World Cup: Argentina’s imperfect 10
Belief was growing back home that in Lionel Messi the team finally had a player fit to take the mantle from Diego Maradona. As the goals wracked up dreams of Maradona and Messi making 2010 the perfect 10 for Argentina looked like becoming reality.
With the help of Clarin’s Juan Lagares here’s 10 reasons why it went sour for El Diez in South Africa.
1. Maradona brought no Plan B to the World Cup and was found wanting not just against Germany but in previous encounters against Greece and Mexico. Time and again Maradona looked to the inexperienced Javier Pastore to provide a link between a defence and attack that drifted further apart in each game Argentina played.
2. Maradona shot himself in the foot with bad squad selection, it was even apparent to Kevin Keegan that Nicolás Otamendi was woefully out of depth against the Germans. Sitting at home was Champions League winner Javier Zanetti who along with Juan Román Riquelme and Estaban Cambiasso could have offered Argentina experienced options against a youthful German side. Ariel Garcé did not play a single minute in South Africa so that’s one space freed up. Martín Palermo’s goal may have had fairytale quality but again it was an indulgent pick on Maradona’s part.
3. Maradona installing Gabriel Heinze as an untouchable was never well received in Argentina, the pick baffled even more when Heinze was shipped out from the centre and played on the left. A goal against Nigeria did little to change the mood back home concerning Heinze and the roasting of the entire Argentinian backline by Germany has done even less. Walter Samuel may have added a little more composure but a rift with the coaching staff saw Nicolás Burdisso preferred.
4. Even before Heinze went down on Maradona’s teamsheet Javier Mascherano’s name was already there. The Argentinian captain came to South Africa after a poor domestic campaign with Liverpool which saw him farmed out to right-back. Maradona had Mario Bolatti at his disposal who finished off last season on fire with Fiorentina but once again El Diego would not budge from decisions he had taken 18 months prior to the World Cup.
5. Maradona wasted the talents of Messi by making the Barcelona man the supply line rather than the spearhead. In a display of tactical ineptitude Maradona failed to devise a scheme to get the most out of Messi and forced the pint-sized attacker to look for the ball in the middle third of the pitch rather than feeding him in and around the box.
6. Led by the ever cheerful Maradona the Argentinian camp looked to be in a permanent state of bliss from the outside. Eefore the defeat against the Germans however there were rumblings that all was not quite so rosy on the University of Pretoria campus. Sure, the squad celebrated Lionel Messi’s birthday but Carlos Tévez and others were still seething that nothing had been done to mark Pastore’s 21st four days earlier. Juan Sebastián Verón and Jonás Gutiérrez made their displeasure at being confined to the bench known to Maradona and Samuel was also erupted after being dropped for the Mexico game.
7. Perhaps the harshest lesson for Argentinian players and fans alike was the discovery that Santa Claus does not exist. Maradona has been found out as not only mere flesh and bone but also a coach without a game plan.
8. Whenever picking apart a defeat it is important not to forget the team who inflicted the loss. Germany scored four for the third time at this World Cup, the annihilation of Argentina was a marked improvement on the swatting of England in Bloemfontein. Even more worrying than the tonkings of England and Argentina is the average age of the squad, we could be talking about this German team for a long time to come.
9. Bastian Schweinsteiger prophecy about Argentinian arrogance and treatment of officials turned out to be spot on. Gonzalo Higuaín spent the entire match weighed down by the large chip on his shoulder. At the other end Thomas Müller quickly accepted his fate of missing the semi-final and continued to drive the Germans forward.
10. Following Argentina securing a place in South Africa the head coach launched into an expletive laden tirade at the press. At the same time Verón made a much more measured speech about circumstances surrounding the Argentina national team needing to change. Verón was referring to the constant bickering between long standing AFA president Julio Grondona, team manager Carlos Bilardo and head coach Maradona. Instead of fixing these issues they were swept under the carpet and expect to see the three protagonists slinging plenty of mud at each other in the coming weeks.Tagged in: Argentina, maradona, Messi, south africa, world cup
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