Argentina Failed Once Again- Whose Fault is it This Time?


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

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The beloved Argentina crashed out of a competition yet again after losing to Brazil 2-0 in the semi finals of the Copa America football tournament, leaving fans with a familiar bitter taste in their mouths.

Their subsequent departure was evident from their very first match against Colombia that they lost 2-0. Their next group stage match was equally unconvincing, even though they managed to secure a point after Messi tucked away a penalty in the 57th minute. The match ended 1-1. Their third group stage match against Qatar gave Argentina their first win and three points of the competition. With those three points they were able to get into the quarter finals, where they defeated Venezuela. This match looked like a turn around for the team because the Brazilians were unable to beat Venezuela earlier in the competition. Meanwhile, Argentina beat them 2-0 despite not even having a majority of the possession.

Argentina's loose grip on the trophy was finally their undoing when they met their fiercest rivals Brazil. Brazil clipped their wings and Argentina had to settle for playing a third place match. Then Argentina met up with Chile, the team that beat them in the last two Copa Americas. But Argentina got the better of Chile this time around, beating them 2-1. The match was filled with drama and both teams were down to 10 men as Lionel Messi and Gary Medal were sent off in the first half.

Argentina is no stranger to failure.

The senior team lost to Brazil in the 2007 Copa America finals. They lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final. In 2015, they lost the Copa America final to Chile, after a disastrous penalty shootout where Messi was the only Argentine to score in the shootout. In 2016, Argentina lost to Chile once again and Messi missed his penalty. After this loss, the Argentine players and fans had had enough. One of the most shocking outcomes after this result was that Lionel Messi retired from international football. Anyway clearly he came out of retirement and the team came back with some new motivation and were ready to bring back Argentina to the top.

They struggled in World Cup qualifications, but luckily made it through after a Messi hattrick on the last day of qualifying. They struggled in the 2018 World Cup, drawing with Iceland which was the most shocking result. Iceland, though a good team, were very inexperienced and many of them had other jobs outside being footballers - this was something they did on a part time basis. They should not have been able to hold a team with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria among others. They eventually crashed out of the 2018 World Cup losing to France in the round of 16. They came into the 2019 Copa America competition to win but were still unconvincing.

So whose fault is it?
The past failures have always been attributed to something or someone. The World Cup final blunder in 2014 and the loss in both Copas were heavily placed on the shoulders on Gonzalo Higuain. While he isn't without blame (he did make mistakes in all these competitions), we can see from the 2019 Copa that he clearly wasn't fully at fault. Argentina didn't pick Higuain to take the trip to Brazil and Argentina didn't look much different, as a matter of fact this is the first time they haven't made the final in a while.


The manager they had in for the 2015 and 2016 Copa losses and the World Cup loss, Alejandro Sabella resigned officially after the the World Cup final. He said whether or not they won, he was retiring anyway. Maybe people felt as though with Sabella gone, Argentina would finally get silverware. Unfortunately, their performance only declined from there. Argentina never made it to another final.

The manager responsible for the World Cup qualification, and the subsequent 2018 World Cup, was Jorge Sampaoli. While some of Sampaoli's decisions regarding who he chose to play were questionable, he made a couple changes. For example he called up Paulo Dybala, but on the other hand, Dybala barely got any play time. This can be explained by the fact the Dybala and Messi play the same position and they won't bench Messi. But this was only a part of the problem, as Argentina was conceding quite a bit. There were rumours that the players weren't listening to Sampaoli - and of course that would spell disaster. After Argentina crashed out of the 2018 World Cup, Sampaoli left the team. I was one of the people that thought that he was a bad pick for Argentina and now that he's gone Argentina would finally touch silverware.

However, this doesn't seem to tell the whole story. Argentina's current manager Lionel Scaloni doesn't seem to have much luck, either. He was Sampoli's assistant too, but maybe they like him better? Argentina is still conceding a lot, even with a new goalie in this Copa America, and they aren't so threatening in attack. One thing I credit him with is bringing in Juan Foyth. He's only 21 years old, but the Spurs defender was pretty impressive for Argentina's backline.

The entire team?

The only other place left to cast blame is on the whole team. They aren't really improving in terms of finally bringing in a trophy. While Lionel Messi may have been shielded from a lot of the criticism because people say he doesn't have a good team around him, he has to take some of the blame too.

Firstly, the Argentine players, individually, are great. It's insane to me that someone would deny this. Using Copa America for example, you have Sergio Aguero and Nicolás Otamendi who just won the Premier League back to back with Manchester City. Dybala is a powerhouse for Juventus along with many of the other players that play for top flight teams in their respective leagues. You also have Lionel Messi - the Champions League and La Liga top scorer for this year. In addition to that, Argentina made it to third place despite Messi only scoring one goal (a penalty at that) all competition. If he has no help (as everyone wants to cry whenever Argentina loses out on a trophy) then how did they get this far? Perhaps Messi could step up for Argentina when he is most needed to score and secure a trophy. Nobody is saying it's his sole responsibility but he didn't score in the World Cup final to secure it, nor did he score against Brazil to reach in the final. He is a forward.  It is his job to score, you know.

I appreciate the introduction of a different players in the starting 11 by Scaloni, however, Argentina hasn't found the formula as yet. The problem lies a little deeper than their coaching staff and a little deeper than the quality of the players.

-- Trevann Hamilton

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