In Jorge Sampaoli, Argentina were incredibly confident that they had appointed the ideal coach to rescue their 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.
The 57-year-old left Sevilla after only one season, despite an impressive year at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, in order to take the reins with his beloved national team.
‘Why Argentina have hit the jackpot with the appointment of world-class Sampaoli,’ read the headline of one comment piece on Goal.com after the former Chile coach was confirmed as Argentina’s new boss. The general consensus was that this was the best possible appointment following Edgardo Bauza’s unconvincing spell in charge of the Albiceleste.
However, a couple of months down the line and Sampaoli is still looking for his maiden victory as Argentina manager.
His spell began with a 0-0 draw against Uruguay in Montevideo at the end of August and that was followed up by a hugely disappointing 1-1 draw against Venezuela, bottom of South America’s World Cup qualifying group, in Buenos Aires, on Tuesday night.
The hosts went a goal down when Jhon Murillo struck in the 51st minute but Sampaoli’s men sealed an underwhelming point thanks to a Rolf Feltscher own goal minutes later.
Argentina waste a great opportunity
When you look at the respective teams’ starting line-ups, there’s no doubt that Argentina should have won the match.
The two-time world champions named Mauro Icardi, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala and, of course, Lionel Messi in their starting line-up. They even had Sergio Aguero on the bench.
Argentina too reliant on Messi's magic
What’s patently clear is that Argentina are far too reliant on Messi - and have been for years now.
‘Messidependencia’ is the phrase used when Barcelona rely on the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to rescue them from sticky situations but it’s even more applicable for the Argentina national team.
Argentina show v Venezuela they're a one-man team
And a series of clips from the Venezuela match show that Argentina are basically a one-man team right now.
Plays a great pass, teammate completely messes up...
Dropping deep and destroying opponents with skill...
Taking on entire teams on his own...
If they don’t end of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia - they currently sit in fifth place in their qualification group, the position that leads to a dreaded play-off later this year, with two matches remaining - then it won’t be Messi’s fault, that’s for sure.
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