Angel di Maria

The injury problems keep coming at Argentina. Lionel Messi remains the only creative force on this efficient side after their victory over Belgium, as Angel di Maria is also out of the World Cup with an injury.

Argentina, like the other three teams that have made it to the semifinals, aren’t in this to make friends or an impression. From day one, it’s been about winning the tournament, and if it means scoring early and then changing formations to something that isn’t exactly pleasing on the eyes, so be it.

Even with a more defensive approach, Belgium didn’t really trouble Sergio Romero. At one point, the frustration from being unable to do anything through the wings as both Eden Hazard and Kevin Mirallas had terrible matches, they resorted to simply crossing and trying to use their height.

Romelu Lukaku took the pitch, and was joined by Daniel van Buyten and Marouane Fellaini in the box. That might have meant some different difficulties for the Argentinian defense to contend with, but it didn’t change the final outcome or make Belgium a whole of a lot more dangerous.

Lionel Messi losing creative partners makes things more difficult, no doubt. Argentina didn’t come with Javier Pastore and Carlos Tevez, who in hindsight could have helped. On the other hand, more talented Argentina teams in the past failed to make it to the semifinals. It’s been 24 years since they last made it this far.

Messi will simply have to take more on his own. Even if he’s just one player, he forces special preparation from defenses, no matter who the team against him is. He’s that good, even when he doesn’t score. Losing Angel Di Maria probably complicates things, but far from makes them impossible.

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