Lionel Scaloni sets Argentina up in a 1-4-4-2 formation, which changes with the ball to an asymmetrical 1-4-3-3 or, more rarely, 1-4-2-3-1.
The most common scheme involves the formation of: Angel Di Maria and Giovani Lo Celso as wide midfielders, De Paul and Paredes in centre and Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez as forwards. One of the key schemes in playing with the ball is to move the left-back (Tagliafico, Acuna) forward, which then makes Argentina a back three, while Lo Celso moves inside. Di Maria then generally maintains a wider position on the right flank, which in turn allows Messi to move to the inside right channel and this allows Lautaro Martinez to operate in a more traditional role as a advanced forward.
Shifted to a three-man midfield Lo Celso with Paredes and De Paul provide cover if the ball is lost in the rivals’ half early in the first phase of their action. The two central midfielders then protect the side of the pitch allowing the third (Paredes) to focus on putting pressure on the player with the ball. If the opponent manages to get out from under the pressure and forces midfield, they use a much deeper block in defence creating a compact and tight zone just in front of the defensive line.
In defense they play with very high pressure on the rivals’ defenders and making it impossible to play the ball freely and move in the centre of the pitch, so both forwards try to cover the pivot in the center first.
In this variant both wingers are responsible for blocking and closing down passing options on the flanks leaving the strikers in the central areas.
However when the opponent shifts the game to the middle Argentina lack personnel there and more space is created for the opponent in this area. In such situations, as a rule it is Lautaro Martinez who is sent to the back with the task of covering the zone and closing down the passing angle for the defensive line. At the same time two central midfielders (De Paul, Paredes) limit the possibility of playing a long ball directly to the forwards, so they position themselves a little deeper.
Argentina’s pressing is very aggressive and they do not hesitate to foul if necessary. When the opponent changes tactics to longer direct passes, Scaloni’s boys do not hesitate to give up the initiative, lower the pressing and keep a fairly low defensive line. Strong central defenders (Romero, Otamendi) ensure head-to-head duels are won.
De Paul is a key figure in midfield and very often brings the ball out of his own half, although he is probably the most important player for the defense, as his role without the ball is to move across the pitch and intercept rivals running vertically in from deep.
Argentina’s offensive cannons have adjusted to allow Messi to drop deeper and have a greater part in the action, especially in the center of the pitch. Through this Di Maria moves higher and into the middle, almost like a second central striker. The right defender then moves higher, the central midfielders move closer to the defenders on either side and Messi goes down the center to overload.
In the game from deep in midfield they naturally try to exploit the wider spaces. Whenever an opponent thickens the middle of the field the three midfielders move to the outside of the strikers, and Otamendi often enters the middle of the pitch with the ball to initiate position changes on the left.
Messi and Di Maria get more freedom during offensive actions. Many times during the match they go lower and create overloads on the right wing which after all puts extra pressure on De Paul, as he then needs to make quick and precise one-touch passes towards the right wing and initiate combinations to relieve his team of this pressure.