Wednesday afternoon in Argentina brought the chance to sit down in front of the TV for a couple of hours and catch an international friendly; one last bit of international sporting competition to enjoy before the post-Olympic world kicks in and the European club football season returns to our screens in earnest this weekend. Argentina took on Germany in Frankfurt, and although I was watching from my sofa in Buenos Aires, Ashley Pearce was there (click that link if you’d like to follow him on Twitter), and has kindly provided us with a match report from Argentina’s 3-1 win. Read on for it, and also to watch the goals.
Both sides went with the line ups expected perhaps with the exception of Gonzalo Higuaín and Lionel Messi playing as part of a front two, with Sergio Agüero starting on the bench. Argentina used a 4-4-2 with José Sosa left and Ángel Di Maria right. Being up in the gods at the Frankfurt stadium it was interesting to see tactically how the two lined up and their movement in the game.
Argentina started with their customary nervous shaky defending as the fast-paced German attacks worried all of Argentina’s back line at different points. Marco Reus was running the show as the German front 4 interchanged and passed at pace. There were a couple of half chances but the ball wasn’t falling for anything clear cut.
Argentina looked slightly shaken by Germany’s pace and pressing from the front giving Argentina very little time on the ball. The linesman saved Higuaín embarrassment, putting his flag up when the Real Madrid forward missed from a yard.
Argentina hadn’t really settled when a great through ball from Javier Mascherano set Sosa away. The former Bayern midfielder may have slightly been looking for it but was brought down by German ‘keeper Ron-Robert Zieler. Penalty and ‘keeper off. The new goalkeeper, Marc-André ter Stegen, did what seems to be a duty in this situation and saved Messi’s somewhat weak penalty.
After that the game was completely different. Suddenly Argentina seemed to want to play. The extra space they had on the ball was a huge help as they started playing intricate one-twos and passes around the box with Messi now key. Messi had been sat on by Sami Khedira and crowded out in the middle until now.
Germany’s pace on the break (and Argentina’s lack of it in defence) was still a problem and Reus created a couple of missed chances. Then in stoppage time a Messi corner seemed to be comically sliced into his own net rather than away by Khedira. Argentina one up at half time.
Agüero replaced the largely ineffective Sosa at half time and Argentina now looked a far more impressive team. With a front three of Agüero, Messi and Higuaín interchanging they were taking it in turns to run at and scare the German defence. Just as importantly they were pressing the Germans so they had little time on the ball.
Germany then had a goal disallowed after a deflected shot hit the post and was followed up by Klose in a clearly offside position. Even from the other end I seemed to be the only one that noticed the flag as everyone celebrated and even the stadium music chimed in.
Messi then started and finished a great move involving interplay with the front three and Fernando Gago, which culminated in Messi curling a powerful shot low into the corner just inside the area.
Argentina continued to create chances with the forwards buzzing off eachother with Agüero chasing everything. A backheel put Higuaín through to just chip over and later, Messi hit the post. The inevitable barrage of substitutes started around the hour mark but the Germans already looked deflated.
A loose ball from a challenge around 35 yards out was then outrageously thundered in by Di María’s left boot. A great goal even if the keeper looked like he had given up. Di María’s reward was to be immediately subbed for Pablo Guiñazú.
Germany got a consolation with a completely free header by Benedikt Höwedes even though the stadium announcer said it was Mario Götze. Argentina’s marking can be bad but if someone as small as Götze can score a free diving header then there really are problems!
The game petered out after that with Argentina just controlling the ball, members of the crowd throwing a giant paper plane and a fan running on the pitch to try to hug Messi I think!
Hard to know what to take from the performance as the two performances either side of the red card were very different. Germany’s pace and pressing was scaring the living daylights out of Argentina and Messi barely had a touch.
Afterwards however, and especially with the change of formation, Argentina looked at points the team Alejandro Sabella wanted them to be. The interplay was excellent, the patience, running at the defence. But Germany could not press the same with ten and were still scaring them on the break.
On the whole, a good performance, with Argentina’s defence still a worry but the front three looks the way to go. If Argentina could turn away friendly wins in Germany into World Cup quarter final results it would be great!
International friendly: Germany 1 – 3 Argentina
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