Supposedly the side's strength, the Albiceleste attack disappointed again Sunday as key misses by their strikers saw a wonderful chance slip by at Brazil 2014.RIO DE JANEIRO — Argentina's World Cup campaign kicked off last month amid doubts over its goalkeeper and defense. Ultimately, however, it is the famed forwards who have cost the the Albiceleste the game's greatest prize.
Alejandro Sabella's side stayed solid in this tournament, conceding only four goals in its seven games and keeping clean sheets against Iran, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero, previously questioned after spending last season on the bench with Monaco, impressed and was the hero with two penalty saves in the semifinal shootout against the Dutch.
Against Germany, a team that had put seven goals past host Brazil on Tuesday, the defense held firm for 113 minutes until Mario Gotze's extra-time winner.
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Further forward, however, things didn't go quite as planned.
Of Argentina's six goals in the group games, Lionel Messi scored four, while the other two came courtesy of an own goal by Bosnia-Herzegovina's Sead Kolasinac and a header by defender Marcos Rojo against Nigeria.
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In the knockout stage, Argentina managed just two goals in four games. Angel di Maria scored the winner right at the end of extra time against Switzerland after latching on to a fine Messi pass, while Higuain netted a superb strike in the 1-0 win over Belgium. Overall, however, Argentina's forwards (excluding Messi) provided only two goals in seven games and a total of 720 minutes.
Higuain, who later saw an effort ruled out for offside, missed a glorious chance in the final as he dragged a shot badly wide when pouncing on Toni Kroos' careless header. And Aguero, who was injured against Nigeria and missed the Switzerland and Belgium games, made no real impact against Germany apart from striking Bastian Schweinsteiger in the face, while substitute striker Rodrigo Palacio wasted a wonderful opening when he tried to lob Manuel Neuer but saw his shot bounce horribly wide.
"We created the best chances, but we couldn't take them," said Messi — who also dragged a shot off target in the second half against Germany.
Teammate Pablo Zabaleta added: "We were defensively strong, we worked really well and we took advantage of our speed on the break, but unfortunately we couldn't take any of our chances."
Di Maria's departure because of injury against Belgium deprived Argentina of its second-best player for the final two games of the tournament. Without the Real Madrid winger, the Albiceleste failed to score.
In the end, what had been seen as Argentina's major strength turned out to be its Achilles' heel. Ultimately, in what was an extemely tight encounter Sunday, the forwards' failure to convert chances cost Argentina the World Cup.