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To defeat Mbappe and France will not be simple? How can Messi and Argentina train with the World Cup on the line?

They say in the military that “no plan ever survives first contact with the adversary.” With the word “opposition” in place of “enemy,” we have a predicament that Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has confronted twice in his brief coaching tenure.

One of them played in his team’s World Cup opener. Argentina’s 36-game win streak and confidence heading into Qatar stemmed from a straightforward strategy: a patient, possession-based midfield would hold the ball and regularly insert Lionel Messi into the game, often in dangerous scoring positions.

Saudi Arabia’s fierce high line jolted Scaloni awake during the World Cup, forcing Argentina to play in a style with which they were unfamiliar and prompting the Argentine coach to reevaluate his approach.

There has been extensive tweaking since then, with mostly positive results. A more erratic Messi calls for a more mobile front line, which is why forward Julian Alvarez was started over the struggling Lautaro Martinez.

It may be necessary to switch to a back-three formation if the side is unable to maintain constant possession of the ball. Argentina’s head coach has been forced to come up with new takes on an old strategy after encountering resistance early on.

However, earlier in his reign, Scaloni was forced to take a much more extreme measure. He had to abandon the work altogether. Scaloni had previously worked as an observer of Argentina’s opponents before being appointed following the 2018 World Cup on an interim basis. France, the team that eliminated Argentina in the second round, was the most memorable.

In his initial press conference, he remarked, “France robbed the ball and were in the position to shoot in three or four seconds.” “It’s time for Argentina to adopt this style of play because it fits in with the direction football is heading and is the type of game I enjoy watching. Verticality and clarity are the new us.”

To defeat Mbappe and France will not be simple? How can Messi and Argentina train with the World Cup on the line?

Naturally, his attempt to model Argentina after France failed miserably. This was not a play concept that would work with Messi and the personnel Scaloni had available. The 2019 Copa America opening game versus Colombia marked the first competitive encounter under the new administration.

Argentina played horribly, spreading themselves thin over the field and conceding two soft goals in a 2-0 loss. Scaloni’s strategy had obviously failed after making the initial touch with the opponent, and the coach had the good judgement to retreat.

Throughout the rest of the tournament, Argentina fumbled toward a more reasonable approach, drafting the possession-based style that has since served them so well.

The real test starts now. Scaloni probably envisioned a matchup with Brazil, Spain, or Germany in the semi-finals.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Croatia in the tournament; they had a strong midfield (Scaloni praised Croatian captain Luka Modric and his colleagues after the game, admitting that the 3-0 scoreline was unfair to La Albiceleste) but lacked the firepower to really test La Albiceleste’s defence.

This is no longer the case, and if Argentina wants to win the title, they’ll have to overcome a lethal front four with Kylian Mbappe as the brightest star in a galaxy full of them. How can a coach like Scaloni, who publicly respects and undoubtedly fears the club he formerly coached, possibly devise a winning strategy?

To defeat Mbappe and France will not be simple? How can Messi and Argentina train with the World Cup on the line?

France is vulnerable, as we see from historical simulations. Manager Didier Deschamps of France will likely be worried about his team’s left-sided defence, as the team’s full-back Theo Hernandez is vulnerable because Mbappe does not drop back to aid.

Messi, an avid observer of the game, will discover and exploit the opening, and Angel Di Maria will undoubtedly be put into play at some point.

Despite being far from 100 per cent, Di Maria provided a spark in the decisive minutes of the quarterfinal match against the Netherlands, both on his own and in rapid combinations with Messi. We didn’t need him against Croatia, but he’ll be crucial on game day.

Argentina’s best chance at breaking through the French ranks appears to be with Messi and Di Maria down the right wing. The age-old juggling act, however, must be performed.

How can Argentina counteract the other team’s haymakers while landing their own blows? They could hold sway in the middle of the field for a while, but eventually, the French would launch a counterattack. What strategies can be employed to hide weaknesses when up against talent levels that Scaloni’s squad has never seen before?

Centre-backs Both Nico Otamendi and Cristian Romero, but especially Romero because he provides protection on the side of the field where Mbappe marauds, will be working at full capacity.

Will Scaloni switch back to a back three and reinstate Lisandro Martinez? Perhaps he recalls defensive midfielder Guido Rodriguez, who was foolishly included in the second game against Mexico but could be effective now.

There’s no doubt that Argentina’s coach will develop a strategy, but the exciting issue is: how well will it hold up against the current world champions?

Mohit Sharma

Mohit is a skilled Content Editor who has contributed to Sportoversy. He has a deep understanding of the inner workings of the sports industry. Mohit is well-known for his ability to discover exciting stories and provide new insights into old issues. Aside from his professional work, he likes spending time in a peaceful environment.

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