Disappointing performance from the proteges of Michel van den Heuvel who lacked the character to covet a 3rd success in the Pro League.
For their return to business in the Pro League, the Olympic champions had the firm intention of starting 2022 with a first victory against Argentina to erase their last disappointing performance against the Netherlands. But the Belgians were also well aware that this first duel of the year would not be easy to negotiate after the intensive training camp in Chile, against an opponent in great shape after the Pan American Games. The start of the match was nevertheless quite good but the last gesture was not precise enough to deceive the vigilance of the South American goalkeeper. However, in the 7th minute of play, it was the local team, via Agustin Bugallo, who took advantage of a little laxity and above all a marking error to deceive the vigilance of Loic Van Doren.
The Red Lions could not impose their game and lacked a bit of percussion to really worry the Leones. But in the 10th minute, on their first shot on goal, Sebastien Dockier deflected a backhand shot from Cédric Charlier into the back of the net. The second quarter was hardly more inspired. It lacked structure and regularity. But also, sometimes, concentration to gain the upper hand over the Argentines despite a domination in the statistics (64% possession, 2 pc, 12 circle entries and 6 shots on goal).
No reaction after an average first period
In the second half, the South Americans retained the dominance of the exchanges. The Lions could not find the parade and lacked aggressiveness in the duels. They only created few opportunities in front of the opposing goal. The game certainly did not gain in intensity over the minutes and Loic Van Doren had to work to keep the score unchanged. At the end of the match, the Argentinians were the most dangerous. And in the 58th minute, on a rather questionable stroke, Maico Casella offered victory to his team for their first Pro League meeting of the season. And despite a last penalty (unfortunately badly stopped), the score did not move (2-1).
“It’s obviously never pleasant to lose an international match,” said Cédric Charlier straight away. “But we have to accept that we are engaged in a process of preparation for the next World Cup. It had been a while since we had played a match at this level. But we have worked a lot during these last 3 weeks. We are disappointed to have lost. But we will analyze what we can change for the second game. It’s never easy to analyze what went wrong on hot. But I will say that we didn’t win as many balls as usual. We were a little disturbed by their game plan and we did not find the parry at the level of the structure. Like against the Netherlands, we struggled with a team that played man against man in defence. But we will have to quickly find a solution to this problem because it will be the tactic used by the majority of teams against us in the future. Finally, in the combinations, we gave a little less energy than usual.
The reaction will therefore be mandatory, this Sunday (11 p.m., Belgian time) during the second duel against Argentina. The Red Lions will have to show more character and desire to correct the situation and return to victory in this Pro League.