Argentina's no-show against Croatia would forver live in the memories of the football fraternity. It was a night when one of the most talented sides in World Cup history were undone. But the lessons were there for anyone willing to learn.
YEN.com.gh brngs you our five observations from the game.
1. Jorge Sampaoli does not have a plan B.
In fairness, Sampaoli is not the first to have tried to build Argentina team around Lionel Messi. What has now become a tradition started under Diego Maradona in 2008.
But Sampaoli has looked like he never quite got a second plan for when things could not work through Messi. Croati, more than any other side Sampaoli has faced, showed that the best plan is to make sure the ball does not get to Lionel Messi.
2. Argentina is a collection of big names.
Argentina has always been blessed with their undue share of talent especially in attacking areas. The fact that over the last 20 years alone, names like Batistuta, Crespo, Ortega and Kily Gonzalez easily come to mind proves the point.
The current generation is no different. There is no player in the Argentina squad at World Cup 2018 who is a bench-warmer at the club level, save probably Mascherano.
But that is all. They are fearful because they individually so. But as a team, Argentina were shown by Croatia to be loosely-knit.
3. The Croatia team is more than just about flair.
The point has to be made that on a player-to-player basis, Croatia are not entirely in Argentina's shadows. Croatia could call on names that would easily get into most world-class sides.
But although Zlatko Dalic's side is known for playing an attacking football with a lot of flair, the Croatians showed another side unknown to many. They can defend.
And they defended as a unit, starting right from the strikers. This tactic is bound to prove troubling to any of the sides that fancy their chances at the trophy.
4. Luka Modric is perhaps the most underrated player in the world.
Luka Modric is an all-round central midfielder. Whether he is defending or attacking or just looking to create chances, he is without question, one of the best we have seen in the last 10 years.
Against Leo Messi, who was incidentally also captain and number 10 shirted player for Argentina, Modric outshone the Barcelona superstar. He did it so easily that you wonder why most were surprised.
Luka Modric lives in an era of Ronaldo, Neymar, Messi and co. But make no mistake, the Croatian is more underrated than appreciated.
5. Leo Messi's mental strength is questionable.
Many coaches say that football happen in the head as much as it does with the feet. When it comes to what he can do with his feet, it would be almost criminal to debate Messi's talent.
But when things were not going Argentina's way, when his compatriots would not be allowed to pass the ball to him, Lionel Messi was a ghost.
It was easy to tell he was beaten in the mind. Messi's body language did not tell anything else than that.
Whether it was the case that he did not enjoy the Argentina set-up as much as he does Barcelona, is another case. But someone in his category, should do have shown more than what we saw on Thursday night.
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