Ardiles: Argentina like a car in first gear

The 61-year-old has called on the squad to start playing more dynamic football and thinks their last group game against Nigeria will be a tough test

Ossie Ardiles has expressed his worry about Argentina’s performances so far at the World Cup – saying they are like a "car in first gear".

Alejandro Sabella’s team have qualified for the knockout round of the tournament in Brazil after back-to-back wins against Bosnia-Herzegovina and a last-gasp victory over Iran on Saturday. 

However, Argentina’s victory against Iran was a hard-fought one and required captain Lionel Messi to come to the rescue with his sublime long-range strike in the 91st minute.

With the team labouring to a win in Belo Horizonte, Ardiles has admitted that Sabella’s men need to improve as a collective by being more dynamic and quicker with the ball.

"The good news is that Argentina have qualified for the second round after only two games, and that Lionel Messi is looking brilliant," the World Cup winner told The Times of India.

"The bad news is that Argentina are not playing as a team. That is very, very worrying to be perfectly honest. If we don't improve, we are going have a problem in the second round.

"At the moment Argentina is like a car in first gear, and we need to get into second quickly. There are some wonderful players who have so far not done much - like [Gonzalo] Higuain, [Sergio] Aguero and [Angel] Di Maria.

"Aguero, for example, had a brilliant season for Manchester City and was one of their main players along with Yaya Toure. I would say the team is not helping them play well."

Ardiles added: "It's not about the system: we just have to move the ball a lot quicker and our passing has to be more flowing and dynamic. This is not happening at the moment.

"Our counterattacks need to be much quicker too. We are too slow to react between winning the ball and attacking."

Argentina require a draw against second-place Nigeria to top Group F when the two teams meet in Porto Alegre on June 25 – a game that Ardiles thinks will be a tough test for the Albiceleste.

"Nigeria, who we are up against in the final group match on Wednesday, did not have a good game against Iran but were so much better against Bosnia," he said.

"It is going to be tough and Argentina will have to be on top of their game if they want to win the group."