Many have been questioning Alejandro SABELLA and his decisions in Argentina's opening match. Why a 5-3-2, why didn't HIGUAIN and GAGO start, why did Maxi start. It's very possible that SABELLA's hand was partly forced when it came to those decisions.
As much as we all talk and comment, SABELLA's knowledge far exceeds all of ours. We're talking about someone who has World Cup experience as an assistant coach, someone who has won South America's most difficult tournament and won it in Brazil. Someone who has drastically improved Argentina's back line. And everyone is ready to crucify him because of a starting eleven he put out.
It must be said that Gonzalo HIGUAIN was not fully fit and it clearly showed even once he came on as a substitute. Fernando GAGO is made out of glass and isn't even fit to start despite being substituted into the match. Taking HIGUAIN and GAGO's injuries into account, LAVEZZI didn't exactly impress in Argentina's two matches prior to the World Cup and throwing in Rodrigo PALACIO's injury, it can very well be that SABELLA didn't trust starting LAVEZZI up front in a 4-3-3. Remember, SABELLA sees much more than what we see. We're only being fed information from training. We don't see the positioning of the players or how well the chemistry is between them.
For GAGO not starting, it can easily be that SABELLA didn't want to risk starting him and having him injured for the remainder of the tournament. In the opening match of the World Cup, anything can happen. Argentina, reigning World Cup champions, lost to Cameroon in the opening match of the 1990 World Cup. Spain lost to Switzerland in 2010 before going on and lifting the cup.
If there was ever a match for SABELLA to experiment at a World Cup with, it was the opener. I am completely against Argentina playing a 5-3-2 or 3-5-2 but SABELLA tried it and we got away with it. I really don't think we'll be seeing that again from Argentina in this World Cup.
As for the starters, Maxi RODRIGUEZ was the most experienced players of the regular starters for Argentina and it's possible SABELLA felt comfortable with giving a veteran player like Maxi the start. Again, it was a mistake by SABELLA but he fixed the problem by bringing in HIGUAIN and GAGO.
Despite Argentina not playing very well, there were still positives to take away. Marcos ROJO played probably his best match as left back for Argentina. Sergio ROMERO who we've all been bashing played a really great game. A very good save off a corner kick, reacting quickly to a chance by Bosnia in the first half, had it not been for ROMERO, Argentina would have been losing at half time. Many will blame him for the goal and while he does deserve part of it, some was just bad luck. FERNANDEZ was more to blame than ROMERO himself. Pablo ZABALETA was a work horse and GARAY was excellent.
MASCHERANO was getting out run in midfield, but that is because he was left alone without GAGO, BIGLIA or PEREZ. DI MARIA looked much better in the second half. He had some great passes which just missed AGUERO and HIGUAIN, but he'll only get better. MESSI and AGUERO were completely isolated. MESSI constantly had 2-3 players on him and had no room to operate and no one to pass to. AGUERO forgot his shooting boots at home.
Once HIGUAIN and GAGO came on, Argentina just looked much better. HIGUAIN created room for MESSI and GAGO was delivering him the passes needed. That goal by MESSI was great. A great play with HIGUAIN, he took defenders and scored. That took an ape off his back, not a monkey.
Against Iran I think we'll see the Argentina that we are used to seeing. The 4-3-3 with MESSI running havoc, Argentina.