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Maradona's tactical dilemma

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Paul Fletcher | 02:01 UK time, Monday, 28 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Johannesburg

Argentina coach Diego Maradona suggested after his team's 1-0 friendly victory over Germany on 3 March that it had felt like a World Cup game.

His team's 3-1 win over Mexico at Soccer City on Sunday has ensured that the Albiceleste will meet Germany for real in a quarter-final tie at 1500 BST in Cape Town on Saturday.

However, between now and the Cape Town showdown, Argentina's charismatic leader has some serious thinking to do.

Maradona has sent his team out in a 4-3-1-2 formation in South Africa, with Lionel Messi playing behind two strikers. Argentina have played with vim and panache, and are now regarded as one of the favourites to win the competition.

They have now won their last nine games but their form was less convincing back in March.

The victory in Munich was based on a more defensive 4-4-2 system that saw the team set up with two banks of four and Messi play alongside Gonzalo Higuain as Argentina attempted to hit their opponents on the counter attack.

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The question is, does Maradona revert to the formation that helped his side to a much-needed victory at a time when his ability as a coach remained under intense scrutiny - or does he stick with the attacking principles that have seen his team win all four of their games at the World Cup?

Messi struggled to transfer his club form at Barcelona to the international stage as Maradona's team laboured through qualifying and the 23-year-old even came in for criticism from Argentine fans and in their media.

But he has clearly relished the liberated role he has been given at the World Cup, while Maradona has used every opportunity to angrily protest at what he believes to be the rough treatment dished out to his most creative player.

"When he gets the ball everybody tries to kick him," said the Argentine boss. "What is happening to him is a scandal."

Messi played behind Higuain and Carlos Tevez on Sunday, while Champions League winner Diego Milito and Atletico Madrid's Sergio Aguero had to be content with a place on the bench.

Maxi Rodriguez and Angel Di Maria provided width as part of a midfield trio that had Javier Mascherano in the centre charged with breaking up opposition play.

Watching the Argentine system against Mexico it was clear that the front three have very little defensive responsibilities - leaving seven outfield players to counteract the opposition threat, whereas the previous system had eight.

And it might just be that against a youthful and confident German side that demolished England 4-1 on Sunday, Maradona will adopt a more cautious approach.

"Germany are a top team but we will field the right players in order to beat them," added the Argentine boss, who in yet another lively post-match news conference refused to answer one question that he described as stupid and told another journalist to hurry up and get to the point.

"But let me just enjoy this victory for a while, you can write whatever you want about them and I will start to think about Germany on Monday."

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When he does study the German side he might consider the threat posed by Mesut Ozil, who had another superb game against England in an attacking midfield role.

Germany struck twice against an admittedly woeful opposition, savaging England with blistering counter attacks.

Joachim Loew's team have the tools to provide a stern examination of the Argentine defence, which many see as a potential weak link in an otherwise gifted side.

Certainly, there were signs on Sunday that there are areas to exploit in the Argentina defence.

Mexico skipper Rafael Marquez reckoned that his team were intent on removing the thorn that had been stuck in their side since their defeat to Argentina at the 2006 World Cup.

And until Carlos Tevez struck the opener after 26 minutes despite being yards offside when the ball was played to him, Javier Aguirre's side had been true to Gerardo Torrado's pledge to take good care of the football.

Carlos Salcido hit the crossbar with a long-range effort and the advanced trio of Giovani Dos Santos, Adolfo Bautista and Manchester United-bound striker Javier Hernandez found plenty of space to exploit in the final third.

Argentina's Nicolas Burdisso had a decent game deputising for the injured Walter Samuel, but I am far from convinced that Martin Demichelis is a top-class central defender.

All of the back line that started against Mexico - Gabriel Heinze, Demichelis, Burdisso and Nicolas Otamendi - are arguably most effective in the middle. Clemente Rodriguez is the only specialist full-back in the squad and Maradona seems content to restrict his defenders to just that - defending.

Maradona played Jonas Gutierrez as a right-back in Argentina's opening two games but the Newcastle winger was suspended against Greece and started from the bench on Sunday.

I spoke to Gutierrez, a second-half substitute, after the game and he told me the squad had seen Germany's victory over England and expected a difficult tie.

Maradona's Argentina left for South Africa against a backdrop of modest expectations, much like Carlos Bilardo's side did before their successful 1986 campaign in Mexico.

Bilardo had a group of players of a decent ability but sculpted a defensively solid side that relied on the genius of Maradona.

The current coach has a lot more options at his disposal but must find the right balance between defence and attack if his team are to avenge their quarter-final defeat against Germany at the 2006 World Cup.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Going to be very even but one moment of magic from Messi might decide it. Germany won't have a field day like against England

  • Comment number 2.

    Yep personally I thought it was a great match, I also thought in the first 20 minutes or so, that Mexico were going to tear Argentina apart completely. One goal offside and one stupid error for the next one, and it was to much for a very talented Mexico side. So here is the rub, I think Argentina were extremely lucky, The ref and the lines man both realised the goal was offside... but awarded it anyway.. I think Mexico should have been 2 or 3 up at that stage.
    It's getting hotter for the Argentine defence, Germany next, I expect them to be more ruthless than mexico, but boy am I happy to see Hernandez coming to United... top top top signing by Sir Alex..

  • Comment number 3.

    Argentina must remain faithful to their style of play, Germany may have attacking talents but their defence is their weakness so Argentina have to carry on attacking.
    The Argentine's could've picked Gaby Milito and Zanetti which would of given them a very tight defence but alas they did not, so their only form of defence is to keep the opposition preoccuppied at the other end. In truth if either team are going to win the world cup they will do it by outscoring the opposition.

  • Comment number 4.

    If it is not broke, dont try and fix it. Everyone is saying that defence is Argentina's weakness so it might be seen as good management by Maradona to focus on their strength which is attack.

  • Comment number 5.

    Germany has more to fear about Argentina than the other way round. Germany has met little opposition so far, despite what people want to believe, Argentina’s defence is not that fragile. I believe Argentina will be using the same system until they meet one of the sides they really fear, Spain or Brazil.

  • Comment number 6.

    Two sides very familiar with each other at the latter stages of the tournament - always meeting up after one or the other has comfortably disposed of the 'Three Blind Mice'! Gets quite boring doesn't it? Why do these to always get that 'gimme' game - no wonder they both have such good WC records?

    Can see an unusually well behaved 'booking-free' Argentina taking it 3-1 as they have Tevez, Messi, Higuain, Milito, Aguero and so on whilst Germany have Worzil and some Polish guy who only scores at World Cups. Hopefully though it will be a right old ding-dong with plenty of red-cards, injuries, lots of tears and penalties - plus several controversial goals ;) One has to lose now, the other against Spain or Portugal in the semis - although a reapeat of the '74 or '78 with the Dutch geting revenge on either would be good too.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think that old adage holds true - attack is the best form of defence!

  • Comment number 8.

    I would say that while Argentina did have some luck, they looked very comfortable when in possession and they always looked like they could score. The back four may be there "only" to defend, but they can keep the ball amongst themselves very well, eventually passing it to the midfield, thus not losing possession as a result of speculative long balls. When Veron came, he dropped in front of the four and frankly, just about shut down the game. The individual piece of brilliance that got Mexico their only goal should not be overestimated or read as a result of Argentina's defensive frailty.

    Germany will have a very tough game. They are unlikely to hit Argentina as much on the counter, simply because Argentina do not give the ball away like England did - how many accurate passes did Milner, Barry, Johnson or Gerrard had? Just remember how often did the England side lose the ball when put under pressure, Argentina are quite unlikely to do as poorly. Mexico tried to press them, too, but mostly in vain.

    I think Argentina are better than most people believe - yes, when there are four people running with the ball against their back four, they look vulnerable, but which team doesn't when in such situation? Other than that, they look comfortable with their play, pretty much in control of their matches. For all the talk about how Germany are good, they did, in fact, go from 2-0 up to 2-2 in like three minutes against a very average England side - hardly the mark of greatness, or well-organised play. But they do stand a chance - Klose, Schweinsteiger, Ozil and Lahm are having an outstanding tournament. I feel sorry when watching how Klose just can't repeat his national team feats in the league, he is such an awesome striker - strong, accurate, intelligent, resilient, good with the ball, and when without it, he's always on the move, predicting where the game will go - just great to watch.

  • Comment number 9.

    I still think they don't have a midfield. Messi shouldn't have to come to his own half all the time to collect the ball.

    Sure, he can do the same things there as further up the pitch, but there's no point in getting past midfielders, since there's another 4 waiting anyway. If he does it in the last third of the pitch, it's a goal.

    Di Maria spends his time on the wing, Maxi Rodriguez does, too, and when he doesn't he's slightly terrible. That leaves Mascherano as the only proper midfielder, and he's not exactly a ball wizard. Small wonder the ball spends half the game in the defence, there's no movement and nobody in midfield.

  • Comment number 10.

    Germany will win. It happened before and will happen again.

  • Comment number 11.

    It will be an extremely close game. I predict an extra time decider.

  • Comment number 12.

    Germany will not be able to cope against Argentinas attack. Germany may have beaten England 4-1 but England were shambolic defensively, all German goals were a result of bad defending. Argentina may also have a weak back line but the Germans lost the only game in which they encountered good opposition and Argentina will prove too strong for the Germans to cope with. Argentina will win with relative ease.

  • Comment number 13.

    I hope that Maradona keeps faith with the system that has so far worked extremely well for them as Germany are very suspect at the back, England proved that for a 10 minute spell where they were all over the place and apart from the right back they are very suspect.

    If he does keep faith with the system and Germany play the counter attacking system they did against England then we are in for a cracking game..

    Roll on this evening for Brazil and Chile could be a hot affair if Chile play like they did in the last game against Spain.

  • Comment number 14.

    What ever happens I am loving the polemic and the prospect of an exciting game.

  • Comment number 15.

    At least with Germany the Argentinians will have to think about what tactics to use. England..too tactically easy! Now Diego will have to think about how to counter world-class midfielders like Ozil and Muller. I bet he'd have preferred to play against the slowr pace of Lumpithard and Gerrard, And up front there is klose and Pololski and not that Rooney guy some of the press were talking about as being as good as Ronaldo and Messi..Diego will at least have to 'think' about how to play Germany Paul!

  • Comment number 16.

    It is interesting to see how both Germany and Argentina cope with their opposition's attack. Both teams defence lines are vulnerable but with strong attacking forces. I can't wait to see two in form teams playing for a place in Semi.
    Moreover, a rematch of 2006!

  • Comment number 17.

    England were EASILY the weakest team involved in Sunday's games. They were beaten like 'rented mules' by Germany. It would have been far worse against either Argentina or Mexico. Argentina would have beaten England 10-0! Germany are a great team and seem to have great chemistry with one another, but they are really up against it with Argentina. The Germans will need to perfectly execute a great game plan to win. They are more than capable as the Argentines, as proven many times, can be undisciplined and hot tempered when things don't go their way. I am still predicting an Argentine victory, 2-1 in a tense, back and forth encounter.

  • Comment number 18.

    This one will go to the Argentinians! Though football is not mathematics, I've observed that after a fantastic performance such as that of Germany against England, there is a tendency to under perform the next game and this is why the Germans are likely to under perform next just as it happened against Serbia after a fantastic performance against Australia!

    What the Argentinian team has going for them is that Diego has been underrated all the time and thus has not been under pressure. He's also been able to shield the players from any pressure and hence the team is playing wonderfully.

    I think it is time for Messi to now come forward and carry the team through. And by the way, I think Diego will go with Aguero to keep Lahm held back! Can't wait to see Aguero, Messi and Tevez together at the same time!

  • Comment number 19.

    It's correct to highlight DiMichelis as the weak link in the Argentine defence. However, both sides will tighten up - Argentina to counteract the movement and short, diagonal passing of the Germans and Germany to try and counteract Messi and Tevez / Aguero getting space in front of the back four.

    This will be a lot tighter than yesterday's games and lower scoring, but could still be a classic.

  • Comment number 20.

    Argentina and Maradona will be tested. While the game was won once the third goal went in they were very sloppy and Mexico had some chances. From a German point of view they've done extremely well and there is probably a little less pressure on them. I expect them to score at least once against Argentina and it will be interesting to see how Argentina cope with a team that has the potential to beat them. So far they have been little tested in this World Cup.

  • Comment number 21.

    Personally i think Maradona isn't getting enought credit, do you not think he is watching the other teams games??. Oezil looked dangerous against England, but to you honestly think England has a holding player in the same class as Mascherano??, lets see if Oezil gets 2 touches on the ball before Mascherano is snapping away at him. I also feel he will bring back Seba Veron for that game as the stats are showin, his ball retention and pass success rate is higher than anyone in the tournament and hes missed a game and 3/4's, and he will help cope with the physical side of the germans. I also feel that the way germany played is more playing into the Argentine's hands as england just tried to bulldoze there way through the middle of the german defences where as Argentina will have a bit more options in the final 3rd as well as having much better passers in the team than the overrated bunch in england. Germany are comin up against a team pulling in the right direction, not 11 ego's who all want to stand out for them selves, 11 good players don't make a team, 11 good characters do, look at the Argies when talking about Messi, they adore the guy, they look out for him, they know without him they won't win, england on the other hand just think well if rooney doesn't play then lampard is good enough when if you take away about 15 set piece goals a year and watch him, hes not that "world class" a player, he is a terrible passer, isn't comfortable retaining the ball and isn't good enough to hold onto the ball, so again germany may have ran england off the park, but it could have been any of a number of teams who could have did that y'day

  • Comment number 22.

    Argentina vs Germany will have a slow start and be rather cagey. I do not expect Maradona to change his formation but rather bring in new players. Veron will definitely be playing because he hangs back along with Mascherano. Also expect to see C.Rodriguez be brought in to cope with Muller on the flanks. CRod is the only full back in the squad and might be ideal in this scenario. The biggest boost of all will be the return of Walter Samuel. He is a rock in their defense and will bring back more stability. Highly doubtful that the Germans will be deploy a counter-attacking strat as they did with England however they will try to expose the Argentine flanks. It will all boil down to how well Tevez and Di Maria assist their mid. If German possession can be neutralized easily, Argentina have this. But if Muller and Oezil are left unchecked...well this one can be a goal feast.

  • Comment number 23.

    Argentina and Germany both have good ball retention (unlike England). Both teams defensively are not the best. However, I expect the Argies to win this, partly revenge from 2006, but more so to do with the speed that they can change their passing. IMO it would be very dangerous of Germany to fully concentrate on stopping Messi. 1. I don't think that can be done for a full game & 2. They have more players who can hurt a defence.

  • Comment number 24.

    BRazil are going to murder Chile, check out their last 4 meetings...

  • Comment number 25.

    Despite comments on ball possession England actually had more of the ball , more corners and more shots than Germany, the problem was our defence was woefull, with Barry not picking up Ozil, Terry charging out of defence for their first 2 and then deciding to play upfront virtually when we still had a chance in the second half. I don't think Argentina will make the same mistakes!

  • Comment number 26.

    @ 25. It is not the amount of ball possession that matters but the quality of it, and both Germany and Argentina are far much better than England with the ball, we won’t see many aimless long balls in this match.

  • Comment number 27.

    This game will be a real test for both teams. Argentina have real concerns, I think like Italy in 1990, they have not faced a team that has heart. You will remember in '90, Italy played really well until they met........yes Argentina, led by el Diego himself. Messi will not have the space & time to impose himself & Germany will not gift Higuain a goal. Germany through.

  • Comment number 28.

    I do not think there will be any change of personnel. Aguero may come in as a replacement earlier than usual.

  • Comment number 29.

    To claim that Argentina's victory over Mexico was only due to marred refereeing and lady luck would be underrating a side filled with a plethora of talent.

    If there is anything to be learned from Argentina's wins from the group phase is that their players naturally seem to up their game when faced with tougher opposition provided that they are in an attacking formation.

    It's a given that Albicelestes defense isn't much to be reckoned with but that's down to poor team selection and thats where Maradona is at fault. It could be considered blasphemous to question his selection process at this point. What should be remembered is that I would've been supporting the Argentines regardless of their coaching staff. The players are chosen by their talent and form. They are as good as can be. There is nothing the coach can teach them. Like man management is easy to Maradona, (considering that no one is going to dare question his merits). It should be as easy to choose players who have been performing incredibly. Aguero, C. Rodriguez are players who should be included for their skill n form. I have only watched a few matches of these players, even for their clubs. In my opinion, Demichelis should be dropped on the basis of form. C.Rodriguez should play alongside Heinze who has the ability to play centre back as well. On the right side should be as is with Otamendi and Burdisso. That will effectively make for a stronger defence. Midfield should wing it with Maxi Rodriguez and Angel di Maria while Mascherano holds in the middle. Forwards should be Messi and Aguero on the side of Tevez as an aggressive attacking forward. There are only a few people on this planet who would resent being substituted after scoring 2 goals and Tevez is one of them. His gargantuan efforts on field is only comparable that to Messi's infinite talent in the opposition's half.

    Regardless of my expressive opinion, I sincerely hope he chooses a similar side to what I've suggested and play them with an intention to possess the ball in majority and leave the goal scoring to the combined talent of Aguero, Tevez and the incomparable Messi.

    I'd rather see them playing to their stronger suites (attacking) and fail as opposed to defending and then failing (as was the case with the Mexico game last night after the 3-0 lead they had). The very least, it would make for a very entertaining game against Germany regardless of the result.

  • Comment number 30.

    Now then,

    Thanks for all your thoughts. It is pretty obvious that most people think Maradona will stick to his attacking formation and that this will simply be too strong for Germany.

    I reckon it is totally correct to point out that Germany's win on Sunday was against a poor England side but nonetheless I think they can cause Argentina problems.

    As for those saying Maradona deserves more credit - he has certainly moulded a tight and united squad and seems to have made shrewd tactical moves so far.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think its pretty funny how everybody seems to think that Argentina will easily defeat Germany, sure they had patches where they didn't look comfortable (late 1st half/early 2nd half) but they may be able to use Argentina's attacking threat to their advantage through counter-attacks, they have pace in Ozil, Podolski and Mueller. Germany has always been an organised team, they won't be as easy for Argentina to break down, especially since they flood the midfield.

    Never write of the Germans! They beat Argentina 4 years ago in the quarters and are capable of doing it again this weekend. Remember how everyone believed England would come through and beat Germany? Well, I reckon Germany isn't getting enough credit, they will win it in my opinion. Looking forward to what Paul the Octopus' verdict is - he's guessed correctly 100% so far!

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi to all again; this time I’d like to drop a few opinions about the main’s blog theme (Diego’s tactical dilemma), trying to sum up in order the theoretical and the practical options he has
    a) 3-4-1-2: (the formation against Nigeria, with Romero - Demichelis-Samuel-Heinze (3) Jonas-Veron-Mascherano-Di Maria (4) Messi-Tevez-Higuain (3). Diego realized, in my view correctly, that Nigeria wasn’t going to attack with 2 or 3 strikers, so he decided to take out one of the classical four defenders (the right back “number 4”), and put another striker (Tevez) to gain attacking power. However, as it turned out, we had more than a few problems on that side of the pitch, from the right middle towards all the way to the own corner, as Jonas was a bit to alone and did not feel comfortable when having to come back to aid to the defense on that side.
    b) 4-3-3: (the formation against Corea, with Romero – Jonas-Demichelis-Samuel-Heinze (4) -Maxi Rodriguez- Mascherano -Di Maria (3) Messi-Tevez-Higuain (3)., Diego realized the aforementioned problem on the right side of the middle filed and the defence and intended to fix it by sending Jonas back and putting Maxi on the half middle wing. Before anything, the starting of Maxi instead of Veron was due because the former ended with a slight injure, but it worked out also to show how the team functions with a classical “number 8”. Again, the team showed more stability on there, and proved him correct at least in the detection and recognition of the problem (in my opinion, Jonas was still not being enough and Diego eventually agreed with this).
    c) 4-3-3: (the formation against Mexico, with Romero – Otamendi-Demichelis-Burdisso-Heinze (4) -Maxi Rodriguez- Mascherano -Di Maria (3) Messi-Tevez-Higuain (3). I deliberately omitted the game against Greece because Diego made 7 changes in view of the team being already virtually classified for next round. However, it was useful to show that some players were at least in good form as the starters from the 2 lasts games, notably, Nico Otamendi, which made a great game and earned the position as a starter for the main team. Note that Veron was this time intentionally left in the bench, as there were neither physical nor strategical reasons in terms of rounds or so. Seemingly, despite the initial 3-0 at some point, it was the worst game of Argentina so far if even slightly and only because the opponent’s superior strength, in terms at least of ball possession and opportunities in our own goal.

    Now, we are paired to face Germany, by far the strongest team to this point that we have to play against, and even the first real test to the Argentinean team.
    In my opinion, Diego will have to recognize that Demichelis, despite being at least a decent player in general, is gravely underperforming, and put Burdisso in his place, who have shown that he is at least, very comfortable with the responsibility of the occasion, he knows the position, and has a level close to excellent right now. Personally I would also like to see Clemente Rodriguez from the start instead of Heinze on that side, who is showing at this point not a too bad level in defence, but with the ball in his feet he is just awful, and is almost absolutely incapable to cooperate in the attack.
    But the main strategical problem, relays in the middle field, as Messi seems not too comfortable (and as the Argentinean press realized, and I agree with them), if even a little, he had underperformed a bit more since the 1st game with Nigeria. Apparently, the team as a whole is more balanced with Maxi instead of Veron, but Messi feels at home with the latter, or other player or similar characteristics (ideally with someone like Xavi or Iniesta in Barca) whom he can triangle and create team aggressive play. Argentina demonstrated that the individualities could be enough to beat lesser teams, but I don’t believe that’s the case of Germany (before hand, I think that both teams are of about a similar strength). So either Veron himself or Pastore are serious alternatives. On the forward line, Messi, Higuain and Tevez have became undisputable starters.
    For the nice football sake I would love to see a 4-3-3 with Otamendi-Bursisso-Samuel-Clemente on the defence, Mascherano-Maxi-Pastore in the middle, and Tevez-Messi-Higuiain in the forwards line. But I also understand that the middle could easily become unbalanced in ball holding, so Veron or Di Maria himself are worthy options for Pastore position. Neither we should totally disregard the chance of putting two classical “number 5 players”, like Mascherano and Bolatti for the ball holding, and two rather aggressive players like Pastore and Messi or Tevez coming somewhat backwards to the center in the pitch, both to give more balance the Middlefield, and also to create better associated play there.
    In any event, it became clear that when having the ball we lack of team play compared to what it could be considered almost an ideal team like Barca now, with Xavi and Iniesta (and of course Messi ahead of them), both in the ball holding and play generation in the attack.
    Hopefully Diego hits the right formation again, and not for being Argentinean myself, but for believing that on the individualities matter we have if any, only Brazil and Spain as roughly equals, but non of them have a Messi, and like in 86 with Diego playing himself, that can make all the difference.

    Regards to all


  • Comment number 33.

    Honestly, I think that Argentina must play as they've been playing because Argentina doesn't have a good defense sector. I am Brazilian and I really don't want Argentina champion... actually, I would like to see Germany team champion.

  • Comment number 34.

    Germany should win. They have more tactical nous, more discipline and more players who can both attack AND defend.
    Argentina were so lucky against Mexico that it papers over the many many cracks in their team.

    The one chance they do have is that this game might be the game where Messi shows the form he showed for Barcelona over the last two years. If this happens then Argentina could conceivably beat anyone on their day.

    As it stands though, i'm backing Germany to expose the cracks.

    Anyway, who wants a cheat like Maradona to win the world cup as a coach after cheating his way to it as a player in 86?

    Not me, thats for sure.

    Come on Germany!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    #13 what rubbish "england proved in a 10 min spell how poor germanys defence was" ok how about the other 80 mins? all germany proved is that they can play and are good sports and are a credit to the world cup, something the argentine and their coach would do well to copy...and the result? 3-1 germany.

  • Comment number 36.

    If Argentina's defence is so poor how come 4 teams have found it so hard to score against them?

  • Comment number 37.

    Argentina have got the perfect weapon to stop germany's best threat. if javier mascherano can destroy the german counter attacks and track Ozil's runs; argentina will cut off possibly germany's most productive line of attack. they need to put two others in there with him to make sure they dont do what england did and get outnumbered; and deny khadiera and more importantly schweinsteigers space to dictate play. neither of which i believe would be able to track messi's movements behind the midfield. maradona has to continue to play 3 up front to occupy all 4 of germany's defenders with they're fluid movement.

    i think that the critical battles will be podolski and muller against otamendi and heinze. if they can wriggle free of the physical defenders and supply klose with quality, then i fancy klose to score against demichelis and burdisso, or samuel if fit.

  • Comment number 38.

    Messi has not scored yet and he's like a teapot perculating ready to explode. Carlos's goals released some tension ... and I think a freer Carlos will preoccupy the Germans ... giving Messi a bit more space.

    Yawzah. The Germans will be routed 4-1, Messi to score 2.

    They'll run circles around those 2 old guys - Klose and Podolski.

  • Comment number 39.

    Sir_Blitzo wrote:
    I still think they don't have a midfield.

    With the current players, i agree as Messi, DeMaria and Maxi Rodriguez are more comfortable playing wide or just behind the striker so its all left to macsherano to keep the organisation. They do have bolatti and veron but i would love to see Pastore starting in some match , his touch and movement was brilliant in match against greece and he is the creative midfield players who would link up with demaria and messi to feed strikers

  • Comment number 40.

    Argentina dont need to change anything. If they are clinical they will beat Germany. Even if Germany manage to score because Argentina commit so much to attack, the Argentinians can simply outscore them.
    There is no reason why Argentina wont win. Its theirs to lose. Germany is a decent side but not good enough to beat a full form Argentina

  • Comment number 41.

    From Germany:

    Our team are wary of Argentina. Especially since they know that A. not only want to advance but also to take revenge for their 2006 elimination in Germany by Germany at a point when they had figures to be entitled to the Cup without any questions.

    What most people apparently fail to know is the fact that the German side has probably the highest amount of information about potential opponents. The opponents have all been methodically figured out. It is miles more than just figuring out how to cope woth Messi.
    Now this information surplus is not worth much unless you have the players that are good enough to deal with the task.
    And here I think comes another German advantage: Although it has dawned upon international observers that there is indeed some talent among the ranks of Germany it has still not been perceived to the fullest extent just how much awesome potential there is. There are guys still on the bench that foreign coaches would crave to have.
    And: This is a team that can communicate on the pitch in the right way at awesome speed.
    Speed will be a decisive factor. It is something for the very young.

    Messi is 23. Müller is - 20.
    Take that.

    Anything can happen. This way or that way. Should be feast.

  • Comment number 42.

    GerriO - please stop with hints of German secret weapons sitting on the bench that foreigners know nothing about. We've heard that one before.

    Diego is right about the opposition (so far) trying to stop Messi by going kicking him. Are your young players up for that? Do they want to be butchers and hackers like the teams of yesteryear? I hope not.

  • Comment number 43.

    It's going to be a close game, but underestimate the Germans and you'll be sorry. Every commentator seems to say how 'inexperienced' they are-but they are so good it doesn't matter.

  • Comment number 44.

    mrsouthamerica talks of Germany's defensive weaknesses but seems to forget Argentina have the same problem and that will be exposed by Germany's speed on the counter. That goes ditto for the Brazilians if Argentina survive Germany.

  • Comment number 45.

    Think Germany have more to worry about defending Argentina's front three than the other way around. England did little to exploit the German's lack of speed in the middle of their defence. The Germans will be chasing Higuain and Tevez, not to mention Messi all day long. This is tough call, but if Maradona doesn't play to his team's strength: midfield and up front, then the will play into the hands of the Germans.

  • Comment number 46.

    Are you daft? Germany will be run into the ground by the pace of the Argentines. Ghana is the only team with pace they have faced and had a great deal of trouble with them. Maradona's only tactic is simple....take the heat and ensure my players are happy....they are very happy and playing like it. He is all heart and emotion and that is what his tactical ability is. He is a Buddhist in in wolves clothing. No problem with underestimating Germany, because they don't care who they are playing if they play Brazil the blood will begin to boil and that may throw them off the tracks, but not Germany.

  • Comment number 47.

    In the last South America Cup, 2008, Brazil beat Argentina by scoring on the counterattack. Argentina was undefeated prior to the final. It was sad to watch.

    It was after that Riquelme quit the national team the first time - saying people were harassing his mother about the loss too much. He then changed his mind only to quit again after Diego took over.

    With Riquelme, the Argentines were a slow squad but not they're speedy all over ...

    I think there is more likelihood that Carlos will harass their defense into a mistake then the Germans catching the Argentines out of place.

  • Comment number 48.

    There has been a tendency to exaggerate Germany's performance against England. The England/Germany match I saw was much more even up to half time. The opportunity to boost morale was obviously lost then by a coach lacking the passion and linguistic skills. Germany are a fit side which will run rings around a disorganised defence and an incompetent goalie. These are characteristics of England, not Argentina. The Germans are, themselves, not too good defensively and panic when things go against them, giving away stupid free-kicks. This is meat and drink to Argentina's talented mid-field and forwards who will tire Germany with their rapid, accurate passing. If Argentina keep their attacking formation, I anticipate a 3:2 Argentina victory, possibly against a Germany reduced to 10 men for fouling Messi once too often.

  • Comment number 49.

    I think Maradonna played against Germany himself plenty of time and knows in detail about their socecr style, how to defecd and how to attack and most importantly how to win... so he is the best person that Argentina woul dneed for this very challenging match!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    No matter who wins.. one thing is sure: both teams have great players and it certainly will be a very good match to watch.. something like an "Extra Final Match " in the 2010 World Championship.

  • Comment number 51.

    @35: "germany proved is that they can play and are good sports and are a credit to the world cup, something the argentine and their coach would do well to copy"

    I think the Argentines too are a credit to the World Cup.

    Having enjoyed Argentina's performances and been impressed with Germany against England I am ecstatic that with this match-up I don't mind who wins. I like both teams so I can just sit back, relax, and enjoy...

    Germany, Argentina or Brasil for the Cup!

  • Comment number 52.

    Just because Germany played an easy England team doesn't make them worse than Argentina. Sure, Argentina is surpassing expectations, but Germany is also. This has been regarded as one of Germany's worst World Cup teams and they haven't shown it so far.
    Plus, Germany didn't win just because England was playing poorly. Germany capitalized on their opportunities, thus destroying England.
    Sure, Maradona's Argentina is doing splendid, but they didn't really have very challenging opponents either.
    Seeing that Germany has been able to cope without Ballack and their top goalie shows they aren't relying on a few players like Argentina is.
    Germany's defense is not nearly as weak as Argentina's, and Argentina will not be able to go with a hard offense in hopes of avoiding defense.

  • Comment number 53.

    Both sides should go all out attack

  • Comment number 54.

    I've read in the Argentine press that Samuel is back in form and the idea is he will replace DeMichelis in the back 4. People in the Argentine Football sites want Pastore in the middle/attack with Messi (no Veron or Maxi) and they want Bolatti to help Mascherano. So it would be a 4-2-3-1 Otamendi, Burdisso, Samuel and Heinze (I'd prefer Clemente Rodriguez) 2 holding in middle Bolatti Mascherano. 3 attacking Midfield/Forward Pastore (who people see as a perfect 'associate' to Messi), Messi and Tevez (though I like Sergio Aguero's play with Messi) and Higuain up front.
    Tevez Messi Pastore
    Bolatti Mascherano
    Heinze Samuel Burdisso Otamendi

  • Comment number 55.

    It doesn't matter how many goals Argentina lets in against Germany. What matters is how many MORE goals Argentina gets in against Germany.

    I don't see Maradona going all Mourinho on us. And if he keeps his team attacking till they win or die, I'll finally forgive him in my gut for his Thierry moment 24 years ago in Mexico.

    Mind you, I don't think he's a great coach - but sometimes the best thing a general can do is be inspirational and not get in the way of his soldiers doing what they do best.

    PS: I hear Carlos Bilardo is giving Diego a LOT of backstage advice on team tactics. Is this true or just something else made up by the Argentine football media? They do rival the English media in making up facts in the race for eyeballs.

    PS: I wish Argentina vs Germany was the final and not some dumb quarter final.

  • Comment number 56.

    Judging from Sunday performances from Germany and Argentina, I'd go for Germany. Argentina was so lucky to have offside goal stands and horror mistake by Mexican defender before Mexican loose control of the game.

    Don't think German will behave like Mexican. Woeful defending and very doubtful backline and goalkeeper from Argentina. Tevez just like a headless chicken and will run into German wall on Monday. Unless Maradona and Messi come up with new ideas, Argentina is predictable, just like Mexico played a very good 20 minutes before the offside goal deflated them but I am sure German is much more ruthless than Mexican.

  • Comment number 57.

    lets just hope the weather man does give us rain and the wind behind. at the end as we all know is that its 11+1 and that one is our hearts.

  • Comment number 58.

    Argentina should keep with the attacking formation and just try to score more than the Germans. Should be a high scoring game as both defences have holes in them.

  • Comment number 59.

    I can't see the Argentine defence coping with Poldolski or Mueller. De Michelis is poor and makes a mistake in every game and the Germans will take full advantage of this. If Maradona plays Guitterez and Heinze at right and left back respectively then the Germans will score. of course at the other end it is always likely that Messi and Tevez will score as well so it may be a case of a high-scoring game.
    Someone called this a 'dumb' quarter-final. What about Brazil v Holland. Would you call that a 'dumb' game as well? I would have been happy to have seen this as a final as well.

  • Comment number 60.

    Maradona's tactical dilemma is "what is a tactic?"

    He won't have to worry because of the two defences Germany's is frailer adn Argentina will edge it.

  • Comment number 61.

    With everybody focusing on Messi, there is every chance that Germany can boss the midfield and use Klose, Müller and Özil to good effect. I cannot see more than 3 goals in this tight game. But then, I thought the same about the England game.

  • Comment number 62.

    Argentina will overcome the Germans who looked all over the place when England had them on the ropes.

    Of course, it will help if the goals they score are recognised by the referee.

  • Comment number 63.

    @tonbar wrote:

    Despite comments on ball possession England actually had more of the ball , more corners and more shots than Germany, the problem was our defence was woefull


    England only scored one (two).

    So presumably the attack was woeful as well?

  • Comment number 64.

    Argentina should play to its strength which is to play attacking football..despite Mueller and Oezil, the Argentinians can score more goals than the Germans can with Tevez/Aguero/Milito/Higuain and Messi..time to do one over the Germans for 1990 and 2006!

  • Comment number 65.

    This one's a tough call for an Englishman, but I really hope Germany win. For me, they have the best player in the tournament so far in Ozil and have been great to watch. Not taking anything away from Argentina, though, who have also been very entertaining, and Maradona superb.

    Either way, should be a great match. At least we're likely to see both teams turn up.

  • Comment number 66.

    THE GERMANS ARE COMING!!! I knw u guys here hate germany and if u r man utd u hate the bayern chaps especially that your country hero rooney is far behind bundesliga players,so much for scoring stoke city and pathetic epl teams.STOP THE HURTING AND ANALYSE THE GAME OBJECTIVELY show that u are the 3 lions supporters not cubs.Lets analyse now.Dont rate germ with england cause england aint it,löw was bored that he resorted to playing with the nose.Tell me to post an analysis when u stop acting like babies...Will be back

  • Comment number 67.

    THE GERMANS ARE COMING!!! I knw u guys here hate germany and if u r man utd u hate the bayern chaps especially that your country hero rooney is far behind bundesliga players,so much for scoring stoke city and pathetic epl teams.STOP THE HURTING AND ANALYSE THE GAME OBJECTIVELY show that u are the 3 lions supporters not cubs.Lets analyse now.Dont rate germ with england cause england aint it,löw was bored that he resorted to playing with the nose

  • Comment number 68.

    THE GERMANS ARE COMING!!! I knw u guys here hate germany and if u r man utd u hate the bayern chaps especially that your country hero rooney is far behind bundesliga players,so much for scoring stoke city and pathetic epl teams.STOP THE HURTING AND ANALYSE THE GAME OBJECTIVELY show that u are the 3 lions supporters not cubs.Lets analyse now.Dont rate germ with england cause england aint it.

  • Comment number 69.

    THE GERMANS ARE COMING!!! I knw u guys here hate germany and if u r man utd u hate the bayern chaps especially that your country hero rooney is far behind bundesliga players,so much for scoring stoke city and pathetic epl teams.STOP THE HURTING AND ANALYSE THE GAME OBJECTIVELY show that u are the 3 lions supporters not cubs.

  • Comment number 70.

    I knw u guys here hate germany and if u r man utd u hate the bayern chaps especially that your country hero rooney is far behind bundesliga players,so much for scoring stoke city and pathetic epl teams.STOP THE HURTING AND ANALYSE THE GAME OBJECTIVELY show that u are the 3 lions supporters not cubs.

  • Comment number 71.

    Fair to say, Ronsik probably landed on his head in celebrating Germany's win over England, so his brain and eyesight both are non-functional right now. The same comment posted five times ? And he's going on about Rooney being behind Bundesliga players. I would like to ask him how good were Bayern's players for the first 25 minutes of the second leg match against United when they were battered into a 3-0 scoreline with an injured Rooney playing upfront ?

    Would love to see Bayern meeting United again in the CL. Think Rooney and company will be more than happy to trash the apparent German superiority for what its worth.

    As for Germany, Argentina's pace and trickery of movement is going to be far too much for the pondering physical hulks which are Mertesacker and Friedrich, and Neuer has been exposed as being positionally suspect, at least thrice against England. Such carelessness against the Argentines is going to be a killer for Germany, and I can see it happening.


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