World Cup: Argentina must find balance

World Cup: Argentina must find balance
Argentina's forward Sergio Aguero (R) gestures next to teammates during a training session in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 31, 2014, ahead of two friendly football matches against Trinidad & Tobago on June 4 and Slovenia on June 7, in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.

They usually start with high hopes and end with a thud.

Surely, Argentina should have learned their lessons by now.

The last time an Argentinian illuminated a World Cup was in 1986, when Diego Maradona led La Albiceleste to the pinnacle.

Four years after that, he took them to the final, only to fall to West Germany at the final hurdle.

Since then, they have not come anywhere close to realising their immense potential.

They never lacked stars.

Gabriel Batistuta powered through three World Cups in 1994, 1998 and 2002, scoring 10 goals in 12 Finals matches in the process.

But, despite the wealth of talent in the squad, Argentina never made it past the quarter-finals, and even suffered the ignominy of going out in the group stage in 2002.

In 2006, spearheaded by the awesome attacking triumvirate of Juan Roman Riquelme, Carlos Tevez and Hernan Crespo, they came unstuck against Germany in the last eight, eventually losing in a penalty shoot-out.

Four years later, the spotlight shone on Lionel Messi, the team's talisman, who scooped up records and awards for fun.

Alas, Argentina's defensive frailties and tactical naivety were found out, and Germany handed them a 4-0 beating in the quarter-finals.

If Argentina could figure out a way to attack without compromising their defence, they would have achieved much more.

Yet, Alejandro Sabella, the man holding the reins since 2011, is sticking by the attacking philosophy which has given Argentina equal measures of joy and sorrow.

He set out to maximise the qualities of his players and that, given Argentina's innate ability to churn out more artists than henchmen, settled it.

The assault force he plans to unleash in Brazil comprises names that send chills up rivals' spines.

With Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero operating just in front of Messi in a mouth-watering frontline, Argentina have no lack of match-winners.

All three are as capable of grabbing the goals as they are setting them up.

That not even Tevez, the man who fired Juventus to the Serie A title with 19 league goals, was able to earn a spot in Sabella's squad will be looked on with envy by opponents.

EXCEPTIONAL

In midfield, the effervescent Angel di Maria can be counted on to lend considerable offensive weight. His exceptional performances for Real Madrid in the big games last season suggest that he will be one of the men to watch in this tournament.

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