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Paul Parker
Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014

Sports

Argentina won't win it

The New Paper | Paul Parker | Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014

Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi controls the ball during the quarter-final football match between Argentina and Belgium at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 5, 2014.

Are Argentina finally showing signs of peaking?

PARKER: No, this performance is no different to what they have managed throughout the competition.

They did just enough to beat Belgium.

They are too reliant on Lionel Messi, but he doesn't have enough quality players around him.

There isn't someone whom Messi trusts enough to want to give the ball to.

Sergio Aguero hasn't shown anything at all, perhaps because he came to this World Cup with an injury. Angel di Maria has been inconsistent.

When Gonzalo Higuain is not scoring goals, he's just a waste of energy.

He doesn't add anything to the team, really.

Pablo Zabaleta has been their most consistent player but he's a right back.

Argentina are just not up to it. They're just not there.

But surely they have done something good to qualify for the last four?

Argentina have been very fortunate.

They had an easy group comprising Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria and Iran.

Switzerland were not too tough for them in the second round as well. On paper, they came up against their most difficult opponents yesterday morning (Singapore time), but Belgium were disappointing and barely troubled them.

Neymar is out of the World Cup, and no European team have won on South American soil.

Do you think Argentina are the favourites now?

No, this win over Belgium doesn't make them favourites.

If you ask me, I rank Germany as the favourites before the two South American teams.

In fact, I think Brazil are going to miss Thiago Silva more than Neymar, because Brazil have been poor defensively.

Neymar is going to be missed more by the people on the streets and the media.

If Brazil and Argentina indeed go to the final, if we are talking purely about the quality of play, then it's going to be quite a poor final.

Neither of the two countries has shown quality consistently.

How did Messi fare against Belgium?

He was involved in everything but he over-played and over-elaborated.

But you can't blame him because he saw what he got when he looked around. If he gave the ball to Higuain to try a one-two, he wouldn't know if Higuain could control the ball properly.

Higuain scored a good instinctive goal and could have had a second when his shot hit the crossbar.

It was a great run to get into that position, but he hit the ball too hard, and he was leaning back.

Why didn't he try to pass the ball into the net? Where was the composure?

He has been absolutely awful at this World Cup.

Centre forwards must do more than just score goals. He has to contribute more to the team.

Do you think Belgium deserve to go home?

They are just not good enough. They have good individual players on paper but they are not a team.

However, they are learning.

Some of those players have never been anywhere near this level. They stuck out like a sore thumb.

They haven't attacked or defended as a team.

They lacked a defensive midfield player who can sit in front of them. Offensively, they are limited in ideas as well.

They have the potential, it's just that this is not their time yet.

So it's Argentina v Holland in the semi-finals - who do you think will win?

Holland will win, no doubt.

All Holland have got to do is to raise their game by 20 per cent from their last performance and they will take down Argentina easily.

Holland have too many match-winners and so much creativity, compared to what Argentina have.

They will also be the strongest team, defensively speaking, that Argentina have come up against.

Messi will not be able to do it all on his own against Holland.

-Paul Parker is a former England and Manchester United defender who won two EPL titles and earned 19 caps for his country.

 

FUN FACT

1

Argentina have won all their matches at the World Cup by a single goal. They beat Bosnia & Herzegovina 2-1, Iran 1-0, Nigeria 3-2, Switzerland 1-0 and Belgium 1-0.


This article was first published on JULY 7, 2014.
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