TCM Analysis: Argentina vs Australia

Argentina went into the round of 16 match by winning their group despite the shock defeat vs Saudi Arabia in their opening match.

Dec 8th 2022

Written by The Coaching Manual

Formation Both Teams

Argentina - 1-4-3-3

Australia - 1-4-4-2

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First Half Review

Argentina went into the round of 16 match by winning their group despite the shock defeat vs Saudi Arabia in their opening match. They bounced back with 2 wins over Mexico and Poland - both involving clean sheets. Australia also bounced back in similar fashion by losing their opening group game against holders France 4-1 before went on to win against both Tunisia and Denmark - also involving clean sheets. 

The 1st half was very cagey with limited chances for both teams - though Argentina had more of the ball, with Australia looking to sit in low block and compact the space in behind, encouraging Argentina to attack so they could catch them on the counter attack when they regain the ball in transition.

However, Lionel Messi (#10) demonstrated a piece of individual brilliance by controlling the ball effectively to allow him to face up the defender, before shifting his body with the ball quickly to allow him to drift past the defender into the 18 yard box before setting it back to MacAlister (#20).

MacAlister (#20) then expertly found a pass into Otamendi (#19). From here, Messi (#10) demonstrated how well he reads moments of attack, as he looked to go in behind before checking back inside, losing his defender to receive the ball off Otamendi just inside the 18 yard box. Messi shifted the ball well to finish past the goalkeeper in the bottom left corner. 

Second Half Review

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Argentina would change their formation shortly into the second half, to a 1-3-5-2. This gave them more width to stretch the narrow 1-4-4-2 shape that Australia had, in order to create spaces in front of the back 4 for players like Lionel Messi (#10) and Julian Alvarez (#9) to receive the ball in between the lines and slide passes in behind.

This also created opportunities for shots in and around the box for the Argentine forwards. The new formation created more passing lines forward, which enabled Argentina to move the ball at a much higher intensity - creating more opportunities on goal. 

Argentina would soon be 2 goals ahead as Australia tried to play out from the back with short passes, before being encouraged by the press from both Rodrigo De Paul (#7) and Julain Alvarez (#9) to pass back to the goalkeeper, before Alvarez pinched the ball quickly and finished past the goalkeeper giving Argentina a 2 goal cushion.

After the goal, Argentina would keep possession well with a higher intensity and as Australia pushed out further due to being 2 goals behind it opened more spaces for Argentina to create more opportunities. However, Australia pulled an unlikely goal back after a cross was half cleared by Enzo Fernandez (#24) and would go to block a shot which was going off target, the defelction would actually put the ball in the far right hand corner impossible for the goalkeeper to stop, making it 2-1.

Australia would finish the half strong created some chances to equalise, however Argentina created more opportunities as Australia committed players forward this created multiple opportunities for Argentina to finish the game off. Either team didn’t score and the match ended as Argentina desrved winners on the night. 

Understand on the importance of playing with a high intensity in this guide below by Lee Fletcher:

Specific Strategy - Change of Argentina Formation

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The image above shows the change of formation when the Argenina centre backs had the ball. This would create problems either side for the Australian wide players as if they cut the pass out wide to the wing back, there was multiple passing lines available forward to enable the Argeintinian midifield to combine with the wing backs and forward players. This allowed Messi (#10) and Julian Alavarez (#9) to receive the ball inbetween the lines, mainly Julain Alvarez (#9) would go in behind once the ball is played forward to create either a passing opportunity in behind or space for the player on the ball to drive into or pass into Lionel Messi (#10). The opposite wing back would stay high and wide to keep the opposite fullback wider than normal, creating gaps for the midfield and forward players to pick up the ball inbetween the back 4 and midfield unit. The back 3 would also allow them to switch the play using the centre backs or playing into midfield and setting the ball back to the other centre back and look to go forward the other side. What enabled this to be successful was a much higher tempo and intensity of the passing and movement, this meant that if Argentina were patient more opportunites would come if the ball speed was high as well as Australia needing to push out being a goal then 2 goals behind.

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The image above shows if the wide player cutting the pass out centrally which would create a passing line into the wing back and the fullback would not go tight else it would create an opportunity for a third player to make run inbehind the space the fullback left by pressing the ball. 

Increase your knowledge on the 1-3-5-2 in these following guides:

Stats of the Game

Argentina would create a total of 2.30XG (Expected Goals) in the game, in the first half only 0.14XG was created comparing to 2.16XG created in the second half shows the difference in the amount of chances created for Argentina which was partly supported by the formation change and partly supported by a mich higher intensity in all of there actions within dribbling, passing, combination play and movement skills. The combination of the higher intensity and formation change enabled Argentina to create more chances in the second half. 

Increase your understanding of XG and data in Soccer by watching this webinar with Aston Villa set piece coach Austin MacPhee.

Webinar: https://app.thecoachingmanual.com/Content/26768

Next Game 

Argentina will play The Netherlands in the Quarter Final of the World Cup. 

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