It's not too easy to read into the match against Romania. Was this the strongest team which Alejandro SABELLA could have fielded? Replace Jose BASANTA with Ezequiel GARAY and that would pretty much be the team for the World Cup. However, we all know that Argentina can play much better than that.
Many have spoken about Lionel MESSI being sick on the pitch and while it is true, it cannot and is not the reason for the team playing so poorly. Many factors have to be taken into consideration when trying to take anything away from those 90 minutes. Out of the 14 players who took part in that match, only a handful of them had something to prove. And it's not surprising that it was those select players who shone the brightest.
For months the entire Argentina fanbase has been against Sergio ROMERO's inclusion on the team. A string of below par performances with the National Team mixed with zero league matches with his club Monaco have left many wondering how ROMERO would perform. ROMERO answered his critics with a very good display, showing very little to no rust. The calls for Willy CABALLERO won't be going away any time soon, even less so as the European club season draws to an end and ROMERO sits on the bench. But for Argentina, he put on a confidence booster of a performance.
Jose BASANTA was one of the other players who played admirably well. He looked confident and won his one on one battles when needed. However, I would not be confident with BASANTA as a starting defender or even as a back up defender at the World Cup. With all respect to Romania, playing against them is not the same as having to play against Germany in a Round of 16 or Quarter Final match. I'm not sold on BASANTA and I won't ever be but you can only play against who you are put against and BASANTA has been passing the test.
Lucas BIGLIA is another who is cementing his place in the team. He looked composed and when moving forward made some good passes. A very intelligent player and his stock under SABELLA seems to be rising. Not necessarily a big name, but a good player to have in your repertoire.
Fernando GAGO's performance was possibly one of his worst under SABELLA. It is understandable considering that GAGO has just came back from an injury, is made of glass and the last thing he wants is to go back to Boca injured in an otherwise meaningless match. However, what always has been the concern with GAGO is his lack of physical presence. On the ball, he connects well with MESSI and has shown that he is more than capable of elevating his level of play but against a strong and physical team, GAGO can be outmuscled which would open gaps in the midfield and leave MASCHERANO exposed, as was the case in 2010 in every match he played in.
A lot has been said about the lack of creativity in midfield. Under SABELLA, it's evident that he is banking on Angel DI MARIA and Lionel MESSI for that with GAGO helping get the ball to the latter. SABELLA can also resort to adding an extra player in midfield and dropping one of Sergio AGUERO and Gonzalo HIGUAIN as he has done in the past. A problem which Argentina has not faced too often under SABELLA is what happens when a team defends and parks the bus as Romania did for part of the second 45 minutes. That is certainly something which SABELLA will need to figure out. However, despite Romania defending, Argentina playing like they did not want to be there, the team and MESSI, still created many chances. Rodrigo PALACIO had his miss of the match as we have become accostumed to and LAVEZZI missed a scoring chance which he should have scored. HIGUAIN had a chance where he decided to pass to AGUERO and AGUERO himself had the move of the match where he ran passed a few players only to have his shot saved.
While the match may have seemed anti climatic considering it is the last one before Alejandro SABELLA announces the players who will be going to Brazil, many more questions were raised than answered. Should GAGO get injured, is it Lucas BIGLIA who plays alongside MASCHERANO or is it BANEGA who gets that place. If a team decides to defend and ultimately Argentina cannot resort to counter attacking, what will SABELLA instruct the players to do.