Tag Archives: Argentina

Argentina – Genuine Contenders?


The general consensus in the footballing world at the moment is that Germany and Argentina have been the teams which have impressed so far at the World Cup. Germany did it against a rather poor Australian outfit, and it could have easily been a repeat of their 2002 opening encounter against Saudi Arabia. Argentina first beat a respectable Nigerian side 1-0, a team that lacks a bit of quality, but to be fair to the South American’s it was just one of those days where the ball wasn’t finding the back of the net. Then last night they played some breathtaking football, to brush aside Asia’s best footballing nation in South Korea. Messi and Tevez ran the show, and Gonzalo Higuain continued on his brilliant goalscoring form which we saw throughout the La Liga season. But the real question is, are Argentina good enough to win the World Cup?

Diego shows how it's done from outside the white lines

Jubalani Shmubalani

Rewind back to the 2006 World Cup, and Argentina were in the “group of death”. They strolled passed Ivory Coast and then produced one of the better international performances in recent times, beating Serbia & Montenegro 6-0. Qualifying with ease, pundits around the word lauded over the Argentinians, putting them down as the team to beat. Then came the round of 16, and an unimpressive  2-1 extra-time victory over Mexico. In the quarter-finals, Argentina lost to the German’s (typically) on penalties. Pekerman came under intense criticism over his decision to use Lionel Messi as a substitute throughout the tournament, as well as the decision to start Cambiasso on the bench in the quarter-finals. But the overall story of Argentina’s tournament was their breathtaking form in the group stages, in contrast to their rather flat performances in the knockout rounds. One would hope this will not be the case this time round.

This World Cup we see a fairly different side though. Mascherano and Heinze are the only two players who regained their spots in the starting XI from the last World Cup. Messi, Tevez, Higuain and Di Maria are some of the most exciting players at the tournament, and they will be the men who can lead Argentina to World Cup glory. Sadly, Gutierrez still finds himself in the team; even more worryingly at right-back. Maradona as a matter of fact cannot fathom an Argentine team without Jonas: “Mascherano, Messi, Jonás and eight more”. Argentina once again also have Jewish representation in their squad – Walter Samuel, who I have been led to believe is a non-practicing Jew. Let’s hope that hamstring injury won’t rule him out the the rest of the tournament.

Last but not forgotten is Diego Maradona. He may not be a tactical genius, but he certainly seems to be a motivational phenomenon. He seems to instil confidence into every player in his team. They all look very comfortable on the ball, and what is very important is that they have been encouraged to express themselves with the ball at their feet. Maradona stuck with Higuain after his assortment of misses against Nigeria, and as we all know, it paid off massively. What Maradona has done brilliantly, is give Messi the license the roam. Messi has been everywhere, and there is no doubt Maradona knows where to start the man, who’s playing style is almost identical to the infamous gaffer. Most importantly, the Argentinian squad all love Diego to bits. They trust him and they respect him, something which cannot be said for the French camp.

While we have to wait and see whether or not Argentina’s brilliant performances will carry through the knockout stages, we can certainly say we have been greatly entertained by Maradona’s men (And Maradona himself, he just can’t help himself when the ball rolls up to him!). Unlike Michael Cockerill (PTS’s favourite journalist!), I am not sensationally claiming that Argentina are the best thing since sliced bread, but with Lionel Messi, and his incredible supporting act, who knows what this team can achieve?


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Group Matches (P)review


Round-up Groups A-D

So the 2010 World Cup is well under way, and with a paltry average of 1.56 goals a game after the first round of group games compared to 2.43 at this stage in 2006, I think it’s fair to say that this has not been quite what global audiences hoped or expected. A closer look, however, would suggest that perhaps this lack of goals is not so surprising; the defensively minded 4-2-3-1 formation du jour has certainly made itself known at the competition. Let’s hope for some more goals second time round!

So, a quick round up and summary of what can we expect from the rest of the group matches:

Group A

Ok, well South Africa have already lost 3-0 to a far more attack minded Uruguay outfit than we experienced against France back in the second match of the tournament, quite understandably. Whilst the scoreline is slightly flattering in favour of the South Americans, they certainly deserved the win, and South Africa’s discipline was poor. South Africa didn’t show the energy and creativity they did against Mexico, and talismanic midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala was wasteful. Diego Forlan proved his worth to Uruguay, scoring the first two goals and playing a part in the third and they now look well-placed to go through the group.

Coming up tonight is France v Mexico, a must-win game for both teams. France will surely drop the awful Govou for Florent Malouda, in the form of his career, and perhaps Franck Ribery will pass the ball to a player? It’s anyone’s guess! It would be nice to see ‘Handball-Henry’ for more than 20 minutes but seems unlikely given Raymond Domenech’s tendency to be a stubborn imbecile. Mexico will look to speedy youngster Giovanni dos Santos again to provide the flair for the team, as well as the basis for everything good they create – another example of a player who hasn’t had much club game time in recent years experiencing a resurgence in his fortunes at the World Cup. And perhaps ManU new boy Javi Hernandez will get a decent run?

Prediction: France 2-2 Mexico

Group B

Argentina escaped the brick wall of Nigeria with a less than convincing 1-0 win, but we were still lucky enough to witness some of the gold that makes Lionel Messi the best player in the world. Some strange decisions by mad-man Maradona, but that’s not really a surprise at all, is it? He came out and said that the only three players guaranteed starting positions were Messi, Mascherano, and Gutierrez – a fairly startling claim considering the wealth of talent in the squad. Then we witnessed the latter playing at right back, quite different from his left-wing berth at Newcastle – another instance of players too good to be left out, perhaps.  A tough game tonight against South Korea will likely prove a greater challenge than Nigeria. The Super Eagles looked strong at the back but were undone by Heinze’s rocket-header into the top-corner early on. They didn’t look so good up front, but with attacking players like Obafemi Martins, John Utaka, and Kanu supporting the Yak, they will always pose a threat, especially in the air.  Vincent Enyeama put in a great display between the sticks to keep them in the match, and they’ll fancy their chances of picking up 3 points tonight against Greece.

South Korea showed that they’ve got what it takes with a solid 2-0 win over a poor and frankly negative Greece. South Korea meet Argentina tonight in what will hopefully prove to be the most exciting game the group, and could well decide first place. Park Ji-Sung looked good, and their stylish play is in stark contrast to most teams in the tournament thus far. They will have to hold back a bit against Messi’s men, but should put up a good fight. Dark horse for the quarters?

Greece have a reputation for being a strong and organised defensive side, but here they were undone by some slick passing, much more of which is to come when they face Argentina. Up front they looked lacking in ideas. Points for them in the rest of the group will be hard to come by. They have a chance to sneak a draw tonight against Nigeria, but my guess says they will finish as group B whipping boys.

Predictions: Argentina 2-1 South Korea

Greece 0-1 Nigeria

Maradona quotes this week:

“I am not afraid of anyone or anything – unless they are wearing a mask…”

On Pele: “He should go back to the museum and stay there.”

On Michel Platini: “He’s French and we all know how French people are. If they say ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ that’s something.”

More insightful than I could ever hope to be. Wonderful stuff, let’s hope they keep coming!

Group C

England opened their campaign with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with the USA – a decent result for them, despite what most people seem to think. St. Stevie’s early goal – a real skipper’s goal – was cancelled out by Rob Green’s decision to let Clint Dempsey’s pass trickle over the line. What? Surely that wasn’t an accident? Whatever. England should still win the group, and they’d better hope they do, otherwise they can expect to face a rampant Germany in the second round, who on first showing will tear them a collective new asshole.  Despite what most critics seem to think I still reckon Heskey was rubbish and should make way for Crouch, or alternatively, Gerrard move forward and Barry take over in the centre. Cole should replace the lacklustre Milner on the left.

The US, on the other hand, looked lively and much hungrier than England, but still failed to trouble the England defenders too much. Altidore was probably the pick of the bunch, strolling past the creaking bones of Jamie Carragher. Some increased invention from his team-mates in their next match against Slovenia could see a fair few goals scored, and if they’re lucky they might edge England out at the top of the group.

The Slovenia v Algeria match was one of the poorest matches yet. No one on the field could come to grips with the diabolical Jabulani ball, with passes being floated almost out of the stadium. The highlight (lowlight?) of the match came when Algerian keeper Faouzi Chouachi threw West Brom alumni Robert Koren’s tame strike into the side of the net. Both teams looked defensive, with chances on goal coming at a premium. Nadir Belhadj looked lively for Algeria, getting forward regularly from his left-back role, but failed to inspire a goal. Interesting statistic: Abdelkader Ghezzal picked up two yellows in just 14 minutes and 19 seconds, making him the fastest substitute to pick up two yellow cards in World Cup history. There’s really not much else to be said about this game. Both teams will struggle again on Friday night and one would expect England and USA to push on from Group C.

Predictions: England 2-0 Algeria

USA 1-0 Slovenia

Group D

Aussie Aussie Aussie! Nein!

No cheering from the Aussies after their 4-0 demolition at the hands of a clinical German outfit that could have scored even more goals. Lucas Podolski played a big part just as the webmaster predicted, and his fine finish in the 8th minute started the rout. Mesut Ozil also had a strong showing, playing in the roaming role behind Klose. Ballack’s absence was hardly noticed with Bastian Schweinsteiger effortlessly slotting into a deeper role. That said, Pim Verbeek’s tactics were extremely negative, choosing not to field a recognized striker in a compact but ill-disciplined and ill-prepared 4-2-1-2-1 formation. Lucas Neill and Craig Moore looked out of their depth and far too slow at the back. Tim Cahill clearly forgot to eat the Weetbix he so heartily endorses. The only positive comments can come from the performance of Brett Emerton, Wilkshire to a lesser extent, and Brett Holman who injected some much needed energy at half-time. Verbeek’s questionable tactics have come under much criticism, and the Aussies will need to bounce back with gusto against Ghana on Saturday night if they are to have any chance of going through.

Ghana and Serbia produced the first victory for an African nation at the tournament, and it was quite an entertaining game to boot. Serbia looked surprisingly frail at the back, and human giant Nikola Zigic was wasteful up front. They failed to produce sustained pressure on the Ghanaian goal and suffered for it. Ghana were slightly better, pressuring the Serbian defence whenever they were in possession. Asamoah Gyan netted a penalty to take the lead after Serbia had gone down to 10 men, and this win gives them a good chance of going through to the next round. Serbia will struggle with the speed and efficiency of the German attack, and a loss will probably knock them out of the running for second round qualification. Ghana face Australia who will be desperate for a victory, and perhaps in this case, desperation will prevail over superiority.

Predictions: Australia 1-0 Ghana

Germany 3-1 Serbia

Acknowledgements: Thanks to editor and minor contributor, Fishface Shakur.

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“Hi ahh FIFA God? I’ve just got 10 questions…”


1. Will there be any innovation?

The World Cup used to the ultimate tactical breeding ground for tactical and the driving force behind football development. Brazil premiered the 4-2-4 at the 1958 World Cup and the world quickly followed suit, only for Alf Ramsey to move things on again eight years later when his Wingless Wonders gave birth to the modern 4-4-2. Holland’s 1-3-3-3 and attendant tactical discipline made a huge impression, both sporting and culturally, in 1974, but in recent years innovation has given way to conformism. Here’s to hoping…

2. Can Spain get the balance right?

As they showed off for the umpteenth occasion in their 6-0 mauling of Poland on Tuesday night, Spain look as dominant a side as ever pitched up at the sport’s showpiece event. The names of their star players roll off the tongue with beguiling ease, but del Bosque has a difficult decision to make about the attacking third. A 4-1-3-2 would allow him to deploy David Villa and fit-again Fernando Torres in attack, but leaves an undermanned defense. A 4-2-3-1 would see Sergio Busquets starting and, remarkably, Torres (largely held in the top 3 world strikers) on the outer. Can Villa and Torres fit into the same forward pairing? Or are they the new Lampard/Gerrard unworkable.

3. Will Dunga’s vision for Brazil be vindicated?

This World Cup has been a long time coming for Brazil. Dunga espoused his tactical vision for the side way back in July 2006 and to date he has enjoyed great success, winning the 2007 Copa América, the 2009 Confederations Cup and qualifying for the World Cup with ease. There’s nothing secret about the system: 2 holding midfielders as guards for the back four, true Brazilian forward minded full backs, Ramires or Elano in the midfield “shuttler” role on the right side, Kaka the creative genius in the central area, with Robinho on the right in a similar role that Bellamy seemed to perform better at Man City. Brazil were favourites last time, so will they live up to the hype in 2010?

4. Will Maradona go with three at the back?

Win, lose or draw, Diego Maradona won’t be far away from the headlines throughout the month. After a tumultuous qualifying campaign, it still doesn’t seem Diego’s settled on a particular formation. The Pumas emphatic 1-0 win over Germany in March (they were clearly the better unit), it looked as though Maradona had finally found a working set up. After declaring “this is the team to win the World Cup” he seems to have rescinded from his remarks and many have speculated that he’ll open with a narrow back 3. Gutierrez will support the defense as a right wing back, allowing the enigmatic Tevez to start alongside Messi and Higuain in arguably the most explosive trio in the World Cup.

5. Can Capello get the best out of Rooney?

Few teams in the competition seem to rely on one player as much as England rely on Wayne Rooney. Throughout qualification, it seemed that Capello had found the formula to extract the rampant best out of his star, but recent disciplinary troubles have emerged and could derail the striker’s and all of England’s hopes. That formula includes the unheralded Emile Heskey. Heskey has been derided and abused for the majority of the past 2 years. But the majority of his criticism has come from uneducated football spectators. Most of the critics acknowledge that Heskey’s role isn’t to score himself, but rather he plays the selfless and industrious role in order to make space for the dangerous Rooney and Stevey Gerrard. To prove my point, this is an albeit diplomatic Rooney,“It’s actually mainly at club level I’ve been [playing more] in front of goal; with England I’ve been playing off Heskey, in the hole, and then when we haven’t got the ball, either me or Steven Gerrard go out and defend for the team on the left,” Rooney explains in this month’s edition of FourFourTwo. Crouch and Defoe have been underwhelming of late and a successful forward pairing will be more crucial than a successful Wayne Rooney.

6. Which African team will stir up some continental frenzy?

The finals are begging for an outstanding African side to upset some of the more fancied outfits. It was always going to be the Ivorians, lead by the flamboyant Drogba, but an atrocious grouping (the number 1 and 3 ranked sides in the same group) coupled with injury to their main weapon has seen optimism abate. Cameroon have shocked the world once before, but don’t seem to have the talent to do it all over again. Ghana are an inferior side without Essien and will struggle in a physical group. Could it be South Africa? The home side has never failed to reach the knockouts, and the second lowest ranked side will need to outperform their wildest ambitions to qualify. They haven’t lost in 12 matches now, and have been in camp for around 3 months – anything passed the group stages could unite a nation with a chequered past.

7. How will Chile’s 3-3-1-3 formation fare?

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Chile finished 2nd in qualifying, scoring 32 goals in just 18 matches (just one less than Brazil). Marcelo Bielsa’s youthful Chile side are somewhat of a revelation and Bielsa’s unorthodox set up will be a refreshing sight. Dominant flanks are the key component – almost daring the opposition to go through the centre – with Udinese livewire Alexis Sanchez and former Liverpool man Mark Gonzalez playing wide alongside the talismanic Suazo up front. The magnificent Matias Fernandez looks a little lonely in the centre circle. Last time Bielsa experimented, in 2002 with Argentina, it was utter failure.

8. Anything worth calling Asia about?

The Aussies are token Asians and are undoubtedly the best chance from the region. But they’ve lucked out in the draw and will need to overcome 3 quality opponents to replicate their success in 2006. Japan looks to be hitting awful form of late, and North Korea will offer more interest off the field. Could it be the South Koreans to shock the globe again? They are a typically organised and efficient Eastern team and are superior to their unflattering FIFA ranking. Recent wins in friendlies have given them a little momentum.

9. Will the US finally prove themselves as superpowers in football?

The Americans are never short of confidence, and 2010 is no different. Their side doesn’t look to have the superstars required, but a nation of this size will be a tough challenge for any opponent. A semi final appearance could be the injection the domestic scene has been hankering out for years…

10. What will South Africa 2010 be remembered for?

Will it be a controversial penalty? A moment of idiocy by a player? An outstanding solo performance? The coming of age for a superstar? The birth of African football? A new footballing giant? Maradona’s nude run?

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Saturday Sugar Special Report – Maradona Watch


This was originally meant to be a part of the Saturday Sugar column, but there’s just so much dirt on Diego that it’s evolved into its own special report by PTS. Come back tomorrow for Saturday Sugar.

MARADONA WATCH

After all the talk and fuss about good ole Diego, he hadn’t done all that much of late. Football fans around the world were getting restless, could it be that Maradona wouldn’t be the hinderance everyone predicted? Well this week answered all this and more, with a bizarre string of stories that assured everyone that he’s a total and utter idiot.

1. If the World Cup lacks anything, then it is nudity. Everyone loves a little skin, and Diego has assured us that we’ll get more than our share. Take note, we can now add “naked fat man” to our tag cloud for Maradona. His promise to strip bare is conditional, however, and for Argentina to win the Cup would be remarkable to say the least. (Just to clarify, Maradona will run naked if the Pumas win the trophy) I’m not sure if his promise acts as any kind of incentive for his players, or anyone really, but I suppose it might be an incentive for himself, or comedic fans everywhere. On a serious note for a second, it doesn’t sound like the biggest vote of confidence in his players. It’s akin to “I’ll eat my hat if Argentina win the world cup”. Anyway – brace yourselves people, if Messi fires, then we’ll get to see Mardona’s penis. (vulgar I know, but for dramatic purpose)

2. Earlier in the week, Maradona came out with the startling and vital news that the toilet facilities in South Africa aren’t up to his apparently high standards. Now, without ever having been to the High Performance Centre in Pretoria, it doesn’t sound like the kind of place to shirk it’s lavatory responsibility. It’s not like it’s a whole in the ground or anything. Anyway, Maradona has insisted on getting his “IntiMist” that includes warm air blow dryers, seated heats, and two jet streams (front and rear). Apparently better than the iBidet (this is all legit – yes, yes, I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s Maradona!) the two new toilets have set the Centre back $900. Maybe it’ll be a collector’s item?

3. If you thought I was finished, then think again! Maradona has come out and encouraged his players to engage in sex throughout the tournament. The following quote just about says it all: “Sex is a normal part of social life and is not a problem. The disadvantages are when it is with someone who is not a stable partner or when the player should be resting. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE ACTION SHOULD NOT REVERBERATE IN THE LEGS OF THE PLAYER.” Just remember, Maradona thought it necessary to tell us this, it wasn’t like he was asked his opinion or anything. Brazilian coach Dunga managed to avoid controversy with the reply of “they can do what they want”, but Maradona just can’t stay on the straight and narrow. Going further, he has disagreed with Fabio Capello’s booze ban slapped on the Poms and stated that he will encourage his players to enjoy a tipple. If that hasn’t proved it, then I’m not sure what will.

Maradona this week has sumptuously ruined my Argentina World Cup experience. I won’t be able to watch Messi without thinking of Maradona taking a dump. I also won’t be able to watch Messi score, because every time he strikes, it means one step closer to a fat naked man on headline news around the world.

Video of the Week

Below is our Maradona footage of the week – classic press conference – this is how it’s done.

Vintage Maradona Quote

“I was, I am and I always will be a drug addict. A person who gets involved in drugs has to fight it everyday” – Maradona, 1996, as part of Argentina’s anti-drugs campaign. Maybe that explains everything…

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World Cup Preview – Group B – Argentina


A few of you readers have been screaming for more and well… here it is! We start our look at group B with Argentina.

THE BASICS

• Nickname: Albicelestes (white and blue sky) (is Pumas only the rugby team?)
• Colors: White and light blue
• FIFA Ranking: 7
• How They Got Here: Finished fourth in South American qualifying, with six losses and more controversy than Justin Beiber.
• World Cup Pedigree: 14 World Cups, winners (’78 as hosts and ’86), runners-up (’30, ’90), quarterfinals (’66, ’98, ’06).

THE PLOT

So much of the talk around Argentina focuses on their manager Diego Maradona. One of the greatest players to ever tie up the laces and grace the World Cup arena is now at the helm for his beloved country, but not before he smashed a whole bunch of drugs and changed body shapes more times than Jenny Craig. The Argy Bargies are one of the most talented sides in the comp and bring a whole lotta samba to South Africa. Expectations are typically high, however, and the pressure to perform is immense. The undisputed best player in the world, Lionel Messi, could be the hero, but rest assured, the cameras will be on Maradona just as much. Will his one man band take some of the focus off his team and help them to win, or completely backfire and leave them unstructured and outplayed?

THE DIRECTOR

Diego Maradona

Where to begin? Maradona should have been the greatest player in history. Have a sneak peak at this: (yes it’s true that’s really him!)

But he was the architect of his own undoing. After leading Argentina to a glorious (and controversial) victory in 1986, he was suspended from football for 15 months in 1991 and booted out of the ’94 World Cup after testing positive for ephedrine. (big muscles, small pipi) He then ate one too many crab cake, and ballooned to an enormous size. Many even suspected he was on the verge of death early last decade. He announced in 2007 that he had quit drinking and using drugs and the cult figure took over as manager of Argentina in 2008. The team has been, to say the least, unspectacular. They lost six times in qualifying, including a 6-1 drubbing in Bolivia. He used 78 players in qualifying, never using the same lineup twice. It must be near impossible for Diego to run a squad like this, or even remember their names, and the majority of the football world wish that he’d just piss off and leave it to someone else. Noted play-makers like Juan Riquelme decided to retire rather than play for Diego. It’s unsure whether world-class midfielder Esteban Cambiasso will even make the final World Cup roster due to his personal differences with the gaffer. Maradona’s time in the job so far will probably be best remembered for his antics when they qualified that included several (sic) graceful swan dives and a whole lot of belly wobbling that made the headlines everywhere.

LEADING MAN

Lionel Messi

Thousands upon thousands of words have been heaped upon the floppy-haired wizard. I won’t spill any more. After all, I think Ray Hudson said it best when he said: “What he is, is like something out of Greek mythology, man. A little short-legged bull, Lionel Messi, covered with eyes.” Or “Messi is to his team what M&Ms are to E.T.” Ray Hudson is a remarkable man. A global treasure. If anyone can understand either of these quotes then let me know…

SUPPORTING CAST

Javier Mascherano (midfielder, Liverpool) is a tireless worker and excellent distributor who’s had a bit of an off season (like most of Liverpool) in the Premiership. He’s an experienced lad who has a certain aura around him that can only help the South American’s cause. Carlos Tevez (forward, Manchester City) is a bulldog with the ball and an absolute terror with it in the box. He’s scored 23 times with Manchester City and showed that he is pure class. Over the last season, he’s revolutionised forward play, showing a willingness to track back and pressure the opposition from the front. He seems to always strive for that extra little bit of effort and could be the inspirational leader that they need. Javier Zanetti (defender, Inter Milan) is a veteran of two World Cups (’98 and ’02) but was controversially left out of the ’06 team. He’s old, and their whole defence is old, but there’s no substitute for experience and Zanetti has bucketloads of the stuff. Esteban Cambiasso (midfielder, Inter Milan) is an interesting addition in this section. Failing to make the squad over and over, Cambiasso may have to leave his legacy as it stands and watch the action in South Africa from the comfort of his lounge room. The bald headed holding midfielder will forever be remembered for scoring that goal that left many a supporter gasping for air after 23 passes. In passthesugar’s humble opinion the likes of Veron should be behind Cambiasso in the pecking order.

GET YOURSELF LABELLED AS “THE HOTTEST PROPERTY”

Sergio “Kun” Aguero (forward, Atletico Madrid) and Gonzalo Higuain (forward, Real Madrid). Maradona will probably not, unfortunately, find room for both these budding stars in the starting lineup (or even one of them) as they face the stiffest competition for a forward place of any of the teams in South Africa. The Madrid duo will hopefully push Maradona’s hand into playing a 4-3-3 that is suited to this particular team if ever there was one. Last time out the likes of Messi rose to prominence and particularly for Aguero a strong showing could see a move to a big, big European club. These guys will mean that Argentina won’t have a problem scoring goals.

THE LIKELY VILLAIN

Maradona

Absolutely no one will be surprised if Argentina wins the entire tournament. On the other hand, no one will be surprised if Argentina loses in the second round (or, gasp, the group stage). Maradona is that bad of a manager.

FORMATION

The team will play a 4-4-2 with Tevez and Messi up front and two defensive midfielders. Diego seems to live vicariously through Messi, as he persists to play the Barcelona star in a similar role to that which he used to fill. Messi is given free reign to float across the attacking third to play the killer ball or make the incisive run that he’s capable of. Alongside Tevez, however, and without anyone playing a midfield distributor role that Messi plays in front of at Barcelona, the formation doesn’t really seem to be a perfect fit. The Argentinians would be better off with a 4-1-2-1-2 or a straight 4-3-3 if Diego can’t do the maths.

THE STRIP

IT’S SORTA LIKE…

Any Jackie Chan movie

Jackie Chan and Diego Maradona are very similar (without the drug part for Chan). Think about it. Both men are amongst the most remarkable specimens in their field (Chan at martial arts, Maradona at dribbling), but both make questionable decisions (Chan making “Shanghai Noon” and Maradona’s cocaine phase). Though, to be fair. Saying that Maradona makes questionable decisions is like saying a hurricane is just an average thunderstorm with a little bit of wind and water. They also tend to be afterthoughts in conversations about the greatest ever because for much of their working life they have been considered sort of a joke. While Jet Li was making serious movies, Chan was doing “The Legend of Drunken Master.” While Pele was selling the game to the entire world, Maradona was getting tattoos of Che on his arm. Having said all of that… most Jackie Chan movies (like “Super Cop” and “Drunken Master”) are awesome. Just like most of the time Maradona touched the ball on the field.

TRAILER
This is what the Argentineans do best: a 23-touch goal that’s just spectacular.

USELESS TRIVIA

The country has one psychologist/psychiatrist per 100 residents.

THE FAIRYTALE SCRIPT

The Argentinian’s fairytale script could only lead to lifting the cup. Who cares about that hard draw everyone’s talking about, Messi and his men sweep their opposition aside with a flurry of passing and wonder goals. The whole thing will end with more swan dives from Diego and just like in ’86, Maradona will be carried from the field after “masterminding” their World Cup winning tactics. In a seemingly eerie resemblance, Messi will show his true class and subsequently begin to take drugs and turn into a Maradona-esque enigma. To cap it all off, Maradona announces the beginning of his campaign to become Argentina’s president while still on the winner’s podium (knocking out the unaware Sepp Blatter in the process). Obviously, he wins, and proves to be a worse ruler than Chavez.

FINAL VERDICT

When I looked at the odds, I simply couldn’t believe that Argentina were so far down the favourites list. Sure, there manager is a total nut-job, but managers of national teams are renowned for being figure heads more than anything else. How much can a manager do in a month anyway? (Watch Maradona make me eat my words with several drunken and nude rampages through Soweto) No team in international football can boast such an array of attacking weapons. They are all proven goal scorers. It seems, however, that every team we’ve previewed so far has a weak defence. Hopefully that’ll lead to a tournament full of goals! For Argentina to really give the tournament a shake up, Messi will have to fire as he does for Barcelona. So far, he’s gone missing for his country, but if he turns it on, then he’ll be able to take care of many of their group opponents by himself.

Sheer attacking brilliance + the best player in the world + an easy group – troublesome defence – joke of a manager – having to face Spain before the finals = A heart wrenching quarter final exit at the hands of the fancied Spaniards. It all seems very cruel, as Diego has finally got his act together. This will be the game of the tournament have no doubts.

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