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FIFA World Cup 2014: Argentina strikers must help defenders

Wednesday, 25 June 2014 - 6:10am IST | Agency: dna

Prior to the World Cup, if you had to ask me to pick a favourite for the title, I would have said Argentina. But their performances against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iran have left me rather disappointed. Yes, they are through to the next round, but that's largely due to the brilliance of captain Lionel Messi.

When I compare this Argentina side to the one coached by Diego Maradona at the last World Cup, I see no improvement from a tactical point of view. Maradona's side played with a burning offensive drive, but their tactical shortcomings eventually caught up with them. This team is similar to the one that played in 2010. In other words, the attacking players continue to shy away from helping out in defence. If this doesn't change, the two-time world champions are likely to encounter similar problems as their predecessors did four years ago.

Messi has lit up the tournament, though, with two spectacular goals, but there have been several others who have caught the eye. Take Luis Suarez; it was a fairytale return in every sense. The England players would all have been very familiar with his exploits in the Premier League, but Suarez was in that mood to give them another reminder of how deadly he is in front of goal. A performance like that just a few weeks after undergoing knee surgery beggars belief.

The Dutch duo of Arjen Robben and captain Robin van Persie are also in sparkling form as is the often underestimated France striker Karim Benzema. And we've seen some fantastic entertainment at the back too, particularly from Mexico goalie Guillermo Ochoa who frustrated hosts Brazil with some breathtaking saves when the two clashed in Fortaleza.

And trust there to be a bit of drama off the pitch too at a World Cup. Dutch coach Louis van Gaal gave the scribes plenty to write about when he accused FIFA of scheduling the fixtures to favour hosts Brazil. The former Bayern Munich manager is a smart coach renowned for being politically astute. This was just another example of him opening a sideshow to distract from other issues. It's thus bound to take the spotlight off his team, something we are very familiar with from a certain Jose Mourinho!

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