Argentina have suffered several disappointments since they lost the 2014 FIFA World Cup final against Germany. They lost both the 2015 and 2016 Copa America on penalties against Chile, and were eliminated during the Round of 16 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup by France. All of this while having the world’s consensus best player, Lionel Messi, leading the way.
But things have changed for Argentina of late. Jorge Sampaoli left the managerial position after the 2018 World Cup fiasco, and Lionel Scaloni replaced him as an interim manager. The former Deportivo La Coruna defender was “on trial” until the 2019 Copa America, but he led La Albiceleste to a third-place finish. As a result, he got the job on a full-time basis.
There has been a lot of criticism directed towards Scaloni at times. He is adding younger players into the mix, and the results sometimes have not come as expected. But he shouldn’t receive the amount of pressure he’s getting from pundits and experts. Argentina must let him work on his own, because he is taking the team to places they should have gone years ago.
A new process filled with several new names
Nobody can deny the quality of players such as Sergio Aguero, Ever Banega, Lucas Biglia and Sergio Romero, just to name a few. However, they are not regular names for Scaloni anymore and some have disappeared altogether from the squad lists. Instead, Scaloni is trusting younger players and giving them roles within the team.
Names such as Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Nicolas Tagliafico, Leandro Paredes, Giovani Lo Celso and Rodrigo De Paul are now part of Argentina’s regular starting lineup. That would have been unthinkable 12 months ago. Who would have thought names such as Gonzalo Montiel, Lucas Martinez Quarta, Guido Rodriguez or Matias Suarez would be on the squad as well? Yet, Scaloni wants them there. He knows they are the future of the team.
Messi is not going anywhere. Experienced players such as Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo and even Aguero will probably remain on the team as well. But Scaloni is doing things right by allowing new players to settle into the national team set up. The latest friendly against Germany was the best example. The match ended with a 2-2 draw thanks to goals from Lucas Ocampos and Lucas Alario. Neither had a lot of experience with the NT, yet they produced away from home and against Germany. Scaloni should receive the credit for trusting in them.
It’s always difficult to carry with the expectations of such an important side like La Albiceleste. But Scaloni knows what he’s doing. He just needs to keep working and blocking the unnecessary criticism against him.
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