The former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder knows the forward stars draw the eye but feels defensive stability is what will make Jorge Sampaoli’s side competitive in Russia
Four years ago, Argentina managed to play seven games at a World Cup for the first time since Italia 90, but lost the final to Germany in extra-time. For a country twice world champions, proud exporters of football talent, it was not without frustration that even staying in the tournament past the quarter-finals had become an elusive task. For a short while after the last World Cup, then, Argentina’s success in keeping the nation enthralled until the very last minute was praised, a cause for celebration. And one player in particular became the viral pin-up hero of the day: Javier Mascherano.
“It was a unique experience because we had never lived or experienced anything like what happened in 2014 – it was spectacular,” an older, wiser Mascherano tells me when we meet in Spain for Argentina’s warm-up tour. “The World Cup itself sets the pace and indicates what we can and can’t do: we changed the way we played, the system, as we went along, but always with total clarity about what we were doing. That was what led us to the final. The conviction of our idea, of doing things in a certain way, up to the very last minute. And if you look back I think it was Argentina’s best match in years.”
Source: Football News
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