The selection of the 2018 world Cup: the Cult of personality and a bit of bad luck

Lionel Messi. Photo: Reuters

“SE” – about the drama in South America, where the world Cup may miss Argentina itself.

While in Europe happily qualified for the world Cup Belgium and Poland, and Northern Ireland and Denmark at least guarantee a place in the playoffs, on the other side of the world is maturing sensation with the prefix “super”. Packed with big stars, Argentina’s national team is in sixth place in the qualifying group, which is not enough even to get into the play-offs.

What brought Messi, di Maria, Dibalo and a dozen representatives of the top clubs to such a life? Try to understand.


Of the seventeen qualifiers for the world Cup Argentina have won only six. Even from the nine home – only four. The result – a place in the group even lower than the Peruvians. Smooths sharp angles the fact that the victory guarantees “albicelestes” place at least in the playoffs: the four opponent of those above (Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Chile), play with each other and together to win just can’t.

But victory will not be easy: not only that Ecuador will have to play decider match, even in Argentina, won 2:0, so it also plays into the highlands – 2850 meters.

The main problem of the South American teams that just need first to identify – not comparable with other regions, the strength of the qualifying tournament. In fact, every qualifier under the auspices of COMNEBOL – game top-tier, battle stars of the first magnitude. The leaders of “Barcelona” Messi and Suarez represent Argentina and Uruguay, the Brazilians pulls Neymar, Colombian – Radamel Falcao, Chile – Alexis Sanchez… Even Peru and Paraguay have the brightest players, which would lead in most European teams.

Confirm the level of the qualifying group and performances by Latin Americans at the world Championships (in 2014 out of six teams in the playoffs came five), and their place in the FIFA rankings. Ironically, the threat of not getting the 2018 world Cup does not prevent “albicelestes” to be in this list, the highest fourth place right after Brazil, Germany and Portugal. Other representatives of the region occupy in the ranking top positions 9-10 (Chile, Colombia), 12 (Peru), 16 (Uruguay)…


For the winners of the three previous Cups American selection also was not easy. Uruguay has long followed the blade, and only in the last rounds has surged to second place, and Chile is in limbo now. In the last round of “La Roch” play is not just anywhere, but in Brazil – and if the reigning champion America will not be able to win, he could fall on the sixth place in the table.

But even against such competition problems of Argentina highlighted the scale. A team with Messi, Aguero, Debaloy, Higuain, Icardi – five leaders of various top clubs – scored in the selection fewer goals than played games. In recent years the problem has reached a peak: statistics estimated that 71 strikes in a row “albicelestes” cannot result in a goal.

This series lasted for four matches in which one opponent helped by an own goal, but to score their own team Sampaoli are unable never.

Team Sampaoli, Argentina has only recently become the ex-coach of “Seville” and the national team of Chile was headed by this summer – and so far made in official matches with only three draws. In General in the course of selection “albicelestes” try the third coach, and this turnover has become the norm for them. Javier Mascherano made his debut for the national team in 2003, is under the direction of already the ninth (!) coach – in his clubs, mentors are changing slightly more often.


There is a sense that if the Federation of football of Argentina has trusted any one coach, but not change them as cards in the deck, the situation would have been much better. Well, not a constellation of great players to play badly on the course, if they will systematically work any professional mentor. It is clear that Diego Maradona for the post of coach just didn’t have to schedule, but the resignation of the same Martino team may regret.

Argentinians are obvious problems with the opening of a massive defense. With only two teams during the selection process they have taken maximum points – and you can hardly guess, with what. Colombia and Chile, two of the top teams participating in the playoffs last world Cup – their “albicelestes” managed to beat even on the road. But Bolivia and Venezuela are confidently occupied the last line of the table and can not offer the opponent nothing but defense in depth, Argentina won only one match out of four.

This problem is derivative of the turnover mentioned above. Again, under normal, systematic work with a team of Messi, interesting, etc. needs to score the national team of Bolivia from three per game under the guidance of any coach. But each mentor first rebuilds the team under his vision, relies on a specific tactic and scheme, then goes away – and, as a result, the team gives the impression of a permanent raw.


There are, of course, and banal nefart. You can speak about tactics, personalities and the power of the opponents, but zero goals from 71 impact is zero goals from 71 strike. At least Peru in the last game “albicelestes” just had to beat: a few death blows in a situation when would not have saved any goalie, treacherously passed by the gate frame. With Venezuela match life gave the goalkeeper – Walker Fringes of “Caracas”. And if these two matches resulted in victories, the team was in second place.

But there is another reason – perhaps the most important. Already at least ten years, Argentina’s national team comes and plays according to the sporting principle. At least ten years it is like some kind of Liberia the heyday of George Weah or Ukraine are not the best examples, makes a strong bet on one player and neglect the rest. This, of course, about Lionel Messi.

The history of the difficult relationship between Leo and the team took the count ten years ago, when because of a conflict with him no longer be called Juan Roman Riquelme. Later practices in the national team lost Carlos Tevez, at that time the best player of the championship of Italy, now the zero goals and a minimum of playing time at Paulo Dibala and Mauro Icardi, leaders Juventus and inter.


This team is entirely built by Massey. Through him the entire game, a place in the starting lineup, getting comfortable for his partners, players that don’t fit him with the mental game point of view, be outside of the application or at least the starting lineup. At one time coached the national team old friend Leo Gerardo Martino, failed at Barca, but more familiar “Newell’s old boys”.

This rate naturally limits the team. Icardi – best player of Italy, but the place gets Benedetto of championship of Argentina, that the game was not built using forward-the”pillar”, and Leo could show their best qualities. Dibala pushed the team on the third part (320 minutes for the entire selection, though all the while he showed a brilliant play for Juventus) for field duplicates some of the functions of Messi, and Leo power on the field not want to share.

As a result, five of the forwards called for decisive matches of a selection of performance indicators for the national team speak for themselves: 58-0-0-0-0.

Argentina will win the world Cup, not when the starting line will be Messi and his ten friends. And even when it starts to play all stars. For titles it should be a team with a capital letter, and not a means of expression of one player. No matter how brilliant he was…

Vitaly PASICHNY, Sport-Express in Ukraine

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *