Argentina playing solid football, Lionel Messi leading from the front
The Argentina National Football Team endured much criticism from fans and experts alike for being a team full of heavyweights that failed to perform at tournaments. But after winning Copa America last year, things started changing for the team.
The team, which was synonymous with mesmerising and beautiful football in the past, is now known for their effective football under Lionel Scaloni, a manager quite unorthodox in the sense that he does not belong to any of the three dominant schools of football in Argentina - Menottism, Bilardism, or Bielsism, all of which are named after three legendary managers of Argentina.
The team appears to be utilising Lionel Messi to the best of his ability, as he has never appeared as carefree as he does now while playing for the National Team, which is bettered by the fact that he now has a lot of players in the midfield to look after things. It was not the case in the past, as he had to drop down and pull the strings from midfield most of the time.
Papu Gómez and Lautaro Martinez seem to partner quite well with Messi in the fluid but not all-out attacking tactic of Scaloni, which is quite a deviation from the past as Messi, despite having big names along with him in attack ever since his debut for Argentina, never had this amount of creative freedom.
In the 3-0 win against Jamaica last night, Argentina extended their unbeaten streak to 35 games, an unprecedented feat that is even more impressive because they played quite a few big teams during their entire run.
Argentina has also had a goalkeeping problem for a long time, as past goalkeepers lacked the aggression and decisiveness that modern goalkeepers are expected to have. But with Emiliano Martinez and Geronimo Rulli, this does not seem to be a problem anymore.
The only problem the Argentine team seems to be facing now is the fullback pairing, as Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna are not regulars for their respective clubs. Even in central defence, Argentina has had the best with Cristian Romero and Lisandro Martinez in quite a long time.
This time, Argentina is one of the clear favourites to win the World Cup. Currently, no team has as much rhythm and effectiveness as the Argentines. However, it is still early to say whether the team will gather behind Messi to lead him to glory as they have been doing for quite some time.