Argentina was lucky to go through the group stages, beating Nigeria in late stages of the match with Marcus Rojo scoring the winning goal. France didn’t live up to expectations, but they went through without much problems.
TThe main characteristic of Argentina throughout the group stages and qualifications prior to it, was chaotic defending caused by not having players up front who can live up to Sampaoli’s ideas to press high up the field.
- Midfield line was exposed and overloaded way too often, especially in matches against Croatia and Nigeria. This lead to defensive line suffering direct attacks and failing to cope with opponent’s numerical superiority in and around the box.
From an attacking point of view, intriducing Banega in the starting XI was the key factor in transforming offensive organization of the team. Alongside Messi, he is the crucial factor in their play on opponent’s half of the field, and much will depend on the link between those two.
- Messi had issues to get more involved as he was positioned mostly in the right halfspace, but as the match against Nigeria went on he had bigger movement radius and pulled the strings through the middle. Reports prior to this match suggest that he may play as a false nine, with Di Maria and Pavon up front, which could prove to be a surprise for France and maybe give Argentina better chances.
France switched to 4-2-3-1 formation, but attacking mechanisms remained very similar. Besides Griezmann, Giroud is the focal point of their offensive organization. They will deffinitely use his aerial abilities to put more pressure on Otamendi and exploit lack of communication between Argentina’s centre-backs and full-backs. Midfield is deffinitely the are where they could dominate the match, forming their diamond structure in possession and overloading Argentina’s two (or maybe three) central midfielders.