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

So Long And Good Luck To Nani

Post comment

A Mailbox that offers best wishes to a departing hero, defends Olivier Giroud, tells us to steady on over Calum Chambers and makes some amusing predictions...

Football Managers On TV: Paul Lambert

Post comment

He's Scottish so he has a soft-spoken, eminently reasonable manner while permanently transmitting the warning signs that he could go full mental any minute now...

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

O

K FIFA we're done, you can ban us now

jimmyjazz
Barcelona transfer ban upheld

A

h Daniel. I could spend hours on this subject putting the world to rights. You can even take a step back and ask why football fans (and society in general) have this need to know that something will happen before it actually does. There are times this important, when it comes to things like war, food production and natural disasters. A man you've never met changing his job? Not so much.

ajsr1982
Time To Burst The ITK Bubble

G

reat article. Hits the nail on the head. Encapsulates why I don't read tabloid newspapers anymore. The only thing worse is the 'told you so first' headline when they get lucky.

ianonabeach
Time To Burst The ITK Bubble

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Transfer news: Juventus insist there is no truth in Arturo Vidal to Manchester United talk

Juventus director general Giuseppe Marotta insists there's no substance to the talk linking Arturo Vidal to Man United.

Manchester United have completed the signing of Marcos Rojo

Manchester United have completed the signing of Marcos Rojo from Sporting Lisbon.

Transfer news: AC Milan yet to receive an offer from Liverpool for Mario Balotelli

AC Milan insist they have not received an offer from Liverpool for their controversial striker Mario Balotelli.

Mail Box

So Long And Good Luck To Nani

A Mailbox that offers best wishes to a departing hero, defends Olivier Giroud, tells us to steady on over Calum Chambers and makes some amusing predictions...

Mailbox: Feeling Sorry For Poor TC23

If there's one loser in all the machinations at Man United, it's poor TC23. We have mercifully few mails on United, but lots on Arsenal and in particular Olivier Giroud...

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