The two nations have an odd relationship with the immigration-emigration trade of labor throughout their history. When cultural similarity is mentioned with these nations in mind, football is often the topic.
Argentina has been in good form throughout their World Cup-qualifying campaign where they are currently first while their opponents on the evening of August 14 have led an impressive campaign accompanied by their outstanding showing at the Confederations Cup earlier this summer in Brazil.
Not much hype has surrounded this fixture as much of it was expected to be somewhat of a training session for each nation to secure their tickets for Brazil this upcoming summer.
In the first half, Argentina dominated much of the possession with searing passes that often cut open the Italy defense. Much of it could have been due to the experiment of the new partnership Italian manager tried with Daniele De Rossi (normally a defensive midfielder) and Giorgio Chiellini. Marco Veratti was given the role of sole defensive midfielder, which proved unsuccessful as he was often stripped of the ball and could not cope with the fast paced Argentines.
Napoli’s new signing, Gonzalo Higuain, proved his worth when he scored for Argentina with a beautiful finish in the 20th minute. His movement was unmatched and hard to mark throughout the match and should further his chances at starting more in the front line for the South Americans as the World Cup nears. In the second half, Ever Banega came on for Erik Lamela and within two minutes on the pitch was found unmarked and shot a line drive into the net from the top of the penalty area. The fixture saw another goal this time from the Italians who produced it from their wonder boy Lorenzo Insigne who sent a curler from some 25+ yards away. This youngster is someone to look out for this season. The match finished in favor of the visitors 2-1.
If Argentina were to have any weak links in the current side, it would in the left side of defense. The normal suitor for the left-back position is Federico Fernandez, who is normally a center back for his club Napoli. Fernandez’s performances have cost Argentina dearly throughout their qualifying campaign but that has not budged coach Alejandro Sabella from removing him from the starting lineup. For this match Sabella instead moved him into center back where Fernandez looked more solid and placed new face Jose Maria Basanta, from Mexican club Monterrey, into left back. Basanta is also a center back but seemed to cope well with the role he was asked to fill.
An ideal center back pairing would be Ezequiel Garay of Benfica and Fabricio Coloccini of Newcastle United. Both are proven and experienced at the top level. Coloccini has been nurturing a recurring knee injury and is not fully fit at the moment but is clearly in the picture as he was able to play some 20 minutes.
Many have favored Argentina as the World Cup champions because of their countless offensive depth, but what fears many about this prediction is the ability of preventing goals. If their defensive situation is sorted and can find solidity, the blue-and-whites will be difficult to beat. If not, then rest assured that their strategy will be to outscore their opponents, which could work considering they possess the most talented goal-scorer (Lionel Messi to the novice mind) at his peak in today’s game.