Thursday, June 29, 2006

World Cup Final. Right here. Right now. (June 30th)

No I’m not relaxed, OK? This is the biggest match my Nacional Team has to play in a World Cup in the last 16 years!

Do you know how many things happened to me in those 16 years????

I’ve finished elementary school. High school and University. My parents got divorced. Had three long-term relationship and got married to my beautiful wife Diana. Started dreaming of becoming a professional footballer. Was convinced by the manager at one club that I better study journalism. My father died. Got a job in a big newspaper. Then resigned. Got a job in a TV channel. Then again, resigned. Went to live in England and Italy. Worked there for a while. Lost a lot of hair. Earned a lot of kilos above my belt. Came back to Buenos Aires. And still, after all those 16 years, there is one thing that’s still the same: GERMANY!

Because the Germans where our rivals in the horrible night of the 8th of July in 1990. Italy ’90. World Cup final. When the Mexican referee (CODESAL) thought it was a foul by SENSINI and decided to give Germany a penalty kick. BREHME was the scorer and we lost the World Cup. Yes, I accept our team in that tournament was rubbish. We got very lucky beating Yugoslavia and Italy on penalties…but we’re right to think we were robbed that night.

Four years before that (as The Beatles said: “It was 20 years ago today!”), again DEUTSCHLAND!

That was the first big contest between our two countries. A World Cup final! BROWN-VALDANO-BURRUCHAGA, DIEGO’s magic and a lot of suffering, before we were crowned for our second time in history.

Enough with all this time-travelling. Let’s come back to today. Because we have another final coming up. No one can deny this is like a World Cup final for us. Probably more so for Germany.

Both teams are taking it that way.

But my job is to tell you how things are taking shape in the eyes of an Argentina fan.
That’s what I’ll try to do, being totally honest:


Well, not TERRIBLY, but a little bit yes. It’s normal. Don’t look at me that way. In a way, if you’re reading this, you’re feeling something similar. Don’t you?

It’s such a difficult thing to try and think how can this match be played. Two very different, yet similar teams in terms of ‘productivity’ (if you allow me the expression).

10 goals scored. 2 goals against. Group winners. The numbers suggest the two are very similar sides. Yet if you saw the way they played so far, you’ll notice Germany play a more pacy, speedy kind of football. With a lot of ‘vertigo’ and shooting from outside the area at the first chance they have.

Argentina, in contrast, play a more paused, rhythmical type of game. Passing is a commandment. Hoofing the ball is a sin. Never risk a golden chance by taking a low-percentage-shot from long range.

So I think the key for today’s match will be pretty simple: KEEP THE BALL!

If Germany can’t find the ball, they simply can’t harm Argentina.

Again, RIQUELME steps under the spot light and he looks (more than ever before) as the key figure for Argentina. He has a bad game and Argentina goes home. Quite simple. He has a good game, we might advance. He has a great game, we’re through to the semifinals. Period.

He’s the one who can slow down the whole German team and start working as a master puppeteer for Argentina.

Will he move METZELDER, MERTESACKER, LAHM, FRIEDRICH, FRINGS and company around?

Whatever happens, I just hope I don’t have to sit here in 16 years time, talking about a rubbish referee or a wasted chance for our beloved team.



Anonymous said...

Today is the day i have been waiting for ever since maxi's stunner against mexico. At the beginning of the tournament i would have been very confident we could beat germany, and after the massacre of serbia, i would have bet my car on it. But now all tose critics who said argentina peaked too early seem to have a point cuz right when we produced a sloppy display to beat mexico, the germans produced an amazing attacking clinic to destroy sweden.
I am nervous to say the least. But i do feel with all respect to italy and ukraine that if we win this game then the final isn't too far away. I hope our players aren't making the mistake of looking ahead and the germans players are, cuz if they think argentina will roll over they are very mistaken.
Klose said argentina had the bad luck to draw the hosts, well i say i hope the host don't take it to heart when argentina slaughter them on the field!!!
I would also drop saviola for tevez in this game cuz i think tevez would cause more problems to the young german defense than saviola who has pace as his main weapon.
Well i hope the Nationalmannshaft gets shafted tonite!!!!

Jo said...

Well said Anonymous!

My, i'm getting very nervous now.. Argentina will definitely win!

Seba said...

Saw the players arriving to the stadium in a bus and again, they were singing their hearts out!

They always do that. I saw them also before the Mexico match.

Hope that ritual is something of a good luck charm!


subh said...

the refereeing was bad...
he gave too many fouls in favour of germans and well...
maxi got a yellow for which it shud have been a penalty...
guys in argentina, u shud raise this is such crucial decisions that make or break WC quarters.. horrible..
if everything is so well staged .. whats the whole point in playing at all..

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. Argentina controlled th first half because they kept the ball so well (about 70%), and it is only a matter of time before Ayala scored. Argentian was in total control for the until 70th minutes, when the goal keeper was injured. Pekerman's decision of substuting Riqulme with Cabiasso and Crespo with Ayala is totally disastrous. He gave up the game and virtually invited Germans back. I am sorry but Pekerman ruined his own team.

A Chinese soccer fan said...

I heard Maradona said he would chop off Pekerman's head if he lost, is it true? Well, he really didn't have to do that. Pekerman is going to suffer terribly for the rest of his life for his poor decision. I simply couldn't think of any punishment near as cruel as condemning someone to suffer for the rest of his life, something much worse than an instant death.