Finally, the much anticipated squads were announced by Sabella. 2 lists, 1 a locally based team for the 2 games against Brazil, and the other list, the squad comprising of foreign players considered as the motherlode of all lists!
Love thy neighbor : Squad against Brazil
A brief review of the squad selected for Brazil . You’ll find the complete list anywhere so I am not going to harp too much about it
- Squad of 24 (2GK +8 DEF + 8 MID + 5 FWD)
- Average age: 27.5
- Club break-up: 6 Estudiantes + 6 Velez + 4 Boca + 4 Racing + 4 from Lanus, San Lorenzo, Arsenal
- Key inclusions : Riquelme, Veron, Valeri (Midfield), Pillud, Botenelli, Castro, Chavez
It seems like a fairly balanced squad with a slightly higher average age than what you’d expect normally. Of course, guys like Veron and Riquelme would heavily skew it J. It looks like Sabella would favour mostly proven performers/experience at the domestic level
Half the squad consists of players from Estudiantes and Velez, giving us an insight that Sabella could start off with the comfort zone of familiarity (Estudiantes) and a winning mentality (Velez)
Sweet taste of India and Bangladesh
Let’s look at the team to India, and importantly, compare it to the infamous Copa America 2011 team (last team assembled by Batista):
- It’s a 23 (Batista) vs 26 (Sabella) Squad
- Using historical data and analyzing player performances for the last 10 games and dynamically using predictive methods mindless intuition, we’ve Red-fonted the players that could have been excluded if the squad were to be trimmed to 23 (Demi, Sosa, Salvio – sorry folks)
- Average age of Sabella’s squad = 24.7
- The players in yellow cells are what we call Flexi-Players- who’ve played in different positions or have the ability to do so if the need arises. Eg – Otamendi can play RB (no matter how ineffectively J )
- We’ve split the midfield into 3 groups – Defensive Midfield (DMF), AMF (Attacking Midfield/ Enganche) and Midfield or Wingers (MF/WING)
- Attackers : Batista 6 vs Sabella 4. As highlighted before, this was too skewed in the Copa. Sabella immediately took the opportunity to offload Tevez, Lavezzi , and Milito, and brought the in-form Lopez in
- AMF: This is key. While Batista and his predecessor, Maradona, had only Pastore as a true player in that position without any real back-up, and hoped that guys like Banega/Gago would provide additional support, Sabella provided an excellent option by adding Lucho Gonzalez to this segment. Lucho has the creativity , experience and skill to fill the immediate needs , or support and mentor Pastore into the role as we had highlighted in our previous post
- MF/WING : This is another CRITICAL area. While Batista had enough defensive cover , he gave himself very little options for flexibility and width with only Di Maria capable of it. I’ve included Biglia in here , but you could make a case that even he was chosen as a DMF! Contrast this to Sabella who has Sosa, Gutierezz, Di Maria, Salvio and Alverez for this position. Even if we were to drop Sosa and Salvio, there are still 2 options- 1 with a defensive midset width (Gutierrez) and 1 with a creative bent (Alverez).
The true head-scratchers are the inclusion of Demi, Gutierrez and to an extent , Sosa. I remember Demi stinking up the defense akin to a public loo back when I saw him last , at the world cup, where South Korea, and then Germany too tore into him. It looked like Bayern weren’t too impressed with his massive flop show during the WC and promptly offloaded him this season to Malaga, the new rich kids in down in the Spanish league. I’ve never seen Demi play well for club or country in recent times to give me much hope. The Spiderman, as Gutierrez is more popularly known in Toonland, was also the subject of much criticism during the WC for his miserable slalom runs and prompt propensity to give the ball away to opposition. To be fair, he was played out of position by Maradona, and I have seen him fare decently when playing for Newcastle. I’ll refrain from saying much about Sosa since I haven’t seen him play much in recent times.
Kudos must be given to Sabella for selecting Ansaldi, who needs to definitely prove and nail down his position at LB, Otamendi (he has stepped it up in recent times with Porto), Sick-Rick- who was one of the flavours of the transfer season, Lucho , and Lisandro, who has been extremely consistent at Lyon. I’ll also be watching Rinaudo with curiosity, as he has the work-rate and consistency that Sabella loves from his players.
The positives far outweigh the doubts at this stage, and I look towards the immediate future with cautious optimism!