Maradona drops back four hint
Otamendi, Demichelis, Samuel and Heinze to start in South Africa
By Jamie Casey
Argentina boss Diego Maradona expects to use the same defence at the World Cup which has kept clean sheets in their last two games.
The controversial manager, who narrowly sealed qualification for South Africa in their final group game, has called up over 90 players for his 16 matches in charge of the national side.
The incredible number of players the Boca Juniors legend has used has triggered a guessing game as to his line-up when Argentina kick off their World Cup campaign against Nigeria on 12th June.
But after 1-0 wins over Uruguay and Germany in their last two outings, Maradona admitted he is leaning towards sticking with the same defensive line-up he used in both matches.
That consisted of three recognised centre-backs in Nicolas Otamendi, Martin Demichelis and Walter Samuel with Gabriel Heinze operating as a fourth in a narrow approach.
The unique formation is Maradona’s response to unsuccessfully deploying attacking full-backs in a traditional four-four-two line up, and he is set to use this tactic in South Africa.
“I tried out lots of full-backs, I tried with [Javier] Zanetti, [Emiliano] Papa, and I finished up with four central defenders,” Maradona said.
“I think I’m going to play like that, they’re the ones who give me guarantees at the back. They didn’t concede a goal and [Germany] didn’t create any goal chances,” he added.
Meanwhile, Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez should not lose any sleep over whether he will board the plane or not, as Maradona claims he would play the 26-year-old even if he were relegated to League One with the Magpies.
As it happens, Gutierrez has already secured promotion back to the Premier League with the Magpies, and he will be involved on the game’s biggest stage this summer.
“I spoke to (Gutierrez) and reassured him that even if he went down to the C (third tier) with Newcastle I was going to take him,” Maradona admitted.