Friday, June 18, 2010

So...who do we play next?

What do I mean with that question?

Before you accuse me of counting my chickens ahead of time, I don't mean who are we going to face in the round of 16. We are not quite there yet. I'm cautious. Not pessimistic. Just cautious.

I'm also not an ignorant. I know we play Greece next. That's not what I meant either when I asked that question in the headline.

I mean...who do we play? Which players do we keep?

We will have two players unavailable: Jonas is suspended for getting two yellows. Walter SAMUEL would be playing if this was the final, but since it's far from being the final, he won't be risked. The other 21 are ready to be picked and eager to be trusted by Diego.

There are others who have picked up yellow cards: Javier MASCHERANO and Gabriel HEINZE and the wise decision would be not to risk him getting another one and missing out on the round of 16 (if we get there -hmmm...maybe I'm being too cautious here, right? I don't care! I'll keep my feelings for my self. I won't go and imitate the media from England or Spain who were already printing newspapers with their captains lifting the trophy -figuratively speaking-).

So there you have it. No Jonas. No SAMUEL. No HEINZE and no MASCHERANO.

But what do we do with the rest?

Do we play them? Do we rest them?

Will it be better to give the team more minutes to keep improving?

Will it be best not to risk injuries or suspension to some of our best players?

Honestly? I can't decide.

There are many ways of seeing it.

Do we give Lionel MESSI a chance to find the back of the net and help him raise his confidence even more? Do we want to risk him picking up an injury (don't worry, I'm already knocking on wood whilst I write this)? Wouldn't it be better to give him some rest so he can have more than a week to recover and be ready to give 100% in the next round?

What do we do with VERON?

What about Gonzalo HIGUAIN? This just occurred to me. Wouldn't it be better to keep him out of the next game and avoid a dip in confidence if he doesn't manage to score v. Greece? Wouldn't it be better for him to have some rest and then play in the round of 16 on the back of his hat-trick performance and with his confidence as high as the city of La Paz?

What if we give Diego MILITO a chance to start instead, see if he can find some form and score in the process and then have two World Class strikers ready to play for you whenever you need them? I'll do wonders to MILITO's confidence, it will take away some of the nervousness and it'd allow him to find some rhythm.

Why don't we give Sergio AGÜERO a start instead of TEVEZ? TEVEZ has been running a lot and we need him fresh. AGÜERO showed he is sharp. He can benefit from playing more minutes.

Wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for Javier PASTORE to make his debut playing in a safe environment with not much pressure? I mean...if everything goes wrong and we're trailing or drawing at half-time you can still send a couple of your top guns and win this, right?

So let's look at our defence:

It looks like Nicolás OTAMENDI will definitely get a start and that's great news. He will play at his favourite position too (CB).

With Jonas, SAMUEL and HEINZE out, we will really see which are Diego's B Options to play on the flanks and we will see what he decides to play in the middle.

It looks like Nicolás BURDISSO will be our RB, whilst Clemente RODRIGUEZ could be in pole position to cover for HEINZE. With DEMICHELIS and OTAMENDI the pair of centre-backs.

There isn't much we could see back there.

In the middle? No MASCHERANO means this is a good opportunity to see what our team can do without him. Anybody miss CAMBIASSO yet? Anyway...

It looks like Mario BOLATTI has chances of starting and it remains to be seen whether Juan Sebastián VERON will be used and what is going to happen to Maxi RODRIGUEZ and Angel DI MARIA.

Are we keeping them out of this? Are we sending Maxi to the left, use BOLATTI as our central holding midfielder and VERON more on the right?

Are we sticking to the same formation? Three up-front?

Will we see a mix between some starters and some subs? Will it be MESSI-AGÜERO-MILITO?


What about this option with all subs? PASTORE-AGÜERO-MILITO

I can't believe how many questions I have in my mind right now.

And I still haven't decided on the answers.

But I also think I have to share with you what I would do if I was the manager and I had to make the decisions:

ROMERO: keep giving him the confidence you need from a keeper. Let him get more time to observe the Jabulani and get use to the playing conditions).

BURDISSO: definitely our best option at RB. With or without Jonas available).

DEMICHELIS: he needs to stay. We don't have too many options and he needs to get a chance to recover his self-confidence after the mistake he made against South Korea. A good performance by him, will mean that we have recover an important piece in this team and he'll be fired up for the rest of the tournament).

OTAMENDI: a perfect chance for him to make his debut and do it playing in his favourite position. The pressure in this game will be on Greece and it'll be nowhere near as tough on him as it would have been if he made his debut in the next round).

Clemente RODRIGUEZ: He is a natural LB. We need to use him. He is fast. He can join in the attack if needed. Give him a taste of World Cup football and see how he copes. We need him to be ready in case HEINZE is not available at some point in the future).

Mario BOLATTI: Great opportunity to see what he can do covering for MASCHERANO.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ: You need a natural midfielder to play on the right. If you have three forwards (I don't think we should change what's really working for us right now), then you need players to cover both flanks in midfield. He gives the team a lot of balance.

Angel DI MARIA: I'm sticking with him even if he is not really hot right now. Maybe that's the main reason why I'd keep him. Give him another chance at finding his feet offensively. Same as with Maxi, you need someone on the flanks and I can't think of another of the current squad (Jonas is unavailable) who could do the job on the left.

Here comes my main and most painful doubt I have. Maybe the only one.


Option MESSI: You put the fear of God into Greece. They can deny it if they want, but there's no way they will approach this game with the same mentality if they have MESSI in front of them or not.

Reasons why I'd use him? To give him a chance to score. To give the team a better shot at winning this thing and put all ghosts to bed. To give the forwards I'm picking a better shot at finding the back of the net themselves and find more spaces.

Reasons why I'd keep him out of this one? Fear of injury or of him picking a yellow card and then risk getting another in the round of 16 and missing out on our potential QF match.

Option PASTORE: As I said. You give this young guy a chance to make his debut without too many pressures.

Reasons why I'd use him? To see what he can give you. To test a Plan B with a play-maker other than VERON and/or MESSI. Because he can hold on to the ball and always find a team-mate with his great passing range. Because he knows BOLATTI very well for having played club football (very successfully) together at Huracán.

Reasons why I'd keep him out? I can't see too many. The only one would be because I have decided I'm using MESSI. Which I still haven't!

The other two? I'm sure about them:

Sergio AGÜERO: I've never been a fan of Kun. Not that I don't think he's great, because he is. But I never loved his kind of selfish football. He showed it in his last play against South Korea, but up to that point he had already had an assist for Pipita's hat-trick and had participated in Argentina's third goal with a great pass for MESSI that was what really made a scoring chance of that attack. I'd ask him to give the team what TEVEZ did in the first two games. Play a little farther from the penalty area and to open spaces for others.

Diego MILITO: I gave you my reasons above. We already have one striker playing on the back of a hat-trick. Why don't we give our second-choice striker a chance to show what he can do and bet on him scoring too so we can have two strikers on fire instead of one?

So many difficult decisions.

Have you made up your mind already?


Gabriel said...

All subs.
Argentina's subs are good enough to play and beat Greece.
Let's not under-estimate them just because they are subs.
Let all the starters rest and not risk an injury or yellow card.
I accept starting Romero, the keeper.

Anonymous said...

I say maradona tries a 0-0-10 formation for once

Anonymous said...

I would use the same ppl at the positions u mentioned, and start with Messi and sub him at half time w Pastore going in. And I didn't get the point u made about Aguero, he looked anything but selfish in the game he played, he either have learned to be less selfish, or he has never been and the situation was different, he obviously did everything right to allow us to score 2 goals.
Can't wait for the next match!This will be another chance to see what Maradona is made of as well.

Sebastian said...

A.T: My point about AGÜERO was just referring at that last play in which MESSI chased a Korean to one of the sidelines, robbed him of the ball and then fed AGÜERO clearly waiting for a one-two as MESSI was so well-positioned to take on the only defender he had in front of him and finally score his first goal in this World Cup. Instead, AGÜERO tried a personal move and shot an improbable ball that went wide and he shot it with a Korean on him and really uncomfortable to take a good enough shot, not to mention his angle was difficult to score from.

MESSI complained to him after that move and very rightly so. I did say that AGÜERO played great and was instrumental in our last two goals, so I'm not attacking him or anything. I'm just worried for his tendency to play for himself sometimes a little bit too much. In general, I'm not only speaking about his minutes v. South Korea. Hope you get my point.

Sebastian said...

Link to a nice article about Diego, the manager!

Maru said...

I know, too many questions, and too hard to answer them... I wish we could have a magic ball to tell us what the best decision is...

But anyway.
I'm not too mad about Jonas not being able to play, I'm hoping whoever steps up shows more confidence in that position. Our defense really needs some work, and with obligated changes in the next game what I'm really crossing my fingers for is that we see improvements... And that this way Maradona stops obsessing about which players he wants to put in his starting XI no matter what. (I get it, he loves Jonas, but the poor guy can't play there... This isn't a friendly, we can't afford that many mistakes. And now he can't even play against Greece to keep getting used to playing there. Man, am I missing Zanetti, or what?).

I don't think it's such a bad idea to MAYBE risk Heinze. I mean, it's either we change our entire defense except Demichelis, and hope they give better results, or we keep some of them on the pitch so they can get more used to playing together.

We'll see about the defense, but I think it's the one that's going to bring more changes in the Greece game... In a way I want that to happen to see if there's something that inspires more confidence in the subs. But in another way, the least the starting players get to play together, the least used to it they are going to be if we make it.
Obviously I would put Burdisso instead of Jonas (no that there is a question there) and fit Otamendi somewhere there too. But maybe, just maybe, keep Heinze. I don't know.

In the middle... Honestly I can't imagine our team without Mascherano, and I freak everytime I remember that he has a yellow card. I have no idea how our team would work without him. Maybe he'll start the game against Greece, and if we start on the right foot, Diego will take him out early. I think they all remember that we are not yet classified so they are probably not going to put a completely new team on the pitch. We need to win, and if we don't win, we need to draw which means more work from our defense and midfield than both other games.

I would put Veron in if he is completely recovered... I think it's important that these players get time on the pitch before the eliminating rounds, because it gives them confidence. Unless of course, they go in and play really bad, which we obviously hope won't be the case. And not just for Veron himself, but also since he is kind of a "playmaker", if we had to name one, the more Veron plays the more the entire team gets used to having him there.

Messi is a tricky one. I really want him to get his goal sooner rather than later. Not for me, I mean I don't care if he scores, I think he's the best footballer we have, and in my opinion he doesn't have to prove anything- he's the best, but I want him free from that pressure. I'm worried the pressure to score will hurt his game eventually, so I really want him to get that out of the way. But also, the less we risk him the better. And he has accumulated a lot of games this season, so resting him would probably not be a bad idea. I'm torn in with this one.
The ideal scenario: Messi plays only the first half, he scores, we're in a comfortable win, so Maradona changes him in final 45 minutes for Pastore.
Of course that's only my dream scenario, so we can't count on that lol.

I would definitely leave Higuain out. He can use more resting time, and we do have replacements in his case. We can put Milito for sure, and Agüero too. I would change that against Greece, I totally agree with you there.

I really wish we had the classification secured by this point. Still mad at the Nigerian player who got that red card, things could be so much easier right now if we were sure we were making it past this round!

Anonymous said...

Dan said
Burdisso Demi Otamendi Clemente
Maxi Pastore Dimaria
Tevez Higuain Messi

2nd Half sub in
Aguero, Milito Bolatti when the game is no longer in reach for Maxi, Messi Higuain.

with this formation, we may still score 2 because the subs will be pissed off!

Batigol said...

We can ensure a place in the round of 16 if we lose not more than 2 goals to Greece. That means we will make it if we lost only 2-0 or 3-1 or 4-2 or.....
But if we lose by 3 goals, it depends on the other match (KOR vs NIG) [Touch wood]

---------Maxi-------------Di Maria

1) If we get into trouble (touch wood), we can make the following subs:

Messi for Pastore,
Mascherano for Bolatti,
Tevez for Aguero

2) If we are having a good day and leading by 1 goal by 60th min, we can make the following subs:

Milito for Higuain
Veron for Di Maria
Garce for Demichelis

vinod said...

play pastore upfront and substitute him with messi if needed and also substitute milito with higuain if he is not in great touch or shall we give veteran martin palermo a chance?

Anonymous said...

Got your point, thanks for clarifying Seba.

GK said...

This is a great oppurtunity for Otamendi, Burdisso and Pastore to start. Add in Clemente in LB and rest Heinze. Add in Bolatti for Masch. Rest our players with yellows. Save Tevez and Higuian for the knock out stages and start Milito and Aguero (surprised you didn't mention Palermo Seba, I'm sure Diego will give him a chance on tuesday, at least as a sub). I think I would start Messi though, give the little guy 45 minutes to score a goal and get that monkey off his back, if he can't do it by the half then take him out. Also rest Veron, if Diego insists in using him as a play maker then I would like to see him at 100% fitness, so why waste energy against Greece?

Bottom line, keep Garce as far away from the pitch as possible.

Anonymous said...

keep as much of the team that started the last two games as possible. this is all about finding a better rythm together and develping more chemistry. in particular demichelis should stay (or else completely sacked and replaced by whomever diego fancy's more). that means essentially replacing those who are out with injuries or yellow cards and keeping the rest. maybe re-instering veron (if his injury has healed) in order for him to get back into the form needed for later stages. if the game is looking good (2 goals in front or so), one can replace whoever is risking a 2nd yellow card. anything else is too much mixing up formations and we have seen the result of that during the qualifiers.

nikhil said...

Hi Seba,
Very new to this Argentine FantasyLand.A real treat to Argentine Fans.
Thanks for this blog!!!!.
My possible line up would be

VERON/Pastore -Pastore/Veron
Higuain - aguero

Why this team?well mainly b'coz i want other than messi we need to do a reality check that whether OTHER PLAYERS CAN STAND AS A PLAYMAKER ROLE
.its very imp that we have areplacement for messi (again touchwood) if situation arises.
About Messi needs to score or not I think its just time that he will probably not need to if we are winning.Everyone knows that he is d best player currently and d very important thing i that he himself is aware of that.hence there should'nt be any pressure especially d way he is playing now.
If neccessary and if (VERON/Pastore ) not able to lay well then messi can be subbed against them.

Apocalyptic Creator said...

My team will be simple..
!st half or 1st 60 min team:
Burdisso Otamendi Demicheli Clemente
Maxi Di Maria
Aguero Milito Messi

After 60 mins when hopefully we are 1 or 2 goals up.
in comes:
Pastore for Messi
and Veron for Maxi.

Mohd said...

agree on each and every player on your list except Pastore. why are you putting him in a Pastore OR Messi situation? i am 100% convinced together they can make wonders. Pastore is a natural playmaker. he can play in midfield just behind Messi and Tevez/DiMaria who in turn play behind Higuain/Milito.

anyway, i would go with this ( i definitely rest Messi):

--romero: give him more confidence and experience
--Burdisso: he needs match practice since we will need him
--DiMi: like you said, should erase his mistake
--Rodriguez: hate him but our only option
--Bolatti: also hate him but again our only option
--DiMaria: MUST get a lot of the ball and let him try to take on defenders to grow on confidence
--Pastore: full 90 minutes. make him center of play. give him the chance to prove he can provide the X-factor in next rounds
--Aguero: selfish but good showing against Korea.
--Milito: full 90 minutes please. NO PALERMO!!

truongnht said...

I fear Maradona's gonna use Palermo iso Milito

noz said...

Great video:

Caution: U might miss some familiar faces in this video.

gebrihell said...

unlike France, England, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal (maybe Brazil too), we are fortunate to have this opportunity to test some of the unused players :)
I'd like to see :
Romero, Demi, Burdisso, Otamendi, Rod, Pastore, Bolatti, di Maria, Kun, Milito and Palermo in the field.
Just imagine the abovesaid teams trying to field their '2nd team'. We have the opportunity, so why not use it?

Varghese Mangalath said...

As far as I am concerned we are in a safe position now, with a goal difference of +4. Southe Korea and Greece have a goal difference of -1. For Greece to qualify they need ti beat Argentina at a score 3-0, so one thing is sure that Greece is going to attack blindly. Since defense is our weak area and we are lagging our pillar Samuel, I think we need to adopt a defensive strategy.I will prefer a 4-4-2 for next match.
Burdisso-Otamendi-Demichellis-Heinze (sub with Clemente)

Maxi-Bolatti- Veron-Di Maria

Messi- Higuain

p2bn said...

All I will say is; Messi needs to play at least for the first half, I do not seem him getting cards in this game and given the protection players are getting; unless he is absolutely unlucky, he should not get injuries and injuries are always a threat but it should not stop the team from playing a man who loves to play. But I would not play him full time just so that he can rest. And Aguero should get the chance too.

But most of all, I really hope Diego does something on defence. We ain't going to have a top-shot defence with these sadly but we can have something that can manage the advantage our forwards will give. That's what we really need to see.

Anyway can't wait for Tuesday!!!!

And yes Seba; Talk about the English press. I felt as if England already had won the World Cup; they were in South Africa just for the sake of collecting medals. And now they are all like mad dogs. Phewww!!!

Vamos Argentina

Maru said...

So it seems like we have some answers... Today from the practice and the press conference (Agüero and Otamendi) we can be pretty sure that the starting line-up is going to be:

Burdisso Demichelis Otamendi C.Rodriguez
Verón Bolatti M.Rodriguez
Milito Messi Agüero

I'm worried about changing the entire defense... I think I would have risked Heinze... Our defense is weak, and them playing together as much as possible is important. On the other hand, I'm also hoping this almost completely new defense will bring better results. I guess we have to wait and see, and hope for the best.

Glad to see Messi there, but also hoping thing will run smoothly there. I don't even want to say anything negative just in case haha. Hopefully he'll get his goal.
Also glad to see Veron is playing, because that will give the Veron-Messi "partnership" more playing time, and that's important.

Nervous about not having Mascherano...
Glad to see Milito and Agüero are getting a chance to start. Hopefully they'll be able to show how good they are.

Anonymous said...

I like the line up. We won't look weaker at all. Maradona is doing an outstanding job. He keeps the key players, and he changes some that have back up who are as good as them.

johnny said...

It will be interesting to see if Bolatti is as poor a replacement for Mascherano as some of us fear. For me, an injury or suspension of Masche is the one thing that might spell certain disaster for Argentina.

gebrihell said...

maru, are u in SA? well, i think the lineup is good. Veron was my former favorite player (now its carlitos), if he (brujita)is no good, then don't use him anymore in the coming rounds. I prefer maxi like the other day. hope bolatti shows some quality to erase fears in case masche gets injured/suspended. I wish pastore gets to start, or at least some minutes. on a sidenote, i wish italy, spain and germany get 2nd in their groups or don't qualify at all. and england shouldn't get second. i hope they self destruct and finish 3rd. hehehe

Maru said...

Hi gebrihell, ya I live in Argentina, as I'm from there! Buenos Aires to be exact.

What I'm most nervous about for the tuesday match is us playing without Mascherano... =S

gebrihell said...

hola maru, saludos desde kuala lumpur. i used to get nervous before every argentina game, but against greece i'm not sweating too much. we should be able to stroll, 2-0 in my prediction. in my opinion, masche is a great player, but we have enough to contain the greeks. they should have lost to nigeria if not for that foolish moment by their player. i just watched the brazil game, i think they are favorites to win. it's a good thing, as pressure will be taken off our beloved albicelestes. by the way, kaka's 2 yellows will rule him out until when?

totti said...

Most of you guys is saying, that Messi should play at least one half, to score a goal, to raise his confidence. Well....what if, he had a bad game and the confidence will go lower?

As for squad, I would like to see Romero - Burdisso, Ortamendi, Demichelis, Clemente - Bolatti, Pastore, Di Maria - Agüero, Tevez, Milito

For subtitutes:
If we are in shit. Bolatti-Mascherano, Agüero-Messi, Pastore-Maxi/Veron

If we are in good position:
Burdisso-Garce (I want to see him play), Milito Palermo (its funny to see him play well. My friend, who dont know football so much, but watch world cup, dont belive, that he is so slow, that I discribed. I want my friend to beliuve me)

Scorpio said...

Well, regarding the Messi vs. Pastore debate, I'd go for Messi as a starter. He needs to score a goal before the knockout rounds, and Argentina doesn't need any fear moments from any team. Once he scores or Argentina decidedly won the game, replace Messi with Pastore. As you rightly pointed out, Pastore needs the experience and Messi shouldn't be exposed to unnecessary cards or injuries.

Mustafa Shamim said...

i think diego will play this side.

otamndi demichellis burdisso ariel

veron/maxi bolatti maria


higuain milito/palermo aguero

what do u ppl say regarding this ny changes u think but maybe veron will start as a captain but he will be taken off with maxi.

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