Argentina World Cup PreviewPosted: Monday May 27, 2002 7:22 PM
Updated: Monday May 27, 2002 9:42 PM
How they line up
Marcelo Bielsa's favorite 3-3-1-3 formation has lately become more like 3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2, and he has become less rigid tactically.
The coach has always been reluctant to change his squad and tries to run it like a club team. This has had positive effects in terms of morale, but has meant that promising young players, like the home-based Juan Roman Riquelme, have not been given much chance.
Argentina are attack-minded, getting the ball forward as fast as possible, either with runs up the wing by wide defenders or swift interpassing in midfield to open up defenses through the middle.
The ideal starting formation, based on qualifying games, would be German Burgos in goal (he makes spectacular saves, but is suspect with high centers), with a back three of Mauricio Pochettino -- below the standard of the others -- Roberto Ayala and Walter Samuel (solid in the middle, except against high crosses).
Javier Zanetti, a danger when going forward, takes the right-hand berth in the next rank of three, with Juan Pablo Sorin on the left. He continually fights for the ball and is good at starting attacks. The creative Matias Almeyda should take the middle position if Diego Simeone is not fit after a long layoff.
Most of the play goes through talented playmaker Juan Sebastian Veron. Ahead of him, Ariel Ortega, nominally a creative midfielder, is generally used as a third forward and is the closest in style to Maradona in the current team. Hernan Crespo, the central forward and leading scorer, plays close to the penalty area, with Cristian "Kily" Gonzalez producing dangerous runs up the left flank.
Pablo Cavallero, who has always done well when called upon, has been the regular substitute keeper. Defensive replacements are a problem, with Nelson Vivas and Eduardo Berizzo both out injured. Diego Placente, like Pochettino, is not up to the same standard as Samuel and Ayala.
There are, however, plenty of options in midfield. The creative Marcelo Gallardo can play in virtually any midfield position and also scores some key goals; Claudio Husain is another attacking option; and Pablo Aimar can come in for Ortega or Veron, though he has not been a success when played as an out-and-out forward.
In attack, Gabriel Batistuta is the alternative to Crespo. Claudio Lopez and Kily Gonzalez have frequently replaced each other on the wing, and while Gonzalez is the steadier and stronger, Lopez has a better eye for goal. However, he also has missed more than his fair share of sitters.
Claudio Caniggia has lately come into the reckoning for what would be his third World Cup finals. He was one of the few players to impress in the recent friendlies and can replace any of the three first-choice forwards. Caniggia may just have crept ahead of Julio Cruz in the pecking order. Cruz, a favorite of Bielsa, has never shown up well in the national team, but has lately scored a lot of goals in Italy.
From World Soccer magazine.