Argentina are one of the traditional powerhouses of world football. Two of the very best players of all-time, Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, have donned the Argentina shirt and lit up any football pitch they graced.
At the World Cup Argentina have triumphed twice, first at home in 1978 and then in 1986. They have also be beaten finalists three times including in 2014. They’ve also claimed 14 Copa America titles and been runner-up in four of the last five tournaments.
Argentina’s relative lack of recent success has been a blight on their national honour as they seek to catch up to rivals Brazil. In Football Manager 19 you have the opportunity to take over as Argentina boss and finally break their barren spell. If you can bring home a third World Cup you’ll be a national hero, but how? RealSport has the answers.
Expectations & Philosophies
There are no expectations when you take over as Argentina boss, or any philosophies the board would like you to use. This is good as it frees you up to be tactically experimental and create a tactical style that plays to the strengths of your squad.
Once the Copa America and the World Cup comes around you will be expected to make deep runs in each competition. The draw for the 2019 Copa America is done in October 2018, and once the tournament is scheduled the board will expect you to reach the final, which means you need to fill your friendly slots and begin to find a tactical style you can win with.
Argentina are blessed with a lot of talented attacking players, and this opens up a realm of possibilities when it comes to playing with the ball. However, Argentina are less gifted when playing without it, and that means that any tactic that is too forward-thinking could quickly backfire on you. Argentina were dumped out of the last World Cup by France in a thrilling 4-3 game. That might be good for the neutral but as Argentina boss you should try to be more defensive-minded than bosses of the past.
For a lot of games you will be on the front foot, meaning a vertical tiki-taka approach is the best. It will suit the quality of attacking player you have, especially straight out of the gate. When you are up against stiff competition such as Brazil or Chile then a fluid counter-attack style could be the key to keeping a clean sheet and unlocking their defence.
With the tactical style set we can get on with filling out our formation. A 4-3-3 formation would suit the personnel Argentina have, and the one we want is described very specifically by FM19 as 4-1-4-1 DM Wide.
This would see Agustin Marchesin in goal with a back four of Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, and Nicolas Tagliafico. Leandro Paredes will sit in front of the back four in the regista role while Ever Banega and Franco Vazquez act as the midfield duo trying to link up to the front three of Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria, and Sergio Aguero.
With the fluid counter-attack tactic you can keep the same formation but it will just change up some of the duties and roles of the midfielders and make the general team less forward-thinking.
Which players can you lean on for Argentina? Who will be the vital pieces of your Copa America campaign?
Lionel Messi, Barcelona - CA 4.5 star (195), PA 4.5 star (199)
The greatest player of his generation, Lionel Messi has done everything but taste success in a national shirt. At Barcelona he has played 15 seasons with a ridiculous 595 goals to date, winning 9 La Liga titles, 4 Champions League trophies, and 6 Copa del Rey's. Messi's quality is without doubt, and in Football Manager he is a remarkable player with 20 balance, 20 dribbling, and 20 finishing. At 31 Messi may not make it to the 2022 World Cup, but he will be the leading man once again at the Copa America.
Sergio Aguero, Man City - CA 4 star (178), PA 4 star (183)
Sergio Aguero has been a dominant striker for a long time now. He made his name at Atletico Madrid before moving to Man City for £35 million in July 2011. Since then he has become City's leading scorer of all-time and is still steadily moving up the Premier League top scorer list. In Football Manager 19 Aguero has excellent movement skill with 18 off the ball and 18 acceleration, giving him the room to tuck the ball away with that 17 finishing.
Paulo Dybala, Juventus - CA 4 star (172), PA 4.5 star (185)
Dybala is Argentina's heir to Messi. At just 24 when FM19 starts he has a long future ahead of him and has already become a leading star for Juventus. As a creative force Dybala can put the ball away and set up his teammates while playing almost anywhere across the front line. In FM19 his 19 technique and 18 first touch make him deadly, while 18 dribbling and 15 finishing means he can threaten a defence from anywhere.
Who are the future stars for Argentina? Which players could force their way into the Copa America squad and be in the starting lineup at the next World Cup?
Lautaro Martinez, Inter - CA 3 star (145), PA 4.5 star (150-180)
Lautaro Martinez got his start in football with Racing Club before moving to Inter Milan in July 2018 for around £23 million. Since then he has pushed his way into Inter's team and started scoring goals in Serie A. He is just 20 when you take over Argentina in FM19 and still a raw player, but his 16 finishing and 16 first touch makes him already a quality option up front, and his 20 determination means he is likely to improve quickly.
Exequiel Palacios, River - CA (129), PA (150-180)
Exequiel Palacios has been rising through the ranks of Argentina's youth levels for a while now. He has been with River Plate for his whole career and seems to be set for a big move to Europe soon. In FM19 Palacios is just 19 and is yet to be capped at senior level. With 15 teamwork, 15 vision, and 13 passing already, along with 17 natural fitness, Palacios looks like he will be a key part of the Argentina midfield sooner rather than later.
Thiago Almada, Velez - CA 2 star (111), PA 4.5 star (150-180)
A little further down the line is Thiago Almada. The 17-year-old already had some quality raw stats in FM19, with 16 flair and 16 decisions as well as 13 dribbling and 14 passing. The Velez youngster hasn't been playing senior football very long and won't be ready for consideration at the 2019 Copa America, but come the 2022 World Cup he could well be a leading player for Argentina, especially with that PA range of 150-180.
|Geronimo Rulli||GK||26||Real San Sebastian||144/169||£9m|
|Gabriel Mercado||D (RC)||31||Sevilla||145/147||£5.75m|
|Pablo Zabaleta||D (R) WB (R)||33||West Ham||133/163||£8.5m|
|Ezequiel Garay||D (C)||31||Valencia||148/160||£10.5m|
|Nicolas Otamendi||D (C)||30||Man City||159/159||£38m|
|Federico Fazio||D (C)||31||Roma||149/153||£16m|
|Walter Kannemann||D (C)||27||GRE||144/148||£12m|
|Nicolas Tagliafico||D (L) WB (L) M (L)||25||Ajax||141/143||£6.75m|
|Cristian Ansaldi||D (L)||31||Torino||137/147||£4.5m|
|Ever Banega||DM M (C) AM (C)||30||Sevilla||152/161||£22m|
|Guido Pizarro||DM M (C)||28||Tigres||145/155||£7.25m|
|Leandro Paredes||DM M (C)||24||PSG||143/152||£14.25m|
|Ivan Marcone||DM M (C)||28||Boca||140/142||£1.6m|
|Franco Vazquez||M (C) AM (C)||29||Sevilla||148/153||£14.5m|
|Paulo Dybala||AM (RC) ST (C)||24||Juventus||172/185||£67m|
|Lionel Messi||AM (RC) ST (C)||31||Barcelona||195/199||£85m|
|Sergio Aguero||AM (C) ST (C)||30||Man City||178/183||£75m|
|Angel di Maria||M (LC) AM (RLC)||30||PSG||156/161||£42m|
|Angel Correa||AM (RLC) ST (C)||23||A. Madrid||153/165||£23m|
|Mauro Icardi||ST (C)||25||Inter||170/177||£65m|
|Gonzalo Higuain||ST (C)||30||Chelsea||167/180||£61m|
Sending Messi off in style
It is one of the great travesties of sport that Lionel Messi has not won a trophy with Argentina. Pele and Maradona won the World Cup, Marco van Basten and Cristiano Ronaldo have claimed a European Championship. There is just one chance left for Messi to taste victory with his country, which makes winning the 2019 Copa America an all-important task for you as the new Argentina boss. There is a temptation with this team to try and win every game 5-4, and they have the attacking prowess to do that just often enough to make it tempting, but it isn't a sustainable strategy once you come up against the better teams around the world.
You have play with a more controlling, balanced, style and be ready to park the bus against the likes of Brazil. If you can get Messi a Copa America win before he retires from International football for good then you will be a hero. Follow that up with a World Cup win and they'll be naming cities after you.