

If Heinze gets carded, then who will replace him for Brazil?

Seba, do you think Diego Placente will be a good alternative?

For the attack, I would actually like to see Messi drops back as playmaker to supply Milito and Tevez in attack.

Mohd said...

I prefer not to start messi. and this has nothing to do with the yellow card. he should be rested in the first half and then come in fresh in the final 30 minutes to add the boom factor.

tevez and milito are my choice. with gago, montenegro, maxi, and Jonas in the middle.

on the left, despite everything i still choose heinze over papa.

in the goal i want to see andujar again because this time i believe he will be called into action many times and we can see what is he really made off.

cannot wait to the start of the game...see you in the chat room :)

p2bn said...

Hmmm...Everyone is saying Messi should start latter. I am thinking will the height affect him again? If so, we are done for again big time or else I do not see any problem him playing as he used to play alot of games with Barca anyway, so 2 games wont be a problem and there is enough time to rest for the next 2 games. About the yellow, well if he doesn't get well pissed off at something which he rarely does, it would be hard to get any yellow for him. Anyways guys, Cya in the chatroom.

Vamos Argentina

johnny said...

I like Mac's formation alot. It won't happen but it's a very creative alternative. Out of the box. I like the idea of the one striker and Rolfi, who can be a big threat, pulling the strings.

Zares the Maestro said...

Hey john and Seba, not a bad choice, but am wanna say, that maradona has a selection pproblem, with so much talent all over europe, but would like to see zarate,higuain and banega to be picked very soon, but am really against heinze, his not a person i can rely on especially in deciders.

Zares the Maestro said...

Well a surprise again, just thinking for the game ahead, but am worried we need to win this game,we are meeting brazil next, and would like to see a strong line up, but mascherano will be available


David N said...

I haven't commented here in ages.

This line-up scares me. I can see Messi and Tevez getting isolated without anybody supporting from midfield. Ecuador are strong down each flank, and Jonas and Maxi will be tracking back a lot, especially Jonas with Heinze undoubtedly floundering behind him.
So Gago will have to be more adventurous than usual, and his form has been variable of late, while Carlitos will have to do his usual energiser bunny routine and troop all over the pitch in search of the ball.
Not that I can see an alternative. Since Riquelme-gate, there hasn't been enough creativity from midfield. Rolfi isn't good enough, Veron never seems to perform as he can, Aimar, D'allessandro and numerous others aren't selected...it would seem to make more sense to play Milito (who always offers an option in the air and can hold up the ball) and protect Messi for Brazil.

Anonymous said...

hi sebastian

thans for your answer (about aimar and saviola). my name is vitalij and i am from ukraine but live in germany for a long time. hate the german football team (the reasons are clear).

i support argentina since 11 years, and always will. there are many russians/ukrainians who support argentina. i must say i am not a big football expert, not even watch football regularly. but i love to see argentina play. it makes really proud, though i am not an argentine. i only have the chance to see their full matches at the wc, so all the other games i watch as highlights on youtube:)

ok i will write here again soon and ask some another stupid questions about the team:)

i wish you and the team only the best

Sebastian said...

Vitalij! I read your message with great pleasure!

We love to read fans from different countries! Especially if they hate the national team of Germany! ;)

I hope you keep coming to visit and let me tell you that there are no stupid question. Only stupid answers!