In what has become commonplace at this point, Argentinian National Team Coach Edgardo Bauza has opted not to call up Mauro Icardi for the upcoming international break. Despite 19 goals and 8 assists so far this season the Inter captain has been rejected yet again. Those chosen to lead the attack ahead of him are Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, and Lucas freakin’ Pratto. Yeah, I’ll say it again, Lucas Pratto. I’m sure 99% of you are thinking, “who is Lucas Pratto”? My point exactly.
Pratto is a striker who plays for Sao Paulo. Since their season is just starting up, I’ll use his statistics from last season as an example of what he’s capable of: while playing for Atletico Minero he scored 13 goals and picked up 4 assists in 36 appearances. Let me state again, Icardi has 19 goals and 8 assists in 30 appearances. Take into account that the Nerazzurri attacker is 4 years younger than Pratto and it should be obvious which of the two strikers a rational coach would be calling up.
But that’s not why I called Bauza an idiot in the title. Maybe Pratto brings certain skills to the table that Bauza thinks Icardi doesn’t (for example apparently he is good at holding up the ball and getting his midfielders involved in the attack, though that’s something Icardi has been getting much better at). Maybe Bauza just doesn’t feel like growing a pair and standing up to Diego Maradona who for some unknown reason decided to take upon the mantle of Argentina’s moral policeman (honestly I could do a whole petty article on that but I’m running on less than 2 hours of sleep right now so I’ll stick a pin in that one). The reason I called Bauza an idiot is because of his response when he was asked (again) why Icardi wasn’t called up. What followed was this:
“ For me he’s a finisher. Right now [Gonzalo] Higuain is the starter, [Lucas] Pratto is his replacement. When something happens to one of the two he [Icardi] will be called”.
So in Bauza’s mind Icardi is just a finisher and that’s not what he wants from his strikers. Huh. That’s funny because if I recall correctly Argentina lost their last three consecutive finals. And if my memory serves me right I do believe their biggest problem was that nobody was able to score. Messi, Higuain, and all their other attackers all wasted good chances which eventually led to them losing. It’s almost like they need a finisher. What a surprising concept!
For those ready to argue that Bauza shouldn’t be blamed for those previous losses let’s look at his record since he’s been in charge of the National Team. Since his arrival in August his team has played 6 matches with 2 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses with a goal difference of 0. It looks like the same issues that have plagued them before are still with them. Yet he chooses to follow the path of his predecessors in not calling up Icardi because he’s “just” a finisher. What’s the definition of insanity again?
But hey at the end of the day it works out for us. Icardi not going across the world for international duty means he stays in Milan training, getting to know Stefano Pioli’s tactics better, and most importantly not risking further chances for injuries. So Bauza if you want to continue to be an idiot be my guest, I just don’t want to hear a single complaint from you if (when, we all know it’s just a matter of when) your strikers fluff their lines and cost you some points or a trophy. Bet you’ll wish you had “just” a finisher then?