Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Argentina's Lionel Messi jogs during a training session at Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, June 30, 2014. Argentina will face Switzerland in their next World Cup soccer match, Tuesday. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Argentina practicing penalties before Swiss match
First Published Jun 30 2014 09:49 pm • Last Updated Jun 30 2014 10:39 pm

SAO PAULO • With two World Cup matches already decided in shootouts, Argentina is practicing penalties ahead of its second round game against Switzerland on Tuesday.

Coach Alejandro Sabella on Monday said the Argentines have been shooting spot kicks "in an informal way," though he added that doing it in practice is very different from doing it in front of tens of thousands of spectators with the team’s World Cup survival at stake.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Brazil beat Chile and Costa Rica defeated Greece in shootouts after the games had finished level after extra time.

Sabella said those matches showed that mental strength and character are crucial to advancing in the World Cup, adding that "a gram of brains weighs more than a kilogram of muscle."

He’s got a good example of that in Argentina captain Lionel Messi, the diminutive forward who’s been carrying the team on his shoulders in Brazil.

Messi has scored four of Argentina’s six goals, including an injury-time winner in the second match against Iran.

"Messi is playing a great World Cup," Sabella said. "Obviously he is a decisive player for us."

Apart from Messi, though, Argentina lacked sparkle in its group-phase matches. Its defense was shaky against Nigeria and its attack faltered against Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Sabella said at times the team has become disjointed, pulled apart by the speed of its own attack.

"Sometimes we get stretched out because we have strikers who are very fast," Sabella said. "I think in modern football it’s important that teams remain compact, that the distance between defenders and strikers is as short as possible, and that’s what we’re going to try to achieve."

story continues below
story continues below

With a team that’s seen as front-heavy — with stars like Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, and Angel Di Maria in the attack, but a relatively modest defense — Sabella also stressed the need to keep the team balanced. He reached for a basketball metaphor to make his point.

"If you watch an NBA game and one team is attacking the crowd is shouting ‘defense,’ defense, defense. And with football it’s the same: attacking and defending and finding a balance," Sabella said.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.