Argentina may have won their second match of the group stage to keep their hopes of progression to the knockout stages alive, however they still do not look a team that can be labeled as the favorites to win the tournament.
Though the ‘Albiceleste’ have an excellent midfield comprising of Messi as a deep playing forward, DiMaria and Acuna making penetrating runs from the wings, an excellent ball player in Alexis Mac Allister, and the indefatigable De Paul playing as a defensive midfielder, they lack a world class out and out goal poacher or a sharp shooter who could get them goals on a regular basis.
They don’t seem to have got a viable replacement for the likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Hernan Crespo or the ‘el matador’ Mario Kempes who was instrumental in their 1978 World Cup triumph.
Almost any side that have won the World Cup have had excellent world class strikers who would score on a regular basis supported by a able midfielders who would provide quality supply and chip in with odd goals too.
France in 2018 had Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud(this trio also features in this World Cup).
Germany in 2014 had the likes of Thomas Muller, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose. Similarly Spain in 2010 had excellent strikers in David Villa, Fernando Torres and David Silva to name a few.
Hence Argentina’s fortune’s in this World Cup would be dependent on weather Lautaro Martínez, Paulo Dybala and Enzo Fernández rise to the occasion and score the goals for the team. If others start scoring that would allow Messi to drop deep, get more space, shrug off markers and play more as a play maker.
Messi’s goal against Mexico was what installed belief in the Argentine squad and picked them up.With this goal Messi now has 6 goals in as many consecutive matches, however the law of averages is sure to catch up with him which underscores the point that others have to get the goals so that Argentina can present viable challenge in the knockout stages.
The other department in which Argentina needs to work on is minimising their traditional aerial weakness, especially when playing against Poland and another European teams who play more of ariel football and score of headers.
Defence has to be tightly knit and man marking has to be immaculate when facing a European side as they have tall players who score a lot through headers.