5 Things we learned from Uruguay vs Argentina


As Uruguay met Argentina in a crucial World Cup Qualifier today after MESSI and SUAREZ wore the kits supporting two countries bid for 2030, it promised to be more than a dull goalless draw. Uruguay are still sitting 3rd while Argentina still are in the playoff spot. Both teams have 3 more games to improve but South American Qualifiers are getting ridiculously tight for everyone except Brazil and Bolivia. Brazil already qualified and Bolivia is already out of the equation for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Between them any team can end up in the top 4 and play off position.

It was the first official qualifier under Jorge SAMPAOLI for Argentina. How his team has done we will have a look. He started with a 3-2-4-1 with Mauro ICARDI as the lone striker and ROMERO as goalkeeper. Tabarez went with the 5-3-1-1 option as was SUAREZ upfront with CAVANI joining him on the attack. The idea was to block any space in the middle for MESSI and Paulo DYBALA with their three defensive midfielders along with CAVANI. SAMPAOLI looked for width and on the right flank there was Marcus ACUNA and on the left was Angel DI MARIA. We will look on some key points from the match from an Argentina perspective.

Slow transition from midfield

Under previous coaches one of the major issues for Argentina was slow transition and side ways passing. With Uruguay able to block the middle, it all depended on how the midfield would co-ordinate with MESSI who had some successful runs towards Uruguay’s goal, although tactically the Uruguayans fouled him and marked him in 3’s and 4’s but he was the only spark from Argentina’s perspective. PIZZARO and BIGLIA did the basic things right but the transition of the ball was too slow and did not move it fast enough to give MESSI or DYBALA a chance to make their runs. Too many back passes and no desire to run in to open space is still there from central midfielders. There was hardly any creativity from midfield as Uruguay squeezed up all space on middle.

Frustration on the flanks

On both flanks Argentina arguably had the worst player of the game. Angel DI MARIA and ACUNA, the latter placed a lot of missed passes and misread his teammates’ runs. However, DI MARIA was even worse, got at least 8 to 10 clean chances to put crosses inside the area but never managed to do so. His blind crosses broke down the rhythm and the attacks for Argentina. It’s a shame ICARDI never got a proper cross, while Ivan PERISIC his Croat Inter team mate plays on the same flank and has created several goals for ICARDI. Not a single time DI MARIA could find him or other players in the box, as Uruguay’s plan of blocking the middle worked perfectly due to ineffectiveness on both wings. Later on, once ACOSTA came in for ACUNA and provided some runs but could not create anything.

MESSI and DYBALA partnership

One of the key things we were looking at was to see if the MESSI and DYBALA partnership would produce something brilliant. Only twice were they able to link up fantastically but MESSI’s attempt was saved by MUSLERA and the other was a bad ball by DI MARIA. But there’s always the possibility of a partnership being formed once Argentina can find someone creative in midfield to link the attack.

Return of ICARDI

ICARDI returned as a striker in the national team after 4 long years and tussled hard against GODIN and GIMENEZ. Only once he received a ball from PASTORE in the dying stages and tried to turn and score in typical ICARDI fashion but GODIN was quick to read and ICARDI’s cry for a penalty was not given by the referee. He participated and pressed well. A lot must be seen in the next game but very much like CANDREVA and Joao MARIO who rarely produce anything for Inter; ICARDI heavily relies on PERISIC. Unfortunately, there was no PERISIC for him on the Argentine flank to produce anything. His run to MESSI’s through ball was brilliant and hints at a very promising future.

ROMERO is still shaky

On defense, MERCADO, FAZIO and OTAMENDI produced a superb performance but there were moments when ROMERO almost messed up and gave away the ball to CAVANI who was in space. As the team continues to struggle to qualify, ROMERO remains as one of the major question marks along with DI MARIA on this team.

Special thanks to our guest writer and friend, Rony Mazumder from Bangladesh for sharing his thoughts on our match against Uruguay.


  1. Rulli

    Sub- Dybala(for messiorIcardi)

    Di maria (good for 2nd half)

  2. Argentina is terribly unbalanced. What they should do in 2018 is park the bus and hope messi n co produce something. It almost worked in 2014. It will work in 2018. If they come all out to play a team like germany they will be beaten 7-1 like brazil. Thats what happened in 2010.

  3. Argentina should try using Messi as a number 9. The team should try 4-2-3-1. Banega should try DMF to add attacking potential to the DMF. Otamendi alone should be allowed to overlap.
    Pastore Lavezzi DiMaria
    Biglia Banega/Mascherano
    Otamendi Fazio Garay Mercado

  4. I think apart from what everybody else mentioned here, another problem I’ve noticed is messi always dropping to the midfield has become very predictable for argentina. Since guardiola used messi successfully as a false nine this has been a important part of messi’s game. But in barcelona this approach was very successful because that team was very fluid and when dropping to midfield messi has multiple option like release the RW / LW / CF (Henry,Villa, Suarez, Neymar)in a thru pass/lob and dribbling from midfield. Additionally that he always had xavi /iniesta/ busquets available to relieve pressure, switch plays, continue buildup in other areas

    In the NT none of this works. Because the vulnerability of the backline we play too many midfielders who are defensive mindset. Because of this when service to forward line doesn’t come messi always try to drop to midfield. But he, being a very direct player, does not have mindset to continue indirect build up/switch plays. In far too many instances he just attempts to dribble forward and lose the possesion. Other players being very deferential to messi and just pass him the ball and become static spectators. This has become so predictable that it is ridiculous.

    I also want to ask other people in this board some questions here. Given the state of the midfield, do we always have to play 3 forwards. I know we have an abundance of attacking talent but it is no good because opponents usually park the bus in that situation and our midfield can’t break it. If we play 4-5-1 can that be successful. I’m proposing only one of icardi/dybala as CF, messi in RW, and we can have 2 DM’s + 2 CM’s or 1CM + 1 LW). Would this work?

  5. Good article. Just to add a few more points:

    – Argentina plays better with Pastore. That is a fact. He is the only creative midfielder, comparable to Riquelme and Aimar.
    – The main purpose of 3-4-2-1 is to put Messi and Dybala in their most comfortable positions. However this system requires significant input from the fullbacks, who have to be technical and a long distance runner which Argentina does not have. Sampaoli tried to convert wingers like Acuna into this role but it is not working in top level games. I am a huge fan of Di Maria but obviously he is not fit for this fullback-winger position.
    – Totally agreed that Pizarro-Biglia is very slow in transition. I will try with Biglia-Paredes for next game.
    – Icardi is a great forward, but you gotta choose between him and Dybala. Cannot be both. If Dybala plays, Argentina needs a winger like J Correa who can cut inside from left.

    Sampaoli need to admit that his 3-4-3 will not work because Argentina does not have his type of fullbacks, 4-2-3-1 is better with the players that Argentina has:

  6. At this point, I don’t know really who has bigger problems. Argentina or this website. The number of morons posting here blaming Icardi and Dybala is absolutely incredible. Before anybody blows their head off with this shear stupidity, just think for a minute as to what the problem is. It is midfield. Not our defense, not our forwards, our midfield.

    All of these midfielders, all of them are C players or D players. Not a one of them is worth a pile of poop. In previous posts, people talk about Pizarro, Biglia, Banega, DiMaria, Acosta, Acuna, Paredes, like they are any good. But the truth is they all are mediocre club players on their best day. So what do we do? We blame our forwards for not scoring because Mundo fans are some f**ing geniuses!
    The good news is that Sampaoli KNOWS they all suck. Its a fact, we have not produced a player like Aimar, Riquelme, Cambiasso in over a decade. We keep producing shitty holding midfielders that are best suited playing in the Portuguese league or some other shitty league. EVERY team we play is going to park the bus. Every last damn one of them. Until we have a player that can make a forward pass to start a run around the penalty box, we won’t score or win shit. Get used to it people. And if you don’t believe me, how many of our midfielders start for top teams in the world? Lets see, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Man City, Bayern, Juventus…and then there is PSG—they have 1 midfielder between that shit stick Pastore and the headless chicken DiMaria. And they can’t get a bag of beans for either one of them otherwise their ass would be shipped out.

    • I completely agree. Something that’s indisputable is that Argentina consistently produces the best forwards and best strikers of any nation. We don’t produce (recently) any top caliber attacking mid fielders.

      To your point of throwing the bus down I agree, we saw this in world cup 2014 with Iran too. Messi scored the winner and saved the team. This bus tactic is a survival tactic and doesn’t work in elimination games when you need to score to avoid penalties. No other team looks on paper and says I think we can beat Argentina in penalties. You see names like Messi, Dybala, Icardi, Aguero, etc etc taking first 5 shots, there is really not a lot to get excited about for the other team. But when Argentina tried to throw the bus down and take the game to penalties for wc 2014 final the German mid field was able to break it open. And a tired Argentina paid the price.

      For wc qualifiers I would expect every other remaining team to play Argentina the exact same way Uruguay did. Pack the net and go for a tie and hope to get a down field break. Barring huge mistakes from us I think this gives us a very good chance to qualify but also gurantees 3 more frustrating games for Argentina fans. Unless Sampaoli has the answer for mid field and we can destroy opponents confidence in the bus, then they’ll be forced to open up and play our game.

      Am I dreaming this up but I remember Mascherano playing as attacking mid field the first Uruguay world cup qualifying match last September and he looked pretty decent and playing the ball in. Anyone else remember that?


  8. messi win u20 2005 world cup for argentina ,aguero win u20 2007 for argentina .Both are Golden ball winner for respective tournament. It also true both kun n messi failed to perform in NT like club but expect them all Argentines are overrated be it icardi or dybala or barking for another new player.Kun is 2nd highest fifa rated argentine after messi, aguero>icardi

  9. People should realize that multiplicating attacking superstars is not recipe for winning. Previously Messi,Tevez, Lavezzi then Messi, Aguero, Higuain now Messi, Dybala, Icardi. But it’s still the same while every bus parking or generally tough defending and pressing team can stop these compilation of giants. Remember Romania – Argentina friendly before last WC. We were blowing the balloon of vainglory and expectations to see ROmania crushed by our Fab4. But that’s didn’t happen. Then was WC and few teams almost stopped our forwards in the same simple way.

    People who criticize Dybala and want to drop him after his very first games along Messi and Icardi are kids whithout any experience even on watching football. Dybala is best we have after Messi. It doesn’t mean he, Messi and Icardi are together the right attack. But as far, after their first game together, we don’t know wheter DYbala is the right partner for Messi. Needs more time.

    Still I think against opponent defending like Uruguay Benedetto would be better choice than Icardi. Benedetto is no doubt more movable. I don’t see him isolated so much as Icardi.

    Some things must change. If not Argentina won’t win any tournament.

    Sampaoli must realize that Di Maria long time is player who do harm to our NT. Are our coaches thinking Di Maria is our talisman while keeping him so long despite his consistence in poor performances for Argentina?

    And first of all I would cite @tmisellati:
    “no coincidence of course because the whole team is made and arranged in a way to make Messi looks the bright spot. you can not win any thing this way. if they keep playing like this , argentina will not win any thing untill messi resigned”.

    Why we are witnessing the same situation under another coach. Maradona, Sabella, Martino, Bauza, Sampaoli. Situations where Messi begins action on deep midfield line, often abusing dribling instead pass (that situation when his T-shirt was ripped by Cebolla ROdriguez was typicall), and generally dominating all the zone from midfield to our top. The only memorable moment in the game was when he was passing one touch with Dybala instead keeping ball too long. That was like once in Barcelona with Iniesta, Xavi and others. ONE TOUCH. But Messi is holding the ball too long wanting do the things by himself. And this is escalating as far as the result is bad for us. That is not his fault but we are like hastages of his magnitude.

    To be honest: we have third coach during the qualifiers and as far out best game was that in home against Brazil. That was draw, but rather unhappy, while we were playing great football against Neymar and others without Messi and others. Great because playing as real team without one big leader who gets too much attention from his teammates.

    I’m not sure if this Messi dependence is curable at all but if it is Sampaoli should realize and improve. Atleast if he is really cuch flexible as Bielsa was talking about.


    • I dont think you watched the game by your analysis. During initial portion of first half, Messi was trying not to get noticed, hence he didn’t have that many touches, it was rather Dybala and Di Maria. But when team was not creating anything, messi tried to get involved and come deep to get the ball. I do not think if the team is creating enough chances, he will come to deep. Yes you can hate messi, but the same messi made barcelona who they are. But no, since maradona luckily won WC for argentina, we critize messi every time we get the chance. I would rather focus on team mates like biligia who makes too many touches even to have simple pass. Our full back and mid field is main problem.

      • That’s true Messi was not so much holding the bal as it was in Copa Finals for example. But the problem still is markable.

        Does anybody ever wonder why this situation of backing Messi so deep and often taking all burden on his own is lasting almost ceaslessly under Maradona, Batista, Sabella, Martino, Bauza, Sampaoli? Is this a weakness of our coaches and inability to ballance the team? All the rest of players are usually in his shadow hence do not playing his best. For me the situation when Messi is playmaker yet on our half is permanent disorder.

        IMO Sampaoli will succeed as far as will able to balance the team.

        • To criticize already Dybala and Icardi is crazy for me. Just after his first match along Messi. I would like to see still Benedetto over Icardi but it’s obvious DYbala and Icardi needs many more chances.

          I think often the same childish fans are criticize Biglia and team now that were praising him and most players after friendlies against Brazil and Singapour. For me Biglia is not player for upcoming World Cup. He should be sub at best. But still I don’t see the big difference in Biglia performances against Brazil and Uruguay. This is mostly tendentious estimating dictated by result. Against Brazil they just scored 1 goal and happily didn’t conceeded.

          Besides I think that was specific kind of game. Determinated yet before the match, when you may score 1 goal at best. Against opponent like Peru or Paraguay, in home, the same trio Messi, Icari, Dybala would have scored 2-4 goals.

  10. As always, midfield is the biggest problem. If good midfield, any one would score tons of goals, just look at Cristiano Ronaldo at RM. I hope sampoli try to fix midfield as it is only way in modern football to win the games. Messi deserve World Cup otherwise players like CR will claim the best which we all know is far from the truth but Media will focus as he likes publicity.

  11. I was able to finish work in time last night to be home and watch the game, only to be left feeling empty throughout the game. Uruguay was not going to do ARG any favors be letting them play the game they wanted to play and ARG didn’t help themselves either by not connecting when it really mattered and that with even almost 80% possession.

    Look, it is what it is, ARG is in a bad position but nothing that can’t be fixed to make it to the WC, providing they keep their 5th ranking or better.
    No reason to cry over spilled milk but glad we have a manager that knows how do adjust and change when things need changing, and YES, THINGS DEFINITELY NEED CHANGING.

  12. Frankly, this must be the worst Messi match for Argentina, but he is still so many miles ahead of his compatriots and seems to be the only player with intelligence.
    DiMaria – Bench him, bring him on only for last 5 mins or so, if we are winning.
    Dybala – his only good moment was that 1-2 with Messi, but if that partnership can be built, we have hope

    So many people speak a lot of huge praise for some of the non European players, but they were all really poor.
    ACcoste gave a little hope for some minutes.

    My big worry remains. Dont we have a central midfielder at all, who is anywhere near the quality of Kroos or Modric or Thiago etc.. Without such a player, expecting Messi to do all wont help us at all.

    Pizzarro has scope for improvement. I liked how he, at times, made himselves available to receive the pass, like the pass, move, offer style. May be with time he might get better.

    Am sure we are going to quality, but am hoping there is a miracle and Sampoali finds a new midfielder.

  13. I think we need to do 4 2 3 1 but not sure who to put on the left, unsure if mascherano is tall enough for a defender I think we need world class centre backs to win the world cup I’m not sure we have that unfortunately. I would like to see something like this:


    Not sure who to put here maybe correa? Di Maria. Messi

    Benega. Biglia

    Rojo. Mascherano. ?????? Mercado


    The manager needs to tell bloody Romero to put in a transfer request this is so embarrassing to join Sevilla or Roma or something and be number 1 keeper. Also anyone know about Garray where did he disappear to? Is he any good still?

  14. loads of grammatical mistakes in the article.

    I’m a Bangladeshi albiceleste as well, and me too submitted for a post as a content writer.

    Mundo should be more careful regarding the quality of the articles.

  15. Good piece.
    The remaining 3 matches are against teams below us in the table. We depend on other matches for our competitors to drop points. We could not leapfrog Uruguay or Chile ourselves. 15 goals in 15 matches. It is just unbelievable given the names in our squad.

  16. Good Observations!
    While expressing our concerns, we all forgot to mention the one plus point we had today, i.e. our back three were good today!
    Of all departments, I feel goal keeper has become the most serious concern for us.
    Time will tell whether the untouchable Romero and Maria be dropped or not. I feel they will be!

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