Argentina have just released their squad list for the world cup and as is the case with big powerhouses, it’s controversial. Jorge Sampaoli, Argentina’s coach has decided to take just two out-and-out strikers to Russia – Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) and Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus).
The team this term is quite uninspiring as a whole. The defence does not look solid while the midfield appears to be short of ideas. Thus if the Albiceleste want to repeat their heroics from 2014, their attackers have to punch above their weights.
For a team whose hopes of doing well in the World Cup rests on its goal-getters, leaving Mauro Icardi behind might not look good in the hindsight. However, not all are convinced that dropping Icardi is a bad decision.
We take a look at three reasons why dropping Icardi is a good decision.
#1 Lack of game time with the national team
Icardi has rarely played for the national team
Due to the reasons mentioned earlier, he has not been a part of Sampaoli’s setup for a long time. He has played just four matches for the Argentine national team, playing just three times in the World Cup qualifying campaign- scoring a grand total of zero goals.
A lack of an understanding with his current teammates was quite apparent in the games he played. Every team has a set system in place. Players are selected according to their adaptability to the system and are further moulded in the system.
Similarly, Argentina, too, have a set game plan (or do they?). It is by large a defensive system designed to mask the team’s deficiencies in defence and in the middle of the park with limited attacking impetus.
The personnel selected in attack for the World Cup in Russia have been a part of this team for a long time now – at least since the start of the qualifiers. They are there because they can give the coach what he wants.
These players know each other’s game inside out. Thus, to accommodate a relatively new player in the system at such crucial juncture is a massive risk. While it could have had a high return, the risk was not worth taking.
#2 His off the ball game
Those who have watched Icardi do know that he is an old-fashioned, proper number 9. He usually hangs around the last defenders, looking to kill off teams in a flash.
However, he is least bothered with build-up play. If someone is to watch an Inter match, they would certainly say that he is one of the least mobile players.
Now, if we look at Argentina’s midfield, it is quite apparent that they are short on creative midfielders. If Argentina’s recent matches are anything to go by, they have struggled to create chances, especially in the absence of Lionel Messi.
The only other creative midfielder of note in the squad is Angel Di Maria. With a lack of midfield supply and not being the main man of the team, it will be difficult for Icardi to have a say on the game – as was evident in the recent qualifiers.
If he has to be a part of this team’s setup, he needs to work hard off the ball. All top strikers are always in the midst of the action and not just waiting on the edge to pounce on chances that come by.
#3 Dressing room disharmony
Mauro Icardi’s history with Maxi Lopez is well-known public knowledge. This has brought him unwarranted attention from the Argentine media and his countrymen.
There have been a lot of negative comments about him in the press and any team which wants to maintain it’s harmony would steer away from. Maradona is a footballing god in Argentina and this is how harsh he has been on Icardi.
“Higuain is ten times better than Icardi, [Icardi] doesn’t know anything. what he does know is to go to his friend’s house and ‘eat out’.”
“[Icardi] knows how to (have sex with his friends wife). He does that very well. He can find his friend’s house easily. He doesn’t need a GPS for that. That’s why Higuain has to have another chance.”
Comments of such nature have been a common practice.
Additionally, his spat with Inter’s ultras is another feather in his cap which has further consolidated his public image of a trouble-maker.
Thus, to keep the team’s dressing room harmony intact and divert some pressure away from them, it was in best interest of the team that Sampaoli reduced him to the role of a reserve player.