Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 20th 2014 Contents A76
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, June 20, 2014
Robin van Persie took some family time at a
training session yesterday, sitting with wife Bouchra
and his two young children in the stands while his
Netherlands teammates played a practice game.
The Manchester United striker, who has three
goals in two games at the World Cup for the impres-
sive Dutch, spent around 30 minutes with his family
at the top of the steep concrete stands overlooking
the Estadio Gavea field.
Down below, some of the Netherlands reserves
trained, with Van Persie sometimes shouting out
encouragement to his teammates.
Van Persie was one of a number of starters who
took it easy, with winger Arjen Robben and midfielder
Nigel de Jong also earning a break a day after a 3-
2 win over Australia sealed a place in the last 16 for
Van Persie won't play in the Netherlands' Group
B finale against Chile on Monday after receiving two
Van Persie takes
it easy at practice
BELO HORIZONTE---The first
week of the World Cup has
exposed signs of an identity crisis
in Argentina, with coach Alejandro
Sabella and captain Lionel Messi
presenting different visions of how
the team should play.
Sabella talks about being flexible
and adjusting the formation depending on the oppo-
nent, while Messi says Argentina---being the football
power that it is---should stick to its attacking style
regardless of who it plays.
The difference in perspective was underscored by
Messi's thinly-veiled criticism of how Sabella lined
up the team in Argentina's opening 2-1 win over
Bosnia-Herzegovina in Group F.
The coach fielded a cautious formation with five
defenders, three midfielders and two strikers, before
switching in the second half to the 4-3-3 system that
One by one, other Argentina players have come out
siding with Messi, saying they also believe in a three-
man attack, while denying that there's a rift between
the players and the coach.
"He (Messi) gave his opinion, like many others did.
And that's it," backup goalkeeper Mariano Andujar
said Wednesday. "There is no problem. Everyone is
free to have their opinion."
After the Bosnia match, Sabella acknowledged that
the team played better in the second half, when Messi,
who scored in the 65th minute, dropped behind Sergio
Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain in a three-man forward
line. He is likely to stick with that formation against
But the issue appears to extend beyond numbers.
Sabella and Messi don't speak the same language
when they talk about Argentina's core identity as a
Before the game, Sabella dismissed questions about
Argentina being among the "favourites" to win the
World Cup, saying he dislikes the word. Then he
admitted that---on the eve of the match---he hadn't
yet decided how the team should play against the
His uncertainty contrasted with Messi's confident
assertion this week that "We are Argentina," and that
a team of such stature should concentrate on its own
game, not on how the opponents play.
"I think we need to look at ourselves first and not
focus on the rival," Messi said.
That's the philosophy the four-time world player
of the year is used to at Barcelona, with which he's
won six Spanish league and three Champions League
It's also the attitude of Spain's national team, which
has dominated world football with its tiki-taka style
in recent years but which crashed out of the Brazil
tournament with two consecutive losses. It was an
exit that illustrated the risk of not having
a plan B when things go wrong.
Argentina's style of football has
changed over the years, from Cesar Luis
Menotti's entertaining side that won the
World Cup in 1978 to Carlos Bilardo's
cynical team that reached the 1990 final
(and lost 1-0 to West Germany) despite
scoring just five goals in the tournament.
Most of the current Argentine players favor the offensive
4-3-3 formation that Sabella relied on during the qualifying
campaign. But Andujar said a more cautious alternative
could be useful if Argentina faces one of the big football
powers later in the tournament.
Argentina's head coach Alejandro Sabella, second left, stands next to player
Lionel Messi, second right, during a training session in Vespasiano, near Belo
Horizonte, Brazil, yesterday. AP PHOTO
Messi, Sabella argue on styles
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