Alejandro Sabella would not be drawn on his starting eleven for tomorrow’s last 16 clash with Switzerland. Despite training with both a 4-3-3, with Ezequiel Lavezzi in place of Sergio Agüero, and a 4-4-2 with Maxi Rodríguez on the right of midfield, Sabella maintained, “I can not confirm the team.”
What Sabella did say in his press conference was, “We know we have to be very much focused and maintain balance. There is no margin for error“.
This balance that Sabella refers to is crucial as so far Argentina have been both a little static going forward and saved by moments of individual brilliance or very open and susceptible to attack.
Sabella feels as though Argentina are continuing to improve as the tournament progresses and will hope that there will be another step up tomorrow. The 59-year-old coach seems all too aware of the threat posed by Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Switzerland.
“It is a great team with a good coach that has done a very good qualification and World Cup.” However, Sabella noted that he knows of their strengths and weaknesses, in the same way Hitzfeld will know of Argentina’s.
The 4-3-3, most commonly used by Argentina, would see Ezequiel Lavezzi come in as a direct replacement for the injured Sergio Agüero and given the Paris St Germain striker’s busy running, he would be expected to stretch a Swiss defence and open space for others.
However, Sabella has also been toying with a 4-4-2 which was used the last time these two sides met in February 2012. That night in Bern, Lionel Messi scored his first hat-trick in Argentine colours in a 3-1 victory.
This was just a friendly but the two managers fielded sides not too dissimilar to those that could potentially lineup tomorrow. Argentina’s was in fact weaker, given that Rodrigo Braña and Jose Sosa were in the midfield.
Whether or not Sabella decides that the insight gained from this friendly provides the blueprint for success tomorrow remains to be seen.