Aguero Failing To Justify Argentina Place

Lionel Messi is in sublime form but Argentina's World Cup prospects could be improved by dropping Sergio Aguero, writes Ian Watson...

Last Updated: 26/06/14 at 12:22 Post Comment

Latest Articles

An Arsenal Side Living On Its Nerves

22 comments

After last-minute goals in their first two league games, Arsenal shredded fans' nerves by hanging on for dear life in the Champions league qualifiers. They don't do things easy...

Where Does Di Maria Fit In At United?

18 comments

There's plenty of excitement surrounding Angel Di Maria's attacking threat, but Adam Bate says he's more than just an assists machine. United are getting the full package...

All Articles

Lionel Messi turned on the style again to beat Nigeria, but the little genius has carried Argentina through the group stage and helped to mask deficiencies in Alejandro Sabella's side.

Sergio Aguero is hiding so successfully behind Messi that he appears to have disappeared almost completely. The striker has struggled with a variety of injuries during the season preceding the World Cup and Sabella now has a decision to make over the Manchester City star, who has gone through the first three games without making any impact of note.

The 26-year-old lasted only 38 minutes of the Nigeria victory before succumbing to another niggle, but his contribution prior to his exit mirrored that of the previous two matches, which were only won thanks to moments of Messi brilliance.

Aguero's injury - the nature and extent of which is unknown - could save Sabella the bother of having to explain to the striker why he won't start the second-round clash against Switzerland. Argentina looked better balanced when Ezequiel Lavezzi replaced Aguero, with the PSG schemer offering greater variety. Aguero, though, is not alone in toiling in Messi's shadow.

Gonzalo Higuain has also struggled to make an impact, with him and Aguero seemingly occupying the same areas, making similar runs and failing to stretch the defences of their Group F opponents.

Higuain, like Aguero, had fitness issues prior to arriving in Brazil, but he at least has given the impression of looking busy, whereas Aguero has been a virtual passenger.

Only Iran keeper Alireza Haghighi has been made to work by Aguero - just once, mind - with the striker managing only two other off-target attempts in the tournament so far. Neither is Aguero contributing to the build-up. He has failed to create a single chance in the attacking third, where he received only one single pass against Bosnia in the opener.

At Manchester City, Aguero can be devastating when coming short to receive the ball from midfield, but that isn't part of his brief for Argentina. With Messi and Di Maria coming from deeper, perhaps Sabella has instructed his number 20 to stay high and pin back centre-halves to create pockets of space for his team-mates. It may be that the coach wants Aguero running in behind defenders to receive split passes or longer balls coming from deep. Whatever Sabella has asked of Aguero, it is not working so far. With Higuain in the XI, Aguero should have more freedom, but he looks to be restricted from using it, either by his coach or a lack of fitness.

Sabella has other concerns. Nigeria proved that the Argentina defence can be pierced. The first goal came as a result of a lack of discipline from those ahead of the back four, while scorer of both goals, Ahmed Musa, having slipped Gago, could have guided an oil tanker through the gap between redundant left-back Marcos Rojo and his closest centre-half Ezequiel Garay.

With Argentina yet to get out of second gear, they are fortunate that they will meet one of the weaker second-round opponents. Sabella, who spoke of the need for improvement after the Iran scare, still has the opportunity to affect his defence on the training ground, but Aguero's struggle for form may not be so easily solved. With Messi in such mercurial mood, though, anything is still possible for La Albiceleste.

Ian Watson - Follow him on Twitter

I backed Argentina each way to win and Higuain to be top scorer. One of those can still happen? Can't it?
- el_pollo_loco

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

E

ven if United were to sign CR7 & Messi to play upfront, the fact remains Fletcher and Cleverly are playing in midfield. That's where the problem is. Fletcher is too slow with an awful pass, while Cleverly is simply rubbish

mrunited4life
Di Maria - A Signing of Necessity, or Opportunity?

T

hese days, these days, you can't say something racist without somebody saying that you're a racist.

tk421
'Wrong' Views Not Silenced By Shouting...

D

rop Rooney (he's so disappointing, overrated and overpaid), and play Di Maria and RVP upfront, much like the set up at the Netherlands team with Roben and RVP...

eric bush3
Di Maria - A Signing of Necessity, or Opportunity?

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Europa League: Roberto Martinez happy Everton start and finish at home

Roberto Martinez is happy with the way the fixtures have worked out for Everton in their tough Europa League draw.

Premier League: Louis van Gaal says top four is Manchester United's target

Louis van Gaal has set Manchester United an initial target of a top-four finish in this season's Premier League.

Transfer news: Gus Poyet remains keen to add to Sunderland squad

Gus Poyet will know whether Sunderland can prosper this season by the time the transfer window shuts.

Mail Box

Surely A Spurs Fan Should Remember...

...what happened to the fourth Champions League place the last time an English team won the thing. Plus, who would want to pay £60 to watch the current England team?

Ginger Pirlo? Don't Make Me Laugh...

A Sunderland fan in the mailbox is surprised by Jack Colback's call up to the England squad. Plus, thoughts on Welbeck and Liverpool's Champions League draw...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property