ANALYSIS: Banega brilliance precedes more Sampaoli insanity

Alan O’Brien 

Jorge Sampaoli had lost his nerve. Before this World Cup, Argentina’s manager spoke extensively of the need to share Lionel Messi’s burden. A novel 2-3-3-2 system was mooted, in which Ever Banega would dictate from deep, freeing Messi to finish moves; rather than simply commence them.

But, when push came to shove, Sampaoli opted instead for the huevos of Lucas Biglia and Enzo Perez. Iceland and Croatia, therefore, had but one job: stop Messi. Not so Nigeria. Continue reading

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ANALYSIS: Shapeless Argentina shame Sampaoli

Alan O’Brien 

Few foresaw such a tragic twist to the Jorge Sampaoli story; and, yet, here we are. An unqualified managerial success beyond his home country of Argentina, Sampaoli’s hand on the tiller seemed certain to return the Albiceleste to glory.

But now Argentina are facing elimination from this World Cup at the first hurdle. And Sampaoli, just one year after securing his dream job, is staring failure in the face for the first time. He only has himself to blame. Continue reading