Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Argentine (World Cup preview part I)

In less than two months, you will no longer be capable of reaching me on my cell phone. You'll have to leave a message. On June 11th, real life stops. For a month. Can't wait. I'm already hearing predictions from fans-turned-pro analysts about who's to win it all. I'm getting some good ones. I'll share some quotes with you in later posts.

The obvious favourites remain: Spain, Brazil. Yeah. In THAT order. But if you apply the 24-year rule (Brazil 1970-1994; Italy 1982-2006), it's Argentina's turn to be Champions, having won it at Mexico '86, 24 years ago. And considering that Diego is back, and that he's found his replacement (who, according to anyone who's seen him violate the Gunners in the Champions League last week, already surpasses his national coach), couldn't make it sweeter for the Albiceleste. Everything comes together so beautifully for Maradona's squad. Messi is in the form of his (very short so far) career; Gonzalo Higuain is outshining Cristiano Ronaldo (who?) at Real Madrid; Tevez is turning recently-known-to-the-world Manchester City into a Champions League side, and so on... Everything comes together so perfectly for Maradona's squad. Except Maradona himself.

His poor knowledge of the job may turn out to be the only thing that can stop Messi from shining for his country this summer. Once one of the most feared forwards in Football, Diego Armando Maradona has become a laughing matter at the International level, as a manager. After Argentina booked their spot in RSA at the very death, courtesy of veteran penalty-expert Palermo, one could only wonder which hand Maradona will play to turn his fortunes around as the national Boss, come summertime. No "Hand of God" will help against Nigeria and South Korea in the group stages. He'll have to know his opponents and not underestimate them. He's got to pick the right players (Javier Zanetti, Cambiasso and Riquelme all have to be back on the squad) at the right positions (sounds obvious? not to him). Otherwise, you can forget about the magic of Messi, the hard work of Tevez and the sharp finishing of Higuain and Milito...

It's going to be cold in South Africa,and games will be played at high altitude...

So, dear Diego, now is not the time to be proud and stubborn. Or you may find yourself with a mutiny on your hands during the knockout stages. Bury the hatchet(s), make peace with whoever you had beef with and deliver your fans from their agony. Let us have the discombobulating show we're expecting from Leo. And in return, we'll forget you even existed (no one seems to care about the past nowadays), for we'll no longer need memories when talking about Argentina as a great nation of Football.

This was my (very poor) attempt at ignoring Messi's praises and performances of the current calendar year. The kid is only 22. Give him time, to win multiple world cups and personal awards, or, like Portuguese center-back Pepe declared a couple of days ago: "Wait 'till he scores his 1000th goal" -he's at 133-. Then, will we have the right to compare him to the true greats of The Game. Like this dude: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk-kXwjASEE

1 comment:

  1. Simo,

    Good analysis as usual!

    Argentina is looking better and better as the WC is approaching. I'm kinda glad Maradona is coaching them because otherwise I would be very scared.

    100% with you on the fact that he needs to call Riquelme, Zanetti, and Cambiasso.

    Riquelme is not having a great time with his club but he puts on stellar performances (like against River or Arsenal this week) which should make any coach call him.

    Messi scores a lot in Barcelona. Riquelme, while not Xavi, can deliver the quality balls that Messi is used to receiving from Iniesta, Xavi, or Alves in Barcelona.