Lionel Messi is not the same player for his country as he is for his club. True. Neither is Sergio Aguero. Nor Angel Di Maria. Nor Lo Celso, Otamendi, Tagliafico. Neither was Higuain, nor Mascherano, nor Banega. Can you see a trend emerging?
Argentina have many, many problems, tactical and psychological. Not knowing how to deal with Messi is one of the most important…managing that balance between wanting him to be the central figure while remembering he is only one of eleven. Invariably, they do neither.
They lurch from one manager to another, all of whom have different ideas about how they want to play but with no opportunity to actually implement those ideas. They feverishly change players, crossing fingers they’ll stumble across an approach that works.
The federation is hopelessly disorganised (only one warm-up game for this tournament…against *Nicaragua*). They are placed under enormous pressure by fans and media, and are unable to either isolate themselves from that pressure or use it in a positive way.
All told, it’s a dysfunctional mess, with the basic consequence that when eleven Argentine footballers step onto the field, they simply don’t know what they want to do collectively. No confidence in their methods. So they become reliant on sporadic individual outbursts.
Mostly those sporadic outbursts come from Messi. Sometimes Aguero will score from nowhere. Sometimes Di Maria will thump home a 25-yarder. Sometimes Marcos Rojo will pop up at a set-piece. But they are all isolated fragments, resulting from frantic desperation rather than control