Saturday, June 17, 2006

The day after (June 17th)

I feel like a boy again. A little child who dreams about football like I did when I was 9 and Argentina was the best in the World. Because I remember exactly where I was in each of those Mexico ’86 matches, in which Diego MARADONA gave the planet football, the best individual performance in the history of the World Cup.

Now I feel this team is putting Diego and my self in the same position. He is a fan now. Probably the most passionate around! And seeing him acting the same way I did when I was 9, makes this whole thing a little bit surreal.

Like experiencing the same things I did 20 years ago, when I had the proper age to act like I’m acting now! I’m changing my sleeping hours (and reducing them to a dangerous low!). I’m eating very badly and I’m not seeing friends and family (other than those who join me to watch the matches). I’m a grown up now, but I’m acting like a child and to tell you the truth: I’m loving it. Grown ups don’t enjoy football like we, the little kids of the World, do! Joking aside, I think that’s the best way to explain what is going on with my self lately, and I sincerely hope this could go on for a while.

There are thousands of ways to analyse what happened yesterday. A few concepts could help us to do so:

Argentina left behind the anxiety of the debut match against Ivory Coast and played a little bit more relaxed.

The early goal by Maxi RODRIGUEZ, in a great team effort with a back heel pass by SORIN to SAVIOLA who then made a perfect assist for MAXI, helped Argentina to control the game playing with the Serbs’ desperation.

Serbia & Montenegro suffered from the off-the-pitch problems. You could see there were no generosity amongst their players and they never played as a team. In contrast to that, Argentina had its most powerful weapon in team spirit and collective game.

The passing and more importantly the clinical finishing showed by Argentina were at the highest point. Perhaps Spain was the only other team with an unstoppable knack for scoring so far. But 3 of their 4 goals against Ukraine came from dead ball situations, whereas Argentina scored 6 goals from open play.

Argentina kept going forward and that was the key to kill off the game, making room in the team for the lethal: Carlos TEVEZ and Lionel MESSI. Both of them showing that they are ready to step up at the highest international level.

That sums up pretty much what was the best performance by Argentina in many years. But what really put this showing into perspective are the echoes you can hear from the media in every corner of the World. I want to have a word with those in charge of Gazzetta dello Sport and La Repubblica (Italia); Marca, As and Sport (Spain); Lance, Folha do Sao Paulo, Terra, Gazeta Esportiva (Brazil); BBC, The Guardian and even The Sun (England); L’Equipe (France); A Bola (Portugal) and the bookies all around the World: Are you trying to drive me mad? Don’t you know I’m already fired up? I don’t need your help to make me believe this time we can really go all the way. Thank you very much anyway. It’s a real pleasure to read your lines about Argentina, filled with all kinds of adjectives you only seemed to save for other teams.

Another kind of flattering, is coming for a different source. The purest. The most beautiful. Let me put it this way: the number of passes we saw in our second goal (25. 26 if you count Maxi’s steal with what looks like a pass backwards to HEINZE) is nothing compared to the e-mails I’ve been receiving! I apologise but I was unable to reply to all of them. I hope I’ll have the time to do it, as I enjoyed it very much. In any case, thank you very much for ‘losing your cool’ with me!

As I promised to do after every Argentina match in this World Cup, here are my picks as Man of the Match and other mentions:

First of all, like an old football saying reads in Argentina when a performance like this is witnessed: ‘La figura fue el equipo’ (‘The team was the star’). In a way to recognise a team effort rather than an individual showing. I will agree with that old cliché, there were no weak links yesterday and there is not a single player to be credited for this triumph. However, I’ve got some things to say about a couple of impressive men.

Man of the Match:
Javier SAVIOLA. For the second match in a row. He was absolutely brilliant. I can’t believe why Barcelona keeps on neglecting him. Granted he is not a scoring machine like Samuel ETO’O. Granted Ludovic GIULY is playing at a high level. But now that Thierry HENRY snubbed them to stay at Arsenal and now that Henrik LARSSON returned to his native Sweden and Maxi LOPEZ is off to Mallorca, I don’t see why he is not considered at least as a second or third option. In any case, I’m happy for SAVIOLA because without a doubt he will have his reward and will play in a top club in Europe next season once again. Yesterday he had a part in all of our three first half goals and again, he showed great sacrifice to help his team-mates when Argentina was off the ball.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ. A quiet player. A quiet guy. But he can do whatever it’s needed on the pitch. He can chase his rivals all over the field, he can pass, he can run at defenders and he can surprise opposing defenses while scoring at every chance he has. One goal to open up the match in the 6th minute. Another to finish it off in the 41st. A great show all around.

Juan Roman RIQUELME. One of the e-mails I’ve received asked me about a fantasy football advise. This guy was concerned because he wanted to include a player from Argentina and he didn’t like CRESPO that much. He had RIQUELME and wanted to know whether to keep him or not. So I said: ‘Look, he is the free kick specialist, the corner and penalty kicks taker. He can have an assist with a killer through pass at anytime. I would say keep him’. Well, he scored minus 0.50 and this guy probably wants to kill me. But I think it’s a case of this fantasy rules being rubbish. RIQUELME was the playmaker in a team that destroyed the opposition in a brilliant 6-0 victory and was the guy who had 5 of the 25 (or 26) passes in that unforgettable second goal. He ruled the timing, the pace and the flow of the whole game. Hardly a bad game, isn’t it?

Best of the rest:
Hernan CRESPO. A goal, an assist and a goal ruled out (while he was slightly onside). Great sacrifice, he was fouled inside the box in the second half and his delicious back heel pass for CAMBIASSO in the second goal was superb. Keep it coming Hernan!
Of course, I don’t want to be the public enemy number one, Carlos TEVEZ and Lionel MESSI. They played less time than the players I’ve highlighted and they came in with the game already won. But you cannot leave them unnoticed because of this. It was their World Cup debut and both of them had a goal and an assist and shook off all the pressure that was hanging on their shoulders.

Coming up in this space: What are our real chances? And we’ll see just how important our match against Holland (and finishing top of Group C) is for Argentina.


Anonymous said...

What Can i Say, No word to describe the very best soccer team in the world like Argentina....

I'm maybe not an Argetinian, but i'm a fan of Argentina soccer since i can remember....

Vamos Argentina!!!! Vamos.....

Anonymous said...

I have a question. Why is Tevez on the bench while Maxi is in? Tevez is more dangerous than Maxi -eventhough Maxi is getting the job done-. Our left side is more dangerous because of Sorin there. I feel a good starting up line would be by replacing Maxi with Tevez. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I am an Argentinian fan since Maradona converted me in 1986.

I am worried that now we have won 6-0, every team we play will become very defensive and put all ten outfield men behind the ball and wait for the chance to counter-attack or penalties.

Holland beat Yugoslavia 6-0 or something like that in Euro 2000, then Italy put up a wall in front of their goal in the semi-final, winning on penalties eventually.

pablitoaimar21 said...

hey, argentina wa great once again against serbia. everybody has enjoyed our display and i think that we are the favorites now for the world cup. we showed that we can score whenever we want with a certain ease.all the players that were used were fantastic and each of them showed how great footballers they are and how much they want to play and help their country to be once again at the top of the world.moreover, the players of the bench were fantastic too. tevez showed that he is ready and that he is a great option for argentina's attack. what can we say about messi? messi can dribble anyone whenever he wants to and can cause real troubles on the enemy's defense. i hope this youngster will keep performing like this forever and im sure that he'll become the best player in the world sometime.
even though argentina played the greatest football till now, pekerman must start to prepare the team for the next round, where things get much more complicated. in the group stage, i can say that fifa had done his job really well. as we can see, in all groups the two favorites of each group face each other at the final match etc argentina-holland, portugal-mexico, england - sweden. i don't want to diminish argentina's performances but what would have happened if argentina played against holland in the opening match?the probabilty of not winning would have been greater and ivory coast would had won the poor serbia. then things would have become much worse. the mentality of the players would have been much lower and they would't have the necessary psychology to perform at 100%. so now , pekerman i believe must prepare the team for the next round because a fail will drive us back home really early once against holland even though we need to finish at the top of the group, pekerman must give chance to other players to play. because when we play against a difficult opponent and we receive a goal first, the team must be ready to face such a situation. my opinion, for the last match against holland , players like pablo aimar, tevez and julio cruz must be in the starting line up. because when the team will be in danger and pekerman must change argentina's type of playing, he will be expecting people from the bench to save the i hope, that pekerman will be more elastic with his formation in the last match and that he'll give chance to great players like AIMAR!!!, who in my opinion is better than riquelme but because of continuous injuries,he's not at his top of his performances right now.
by the way, what do you think about keeping cambiasso out and using riquelme there and aimar as playmaker. a bit risky but i think it will work

Anonymous said...

I am writing from India and we have a Argentine fan club here who laugh when the boys rock and cry when they dont.since the build up the start of the world cup and after endless hours of analyzing the teams,there was only one team that kept cropping up as the winners,Argentina showed why against S&M and boy what a pleasure it was to watch the carnage.Pekermans boys would pay the absolute respect for the greatness of the football played by the argentines if they do the same murderous act if by chance they bump into England in the later stages.we promised ourselves to dance with one leg tied all night as the highest form of celebration and penance.
viva argentina

Seba said...

First of all, welcome everybody! Thanks for visiting this blog and for sending your comments, the first of many (I hope!).

TEVEZ in for MAXI? I don't believe PEKERMAN should do that. Not because I don't like TEVEZ (I love him!), but because MAXI is playing great. They are two different kind of players. MAXI can help a little bit more in midfield and his versatility gives the team more balance. He can play on the right or the left and right now, he's hitting his best form. 2 goals against Serbia & Montenegro (one to open up the scoring, one to kill off the match).

I think, if TEVEZ is to play from the start, then you have to think of CRESPO or SAVIOLA to be replaced, and they too are having a great World Cup.

As for AIMAR...we might see him in action from the start against Holland. PEKERMAN is believed to be thinking of resting some players and RIQUELME could be one of them. So far, our lineup against Holland is a little bit of a mistery, but I think PEKERMAN won't use all of our players with a yellow card in the first two matches (SAVIOLA, CRESPO, HEINZE and LUCHO -who will not play anyway because of his injury-).

I'll post some information regarding this later on.

But as a preview, I tell you that MESSI, AIMAR and TEVEZ all have a good chance to face Holland from the start.

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