Lizarazu lauds Argentina's craftiness

Former France international Bixente Lizarazu praised Argentina's ability to break up the play ahead of the FIFA World Cup final.

Argentina (two) and Germany (three) - two of the most successful footballing nations with five world championships between them - will meet in the World Cup decider at the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

Alejandro Sabella's men kept four clean sheets en route to the final - more than any other nation in Brazil - including their penalty shoot-out triumph over the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Argentina restricted the Netherlands, who dismantled defending champions Spain 5-1 in their World Cup opener, to just one shot on target throughout their semi-final contest, despite Louis van Gaal boasting the likes of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.

And Lizarazu - a World Cup (1998) and European Championship (2000) winner with France - said Argentina's defensive capabilities could prove to be a deciding factor against the three-time champions, who edged the South Americans in the 1990 final.

"They're a very crafty team – they can slow the game down and dictate the pace," Lizarazu told FIFA.com. "They think about what they're doing and they're not easy to break down.

"Their forwards' speed, liveliness and technical ability are impressive, but what has struck me the most about them is the way they break up their opponents' rhythm.

"The Netherlands were barely allowed to show what they could do, despite the fact that they were one of the most entertaining teams we've seen here."

Lizarazu, who earned 97 international caps, added: "They have made some clever selection choices, with Martin Demichelis starting in central defence, Lucas Biglia moving to a different position, and Javier Mascherano bossing things in midfield.

"All of those tweaks have provided balance to the team. They put in an excellent defensive performance versus Belgium, and against the Netherlands too, where you had two strong defences squaring off.

"They've lost a key player in Angel Di Maria, and it's not clear yet if he'll be able to play in the final, but they've got Lionel Messi, who's been in decisive form, and who also intends to write his own bit of history.

"Gonzalo Higuain has been very good in the last couple of matches, while Sergio Aguero is available again, so there's a lot of attacking potential."


SHARES
comments