Monday, June 19, 2006

New faces, we want same result! (June 19th)

France ’98. Group H. Third match. Argentina and Croatia had to play in Bordeaux and they were both qualified already for the second round (after beating both Japan and Jamaica).

A few people talked about it at that time, but it is believed that Croatia didn’t try hard enough to win that match (Argentina won 1-0) and because of that, Argentina had to face England in the second round (2-2 and a penalty shoot-out victory after 120 tiring minutes) and then Holland in a very tricky quarter final tie. ORTEGA losing it, hitting VAN DER SAR with his head to see the red card and Dennis BERGKAMP scoring the winner, that was the end of our journey in that World Cup.

On the other hand, Croatia faced Romania in the second round (1-0 in only 90 minutes) and then Germany, not an easy rival, against which Croatia displayed what’s probably their best performance in history (3-0) on their way to the semifinals. They lost to France and the rest is history.

What’s my point? My point is at this stage, when a team is qualified before the last match, there is always room for speculation and for the manager to make changes to his team in order to avoid further yellow cards, injuries and stress to the key players.

And if you let me give you my opinion, I think that’s fair enough, but I also believe we should try and win against Holland at all costs.

Losing will mean we have an extra day of rest before facing the winner of Group D (Portugal or Mexico). But it will also mean we’ll have to face, in case we go far in this World Cup, England in the quarter-finals and Brazil in the semifinals. All this speculation is according to logic and with England and Brazil winning their groups (like they are winning them at the moment of writing).

Winning (or getting a point against Holland) will give us 1st place in Group C, a day less to rest before our second round fixture against the second of Group D (Portugal, Mexico or –believe it or not they have chances- Angola). But most importantly, it will mean we will avoid facing the likes of Brazil, England and probably Germany, Spain, Italy and England before the final!

What? Yes, what you’ve just read! Let’s play a little game here. If Germany fails to beat Ecuador, they’ll finish second in their group and will go to the other side of the draw. They could face England in case they win or draw against Sweden and either Ecuador, Sweden or –believe it or not they have chances- Trinidad & Tobago could be our rivals in the quarter finals.

An old saying goes like this: ‘To win the World Cup, you’ve got to beat the best teams’. Yes, I agree with it, but it won’t hurt anybody if they play against each other on the other side of the draw while we avoid facing the creators of the game or the home team in Quarter Finals and the 5-times World Champions or the catenaccio masters in the semis. Are you with me?

That’s why I think this Wednesday’s fixture against Holland has so many implications and could be crucial in our way to Berlin.

PEKERMAN is with me and he definitely wants to win the group, but at the same time he needs to preserve some key players.

As I’m writing this, it appears there will be some interesting substitutions from what was our starting line-up against Serbia & Montenegro. Have a look:

ABBONDANZIERI will remain in goal. BURDISSO, AYALA and SORIN will also keep their places in defense, but Gabriel HEINZE, who saw a yellow card against Ivory Coast, will leave his place to Gabriel MILITO, a solid central defender who plays for Zaragoza.

A big question mark on CAMBIASSO and MASCHERANO, the inclusion of one from Lionel SCALONI or Fabricio COLOCCINI could see one of them to sit on the bench.

It could be the lucky day for many many many of you asking about Pablo AIMAR. PEKERMAN could use him to give some rest to Juan Roman RIQUELME. So against Holland, ‘El Payasito’ AIMAR could have his chance to play from the start.

Up front? Both CRESPO and SAVIOLA carry a yellow card and PEKERMAN wants both of them ready for the weekend. The pair with more chances to play from the start are: Carlos TEVEZ and Julio CRUZ.

I agree with this changes, because TEVEZ could perfectly play SAVIOLA’s role, while CRUZ is the only player in our squad with a similar game to CRESPO (a big hitman who plays inside the box, can win in the air and has a knack for scoring). Plus, he has experience playing in the Dutch league (Feyenoord 1997-2000) and that could prove vital in a one-off match.

Lionel MESSI will again wear the super-sub suit he so elegantly wore last Friday.

Marco VAN BASTEN has also said he will preserve all of his players who have seen the yellow card. That includes Arjen ROBBEN, Gio VAN BRONCKHORST, John HEITINGA, Mark VAN BOMMEL, Joris MATHIJSEN and Khalid BOULAHROUZ. So Holland won’t be facing their strongest line-up either and it could be a matter of who have the deepest bench.

I think we do. Let’s crush some oranges!


Anonymous said...

Hola Seba!

nice name, its mine also :)

I think we will as well, I think e have the deepest bench for sure. We just need to continue to play an attacking style game and we will emerge victorious.

Vamos Argentina!

George Templeton said...

I am hoping you all will win this group too (since I don't want you playing Portugal in the second round either). Here is my concern, Argentina is coming off their best match (and it is natural to let down in a situation like that), while the Dutch haven't played all that well in either match. How worried are you about the Dutch having their best at the same time that you might play your worst or at least not your best.

Anonymous said...

Che Seba!

great blog....insightful and professional views

now i wanna touch on the good and bad about our win over S&M:

Good: from our standpoint, we no longer have to hear about the tragedy in Korea/Japan, it should instill fear to other teams going into the second round

Bad: as awesome a team as we have, it is highly difficult to follow up a masterpiece like that, and many will be looking for Argentina to do so. Not only that, compare this game with the way Brasil has been playing, and the tag of favourites is now on us. Brasil is thrilled, if not dying of jealousy.

My biggest fear is that Argentina go into every game from now on believing they have to follow up that performance, and overall, live up to great expectations.

But my confidence rests in Riquelme. Not only is he the orchestrator on the pitch, but his level-headedness seems to affect all the others. His calmness and professional nature was apparent after having missed the penalty for villareal, and stating that if a game were to come down to penaltys now, he would want to be the first to kick one. His pass first, shoot second mentality is indicative of the Argentine school of soccer, and plainly speaking, making that extra pass to get a better and closer shot at gol will always produce better results. (are you listening, England? try taking a shot thats not 20 feet from the goal)

and finally for my impersonation of an argentine soccer player getting interviewed:

bueno, hay que jugar cada partido como fuera el ultimo, y bueno, hay que ganarlos porque no hay equipo chico ahora, y bueno, veremos lo que pasa. jaja.

(ok, we have to play every game like its our last, and ok, we have to win because there is no small team now, and ok, we shall see what happens.)

vamos argentina!!!!! i was 5 when we last won the world cup. lets make this our year.

-Fercho Riquelme (no relation....that i know of)

Anonymous said...

great comments, very insightful.
About the permuations of finishing first or second i agree that having mexico and then sweden or ecuador in the knock out rounds is preferable to portugal then england or germany even though i beleive we would beat any of these teams.
The game against the oranje should be entertaining but i don't think it will be that competitive seeing that all the big names will be rested.
I hope aimar and messi do well though so that they can push for a starting place.
Do u have any update on the situation of Lucho Gonzalez? When will he be back?

anywayz Vamos Argentina and keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Seba said...

Thanks for writing!

The latest I've been reading says PEKERMAN won't use HEINZE, SAVIOLA and CRESPO and that's for sure. But he said he won't confirm the line-up probably until tomorrow. There are, however, some indications saying RIQUELME could play. Too bad for those of you who have in AIMAR your favourite player.

George, I'm not too much worried about the Dutch playing at their best. They will also use a lot of substitutes and that is hardly an advantage when it comes to show a great team display.

Don't get me wrong, I love playing the Dutch with the two teams already qualified from the mighty Group of Death, but the REAL test between Argentina and Holland would've been if the two needed to win to advance.

Fercho, I'll comment later on your entry.

And the latest I've heard about Lucho is that if we advance to the Quarter Finals, he could be able to come back to action.

Seba said...

OK Fercho, increíble que te llames RIQUELME de apellido! es increíble, pero sí llamativo! ;)

I think you're right about how important it is for our players not to lose their concentration. In that aspect, I'm particularely confident in the way PEKERMAN manages the squad. Plus, this group of players seem to be very keen on not allowing those kinds of mistakes to happen.

I'm a big fan of ROMAN also and I think that penalty against Arsenal was the only moment in RIQUELME's career in which he failed in a crucial match. He seems to play the best games of his life, when the stakes are bigger (Real Madrid in Tokyo -playing for Boca-; Palmeiras in Brazil -Copa Libertadores, his best performance ever-; and everytime he faced River Plate in the Argentine super-clasico. Not to mention the Youth World Cup he won in Malaysia).

Hope he keeps these kind of performance coming up in the later stages of this World Cup.

And Fercho, great impersonation! ;)

Alex Camacho said...

You have overstated how important it is that we win the group in terms of who we will face.

If we win the group we likely will be on the same side of the bracket as Germany, Italy and France (or whoever wins that pathetic group). Losing to Netherlands means likely being on the same side of the bracket as Brazil, England, and Spain.

Given current form and past rivalries I think it would be much better us to come in 1st, but it is highly unlikely that we can avoid Germany and Italy before the final. We likely would face Portugal in the octavos, then Germany in the quarters, then Italy in the semis, then Brazil in the final.

Seba said...

Spot on Alex, but remember when I wrote it, it was before Germany faced Ecuador (an Ecuador B side without Ivan HURTADO, REASCO, TENORIO and DELGADO to name a few).

Before that, it was not crazy to think Ecuador could nick a draw against Germany and England could beat Sweden (or get a draw), win their group and end up in the same bracket with Brazil, Spain and Germany.

Now if we win, it'll be either Germany or tonight's winner between England and Sweden.

It looks like an overstatement now, it was nothing out of the real possibilities.

teNNo said...

Great to hear everyone's view on Argentina, yet i'm very sure that peckerman is a very cautios and wise man not to let the 6-0 performance against serbia to overshadow the on coming games. Meeting Portugal or Mexico would not make any difference coz definately we'll be meeting Germany in the quarters. However, an easy route would not ensure our final conquest in this final but the challenge facing a stronger opponent will definately build the confidence of the Argentine players. You need to beat the best to be the best. Beating Germany in the quarter would be a dream come true and a revenge for argetines to floor the host nation after disgrace WC 1990 final won by the Germans. Till, today i still have to live with it. Well, I still tip the Argentines to beat the 'Oranje'. Seba, any updates on the starting line up ?

frm: Manivannan Rathakrishnan