Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’
In the Copa America competition, as well as South American football in general, when “giants” of the region are mentioned, it is really referring to only two teams. The two teams are Brazil and Argentina. Copa America itself is actually all about these two teams. It is just like a special festival created just for the clash of these two teams, with the rest of the participating countries in the competition just to make up the numbers and to complete the “Festival”. Just take a glance at the group draw. Brazil and Argentina are allocated to one slot in Group B and Group A respectively. Argentina is in Group A because they are the hosts of this competition. However, Brazil are allocated a different group and not in the same group as Argentina. The reason is of course the seeding system in place in which the giants of the competition cannot be in the same group, and that a group will be comprised of favorites and underdogs. In this set-up, assuming that Brazil and Argentina make it through the group stage and win every single match afterwards, they will only meet in the Final of the competition. To be frank, this is the final everyone associated with the competition wants to see. Clash of the titans, clash of the world’s best players. Dream and epic final. Everything is set, but sometimes scripts are not to be followed. At the time of writing, the quarter finals stage of the competition have been concluded, and Brazil and Argentina have crashed out of the tournament.
Some fans might react to this news just like how English fans reacted to the news of their national team’s shock 0-1 defeat to the United States in 1950. They might think that there are printing errors in the newspapers or websites that they are reading, or disruptions in the radio or television signals. The final of Copa America have been contested between Argentina and Brazil in the past 2 editions since 2004, and this is a period of 7 years. Fans are sure to have got used to this final match-up. It might be weird to see the semi-final consisting of Venezuela, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. This is so even though these teams have their superstars as well such as Jose Paolo Guerrero (Peru), Juan Fernando Arango (Venezuela), Diego Forlan and Luiz Suarez from Uruguay, as well as Roque Santa Cruz and Nelson Haedo Valdez from Paraguay. Still, Copa America seems to have just lost most of its gloss with the demise of BOTH Argentina and Brazil. Their demises can be summed up by the abbreviation “IOU” which is in this case stands for Ineptness, Overhyped, and Unfocused.
The first component of the IOU is Ineptness. For fans of Brazil and Argentina, especially those in those countries, associating these teams with the word “inept” is certainly an outright blasphemy. However, ineptness can be identified within the two South American footballing giants and they have themselves to blame for their predicaments. For Argentina, it was widely expected that they would have steamrolled past their group matches against Colombia as well as the two minnows Bolivia and Costa Rica. Argentina failed to win their first two matches, and in these matches Argentina struggled to find the winning formula suited for them. It seemed that they were without clear and coherent plan as they mixed and match tactics and formations on these two matches. The inclusion of Tevez is another one, in which the manager Sergio Batista had made it clear Tevez will not feature in his plans. However, Batista, seemingly being indecisive or succumbed to the relentless media pressure, includes the Manchester City (for now) forward at the very last minute. For Brazil, their ineptness stems from the fact that they do not look like a team at all. They simply do not operate as a unit, more of a hastily assembled individual stars with little team chemistry. The focus is on individuals instead of the team, such as how in the tournament it could be seen –and not helped by the media hype- that Dani Alves and Maicon are jostling really hard just to grab the right back berth in the team as their own. Only victories in their respective last group matches propelled them through the group stage.
At this point, it seemed that order had been restored. Despite their atrocious starts, both Argentina and Brazil managed to get through their groups and now it seemed that the much anticipated and hyped final between the two giants are on again. Turned out that their slow starts were not merely “warming up” before the competition gets to the crucial knockout stages. They were duly knocked out in the quarter finals stage. While many would ardently argued that the manner that both team lost was a lottery (ie. Penalties), with the stars at their disposals, Brazil and Argentina should have the firepower to see off Paraguay and Uruguay respectively before 90th minute.
The second component is Overhyped. To be air to both teams, the catalyst of this is undoubtedly the media. Almost if not all of the spotlights in this competition are aimed at the two teams alone. The other 14 teams seem to be left in the dark with no attention whatsoever to them. As mentioned earlier, Copa America is only hyped as the battle of supremacy between Argentina and Brazil. The media does not stop there, however. They even create another battle to be hyped up at the micro level, which is the battle between Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s rising star Neymar. This battle is so hyped up that the media have started to compare this battle with the gigantic battle between Diego Maradona and Pele himself.
While it is true that the Argentine and Brazilian superstars are supposed to be able to professionally handle such media pressure, it cannot be denied that such pressure will adversely impact the whole teams’ morale. Every inch of their movements are being assessed thoroughly. Any misplaced pass, any small trip, every blade of grass covered by the players, especially Messi and Neymar are put under scrutiny. No matter how professional of superstars they all are, they are after all human beings. They will be affected by the gaze of the whole world on them. Sub standard performance follows, and knock-out the next to follow. While they are being scrutinized 24/7, other less heralded teams in the competition such as Peru and Venezuela can go about doing their business in the competition with less pressure away from the glaring spotlight and media scrutiny.
The third and last component of the IOU would be Unfocused. While players of teams like Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Paraguay simply focus on the task at hand, focusing on how to bring glory to the shirts that they have rightfully earned, the Argentine and Brazilian players are already focusing on the glaring and glamorous lights of Milan or Madrid rather than the competition. We could see how firstly, Neymar and Ganso are already busy looking forward to their European adventures as top clubs all over Europe are constantly jostling with each other to get their signatures, while players like Aguero are more focused on stating how unhappy they are in their current club and wanting “new challenges” in a more glamorous and richer club. All of these European transfer speculations can only be detrimental to the performance of these Europe based players and also those about to make the great leap forward in their careers by securing moves to top clubs such as AC Milan and Real Madrid.
However, to be fair, especially for the last part (unfocused), the sub standard performance of Argentina and Brazil can be attributed to the fact that most of them have been in a grueling season. They have played as many as 50 high stake matches week in week out, and the last thing they want to do is to still be toiling around those pressure cooker matches during what is supposed to be their well-earned summer break. This issue can be related to the “club vs country” debates that are always perennially raging across the football world.
A Copa America without Brazil and Argentina will feel dull and incomplete. However, we have to give credits where it is due. This Copa America somehow shows how football has won. This phrase is almost always used when less heralded underdogs have risen against the supposedly superior teams. Copa America has been hyped up as the battleground of only Argentina vs Brazil, and the stage and arrangements have been set so that they will meet in the final of the competition. Despite this, the underdogs have risen, and they have deserved their slots in the semi-finals with their tough fighting spirits until the end. Let us enjoy the semi-final stage onwards where those who have been in the shadows have finally risen to take their deserved spotlights.
In this second part about Argentina’s visible gaping holes in their squad, it will now be about Javier Zanetti’s possible impacts on the team had he been included in Maradona’s 23 man squad alongside Esteban Cambiasso, whose analysis on his possible impacts have been explained in part 1. To be frank, no matter how well argued arguments such as the one written by yours truly in part 1 about the justifications for Cambiasso’s inclusion in the squad, many would be able to still argue against it in a relatively effortless manner. However, for Javier Zanetti’s inclusion, in which he would have been occupying the right back berth in the squad, there can be a much stronger case for his inclusion considering how that right back position has been a continuously persistent problem in Maradona’s squad. Also, we have to bear in mind that all four goals that Germany scored against Argentina in that embarrassing 4-0 thrashing of Argentina came from the Germans’ left flank (in other words, Argentina’s right). Besides that, Javier Zanetti’s inclusion will certainly add a plethora of dimension to the Argentine squad and will no doubt massively strengthening it as a whole, and all of these will be outline in the following paragraphs.
Argentina’s and of course their manager Diego Maradona’s dreams to join Franz Beckenbauer to have won the World Cup both as his country’s captain and manager ended unceremoniously as they were utterly obliterated and generally capitulated ironically against an extra terrestrial Germany that is sure to be on a different time frame (faster) than their hapless opponents and simply thrash them one by one like pathetic mosquitoes facing the electric mosquito racket. As many people within the footballing universe have now grown accustomed to, even prior to this World Cup campaign, fans around the world, mainly Interistas and people who suddenly become Interistas after their marvelous Treble winning campaign have been constantly voicing out their utter discontent over Maradona’s decision to exclude both the defensive midfielder Esteban Cambiasso and right back Javier Zanetti. At first I was baffled with this persistent complaints from the Interistas as I am not one of them, and I simply dismissed their complaints about Cambiasso and Zanetti as a simple example of a case of sour grapes towards Maradona as two of their key players in their aforementioned Treble winning season are not selected. This was even more so when Argentina blitzed through the Group Stages with three wins out of three even though they were against Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece.
Just after the Group Stage matches have been concluded in World Cup 2010, South American countries were so dominating with every single countries qualified to the last 16 in a so scintillating manner beating everything in their path and playing beautiful football yearned so much by fans to boot. Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay all qualified in a convincing manner into the last 16 of the competition. At this point of time, I even read a long-winded and detailed assessment on the various reasons for the dominance of the South American countries, and of course laced with superlatives. But, something went terribly wrong from there onwards as the South American countries fell out one by one from the competition. Argentina were dumped unceremoniously last night against Germany in which it was really supposed to be a tightly contested match between two giants in the game, but Germany were so extraterrestrial that it did not happen. Germany totally and thoroughly obliterated Maradona’s boys, and to think that Thomas Muller, the one Maradona “mistook” as a ballboy in a press conference dishing out the most damage, I shudder to think what Maradona would be feeling right now.
Vamos! Argentina have just become the first country to go through from the Group Stage of the World Cup 2010 thanks to the impressive victory against the unsurprisingly resolute and hard working South Koreans! This victory was down to the sheer genius of Diego Maradona, the Argentina manager who initiated a match defining, masterstroke substitution to kill off any remaining challenge from the South Koreans! To be fair to the South Koreans, they were resolute and looked like equalizing or even overturning the Argentine until the aforementioned genius masterstroke decision from the legend himself! Maradona is also the first manager who deviated from the cowardice 4-5-1 formation to play the brave and attacking 4-4-2 Diamond formation, which is my personal favorite formation of all. Despite this crushing defeat, the South Koreans is pretty much in he competition and likely to join Argentina to go through from Group B. But how hard it would be depends on the match between Nigeria and Greece very soon from the time of writing.
The second opening game for World Cup 2010 Group B was the match between Argentina and Nigeria. The match ended 1-0 to Argentina’s favor, but in truth, it was a surprisingly very tight and well-balanced match in which I believe Nigeria was rather unfortunate on not being able to at least equalize. Prior to the match, both teams have had their respective plans laid out. Argentina started with the attacking trident of Higuain, Messi (who was given a free role), and Tevez. While Nigeria started out with Yakubu as their sole attacking lone spear but reinforced as the match wears on especially in the second half. Another interesting point is Juan Sebastian Veron’s role in the Argentina squad as well as some players form both sides that attracted attention in the match. Since it is of no secrets by now that I am tipping Argentina to win this year’s World Cup, the points which I will be making below are mostly about Argentina, but I will try my best to include things that caught my eyes from the Nigerian team in the match as well.
After the Champions League Final festivities have settled, it’s now back to the anticipation and perhaps anxiety towards the long awaited World Cup 2010. Recently, I tried to do a survey on a sample of football fans. Due to mainly financial, resources, and time constraints, I only managed to survey 10 football fans. I simply asked each and everyone of them which country he/she thinks is going to win the World Cup. Amazingly, 9 out of 10 answered Spain as the country that is going to continue their recent supremacy in the world and grab the famous Jules Rimet trophy in South Africa, while the odd one out voted Brazil as the winner. This shows how Spain is seemingly a shoe-in to win this year’s edition of the World Cup and that the roles of the other teams in the competition is reduced to basically to make up the numbers of 32 participants. But to them, Spain is the only one in the competition, and their triumph is a given. Is it that easy? Despite the overwhelming response favoring Spain, I believe even if I had increased the sample size to 100, I would still get at least 90 responses favoring Spain. But I beg to differ, in fact, I don’t think Spain is capable of winning this one and as what I have been mentioning many times, I am tipping Argentina to win this one. The following are the reasons why Spain will not win this edition of the World Cup.
After witnessing scintillating ends to the top European leagues such as the Barclays Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and Italian Serie A, the attention is now diverted to the southern hemisphere in anticipation to the long awaited start to the 2010 edition of the FIFA World Cup. 32 teams will be, technically at least, be competing fiercely for the biggest prize of them all, the grandaddy of the footballing universe. It is no secret that I personally am tipping Diego Maradona’s Argentina to win this World Cup, although one could see a plethora of journalists and pundits alike dismissing Argentina’s chances to win the World Cup. However, it is not the time to debate about Argentina’s chances per se, this is about their much derided manager Maradona, who has infamously utilized no less than 100 different players in their shaky and precarious qualification campaign and also infamously snubbing stars such as Juan Roman Riquelme and Diego Milito in favor of players such as Martin Palermo and Ariel Ortega. The question to be asked here is that, is it really fair and correct to label Maradona as crazy and incompetent, echoing the aforementioned journalists and pundits? Or is Maradona’s bizarre tactics and selections so far is a fruit of his genius footballing brain?