When you have arguably the best player in the world under your roster, then there should be no cause for alarm. However this wasn’t the case for the ‘La Albiceleste’ who clinched a ticket to Russia 2018 through the skin of their teeth (on the last day of the CONMEBOL qualifiers). Now that the worst is clearly behind the Argentine national team, they have to chart a new course, one of which doesn’t include the sole dependence on Lionel Messi to always deliver the goods.
About 5 months ago when Jorge Sampaoli was appointed to replace the faltering Eduardo Bauza, the general consensus was that a corner had been turned by the hapless national team. Finally, it seemed, La Albiceleste had landed the coach of their dreams – One who wouldn’t just change the style of play but also forestall the over-reliance on Lionel Messi. But here we are, Argentina are still as dependent on Lionel Messi as ever.
Argentina’s dependency on Lionel Messi was once again evident with his hat-trick against Ecuador and the full extent is shown in that no other player for the Albiceleste has scored in an official games for almost a year going into the next summer’s World Cup, Sampaoli needs to ensure that the support cast also step up to the plate. Most teams that have gone on to win Football’s most coveted prize had 2 things going for them – a star Player and a good enough support cast.
The 1986 World Cup will always be remembered for one man – Diego Armando Maradona, but even in that Argentine team, Maradona didn’t do it all on his own. The support cast which included the likes of Jorge Burruchaga and Jorge Valdano also had their own fair share of help. The Great Pele also had the likes of Garrincha to help out to up the ante when the chips were down. ‘A tree never makes a forest’, and if the La Albiceleste really want to have a shot at challenging for next year’s World Cup, Sampaoli needs to bring the best out of the support cast.