Here's how Argentina's coach screwed up the World Cup final

Martin Rose

Sigh, Alejandro Sabella.

It's halftime in the 2014 World Cup final, and Argentina appear to have the measure of an ostensibly stronger Germany. They're defending pretty well, and killing Die Mannschaft with their incredible pace on the counter-attack.

Then, at halftime, coach Alejandro Sabella brings off their best attacker, Ezequiel Lavezzi. A substitution forced by injury, surely?

Afraid not.

In the history of tactical substitutions, this is probably one of the most illogical.

Instead of taking off the slower, more immobile Gonzalo Higuaín, who had already missed a one-on-one and appeared to be off, Sabella took off the lightning-quick Lavezzi, who was the ideal man to target the Germans' makeshift left-back Benedikt Höwedes. Lavezzi was enjoying his best half of the tournament, and was consistently a lethal attacking outlet for Argentina.

It's no coincidence that after he was replaced by a slower, less-direct Sergio Agüero, the pace of Argentina's attacks slowed and Germany were allowed to take control of possession and dominate the game. Argentina lost an intensity that they never managed to recover.

Making matters worse, Agüero didn't look totally fit, having only just recovered from a thigh injury that initially looked like it would rule him out of the tournament. Hurrying him back probably wasn't the best decision. Throwing him on for Lavezzi definitely wasn't.

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