Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Memories of a World Cup (July 5th)

When a World Cup campaign is over, one of the first things you have to do is a recap. Look back and recognise our positives and negatives. What worked great, what worked good and what didn’t work.

Here’s a brief list of things, players, situations that were the key to get the result we’ve got.

KILLING THE GHOSTS: The first game against Ivory Coast was more important than how it looks like today. Argentina had the horrible images of being out of the last World Cup in the first round and our players were carrying a heavy burden. We tasted some good feelings (going up 2-0 and playing solidly) but we also received a couple of bad signals that were going to turn into disaster eventually (we started playing defensively to defend our lead and ended up suffering).

TURNING ON THE STYLE: My question at that time was: ‘How to keep the cool?’ I still want to smile when I remember that match against Serbia & Montenegro. I think it was the best performance by Argentina in the history of the World Cup. Granted we defeated what turned out to be the worst team in this tournament (they ended up in the 32nd position behind Togo and Trinidad and Tobago). But the way we played was beyond those analysis. Some might say we peaked very early while France, for instance, had a shocking first round and then they eliminated Brazil. I don’t think that is necessarily like that. Our form didn’t quite decrease after that. We crashed out for other reasons: call it bad substitutions, inability to take penalty kicks, lack of killer instinct.

SUPER SUBS: Against Serbia & Montenegro Argentina became the first team in the history of the World Cup having all 3 substitutes in the scoreline. Carlos TEVEZ, Lionel MESSI and Esteban CAMBIASSO came off the bench and each had a goal in that match. Before the World Cup, Carlos Alberto PARREIRA (Brazil’s manager) said ‘our substitutes are levelled with Croatia’s starting eleven’. I thought Brazil was the one with the best bench in this World Cup, but it turned out to be Argentina. Having MESSI, AIMAR and TEVEZ on the bench gave us an X-Factor. Unfortunately they were unable to play all-together against Germany and we suffered from that. But I think this was one of the strongest points of our team in Germany 2006.

KEEPING THE CRITICS AWAY: Very few people before the World Cup believed in Roberto ABBONDANZIERI. PEKERMAN trusted him and he started delivering from day 1 (when he stopped a very difficult header against Ivory Coast). He then kept a clean sheet for two games in a row (Serbia & Montenegro and Holland) and had no responsibility in none of the two goals he conceded (Drogba’s and Marquez’). He was one of the finest goalkeeper in this World Cup and was unlucky to be injured with 20 minutes to go against Germany.

HIGHS AND LOWS: Our defense was the main source of troubles in those weeks prior to the World Cup. AYALA and HEINZE were both coming back from injury and missed a huge portion of their seasons. They were tested right before the World Cup and they were able to play. Whilst I must admit HEINZE really let me down (yellow cards against Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro. Yellow card against Mexico –when some say he should have seen red-). He was never in control. He looked shaky and I had the impression he felt uncomfortable when he had the ball. He used to give it away cheaply or simply throw it out of bounds. Whilst he plays with his heart, sometimes he should think first and react later. To me, he was at fault when Mexico scored (he should have marked Rafa MARQUEZ) and against Germany, I think he was the one supposed to go with KLOSE. AYALA went to challenge BOROWSKI, SORIN was paying attention to ODONKOR’s moves down the left of our defense and HEINZE is caught in between BOROWSKI and KLOSE. Marking nobody and making it look like SORIN lost him. Yes, it was a collective error. But if I have to blame somebody, then in my opinion the only one totally out of position and marking nobody was Gabriel. On the other hand, I have to give my apologies to Roberto AYALA. When I wrote a few lines about each and everyone of our players before the World Cup, I said AYALA was ‘past his prime’. Well…ROBERTO proved me wrong. He was, along with CANNAVARO, the top central defender in this World Cup. Had a goal disallowed against Ivory Coast and then scored against Germany. He was one of the highest points in our team and he showed he still have great pace and a Jordanesque leaping ability. I felt terribly sorry for him when he missed his penalty but I think he had an excellent World Cup.
SORIN was more concentrated on defense than offensively. He did a good job but we lost probably his best asset which we can see when he goes forward. A prove to that is the start of our first goal against Serbia (a back-heel pass to SAVIOLA before MAXI scored) and that ‘assist’ to MAXI against Mexico.
Our right back was well covered by BURDISSO but then he got injured against Serbia and we never got a good option to replace him. SCALONI had a couple of good moments against Mexico but overall, his performance was not the best. COLOCCINI struggled against Holland and improved a little bit against Germany but apart from his colourful haircut, nobody will remember him. Gabriel MILITO did a good job against Holland and I'll talk a little bit about him and some more players that could become the core of our defense in the next four years.

LOW PROFILE, HIGH PERFORMANCE: It’s time to give credit where it’s due. GRACIAS MAXI! What a great revelation this guy was! Not only he scored 3 goals playing from midfield, he gave us the ticket to the Quarter-Finals thanks to a brilliant goal (probably the best in this World Cup if you consider the moment in which he scored). He was all over the park. He helped in defense, he obviously had a big part on offense. Here’s to a long career in our National Team. See you in 2010 MAXI!

KILLER INSTINCT: You need it. If you want to win the World Cup, then you have to be ruthless. You have to kill off the match when you have the opportunity and you have to do what you do best. In Italy’s case, that’s to defend. In our case…we should have attacked, attacked and attacked all the time. I’m not saying sending all your men forward when you’re winning. I’m saying keep the ball beyond the midfield line and keep on threatening your rival with runs forward and fluid passing game. If you have the tools to do so, then DO IT! Or pay the consequences. That’s what we did in the end.

ACCEPT DEFEAT: I’m hurt after what happened between our players and the Germans in that big brawl during and after the penalty shoot-out. It seems to be a horrible habit we Argentines have every now and then. We can’t accept defeat, or at least many of us. If the Germans were celebrating before it was over…then let them. Why do you have to start a brawl and fight them? I was surprised when MAXI got involved and threw a punch towards SCHWENSTEIGER. Those are not the kind of images we wanted to see from them. Specially after being used to winning, not only the Youth World Cup with PEKERMAN, but also the FAIR PLAY TROPHY. I’m not surprised by CUFRE instead. I don’t know what’s going on with him, but he always seem to have this kinds of troubles. He has a history of violence and I think it’s time he leaves that behind and grow up professionally. Yes, it’s horrible to lose on penalties, but it’s even uglier to be looked as a bad loser and a violent person.

ONE TEAM, MANY COUNTRIES: I’ve been in Argentina in each of the World Cups I have memories of. And believe me, I don’t know if it is because of the great TV coverage we had during the tournament (a couple of channels broadcasting almost 24 hours live from Germany) or because this was a better time-zone than Korea-Japan 2002 when we had to get up at 4 AM to watch Argentina. But the truth is I’ve never seen the people so actively behind the team. Even in defeat, they were received by many in the airport and they are still looked in admiration. It’s not so easy for a manager to have the backing of the vast majority of the people after he loses before getting to the final. And PEKERMAN has it. I’m not sure he will answer the people’s invitation to continue at the helm, but he has it.
But in all honesty, the best thing I’ll remember about Germany 2006 is this great experience of sharing all my thoughts and views with die-hard fans from all over the World! Thank you very much! You’ve made me look at my National Team with another perspective. Ever since I opened an e-mail account especially for this occasion, I’ve been getting messages from places I couldn’t have imagined we had supporters in!



Joey said...

Before I make any comment, seba, please go to the death penalty article to clean some pig's shit.

Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for your comments. The key point: Argentina still lacks the killer instinct. We were still a bit scared from 2002. I thought that with Diego in the stands we would overcome our tentativeness, but the ruthless, continual attack wasn't in our style of play. If we keep the artistry but add the instinct, no one will stop us in South Africa. I'm going to be living in BsAs for the next six months, and I can't wait to watch some local matches (I'll be living in Belgrano, right next to the River stadium). Its too bad Kun will be gone. Any other young bucks I should be looking for who might make the 2010 team?

No Te Deja De Alentar

Seba said...

Hey! Great news about your coming to Buenos Aires! Let me know when you are here and we can meet up and talk about Argentina or anything else.

I don't live far from Belgrano, in fact I live very close.

Where are you coming from?

First time in Buenos Aires?

Just drop me a line to my e-mail:

As for the young'uns? Just wait for my next article.

I'm still debriefing this current World Cup, so my next step will be a look at our squad for 2010.

Anonymous said...

Hi then, its me John again,

Yes the world cup is coming to end and I would like to take this opportunity to share with you on my own personal views. First and foremost a very thanks to Seba for starting this blog. Yes ONE NATIONAL TEAM, MANY COUNTIRES. This blog has united us and in return we should keep the flame alive…

I must say that 4 years since that day in Miyagi until last Friday in Berlin has kind of past with a blink of an eye. I remember taking a half day leave from work, rushing back in time to catch the game my friends (It was 2.30 pm then). And the final whistle blows, it took me while to realize that it was all over after only just 3 games!!! I kept wondering over and over what went wrong. We did attack the Nigerians, English and the Swedes but in return we only had a win, lost, draw, scored 2 and conceded 2.

But I had reason to be optimistic, as over the years we have seen ourselves being runners up in the Copa America (2004), Confederation Cup (2005), World Youth Champions (2005) and being 2004 Athens Olympic Gold Medallist (the only thing Brazil has yet to win!!!).

And for this I have the same feeling again that there is this optimism about our beloved team in 2010. Lets get some facts here, we won 3, drew 2, conceded 2 and scored 11 goals!!!. This is a huge improvement. No one can denied that. And because of this, we can now put all the bad memories we had 4 years ago. Come 2010, Albicelestes will have much more confidence in their game compare to the one we had against Ivory Coast.

Keep the mail coming at

Anonymous said...

Please vote for the most exciting team award. We are currently at 4th place

Mohomed-Somalia said...

Seba, first of all let me send you my warm greeting. i agree that Maxi and Ayala have shown up when Argentina Needed Goal. Maxi Scored the winning Goal Against Mexico and Ayala scored a Shocking Header Against Germany. He made Germans to look Sorry-faced as well as their Fans.

What is more, i have sent you an email asking you to tell me Whether there is a Rising Playmaker for Argentina or not. Who can fill Romans Position. but no reply so far, i think u must have been Busy.


Seba said...

Yes, Mohomed. Not only I was overwhelmed by e-mails and I still need to catch up, but I've decided not to make any comments regarding our team for the future because all my thoughts will be included in my next article.

And as for the most exciting team...

ITALY is winning! Are you joking?

What kind of excitement are you talking about?????

There's no way we can be behind Italy, France or Portugal.

Even though two of them are in the final and Portugal reached the semis, they did not win their games giving a show to be remembered or playing an exciting football.

Anyway...all those polls by FIFA are ridiculous, VALENCIA from Ecuador was winning the Best Young Player in the World Cup because there was a campaign in Ecuador to vote for him.

Now can any of you tell me that VALENCIA deserves the prize more than MESSI or PODOLSKI?

Anonymous said...


I am a long time Argentine fan.

Recently I have been very successful in getting more fans in our part of the world to like Argentine football.

They all like what they see.

Seba said...

And where are you from?

Wherever it is, just keep them coming!!!!

Joey said...

There are two most exciting teams during the tourment: Argentian and German.

I have no idea why they should both be trailing Italy, France and Portugee.

As for the best yong player, I have to say C Ronaldo first, Podolski second, and Messi third, no matter how much I love Messi.

Messi simply didn't have the chance to show the world what he could do. Both C Ronaldo and Podolski have the total trust of their managers, and they have the chance to play their best throughout the tourment.

I have never noticed that VALENCIA from Ecuador, even though I saw all four Ecudor matches.

Joey said...

There will be ONE Argentine on the field Sunday on the final match. Argentine ref Elizondo gets World Cup final.

Let's hope four year later there will be ELEVEN, not just one Argentine on the final match.

Anonymous said...

Very nice articles, and bang on.

You are right, everyone has to do what they are best at. This Argentinian team were good at possession-based attacking, and they should have stuck to it. That's what I admire about the Germans. They always do what they are best at, and when they lose, you know they couldn't have done any better. No regrets. This is one football lesson Germany can teach us.

By the way, there were many non-Argentines cheering for Argentina this year because of the style of play they stood for. I for one am not an Argentina fan, but I like the way Argentina has played recently, especially in the last couple of years. This is beautiful football for me, and I cheer for whoever plays beautiful football because I want beautiful football to win and be imitated around the world.

On Sunday, I'll be supporting Italy even though I'm African and half the French team is originally from Africa. Why? Again, style of play. There is no fluidity on the French team. Including Zidane, in my opinion, French play is all about strength and speed. I prefer this Italian team, which, though not that good to look at, can still play some decent football.

Franky said...

lets hope that in's 11 Argentine's againts 11 of the other team...not 11 and the referee. GREAT WORLD CUP GUYS, CRESPO, MESSI, MAXI,TEVEZ, SORIN, AYALA, ROMAN....lets go for it in 2010

Orlin said...

quote: I remember that match against Serbia & Montenegro. I think it was the best performance by Argentina in the history of the World Cup.
It was a great match. But for me personnally, the best Argentina's World Cup match was at 1982, in Spain: Argentina - Hungary 4:1. This was the first time Maradonna showed at the world his talent, scored two goals, there was Kempes and the most part of the world champions from 1978. It was great play from Argentina.
Serbia (as we called them as their close neighbours) is (and always was!) a very strong and tight team; this time statistics are not reflecting the reality about their true qualities. Argentina did great performance against far not an outsider. And that game without doubt is the best match of whole the tournament so far. I think the final game rather not change that.
But, for me, after the 3:0 in the first half, Argentina almost stoped to play in the beginning of the second half. The score may well left 3:0 or even 3:1.
But in that same moment Messi entered for the first time in play. And that changed everything. He simly wanted to play! And he transformed the team again. He did a brilliant pass to Crespo for scoring the fourth, though he could try himself a strike, and later he really scored himself the last goal. He is the main cause of that great victory (which is the difference between 3:0 and 6:0).
I wonder, if the score wasn't that favorable for Argentina, should Pekermann let him go playing?

Saurabh said...

Seb i wanted to ask you how famous is Crespo in Argentina. I was really sad for him as we might not see him in the next world cup. I feel he is one of the best strikers in the world.
I like him alot as he's the silent killer who often is the unsung experienced hero of this team .

With the likes of Messi, Riquelme and Tevez may be not every one talks about him, which i feel is very surprising.

This might be off the topic but just out of sheer curiosity i would like to ask you, if you had to choose one out of France and Italy who would you choose to win this world cup keeping in mind that

the magical crystal ball shows us Messi and tevez jumoing with joy with the 2010 world cup.

Seba said...

Good question Saurabh. By the way, CRESPO has said that he knows he is not the most popular player. He is not the people's choice, but he is respected.

It was very hard for him to build up his international career in the shadows of the great Gabriel BATISTUTA. In fact, this was his first World Cup as the main option up front and if you ask me, I've got to say that he did a good job.

He scored 3 and he also had a wonderful assist (back heel) for CAMBIASSO in that magnificient goal against Serbia.

He played for the team and worked incredibly off the ball.

He is the top goalscorer for Argentina in the World Cup Qualifiers and that speaks volumes of his quality.

As for Italy vs. France?

I've got mixed feelings here. I've always loved Zinedine ZIDANE and I've always hated the Italian way (Catenaccio).

But I'm an Italian citizen also (part of my family comes from Italy) and that's why I'm still undecided.

The fact that Italy have won 3 World Cups and France only 1 makes me want the French to win because otherwise, Italy will distance themselves from us!

I would say: ALLEZ LES BLUES this Sunday. But I won't be so depressed if Italy win it.

Jo said...

Talking about fond memories of this world cup, it will be the match against Serbia & Montenegro. Best performance, especially the 2nd goal by Cambiasso. 24 passes (i will call it a 24 karat goal), leading to a goal that shook the whole world.

I have been supporting argentina for a long time. 6 - 0. I was delirious and was at all smiles when i heard people saying "U know wat? Argentina thrashed Serbia by 6 goals!", "U sure? Argentina? Wow?"....

I'm a singaporean and most singaporeans supported England (that explain why). Talking about media coverage for this world cup. Its all about the over hyped England, host country Germany and hot fave Brazil. I was hopping mad.

Thanks Seba. Becoz of ur blog, i am able to know more about my fave team. And becoz of this space, i get to know that there are in fact many many supporters outside Argentina (like me)...

Keep it up and many thanks Seba!

Joey said...

I think Italy is going to win the final. This Italy side deserves it.

France 06 looks very much Arg 90, leading by an aging super star and struggling in every single match. Runner up it should be.

Joey said...

Podolski named Best Young Player

I think that's a good choice.

C Ronaldo played great but he lost points on the "Fair Play" factors.

Rooney is the most disappointing.

As for Messi, the world simply don't have a chance to see the best of him.

Hopefully four years later Messi will bring back a different trophy.

Anonymous said...


I come from India-a nation not too crazy about Football,but was no exception to being seduced by the magic of the World Cup!I've been an ardent fan of the Argentinian team and was really distraught(this is a huge understatement!)to see them go down to Klinsmann's side.This is a team that deserved to all the way,the fans know it,the Germans knew it and yet,the unimaginable happened(with a little assistance from the referee ofcourse!).

Jose Pekerman's side will forever be known as the Uncrowned Champions of the World Cup'06.

Come 2010,with players like Messi and Tevez at their zenith,we will be watching from the stands as Argentina take their place as Champions of the World.

hibees said...

As a football addict from Germany I cannot say anymore than a) thank you (Argentina fans that is) for giving me 180 unforgiveable minutes. I was lucky enough to grab tickets for the Ivory Coast and the Serbia match. Two days filled with terrace songs I have never heard before and longing to hear again. It seems that I have to come to Argentina myself to witness that frenzy in more matches b) it was sad that the two most exciting (even though maybe not the best ) teams had to play each other in the quaters. Since Argentina and Germany had very young teams (and therefore inexperienced. Maybe explanation for poor defending of lead by Arg as well as conceding goal in final minute of extra time by Ger) there will be more to see in 2010. Lets keep the fingers crossed for a final Germany:Argentina in South Africa
As I cannot resist to comment: Mo penalty for Argentina for that incident involving Lahm and Maxi. It would have been one, had Maxi displayed the will to get on the ball. He prefered the easy, and yes cheating way. He was in fact falling already when he was touched by LAhm. For all those who will point to the video footage, have a look yourself!

Greetings from Berlin (it is pretty sad with only the Germans and ordinary tourists left)

hibees said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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