Argentina's attack can't be stopped

Jan Molby has seen Brazil recover from a goal down to post a victory and get their World Cup campaign off and running.

He watched hapless world champions Spain crumble against an effervescent Dutch side.

But his pick for world champions this year are a side who have yet to take to the stage in Brazil.

The former Liverpool and Denmark midfield star believes Argentina will lift the trophy at the Maracana Stadium on July 14.

"The way this tournament is going, with 15 goals in the first four games, it looks like the ability to score is all-important," Molby reasoned.

"It's going to be impossible to stop all of Argentina's attacking threats (Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain) at one time.

"Brazil will go a long way, of course... but it looks now that they could face Spain in the last 16.

"That could be a problem for Brazil because Spain will deny them the ball. That would be a close game, because Spain have the experience to deal with the hosts."

Football fans all over the world may have been expressing a mix of shock and awe after Holland's 5-1 demolition of Spain, with many wondering if the world champions can get past the group stage.

While Molby believes Vicente del Bosque and his men can still finish in the top two in Group B, he says Spain will struggle to retain their crown as teams these days know how to play them.

"Your strength one minute can become your weakness the next," he said.


"Teams playing Spain now don't mind that they have the bulk of possession, because a lot of it is done in their own half, in front of their opponents.

"The Dutch figured out how to deal with Spain's approach and the problem with this Spanish team is that they're not looking for other options.

"It's not just the Dutch who are capable of stopping them; the other big teams have probably figured it out as well."

Molby, 50, made 218 appearances for the Reds from 1984 to 1996 and was capped 33 times by Denmark. He was in the 1986 World Cup squad who were lauded as one of the most thrilling sides around, with the likes of Michael Laudrup, Preben Elkjaer and Morten Olsen in the team.

Just when many were touting the Danes to go far, they were stunned 5-1 by Spain in the last 16.

The Liverpool favourite was in town yesterday as a guest of the Courts Megastore in Tampines, where he held a meet-and-greet session with fans.

During a 25-minute sit-down with the media, the former Danish international was predictably peppered with questions over Spain's collapse against the Dutch only hours earlier.

"Well, (Holland coach) Louis van Gaal did say before the match that he had a system to stop Spain. Clearly, he wasn't lying," said Molby, who is a regular football pundit on Danish television.

A sublime passer during his playing days, Molby hardly gave the ball away and, while hardly blessed with any pace, he became the creative spark for the Reds, always staying one step ahead of his opponents using his football IQ.

Molby rates the 1986 tournament in Mexico as the last great World Cup, a tournament in which Diego Maradona reached the summit.

Using the central midfield role as an example, Molby says players in the engine room these days have more defensive qualities than flair and flamboyance.

"The central midfielder role is more important now; you have to be more of a complete player," said Molby, who managed Swansea and Hull for short periods following his retirement in 1998.

"The players on the pitch are more specialised; it's normal now to see a very defensive player operate in the centre.

"Only a few in a team need to be adept at attacking and that has curtailed the number of match-winners in the game.

"Still, I think football today is just as exciting as before; just in a different, more disciplined way."

This article was first published on June 15, 2014.
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