In what was Argentina’s most embarrassing loss since that infamous 6-1 against Bolivia in a World Cup Qualifier, Jorge SAMPAOLI took to the media to deliver his press conference while World Cup winner Jorge VALDANO along with a few others weighed in.
If Jorge SAMPAOLI thought he had 60% or even 80% of his World Cup roster sorted out, you can likely divide those numbers by two or even three after tonight. An unfit captain, an unfit number 9 in Sergio AGUERO, an injured player like Manuel LANZINI and an injured Angel DI MARIA (although many would say that is a blessing) meant heavy rotations for the match against Spain.
Speaking to the media after the match, here’s what coach SAMPAOLI had to say:
Argentina coach Jorge SAMPAOLI:
“With the ball, Argentina looked to play against Spain. Our objective was to defend using the ball. Spain had some favorable moments that did not see them deserving of a 2-0 advantage. In the scond half, they caught us on the attack. Both teams equally dominated but Spain was much more effective.
“We played an incredible first half. I think we played well against Spain for 60 minutes but that is not enough against Spain.
“I have to take responsibility. The players left their hearts out there against a team that was well oiled. This type of atypical result could change a coach’s optic if they don’t look at what happened in depth. The players tried to find the opponent’s goal. When we had the chance we didn’t take advantage of it and they were very effective.
“We have to keep working so that these things don’t happen at the World Cup. We have to learn from our mistakes. We didn’t expect them to dominate us so forcefully.
“MEZA, LO CELSO and TAGLIAFICO, who practically debuted on this trip, did well.
“MESSI accompanied us at every moment. MESSI had a very good week of training but the annoyance in his leg persisted. MESSI was in the locker room supporting his team mates.”
Pedro PASCULLI, a World Cup winner in 1986 had this to say:
“Argentina today depend on MESSI 10 times more than we depended on MARADONA in 1986. MESSI won’t come in and fix everything. From midfield to attack, at best, yes but at the back, who’s going to fix that? This result is another problem for MESSI because now all the responsibilities will be on him when he plays.
“I didn’t understand the midfield that SAMPAOLI put out. He put BIGLIA, MASCHERANO and BANEGA to take the ball from the Spaniards and after that, what, to who do they give it to?
“When HIGUAIN puts on the blue and white, he doesn’t see the goal… I don’t know, there’s a lot of doubts. This isn’t only a friendly match, this is an international fixture. If you see that HIGUAIN isn’t giving you anything, you have to have the personality to take him out.
“Diego MARADONA solved our problems but he wasn’t alone: We were by his side.
“AGUERO and DI MARIA still haven’t shown with the National Team what they are with their clubs.
“DYBALA I would take to the World Cup. It’s true he plays in the same position as MESSI but he’s a young player that could fix a few problems. He’s not MESSI but he can make the difference.
“I don’t think CABALLERO is at fault for the goals. You have to see it from the back, the defense… They went in however and whenever they wanted.
“With all the respect, we are Argentina, we are not Peru. We have the best player in the world. We have to put our balls out there, go out and win. You have to have the personality to put on the sky blue and white shirt, to play a World Cup, to go out on the pitch and say “I want to win”.
“I saw SAMPAOLI calm in the press conference but that’s alarming. Tomorrow, the 6-1 will be all around the world.
“I would have put Lautaro MARTINEZ from minute 0 for him to go up against PIQUE and Sergio RAMOS, world class defenders. Enough. PEROTTI is very good. Lautaro MARTINEZ is wanted by Inter and Borussia and he doesn’t get a chance.
“With all of my heart I wish Argentina wins the World Cup.”
Jorge VALDANO, a World Cup winner in 1986 with Argentina:
“With this loss, Argentina will have to go through the cavalry until the World Cup. The result is terrible for Argentina, what happened today was a catastrophe.
“MESSI is the only reason for anyone to give Argentina even a small chance of winning the World Cup. HIGUAIN is haunted with Argentina. If MEZA’s level is that of today’s, then Argentina has a real footballer in him. I see him ready to make the jump to Europe.
“I wouldn’t like to be in SAMPAOLI’s situation.”
Mario KEMPES, a World Cup winner in 1978 with Argentina:
“Argentina’s first half made me enthusiastic. They didn’t play bad. Now the second half was a catastrophe. In the second half Argentina were 11 friends that got together to play football and they didn’t know anyone.
“You can play in the best teams in the world but defending Argentina’s shirt is another thing.
“The chance that HIGUAIN got today, had he gotten that with Juventus, 51 times out of 50, he scores it. I don’t know what happens to him with Argentina.
“MESSI can revolutionize a team by his presence but he can’t play as a goalkeeper, defender, winger, assist and score goals. There’s only one MESSI and football is played with 11 players.
“ICARDI is a player that can serve you and I don’t know why SAMPAOLI left him out. Against Uruguay, he didn’t play bad.
“This National Team needs new blood. This World Cup is the last one for many of these guys and we need players for the change. In the first half, I liked MEZA a lot.
“For a lot of these players that are starters, they need a light hit for them not to sleep.”
“The 6-1 hurts but these matches define nothing. They are made for the coach to draw conclusions and to keep working on an idea. We risked a lot of the ball for nothing. Argentina wants to resemble Spain but they have had the same playing style for years. We’ve changed a lot of coaches who have had different ideas.
“Today was a big warning to know where we are and where we want to go. It hurts to let in a lot of goals but these things will be a warning.
“SAMPAOLI is a coach that constantly looks at the opponents’ goal but Argentina doesn’t have the players for that. His players have other characteristics.
“If the defenders are attentive at every moment, you can play next to the goalkeeper. But you have to know how to manage space.”
Diego COSTA of Spain:
“In Argentina, they criticize MESSI a lot but look at what happened today, you can see how it is when MESSI isn’t there. Without MESSI, it’s another thing. You don’t criticize someone like MESSI. What people should do is give thanks for him. When MESSI is not playing, Argentina transform into another team. Our style is different if we face MESSI.”
Sergio RAMOS of Spain:
“MESSI is a unique player and it’s clear that Argentina is more powerful with him.”