Tue. Feb 7th, 2023
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The Roman army famously never made the same mistake twice, but by picking Cristian Romero over Lisandro Martinez for the second time of Argentina’s World Cup campaign, Lionel Scaloni showed that he made need certain things repeated to him multiple times before he learns a lesson.

As reported by The Peoples Person after La Albiceleste’s shock 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia in the Group C opener, Martinez’s absence at the back may well have prevented Saleh Al-Shehri’s equaliser – the goal that changed the game.

Romero came into this tournament having missed Tottenham Hotspur’s last four matches due to injury and his lack of sharpness was plain for all to see.

Meanwhile Lisandro Martinez has been in sensational form since joining Manchester United in the summer, silencing critics left, right, and centre. His ability to keep himself on the heels of any attacker leaves centre forwards without a moment’s peace, regardless of their physical or technical qualities.

The ‘grinta’ with which Erik ten Hag credited Martinez shortly after his transfer would have been a huge boost to the national team’s chances of comfortably navigating a group few would have expected them to struggle with. Why Scaloni seems to shun his most archetypal Argentinian player from the Argentina side is anyone’s guess.

To see a rusty Romero struggling against Saudi Arabia’s forward line and believe that it would be a fine idea to put him up against Robert Lewandowski – of all people – in his next outing seems to be utter madness.

Fortunately for Argentina, the Poland side facing them have been appalling at supplying their star striker on the tournament stage. Lewandowski is scoring a goal every 32 touches for Barcelona this season, but for his national team he barely ever gets a shot and only registered his first World Cup goal earlier in the week against Saudi Arabia at the age of 34.

During the first half, aside from Wojciech Szczęsny saving Lionel Messi’s penalty, the Polish had absolutely nothing to cheer. Argentina had almost no defending to do and Poland’s talisman barely saw the ball.

An Alexis McAllister goal moments into the second half spared Messi’s blushes, and a more ambitious team might have taken that as a sign to occasionally consider venturing outside of their own defensive third.

But this Poland team have already shown that they lack any ambition whatsoever, as they continued to sit in and hope that Group C’s match ended in their favour. Fortunately for them, Mexico scored only two goals, conceding as they chased the third they needed to qualify ahead of Poland.

As for Argentina, they will likely never have an easier match.

All that is likely to do is encourage Scaloni to continue with Romero, despite the defender winning none of his ground duels, conceding possession 10 times against a team that never pressed him, and failing to make a single tackle or interception (SofaScore). What defending Argentina did have to do was largely done by veteran Nicolas Otamendi.

Against better teams, particularly those willing to attack every now and then, Scaloni’s unwillingness to drop Cristian Romero for Lisandro Martinez could prove to be Argentina’s undoing.

The post Lisandro Martinez must be wondering what he has to do to start for Argentina appeared first on Man United News And Transfer News | The Peoples Person.

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