Sampaoli, Messi & a new generation: 5 pressing issues to resolve for Argentina after World Cup failure


Sometimes failure can lead to success – that’s what Argentina fans are hoping after a World Cup catastrophe – here’s five ways of looking forward

The dust is still settling after Argentina limped out of the World Cup following Saturday’s 4-3 defeat to France but big questions remain.

Years of neglect, institutional errors and a dependence on the world’s best player made La Albiceleste’s failure painfully predictable. The disjointed side could easily have been handed a Brazil 2014-esque thrashing so there is a sense of relief that a one-goal defeat to one of the pre-tournament favourites spared that embarrassment.

However, the gulf was wider than the scoreline suggested and Argentina must not allow the cracks to be papered over any longer.

1 – Is Sampaoli the man for the rebuild?

The most pressing question for the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) is whether Jorge Sampaoli remains and there are arguments either way.

The positives from Sampaoli’s year-long tenure are slim. Qualification was achieved as was progression from the group stage in Russia but the Argentina coach never repeated a starting eleven in his 15 games in charge and looked clueless in finding a solution.

A back-three, a back-four, Messi as a false nine, all were used and the constant changing hardly helped Argentina find an identity.


However, Sampaoli with his somewhat single-minded approach to the game is perhaps better suited for the role of rebuilding rather than the recovery job of salvaging qualification and quickly constructing a World Cup winning side from a beleaguered bunch of veterans. 

The AFA certainly can’t afford to pay the reported $16 million compensation to fire him so would need Sampaoli to walk but the key is how far his position has been undermined by this experience.

Rumours of fighting with his own coaching staff, a deep-lying mistrust of the AFA and the players clearly questioning his tactics (and possibly revolting if you believe the press) could leave Sampaoli’s position untenable.

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4 responses to “Sampaoli, Messi & a new generation: 5 pressing issues to resolve for Argentina after World Cup failure

  1. Argentina will always have decent forwards and attacking midfielders. What they desperately need are world class defenders and defensive midfielders to achieve success in tournaments. The modern game for big tournaments has become all about effectiveness rather than art. Ths strategy is to not concede by defending resolutely and then sneaking in a goal on the counter attack.

  2. Brilliant article, Peter. I was nodding in agreement with many of the points you made.

    Now let’s hope the AFA (wishful thinking I know!) are thinking along a similar path.

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