The dream of Argentina at the World Cup stopped in the first weight engagement: he fell 2-0 against Nigeria in the round of 16 and said goodbye to the tournament.
An image was repeated in the first half and showed a lot of what happened on the playing field: Javier Mascherano called Captain Agustín Giay over and over again to give him instructions. He also spoke with Tomás Avilés and Valentín Gómez. And it is that Argentina played uneasily at that initial stage because it failed to overcome the individual persecutions proposed by intense Nigeria.
Mascherano had already warned how the African team would play: man marking all over the field. Maybe that’s why he made a small change to the system: he left the 4-2-2-2 to bet on a 4-2-3-1, with Luka Romero as left punt and Valentín Carboni as hitch. It is worth remembering that in the first duels, the Nazionale sided with two riders, the aforementioned Carboni on the right and Matías Soulé, this time taking over, on the left. But those movements that he proposed did not work mask and went on to give directions. Only in the last few minutes was the national team able to grasp the rival defense badly and generate some danger.
All Argentine footballers had their assigned branding that followed them everywhere on the African pitch. Thus, if Carboni had leaned to his right, Daniel Daga would have accompanied him up to there.. Same with Redondo and Lawal or Tanlongo and Nadi. He failed to pass from Argentine possession and did not find passes between the lines to find Carboni. The one who understood best how to play was Luka Romero. The Lazio player was the one with the most mobility and eliminated his marker, the right-back, to make room for Valentín Barco. The Boca defender took good hits, even if there was no finesse in the definition.
Brian Aguirre didn’t catch on: He hasn’t found the place to unbalance himself, beyond the fact that he started from pure dribbling. His weight was diluted because he didn’t understand how to play. He also cost him when he presses himself.
This time, and as it was supposed to, Federico Redondo -joined the team through Máximo Perrone- did not have the freedom to handle the ball, although Fernando’s son has shown that he can put on a strong foot if the game requires it. Tanlongo, for his part, was attentive to African bullfights.
Nigeria has not backed down, it must be said. He looked for the physical game, tried to play from below and proposed individual pairings. It went well for him, even if Argentina put him in danger with a couple of negligence. Which has this kind of strategy, widely used by Marcelo Bielsa: a second of distraction can be expensive. He only had one situation: a left-footed shot from a winger by Ibrahim Muhammad that went close to Gomes Gerth’s right post.
In the complement, Nigeria pulled back a few meters. Mascherano didn’t move the bank and opted to switch points to Romero and Aguirre. That castling didn’t work either because the guy from Newell’s wasn’t in his afternoon.
Man of the match Tochukwu Nadi smashed a right foot over the bar after 11 minutes and was a warning of what was to come shortly after. The aim of the Africans was not against, but with pure power. The goalkeeper served long and high, Tanlongo did not prevail, Barco was beaten in a jump and Muhammad closed after winning Giay’s back.
And the nerves came, so typical of youth. Argentina attacked a lot and deserved more. Anxiety did not allow him to define, as in the one that Maestro Puch had in front of goal and which bounced off a defender. The most mobile continues to be Romero, who is denied the goal from the post in the sharpest.
And with another ball from the goalkeeper, Nigeria scored their second. For the premature farewell of the national team; so that questions pile up.
Jason Root is the go-to source for sports coverage at News Rebeat. With a passion for athletics and an in-depth knowledge of the latest sports trends, Jason provides comprehensive and engaging analysis of the world of sports.