It was too much to take for Argentine fans. No match is easy and no opponents are weak in a World Cup. Yet, it may seem unfair for Argentine fans to go through a nerve-wracking, nail-biting win once more against a not-so-fancied opponent.
The game came so close to penalty kicks! Switzerland missed twice in the final minutes of extra time after the Argentina goal, including Blerim Dzemaili hitting the post from point blank range.
Argentina were lucky indeed to get away with a nervy, unconvincing 1-0 win when midfielder Angel Di Maria placed a Lionel Messi pass into the far corner with his left foot. A Messi-Di Maria duet ended in the all important goal. It was indeed a good duet, but Argentina needed many.
The match is an eye-opener for Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella. His strength is also his weakness. Coaches in the opposite camps are trying with some success to exploit his Messi strength as his Messi weakness. When a coach has a player like Messi in hand, it's only natural for him to let the team revolve round him. Argentina played so far centring on the Fifa's four-time world player of the year.
So, strategy for Sabella's rivals is pretty simple: Neutralise Messi to neutralise Argentina. Luckily for Argentina, Messi is a player of unbelievable ability. With some mysterious sways, he, at times, could free himself from the defence shackles placed around him to score in all but the Swiss match.
Switzerland players could implement their Messi plan quite successfully. Messi was always manned at least by three players. The lone goal, however, resulted from over-manning of Messi in the 118th minute of the game. The entire Swiss defence swarmed Messi, eventually giving Di Maria a little more space for his shot.
But that may not happen in all the matches Argentina play. Sabella has two days in hand to devise a counter strategy before his men face Belgium in the quarterfinal.
The Argentine teams of 1986 and 1990 rallied round Diego Maradona, almost identically. Carlos Bilardo lived up to his reputation in 1986 as one of the shrewdest coaches in the world, inspiring Argentina to their Cup glory.
Bilardo masterfully exploited opponents' over-attention on Maradona by dropping the legend down in the midfield and pushing midfielder Batista up a little as his shield. Maradona himself scored and, when he couldn't, he made Burruchaga and Valdano score.
We haven't seen Messi doing anything like that yet. It may happen in the next match.