Last week’s international friendlies featuring South American teams revealed some trends and issues that could become major problems if they’re not remedied soon especially with the World Cup less than 100 days away. Here’s what we learned from the most recent matches:
Outside of Leo Messi vomiting, there should not be a reason to worry about the Albiceleste’s front line. Yes, the Argentine media once again are drumming up the support for Carlos Tevez as well as Rodrigo Palacio, who at this stage both look like they will be watching the tournament from home.
Another positive is that Sergio Romero responded under the sticks for Alejandro Sabella with several great saves in the scoreless draw against Romania in Bucharest. Romero’s performance reduced some doubt over the Monaco man who has mostly been on the bench since making his move to Sampdoria this past summer.
The negatives? Against Romania, if it weren’t for goalkeeper Sergio Romero, Argentina could have conceded three or four goals. Any and all options for Alejandro Sabella left much to be desired. The central defense can’t defend and the outside back can’t attack nor track back on a consistent basis.
Marcos Rojo should be an experiment archived onto the bottom of the ocean. I am not saying that he is not a competent player. I am saying that he is a player that his teammates do not confide in. On several occasions, Rojo was open and teammates decided to look the other way and not get him involved in the play. That plus his limitations on defense are one of many reasons why Sabella will have to make certain adjustments.
Argentina also created a trend that is very preoccupying. Javier Mascherano was attempting to become more like Andrea Pirlo than the Javier Mascherano we’ve come to know throughout his career. He was looking to become the distributor instead of the destroyer. Mascherano’s deep balls to his teammates up top neutralized Argentina and helped Romania just drop back.
José Pekerman’s men played what was arguably their worst match under the Argentine coach. Colombia looked disorganized in the middle and could not string together two consecutive forward passes as Tunisia decided to pack the middle. And there was no way to get the ball to James Rodríguez on a consistent basis.
The holding midfielders showed very little marking, thus exposing Luis Perea and Mario Yepes in the back. The team looked overly unbalanced and left spaces where the Tunisians would go on counterattacks leaving the Colombians wrong-footed on the opposite side of the pitch.