We will have two players unavailable: Jonas is suspended for getting two yellows. Walter SAMUEL would be playing if this was the final, but since it's far from being the final, he won't be risked. The other 21 are ready to be picked and eager to be trusted by Diego.
There are others who have picked up yellow cards: Javier MASCHERANO and Gabriel HEINZE and the wise decision would be not to risk him getting another one and missing out on the round of 16 (if we get there -hmmm...maybe I'm being too cautious here, right? I don't care! I'll keep my feelings for my self. I won't go and imitate the media from England or Spain who were already printing newspapers with their captains lifting the trophy -figuratively speaking-).
So there you have it. No Jonas. No SAMUEL. No HEINZE and no MASCHERANO.
But what do we do with the rest?
Do we play them? Do we rest them?
Will it be better to give the team more minutes to keep improving?
Will it be best not to risk injuries or suspension to some of our best players?
Honestly? I can't decide.
There are many ways of seeing it.
Do we give Lionel MESSI a chance to find the back of the net and help him raise his confidence even more? Do we want to risk him picking up an injury (don't worry, I'm already knocking on wood whilst I write this)? Wouldn't it be better to give him some rest so he can have more than a week to recover and be ready to give 100% in the next round?
What do we do with VERON?
What about Gonzalo HIGUAIN? This just occurred to me. Wouldn't it be better to keep him out of the next game and avoid a dip in confidence if he doesn't manage to score v. Greece? Wouldn't it be better for him to have some rest and then play in the round of 16 on the back of his hat-trick performance and with his confidence as high as the city of La Paz?
What if we give Diego MILITO a chance to start instead, see if he can find some form and score in the process and then have two World Class strikers ready to play for you whenever you need them? I mean...it'll do wonders to MILITO's confidence, it will take away some of the nervousness and it'd allow him to find some rhythm.
Why don't we give Sergio AGÜERO a start instead of TEVEZ? TEVEZ has been running a lot and we need him fresh. AGÜERO showed he is sharp. He can benefit from playing more minutes.
Wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for Javier PASTORE to make his debut playing in a safe environment with not much pressure? I mean...if everything goes wrong and we're trailing or drawing at half-time you can still send a couple of your top guns and win this, right?
So let's look at our defence:
It looks like Nicolás OTAMENDI will definitely get a start and that's great news. He will play at his favourite position too (CB).
With Jonas, SAMUEL and HEINZE out, we will really see which are Diego's B Options to play on the flanks and we will see what he decides to play in the middle.
It looks like Nicolás BURDISSO will be our RB, whilst Clemente RODRIGUEZ could be in pole position to cover for HEINZE. With DEMICHELIS and OTAMENDI the pair of centre-backs.
There isn't much we could see back there.
In the middle? No MASCHERANO means this is a good opportunity to see what our team can do without him. Anybody miss CAMBIASSO yet? Anyway...
It looks like Mario BOLATTI has chances of starting and it remains to be seen whether Juan Sebastián VERON will be used and what is going to happen to Maxi RODRIGUEZ and Angel DI MARIA.
Are we keeping them out of this? Are we sending Maxi to the left, use BOLATTI as our central holding midfielder and VERON more on the right?
Are we sticking to the same formation? Three up-front?
Will we see a mix between some starters and some subs? Will it be MESSI-AGÜERO-MILITO?
All starters? TEVEZ-MESSI-HIGUAIN?
What about this option with all subs? PASTORE-AGÜERO-MILITO
I can't believe how many questions I have in my mind right now.
And I still haven't decided on the answers.
But I also think I have to share with you what I would do if I was the manager and I had to make the decisions:
ROMERO: keep giving him the confidence you need from a keeper. Let him get more time to observe the Jabulani and get use to the playing conditions).
BURDISSO: definitely our best option at RB. With or without Jonas available).
DEMICHELIS: he needs to stay. We don't have too many options and he needs to get a chance to recover his self-confidence after the mistake he made against South Korea. A good performance by him, will mean that we have recover an important piece in this team and he'll be fired up for the rest of the tournament).
OTAMENDI: a perfect chance for him to make his debut and do it playing in his favourite position. The pressure in this game will be on Greece and it'll be nowhere near as tough on him as it would have been if he made his debut in the next round).
Clemente RODRIGUEZ: He is a natural LB. We need to use him. He is fast. He can join in the attack if needed. Give him a taste of World Cup football and see how he copes. We need him to be ready in case HEINZE is not available at some point in the future).
Mario BOLATTI: Great opportunity to see what he can do covering for MASCHERANO.
Maxi RODRIGUEZ: You need a natural midfielder to play on the right. If you have three forwards (I don't think we should change what's really working for us right now), then you need players to cover both flanks in midfield. He gives the team a lot of balance.
Angel DI MARIA: I'm sticking with him even if he is not really hot right now. Maybe that's the main reason why I'd keep him. Give him another chance at finding his feet offensively. Same as with Maxi, you need someone on the flanks and I can't think of another of the current squad (Jonas is unavailable) who could do the job on the left.
Here comes my main and most painful doubt I have. Maybe the only one.
MESSI or PASTORE.
Option MESSI: You put the fear of God into Greece. They can deny it if they want, but there's no way they will approach this game with the same mentality if they have MESSI in front of them or not.
Reasons why I'd use him? To give him a chance to score. To give the team a better shot at winning this thing and put all ghosts to bed. To give the forwards I'm picking a better shot at finding the back of the net themselves and find more spaces.
Reasons why I'd keep him out of this one? Fear of injury or of him picking a yellow card and then risk getting another in the round of 16 and missing out on our potential QF match.
Option PASTORE: As I said. You give this young guy a chance to make his debut without too many pressures.
Reasons why I'd use him? To see what he can give you. To test a Plan B with a play-maker other than VERON and/or MESSI. Because he can hold on to the ball and always find a team-mate with his great passing range. Because he knows BOLATTI very well for having played club football (very successfully) together at Huracán.
Reasons why I'd keep him out? I can't see too many. The only one would be because I have decided I'm using MESSI. Which I still haven't!
The other two? I'm sure about them:
Sergio AGÜERO: I've never been a fan of Kun. Not that I don't think he's great, because he is. But I never loved his kind of selfish football. He showed it in his last play against South Korea, but up to that point he had already had an assist for Pipita's hat-trick and had participated in Argentina's third goal with a great pass for MESSI that was what really made a scoring chance of that attack. I'd ask him to give the team what TEVEZ did in the first two games. Play a little farther from the penalty area and to open spaces for others.
Diego MILITO: I gave you my reasons above. We already have one striker playing on the back of a hat-trick. Why don't we give our second-choice striker a chance to show what he can do and bet on him scoring too so we can have two strikers on fire instead of one?
So many difficult decisions.
Have you made up your mind already?
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