Argentina vs Switzerland comment World Cup 2014: Argentina regress to a four out of 10 but will struggle drain them or inspire them?

Despite scoring, Di Maria personified Argentina in the wrong options he picked

Arena Corinthians

As Angel di Maria eventually bent the ball into the Swiss net, it was impossible for Argentina not to get swept away.

The Arena Corinthians shook, and the entire team and staff shared the kind of mass embrace that only such intense emotion can bring. The movement offered a moment that was so starkly and stunningly different to the 118 minutes of dross that preceded it. It was slick, creative, incisive, precise and ultimately so joyous.

Before then, they had been laboured, unimaginative, wasteful and oh so dull and dreary. Far from looking like potentially the best team in this tournament come the final on 13 July, they offered up their worst performance so far, and more than played their role in what was possibly this World Cup’s worst game.

Switzerland’s resiliently deep blockade didn’t help, but Argentina just couldn’t seem to help themselves. Seeming so fitful, they just badly needed a spark. They found it, through the usual source.

 

After almost two hours in which Lionel Messi constantly found himself turning into at least two shuttling defenders, the effort that required from the Swiss eventually tired them enough to leave a few inches of extra space. The Barcelona playmaker took so much more, and ensured Argentina keep on travelling the necessary miles for the quarter-final in Brasilia. He fizzed inside, before finessing the ball through to Di Maria.

It represented the first match of this tournament in which Messi hasn’t scored, but was the first time that he echoed Diego Maradona in providing one of those glorious assists that were just as much a part of the 1986 World Cup as so many brilliant runs and goals.

The question now is about the deeper effect of that late Di Maria strike. What will tell more? The moment or the match?

Will the psychology surrounding such an important goal allow Argentina to move up an extra level and overcome so many of the problems this game highlighted by sheer force of emotion? Or will the problems in the team drag them back down?

The World Cup’s history, after all, is filled with teams who suddenly made quantum leaps of quality after such transformative strikes. Brazil had them in tournaments ranging from 1958 to 2002.

On the flipside, this specific World Cup is filled with sides who have very similar issues. The deep question that surrounds basically all of the main contenders is what will tell first, their strengths or their flaws?

Angel di Maria celebrates his goal with Lionel Messi Angel di Maria celebrates his goal with Lionel Messi Will they eventually catch the right mood, or will they first get caught out? The latter came very close to happening for Argentina here last night, and that is still a very real worry for them.

The numbers still aren’t adding up fully to a workable formation, whether it is  4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 5-3-2. They are not the only figures manager Alejandro Sabella has been mentioning.

Having said that, the opening win over Bosnia and Herzegovina was no more than a “six out of 10”, the coach claimed that the 3-2 victory against Nigeria was finally a “seven” that could be built on. Argentina did not do that, at least in terms of pure performance.

This was a drop to a four out of 10 or worse, and a concerning regression. Switzerland may have impressively frustrated them in constantly leaving at least 10 men in front of every Argentinian attack, but the issues were also further back.

The tightness of that massed Swiss back line was offset by the huge gaps in the Argentinian team. On so many occasions, they played a quick passing move near the wing only to look inside and see acres of space with no option. As such, they repeatedly had to resort to an array of wasteful crosses, which was made all the more puzzling by the poverty of so many of their headers.

It wasn’t the only bad decision the team took, as Di Maria came to personify Argentina in the amount of wrong options he picked. The statistics don’t make pretty reading for the Real Madrid winger: he gave the ball away 51 times throughout the 120 minutes.

And yet, he still offered the only moment that actually counted. It remains to be seen in what way that will count for the development of this Argentina team.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect