Monday, June 28, 2010

Preview of Round of 16. Match 4: Argentina v Mexico

It's the Albiceleste versus El Tri. It's the two time World Cup winners Argentina versus the two time quarter-finalists Mexico. It's South America versus North/Central America. It's also a repeat of the Round of 16 match in 2006.

Yes in 2006 Argentina (after winning Group C ahead of the Netherlands) faced Mexico (who finished 2nd in Group D behind Portugal) and the score was 1-1 after 90 minutes. Argentina won by virtue of a spectacular Maxi Rodriguez goal in extra-time but it had been a tightly fought quality game.

They also lost the 1993 Copa America final to Argentina 2-1 and a 2007 Copa America semi-final 3-0.

Argentina will be hoping to successfully navigate the second round so that they can exact revenge on Germany in the quarter-finals. Germany of course eliminated Argentina on penalties at the quarter-final of the last World Cup. Mexico will be hoping to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1986.

Key players


Messi: Messi is probably the best footballer in the world. He has perfect vision, innate football intelligence, super control, skill and awareness, creates opportunities for others and scores plenty of goals himself. He is a complete footballer and when on top of his game - nothing can stop him.

Mascherano: Mascherano is an important player because if there is one weakness in the Argentine team it is the defence. Not that the defence is bad but they do have the occasional blooper or nervy moment. Mascherano, as defensive midfielder, has the job of protecting the back four and does so admirably. He is also responsible for the link up play with the attacking midfielders at Argentina's disposal. He is very good at this also.

Tevez: A supremely talented striker, could Tevez be ready to fire?


Marquez: Has the all important job of protecting the back four and in particular nullifying the threat of Messi. He thus has perhaps the most difficult job in world football. They are no strangers - they are team-mates and great friends for Barcelona. This friendship will of course be put on hold! Marquez is a highly experienced and quality player.

Dos Santos: Always threatening, Dos Santos creates opportunities for others and likes to have a shot himself.

Barrera: An under-rated midfielder Barrera has the potential to unlock defences.

Expectations: With both sides having the odd question mark over their defence this could be a very open game with plenty of goals. Argentina are far more clinical in attack. Mexico will create opportunities but they don't convert enough of them. This will have to change tonight. One hopes Hernandez might get a start this time but expect him instead off the bench. Maradona loves to play the fab four of Messi, Di Maria, Tevez and Higuain and expect this to continue. It's an irresistable combination and has worked for him so far.

No comments: