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Why Is Sergio Aguero Unable to Reproduce Manchester City Form for Argentina?

Why Is Sergio Aguero Unable to Reproduce Manchester City Form for Argentina?

Posted by Juan Gavasa on October 22, 2014

Few strikers in the world are hitting the net on such a regular basis as Manchester City's Sergio Aguero. In Europe, perhaps only Barcelona's Neymar and Real Madrid hotshot Cristiano Ronaldo can match El Kun in pure goalscoring ability right now.

Coming back from the international break, the 26-year-old proved that a gruelling trip to Asia with the Argentinian national team had not slowed him down. Tottenham felt his wrath on Saturday, as Aguero ran riot with all four goals to put the London club to the sword.

CSKA Moscow were next. Although City could not take all three points in the Champions League clash, another goal from their hit man at least secured a valuable draw in Russia. Five strikes in two matches took Aguero to 11 in as many games so far in the 2013/14 season, a fantastic haul.

What's more, that prodigious display at the weekend took the ex-Independiente and Atletico Madrid star to 61 goals in the Premier League, overtaking none other than compatriot Carlos Tevez as City's highest-ever scorer in the English top division since the 1992/93 restructuring.

The comparison with his former team-mate is telling. Just like Carlitos, Aguero's club form stands in stark contrast to the kind of lukewarm international display that led to the Juventus man falling out of favour with the Albiceleste back in 2011. Can Aguero avoid the same fate?

The Superclasico de las Americas against Brazil, played in Beijing, was telling. Where Aguero looks so confident in club colours, here he was insipid and lost in a misfiring Argentina set-up. A glorious chance to take the lead against the Selecao was squandered early on, and Gerardo Martino's men paid the price with a 2-0 defeat to a side galvanised by the return of ultra-pragmatist Dunga.

That point is perhaps important to understanding why Aguero's international form has dropped off so drastically from the World Cup onwards. English football has many great qualities, but defensive stability is not one of them right now. Most teams look to hit directly and move the ball as fast as possible up the field, City being no exception.

As players are committed further up front, the likes of Aguero and Chelsea's Diego Costa are given plenty of space to operate at will. International football, however, is a completely different beast. Dunga's Brazil are perhaps the best exponents of how to frustrate a team fond of bossing possession and territory, stacking men behind the ball and pressuring only in their own penalty area.

It is no surprise that El Kun and Costa, the two best Premier League strikers right now, flounder when their national teams are prevented from playing expansively. But with Aguero, the situation is even more complicated.

In City the striker is used to playing as the focus of the club's attacking energies. But things are not so simple when he travels with the Albiceleste. There, Aguero is tasked with playing off the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain, all stars who look to get forward as much as possible. This crowds out space in the box, sometimes leaving Kun to try too hard for a starring role and snatch his chances.

The forward must look back to 2012 and 2013 to find his best place in the squad. Playing as a foil for Messi and Pipita, Aguero formed an invaluable link between midfield and attack, drifting across the opposition half searching for space and connecting with Di Maria further back.

He may not have found the scoresheet as often as in the Etihad Stadium, but he became an indispensable part of the Argentina forward trident that ripped through South America during World Cup qualifying.

Fitness troubles leading up to Brazil 2014 appear to have prodded Kun to play ever more statically and closer to goal. This may work in the Premier Division, but criticisms are mounting as it appears that the star is not giving his all when playing in the Argentina shirt.

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