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Argentina National Team: Tactical Analysis

Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina is one of the favourites to win the World Cup. The reigning Copa America champions arrive at the momentous event with a well-rounded squad, led by Lionel Messi, and with a well-defined playing style.

Therefore, from MBP School of Coaches we will analyse the basic structure used by the Argentinian team, their two most important phases of the game, and, finally, their star player.

Tactical Analysis

Base Structure

The base positioning used by the Albiceleste is usually a GK-4-1-3-2, both in the attacking and defensive phases.

However, in moments of dynamic build-up and progression, we can see how they modify their structural organization to a GK-4-2-2-1-2-1. In this way, they form a triangle with two holding midfielders and Messi, accumulating players in the intervention zone to facilitate the build-up of the play.


 Once the ball enters the attacking final 3rd and the finishing zone, the organization of the team is more random, since the profile of players that usually form the forward line is very dynamic with the tendency to vary their zone of action.

During the defensive phase, Scaloni’s team is much more rigid, always maintaining the GK-4-1-3-2 structure and forming different defensive layers to prevent the offensive progression of the opponents.



Phases of Play

The game played by the Argentines is based on being dominant in the transition phases, both in attack and defence.

Looking at the defence-attack transition, we can see how the pattern of the team after a turnover is to attack vertically. They attempt to make a first pass forwards, prioritizing the central channel, with the aim of reducing the defensive width of the opposition, and subsequently occupying the three channels.

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In addition, one of the characteristics that speak of the Albiceleste’s good performances in this phase is the concept of ‘travelling together’. This allows them to generate offensive waves, meaning that they have more than one line of players to finish the play.

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Another aspect to highlight in the defence-attack transition is the excellent control of their most advanced players in their first touch, managing to hold the ball, in order to give more time and space to their team-mates in the second line.

The second most dominant phase of Argentina’s play is the attack-defence transition. Scaloni’s side have managed to obtain a high percentage of ball recovery after losing the ball, thanks to top collective work.

To achieve this, the behaviour of the players close to the ball is essential, as they are responsible for applying stifling pressure on the on-ball opponent. They also seek to close down possible passing lanes. Likewise, the players located in intermediate and distant spaces, accompany as a 2nd line of pressure, thus managing to reduce the interlinear distances.

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Star Player

Undoubtedly, the key player for the Albiceleste is still Messi. The Argentinian number 10 influences the different phases of the game in Scaloni’s team.

Starting from the position of the striker, the current PSG player has a crucial role in the different moments of the play within the offensive phase. For example, in moments of dynamic build-up and progression, we can see how he performs the individual midfield role of ‘Guaranteeing The Construction Of The Game By Dropping Towards The Midfield Line’, thus facilitating the build-up for Argentina.

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The same happens when the ball reaches the final 3rd or finishing zone. The top scorer of the Albiceleste is essential in bringing his team closer to goal, as he has a great ability when it comes to finishing actions or enabling his teammates to find open situations in front of the opposition’s goal. He achieves this thanks to the application of different fundamentals such as ‘Searching For A Game In Progression Vertically In Relation To The Attack’ and ‘Playing Advantageous Passes’.

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The excellent form of Argentina in recent years, together with the individual quality of its players and the solidity of its game model, make them one of the major contenders to win the World Cup this December.

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