Argentina’s fine run of form continued last night in the Estadio Monumental as they crushed Venezuela with a devastating attacking performance orchestrated by captain, Lionel Messi. Alejandro Sabella’s 433 system that has looked so fluid in recent months was without some key personnel as Di Maria and Aguero were missing through suspension and injury but the replacements proved ample support. Lavezzi came in as part of the front 3 to support Messi and Higuain and Walter Montillo slotted in to the midfield with Mascherano and Gago. Mascherano breaking up play to try and ensure that the defence is put under as little pressure as possible. Any possible weakness is there but with Messi at the centre of everything Argentina look to attack teams for the full 90 minutes. Undoubtedly there will be sterner tests ahead but with qualification nearly guaranteed, expectation continues to grow in the buildup before the World Cup. REPORT AND GOALS HERE….
The first half of last night’s game was played almost exclusively in the Venezuelan half and Argentina’s two-goal lead at the break was fully deserved. Lionel Messi operating in the hole was seeing a lot of the ball and looked dangerous nearly everytime he received the ball. It was his pass that eventually opened up the desperate defence of Venezuela. A first time and perfectly weighted pass fell to Gonzalo Higuain who made no mistake in slotting the ball past Daniel Hernandez.
If it had only been 1 – 0 at half time it would have been a missed opportunity for Argentina but thankfully the second was gift wrapped just minutes before the break. A handball gave captain, Messi the chance from the spot and the best player on the planet confidently smashed the ball into the top corner.
This first half performance showed everything that Argentina is doing right at the moment. Mascherano protecting the defence, Gago drawing comparisons to Xavi in some Argentine press was very tidy and the starting point to most moves. His passing and ability to keep possession crucial to the brand of football that Argentina are playing and Velez Sarsfield will have been watching hoping that he can reproduce this kind of performance for them this season. Messi was his menacing self and Higuain proved himself to be one of the world’s most dangerous centre forwards.
The second half gave a couple of examples of the chink in Argentina’s armory as Venezuela created two excellent chances but both were squandered by Romulo Otero. By that stage the game was dead as a contest because on the hour Messi wonderfully created the second for Higuain. Running beyond two players before releasing Higuain, who was marginally offside, to poke the ball beyond Hernandez.
So Argentina move closer to Brazil as with 6 games to play they are now 9 points clear of fifth place. A win on Tuesday against Bolivia will all but finalise things but they must do so without Higuain, who picked up a yellow card and is suspended for the game. The other results and the table are here….
HIGHLIGHTS OF ARGENTINA BELOW
Colombia 5 – 0 Bolivia
Uruguay 1 – 1 Paraguay
Suarez 82′ Benitez 86′
Peru 1 – 0 Chile