Argentina are three-time World Cup winners. The Albiceleste won in one of the most exciting finals in recent memory. After ninety minutes of normal time, and an extra time period where ‘chaos’ ensued, Lionel Scaloni’s team managed to reach heaven thanks to ‘Dibu’ Martinez in the penalty shoot-out.
However, far from the final madness, the match began with a script where pause and control marked the course. This slower start was thanks to Argentina, as the head coach planned a very tactical game, far removed from disorder.
To this end, Scaloni designed a plan in which the main key point would lie in the dynamic organisation of his team, which would be very versatile and fluctuating depending on the phase and moment of the game in which they found themselves.
When the Albiceleste were in possession of the ball, the team positioned themselves at different heights with a common objective – to generate situations of spatial and qualitative advantage for Angel Di Maria.
Through Messi, Julián Álvarez and Mac Allister, the Argentinians managed to fix the French defensive line through their depth and intermediate positions. In this way, they were able to create the ideal scenario for the ‘el fideo’ to generate a multitude of dangerous situations in the opposition penalty area.
On the other hand, when the team entered the defensive phase, the coach ordered the defensive lines to be brought together through a midfield block and a dynamic GK-4-4-1 organisation with Messi free of responsibility.
Furthermore, the main objective of this approach was to generate situations of defensive numerical advantage on the left, Kylian Mbappé’s main zone of intervention.
Through Montiel and Rodrigo de Paul, Scaloni was able to close off the Frenchman’s main routes of progression for a long period of time. In this way, much of the danger of ‘Les Blues’ was disabled.
But what happened in the second half to change the dynamic of the match?
Within a match, there are ‘mini-matches’. These are the consequence of a multitude of factors that can condition the course of the game. One of the main reasons for the change of script was the physical component as a differential factor.
Didier Deschamps switched Olivier Giroud and Dembelé at the end of the first half for Thuram and Muani, two attackers with very physical characteristics and specialists in attacking space.
Through the change, and as the minutes ticked by, France became more and more the protagonists of the play. What they could not solve at the beginning of the first half through the tactical approach preestablished by the coach, they were able to solve through an overwhelming conditional superiority.
Arguments that support this change of script are: an increase in the number of turnovers, a greater number of aerial duels won, more dribbles in progression and a higher percentage of 1vs1 situations won. All this, combined with a brilliant performance from Kylian Mbappé, turned the game on its head.
What was initially controlled under Scaloni’s perfect tactical approach, turned into a game where attacking transitions were the main attacking avenue for both sides.
At that moment, balancing structures behind the ball, rest defence and defensive jockeying ceased to exist. Everything was situations of spatial advantage for the opponent, organisational disorder and 1vs1 situations.
Out of the ‘mayhem’ came Mbappé’s second goal, Messi’s stoppage-time effort and the last chance in the 133rd minute of extra time that could have changed the script of history.
However, despite the madness of the last few minutes, the match was decided by a penalty shoot-out. Once again, the penalty spot had to decide who would be the winner.
We all know what happened. The Argentina national team now has its third star embroidered on its shirt. Likewise, Scaloni’s boys have had a brilliant World Cup, perhaps showing us the paradigm shift that is to come in football.
Teams that are not anchored to a defined game idea and where adaptability depending on the context can allow you to overcome your opponents. However, there is something that never changes, the individual factor always ends up making the difference, and this time Lionel Messi did it again.
At the MBP School of Coaches, we would like to congratulate the Albiceleste for this brilliant achievement. Undoubtedly, this Qatar 2022 World Cup has given us great afternoons and nights of football.