Messi scored to help Argentina win against Ecuador in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers but he was even more surprising with the number of touches in the penalty area.
The Argentina squad had a tough start to the 2022 World Cup qualifiers with a minimal win over Ecuador with a goal on penalties.
Lionel Messi continues to play the hero of the team, but this can not hide the fact that the Argentina team has not been able to fully exploit the talent of the Barca star.
Opta’s statistics show that Messi had 70 touches of the ball in the match against Ecuador, ranking only sixth in the team. But the most surprising thing is that the number one attacking star of Argentina has only 1 touch the ball in the restricted area.
That was the situation where Messi kicked a penalty and this was also his only shot on target. The remaining 2 shots both took place outside the box and were blocked.
Messi only touched the ball in the Ecuadorian penalty area when taking the penalty
This poor performance is the result of coach Lionel Scaloni applying the wrong strategy. They started off with a 4-3-2-1 formation, preferring their defense to be more determined than likely attack.
Including the game, Argentine players only had 8 dribbles and the most was Messi (2). After all, Argentina only earned a penalty when Ocampos “recklessly” broke through.
In such a strict discipline, Messi could hardly find a teammate to coordinate the attack.
He was always surrounded by many opposing players, while Lautaro Martinez was almost out of place at the top. Of course, the level of the players is also part of the reason why Argentina’s underperformance.
Obviously, Messi’s situation in Argentina is far from the same when he was playing for Barca. In the last three matches under coach Ronald Koeman, Messi may not touch the ball most of the team but still touch the ball most in the penalty area.
He has a total of 28 touches in the penalty area in the last 3 matches against Villarreal, Celta Vigo and Sevilla.