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Messi wide right, Tevez could be number nine - Martino

12 November 2014, 09:21

London - Argentina coach Gerardo Martino kept his cards close to his chest on Tuesday over his lineup for Wednesday's friendly against Croatia and whether Lionel Messi and the recalled Carlos Tevez would start together.

Martino, who took charge when Alejandro Sabella stepped down after leading Argentina to the World Cup final in Brazil in July, said he was still at the stage of viewing players and introducing them to his tactics rather than settling on a fixed 11.

Argentina meet Croatia at West Ham United's Upton Park stadium in east London (1945 GMT) before heading to Manchester for a second friendly against Portugal at Old Trafford next Tuesday.

"I see Messi as a wide player on the right, otherwise he would be a fourth number nine," Martino said, pointing out that Argentina are well stocked for central strikers.

"(Gonzalo) Higuain doesn't play the same way as (Sergio) Aguero or Tevez, but in a system like ours one of them has to play as a nine," he told a news conference at Rush Green, site of West Ham's academy, before taking charge of training.

"It's going be difficult to see all of them together, at least at the beginning of a match."

Tevez, overlooked during Sabella's three years in charge, is hoping to make his first Argentina appearance since July 2011, when he was part of the team that lost to Uruguay on penalties in the Copa America quarter-finals on home soil.

Martino said there were four basic tenets to how he wants to see his team play.

"A team with good circulation (of the ball), good build-up, who press well high up (the pitch), deep but balanced to occupy the spaces left at their backs as a result of looking (to attack), that's what we're trying to do," he said.

"The match against Brazil made that very clear to us, dominating play in the opening 25 minutes and then an hour in which our domination was unproductive," the former Barcelona coach added.

Also read: Red card for Nations Cup hosts Morocco

Argentina lost 2-0 to Brazil in Beijing on tour in Asia last month before crushing Hong Kong 7-0. Martino's debut match in September was a 4-2 away win over Germany, who beat Sabella's side to lift the World Cup.

"These tours are very important as they give us time to work together," said Martino, who finds several of his players in good club form, notably Aguero, who is the Premier League's top scorer with Manchester City, Tevez at Juventus and Higuain with Napoli.

"The national team processes that left a mark on the history (of the game) always coincided with the good form of the players at their clubs. When a player is feeling good he makes a big impact (on the national team)."

- Reuters


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