The coach of the Argentinian team during the World Cup in Mexico 1986, Carlos Bilardo, insisted for years that his tactical system in that tournament was “the last tactic revolution” in football, with his 3-5-2 structure.
However, now that Bilardo is the manager of this Argentinian team he would not be able to prevent that its coach, Alejandro Sabella, changed completely the idea, not showing wholly his tactic cards in the World Cup and even though we can say the eleven names who will surely start against Bosnia by heart, it is not sure that this team will be maintained during the championship.
Sabella will start with the classic defensive row (Zabaleta, Fernández, Garay, Rojo), three midfielders, two of them more defensive (Gago and Mascherano) and one offensive, that will add himself to the attack (Di María) and three forwards (Messi, Higuaín and Agüero), the same team he used in the last years during the qualifiers and the friendly matches, when the force of the offensive row was confirmed.
However, it is clearer and clearer that once the group phase is passed, Sabella will rehearse other tactics which could even appear in some matches of the first round, due to the fact that, for example, Sabella had already placed in 2013, for a friendly match versus Bosnia in Saint Louis, five defenders, three midfielders and two forwards, with excellent result.
Normally, when Sabella plays with five defenders, he uses the two wing-backs as exits (always Zabaleta and Rojo), and José Basanta as the libero, behind the defensive line, though in the last friendly match versus Slovenia, in La Plata (2-0), he tried also with Mascherano in this position. It did not last long because of Biglia's injury at the start of the match, and his place was occupied by Mascherano, while Argentina returned to a four-men defensive row.
Without any doubt, there was no causality in the missed rehearsal due to Biglia's injury, because with Slovenia in front, Sabella thought in Serbia, due to the physic conditions of the rivals, a common origin, and because some time ago he already won against Serbia with this system. Then, will there be any chance that the Argentinian team will get out in the first match in the same way? It is not easy, but maybe, if it is required, something similar would happen.
What seems clear, is that from the round of 16, depending on the rival they will play with, Sabella would opt for a pragmatic 4-4-2 and in this case, there is even more evidence that he will sacrifice one of the forwards (never Messi, so he will sacrifice Agüero or Higuaín) in order to put the experienced Maxi Rodríguez, who will play his third World Championship.
In this way, there will be maintained the four defenders, in the midfield Gago and Mascherano will close themselves so Rodriguez will play on the right, Di María on the left, and Messi will join Agüero or Higuaín in the front.
Neither should be discarded, for this system (4-4-2), that the forwarder of the Inter Rodrigo Palacio will have a good place: he was winning spaces in the team, to finally be today the first substitute, scarcely at one step of the three main forwards, not only due to a very good season he had in the Italian Serie A but also due to being one of the preferred players of Sabella in the whole cycle, being one of the few who understood well the tactic movements.
Palacio moves as fish in the water on the spaces, evolving from that very good player who was successful with Boca Juniors as extreme on the right side or the left side (as he had versatility to change from the point when it was necessary) but in Italy he converted himself in a total forward plus a better capacity of goal, and in that way he was displacing Ezequiel Lavezzi (of Paris Saint Germain) as first substitute.
What is more difficult to see in this Argentinian team, and it is also strange because of the way the Argentinians historically play, is a link between the midfielders and the forwards. A position which is known as “number ten” in Argentina, the one who 'administrates' the game. Sabella decided to not calling a player of this characteristics, like Javier Pastore, Andrés D'Alessandro or the older one, Juan Román Riquelme.
So, in the World Championship it will be possible to observe a vertiginous Argentinian team more similar to the Real Madrid than to Barcelona, playing with the rival´s error, in spite of having Messi among the players.
What will be difficult, in the future, is to say that the tactic system that will be used will be revolutionary, winning or not the tournament. Even though Bilardo, now manager, is in the group.