The man who shocked the world shows France how to defeat Argentina and Messi
Hervé Renard will always remember the World Cup in Qatar. Likewise, everyone will always remember him. We are talking about the French coaching of Saudi Arabia, the only one who has defeated Argentina in this end-of-year competition, in his debut, before the white-and-blue took the “Yrysh” and reached the final.
However, the defeat in the first match of “Qatar 2022” was a tactical masterpiece of the coach in question, who on the eve of the France-Argentina match shows how he managed to stop the most decisive man: Leo Messi.
Argentina played well and ended the first half with a minimal lead. In the second half, the unimaginable happened. Saudi Arabia returned to the field and turned Messi’s national team upside down, reversed the final result.
An apotheosis that saw a risky but successful tactical choice, able to frustrate the Argentine attackers. Credit went to coach Renard, who during the half-time break focused on the pride of his players, encouraging them and telling them which opponent to stop: Leo Messi.
A few weeks after that achievement, Renard wanted to discuss the merits, telling “L’Equipe” how he managed to stop Argentina, today the finalists:
“I admit that I concentrated exclusively on Messi and how to stop him. I had mobilized the left side of the team and during the break between the two halves, my speech was mainly focused on my left wing and a midfielder.
“They were too far away from Messi, while I had organized everything so that there was immediate pressure when he got the ball. They had to jump on him.”
Renard’s tactical study created the ‘tactical cage’ around Messi, now an increasingly evident fulcrum of the Argentinian game: “You have to keep him 35-40 meters from the goal. He should never have freedom of action, Argentina use so much depth in passes.
“I highlighted the defensive line of 5 players, who played with a systematic offside position for the whole 90 minutes. A very dangerous tactic, but it gave us the victory. France also has the cards in order to do this.”
But for Renard, the decisive move was one above all: if it is true that he orientated his team to Messi’s asphyxiating control on the pitch, it is equally true that he succeeded in removing the main source of inspiration from ‘The Flea’; Rodrigo De Paul.
The former Udinese player is almost unanimously considered one of the best midfielders of the entire tournament and for Scaloni he has become a fundamental element in midfield. Renard had the intuition to understand this immediately. Blocking him, Messi also stops:
“You have to analyze Messi in that context, to understand his area of influence and see how the balls reach him. So I realized we had to press De Paul above all else. For me, he is one of the best Argentines and one of the most useful to put Messi in the best conditions, to be decisive”.
Renard succeeded, the others did not have the same intuition and gave up. France, however, in Sunday’s function has found an ally (and a card) more.