Over the weekend I wrote about Lionel Messi and Argentina, that very nearly missed qualifying for this June's World Cup despite being loaded with world class talent. A reader replied, "I was thinking about this last week. What do you think... " Here's what I think:
The reader continues, "What do you think of letting Higuaín, Agüero, Milito, and Tevez share time as the front two. Messi can be played just behind them in a creative role. Argentina is loaded up front, but they have no imagination/touch in the middle."
I agree. The problem is that they all want to be the star. They all want to be Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez. They all want to bat clean up. (If the US had any one of those players, we'd jump 10 places in work rankings immediately.) The problem is Argentina has so much talent that Messi doesn't have the room he needs. The same way that Arsenal built around Henry getting the ball midfield on the left, Argentina has to build around Messi getting the ball in space on the right. (Although Messi, for Barcelona, is far better than Henry in tight spaces and long distances. He's just the quickest player in the world, there, and a decade younger than Henry.) The big problem for Argentina is they don't have a leader in the midfield like Xavi Hernandez, supported by great defenders, who manage the field of play and give Messi space to run into. Maybe the thing to do is put Tevez as the attacking midfielder, with Messi up front alternating with one of the others until something gels like Anelka with Drogba this season at Chelsea. Can that happen in the space of a month long World Cup? I'm a big Tevez fan but not sure he is smart enough to change his playing style. Remember how frustrated he got, having to play with Rooney? He's been great at Man City this year, but from the front. Oh well: what does Maradonna know about subjugating egos? Nada.