Enzo Fernandez came into this tournament as one of the most promising young talents in Europe. He is enjoying a stellar season for Benfica and is being chased by a whole host of clubs who are looking to bolster their midfield options. However, Messi was always going to be the hero for Argentina at this World Cup so Enzo’s work has largely gone unnoticed. Messi takes his final bow at the World Cup on Sunday and he will need the support of his teammates to ensure a fairy-tale ending.
Argentina have a wealth of midfield options and Fernandez has been part of an extremely well balanced team. Historically, Argentina teams have been top heavy. The quality of their midfield in this tournament has allowed the manager to change his system to suit each match. Fernandez has been an integral part of that.
Enzo Fernandez is adept with and without the ball. He has operated as the most central figure in Scaloni’s midfield in Qatar. He has done much of his work in Argentina’s half and he helps to launch his team’s attacks from deep. The Benfica man is the quintessential deep-lying playmaker. He is averaging 77.4 passes per 90 minutes played in this tournament with an 88.3% pass completion.
Fernandez is averaging 0.8 key passes per match in Qatar; 2 of his 6 appearances have come from the bench. His ability to dictate the play from deeper areas allows his teammates to venture further up the field. In the national team, this allows Messi to occupy the space where he can be most effective instead of looking to facilitate each attack himself.
The Benfica midfielder also takes on a lot of defensive responsibility. He has great strength and possesses the tenacity you expect from Argentinian footballers. His aggression and willingness to get stuck in make him a formidable opponent.
Fernandez is averaging 2 tackles per game in Qatar. Argentina are yet to play a team with the quality that France have but Enzo has shown he can step up at club level. He makes 3.8 tackles per game in the Champions League. Significantly more than the 2 per game he averages in the Portuguese League. This makes him a reliable presence in front of the backline.
Enzo is rarely dragged out of position and is able to break down opposition attacks before they can directly attack the Argentine defence. Such defensive discipline can only be achieved with astute tactical awareness.
Fernandez is also a threat at the other end of the pitch. He scored in Argentina’s crucial clash with Mexico. He picked up the ball from Messi from a corner and carried the ball into the opposition penalty area before finding the net with a superb curling effort.
His positional awareness and strength that serve him so well in the defensive phase of the game are also useful weapons when attacking. He finds pockets of space to receive the ball and he is extremely difficult to dispossess. Enzo is averaging 1 shot per game in Qatar. He hit the target in the semi-final against Croatia and hit the woodwork in the quarter-final versus the Netherlands. He is priced at 3.10 for a shot on target here.
World Cup Final…
France have a great deal of pace in their team and will look to exploit the space left by the Argentines in the transitions. Enzo’s defensive awareness could prove to be pivotal in stopping Mbappe and Dembele closing in on the Argentine defence when an attack breaks down.
As a deep-lying midfielder, he will also be in direct opposition with Griezmann. France’s most advanced central midfield player is enjoying a fantastic tournament operating just behind Giroud. He has found space in between opposition lines and has 3 assists so far.
Deschamps doesn’t favour a possession based system so Fernandez should have the opportunity to make his mark when in possession of the ball. The French had just 39% of the ball against Morocco. Enzo will need to select the right passes in deeper areas of the pitch to ensure that there aren’t too many bodies between Messi and the goal when he receives the ball. Lionel has produced plenty of magic in this tournament but his task on Sunday will be made easier if he can receive the ball when isolated one-on-one with the French defenders.
There will be so much focus on the attacking talents of both teams, space could open up for Enzo to have a shot himself. He had a decent effort from outside the area against Croatia with the scores at 0-0. With the scores at 2-2 against the Dutch, he hit the post from 20 yards out with moments left in the match. Expect him to try his luck if the scores are level on Sunday.
Our Argentinian World Cup expert has picked out the following value bet 👇🏼
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