Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sometimes I hate you, beautiful game! (June 2nd)

June 12th, 2002. Miyagi Stadium, Japan. Argentina need to beat Sweden to advance to the Eight Finals of the World Cup Korea-Japan 2002. The two teams are evenly matched and they are still to break the scoreline.

Manager Marcelo BIELSA made Argentina one of the favourites to win the World Cup over the previous four years, but his style and his decision not to play with BATISTUTA and CRESPO together are about to take him down and leave the team and his dream to win the bloody cup in shambles.

58th minutes into the match, a free-kick for Sweden just outside Argentina’s box and BIELSA decides to replace BATISTUTA with his long-term back-up Hernan CRESPO.

The younger striker takes Batigol’s place in the wall as Anders SVENSSON prepares to shoot towards Pablo CAVALLERO’s goal.

The Swede’s strike is superb and our helpless keeper can’t do a single thing to help the ball going into the back of the net.

Argentina had to score twice in half an hour without his recently replaced all-time goal scoring leader. The team fails to deliver, while consistently keeps on trying the same formula it tried against England in the previous game: running through the wings and crossing the ball to cheaply give it away to the big opposing central defenders.

Our talented offensive midfielders like Pablo AIMAR, Ariel ORTEGA or Marcelo GALLARDO are totally ignored and left out with this incredibly silly style of football that, of course, doesn’t suit them like the creative passing game they are used to play since they were little boys.

June 30th, 2006. Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany. Argentina is beating the hosts 1-0 and is ready to advance to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since Italy 90. The team is playing a good game (not brilliant) and is in control since kick-off.

Germany is starting to run out of ideas (if they ever had one, in the first place). Another cross comes to Argentina’s box and as Roberto ABBONDANZIERI prepares to catch the ball in mid-air, he is meet by Miroslav KLOSE’s right knee and the referee Lubos MICHEL sees none of this.

71 minutes into the match and Argentina is forced to change their first choice keeper, one of the pillars of the team throughout the tournament.

One minute later and PEKERMAN decides to make a move that was going to be very controversial after the game. He takes playmaker Juan Roman RIQUELME out and he sends defensive midfielder Esteban CAMBIASSO to replace him.

By doing this, he sends a clear message to his rivals and to his own players: ‘I’m going to defend this lead for the next 20 minutes and hopefully we will win’.

Things are not looking bad, to be honest. CAMBIASSO gives the team a renewed energy while Lucho GONZALEZ and Maxi RODRIGUEZ can move forward a little bit and have some more possession beyond the midfield line. While TEVEZ remains a threat down the left and CRESPO navigates in dull ostracism between the German central defenders.

The problem came a little bit later.

Just like BIELSA four years before, PEKERMAN made a move that was going to haunt him down, maybe forever.

With 79 minutes gone, he brings his third and last substitute in Julio CRUZ, replacing Hernan CRESPO.

That was his last bet to maintain the lead for the last 11 minutes of the game.
He thought CRUZ, the tallest player in our squad (apart from the keepers), could help the team by winning some headers in both, our box and the German box.

Well, call it fate, call it misfortune, call it bad judgement, exactly like what happened with BIELSA four years before, one minute after that controversial substitution and Germany scores!

I think all of us thought in that very moment that it was the end. It was beautiful while it lasted, but that was it. We had three of our best players sitting on the bench (MESSI, AIMAR and SAVIOLA), while our most dangerous striker (CRESPO), our unique playmaker (RIQUELME) and, on top of that, our goalkeeper were already substituted.

Did we have the team to go after a second goal in those last 10 minutes?

Granted, losing ABBONDANZIERI meant not only that a totally untested keeper took his place instead of our ‘Ace of Spades’ when it comes to penalty shoot-outs. It also left us with one less possibility for a change.

That’s no excuse to get it wrong.

Right after the game, PEKERMAN said in a press conference, that we were forced to make to substitutions (ABBONDANZIERI was injured and RIQUELME was exhausted).
Now, I’ve got a couple of things to say about that. I love RIQUELME and the regular readers of this blog can testify that. But I can’t understand why can a professional football player be tired after 70 minutes of play? This was not the extra time. I don’t care if he played 120 exhausting minutes against Mexico. That was one week before!

Seriously, that’s really beyond me. I don’t want to accept it. I won’t accept it.

If I’m wrong and he really couldn’t move his legs, then OK, replace him. But can you just replace him with somebody who plays in the same position? What the hell is wrong with playing AIMAR for those 20 minutes in which a player like him would be a real nightmare for the German defense with his flashy runs forward?

In any case, that substitution was more justifiable than the other one.

PEKERMAN said that against Holland, when he played TEVEZ and MESSI together, the team played greatly but they needed to have a reference inside the box. We were controlling the ball but we had no real threat in the form of a striker.

I agree with that. But here are my questions. If we wanted to just defend our 1-goal lead. Did you need to have a big man inside the box? Did you need to score? Did you need something else than having the ball and causing troubles like TEVEZ did all day long against FRIEDRICH?

The answer to all of those questions is an implacable NO!

We didn’t need a big man in the box. We had CRESPO and he did very little those 70 minutes he played.

We didn’t need to score. It was OK with a 1-0 result. We were in the semifinals. And deservedly so.

We didn’t need anything else than to keep possession. We were just fine when we were in possession and MESSI is arguably one of the best at keeping the ball and generating fouls by the opposition.

Horrible decision and we paid for them. The match went to a penalty shoot-out and there was one particularity about that. Both, Germany and Argentina were undefeated in those kinds of situations. 3 wins a piece.

But a couple of key factors eventually proved to be enough to give Germany the upper hand:

ABBONDANZIERI. A keeper with a great tradition of winning cups at club level with Boca Juniors, stopping several shots in this kind of tie-breakers, was out.

LEHMANN. A keeper with great reflexes but even better information sources. He ‘guessed’ in each and every shot by our players and later on it was discovered that he received a piece of paper containing information about the place where each Argentina penalty taker will most likely place his shot. Rocket-science? I don’t think so. I think all credit should go to the German’s goalkeeping staff for getting together this crucial information that today proves to be the difference between a great team knocked out of the cup and an average team qualified for the semifinals.

I think that I (like many millions around the World) was not prepared to be knocked out of the World Cup so early.

That said, I want PEKERMAN to stay and I'll give you my reasons in another article soon.

But as one of the biggest sporting brands in the world says in an advertising campaign: ‘A team that suffers after being placed between the top 8 in the World, deserves our admiration’

I subscribe.

I hope, and this goes for those who have been reading my blog for some time now, that next time if we are ahead in the score, we play the only way we should never abandon:

If any of you know where can I buy a DeLorean, just let me know. I want to travel through time and go back to the future to see if a 23-year-old MESSI is lifting the cup in South Africa 2010.

I apologise to all of those who still didn't get my reply after writing me at I couldn't cope with all of the messages, but I'll find the time to try and answer all of them


Saurabh said...

I agree with you Seb! bringing on Cruz for Crespo was a shock. Like the millions who support this team the thing that hurts me the most is that this team is just tooo good. May be just too good is an

under statement. And when such a team looses (even on penalty kicks) to not so great opponents you feel really bad. But that's life! I feel that the people in charge of Argentinian football should urge

Peckerman to stay till 2010.

Looking on the brighter side we might be watching the 2010 world cup together and may be that would bring the necessary luck that was missing this time. May Messi hold high the World Cup in the year of 2010.AIMEN!

Hoy mas que nunca!

George Templeton said...

You have been one of the best correspondents during the World Cup, thank you for your interesting writing. It is as you said a very bright future for Argentina with Tevez and Messi you will be nightmare of all defense in 4 years. Since I am not familiar with the breakdown in age of the current players, who else will be part of the Argentine core for 2010?

Anonymous said...

I believe that the Argentinean team looked very good in the world cup and won most of the hearts and minds of the game’s fans. Its really bad Argentina left the tournament never the less they deserve to be admired for the joy they brought to us during the world cup.

I think the most important point you brought up (and that is what I have been talking about to everyone) is how the ref ignored Klose clash with our goalie.

Finally… Again again and again … Argentina Rules 
I love Tevez and Messi
I love calling them the “Apache” and “atomic flea” because I really think the names fit

I think Tevez (Apache) has powerful tactics and control over the ball; he plays with his heart and mind creating an invincible player who drops fear in the opponent’s defense.

We will win the next cup and the U20 Cup too
Vamos Argentina

Mohammad O. Ali
Middle East - Jordan

nick said...

Maybe as you say, Peckerman should stay... hopefully he will have learnt from his mistake and focus on our strengths .Forget negative defensive play and ... attack, attack, attack.

Allan Ng said...

I don't understand why Pekerman went for defensive tactics when Argentina's strongest suit was attack.

I know he was worried that Leo Franco would not be as safe a goalkeeper as Abbondanzieri, but to bring on Cambiasso for Riquelme is still the wrong way to go. We needed quick counter attacks against the Germans. Aimar, Saviola or Messi were perfect for the occasion. If we had made it 2-0 then the game was over.

I have the impression that Pekerman was thinking of saving Messi and Saviola for the semi-finals which was stupid.

Pekerman should go and someone more attack minded should be brought in.

Anonymous said...

Great analysis. Nothing to add except for a general comment about our team: with Riquelme at the healm, were we lacking a killer instinct, i.e., the kind of direct attack that Carlitos and Messi set forth? The starting lineup of Riquelme with Crespo and Saviola seemed to lack this. Clearly, Peckerman took nuestro albicelestes in the right direction (along with the rest of the footballing world), but is Pekerman a bit too artistic? If the next team is built around the Messi/Tevez attacking nexus (along with Kun?), we might give up some of our artistry and acquire a bit more pragmatism. I also find it interesting that JP Sorin is rarely mentioned. During our first two matches he bound the team together, but he seemed to fall apart after the S/M match. And with his lackluster performance, it seemed that our team was missing the x-factor. In the end, Riquelme was the wrong man to build a team around. In the end, we needed someone who could not only give us perfectly set passes and corners, but also someone who could inject energy into the heart of our plays. The loss has been devastating. We had this cup. Us Argentines need to put it behind us as soon as possible and single-mindedly dedicate ourselves to winning the next world cup (as we did in the years preceeding 78'). We will not say, "oh, maybe we'll have a shot in the next two cups, once X or Y mature." We will have none of this -- no more waiting. No other country in the world has our talent and our tradition, now it is time to let it out without reservations.

Vamos Argentina. Vamos a Ganar.

Anonymous said...

Lo siento...
no, that's not really enough, it's just the most tragic thing ever to happen in the recent world cups.

Hi again, I've decided to comment on your blog reather than to send you an e-mail. This is Aika, I am the breakfast radio show presenter at the Tokyo FM who asked for an interview. I wanted to talk with you no matter what, that is even if Argentina lost, but the directors have decided that it's better to invite someone talk about Germany and the semifinals. I fought for it, but it wasn't much help.

Frankly, it was the dream come true to see the Argentinians fight thruout the world cup group league, a dream that "fracaso" four years ago when a bunch of disappointed Argentinian football journalists left Nagano, after paying a fortune to come all the way to Japan, amidst the monetary crisis that had "la plata "plummet.

It was finally the classic football and modern football meet all in one. A lot of people say that Riquelme centered team was such an old-timer, but I really don't think so. When you bring in attackers like Tevez, Saviola, they were so fast! They endangered the defenders, they controlled the field, they were creative, on top of that of course, Riquelme looked at last confident in where he stood, he even looked comfortable with the interviews! And we the audience enjoyed all of that. Yes Germany is a good team, but it was such a bad luck that Argentina had to face them at this point, because I guess Fifa have to make them advance...really the ref should have seen that Abondanzieri was almost killed!

It made me think of that moment in the Champions league quarterfinals when Villarreal played against Inter. Rememember when Materazi had assaulted Sorin? Ref did not see that either and seeing Materazi's face on the Italian team makes me nauseous each time.
Riquelme missed the freekick back then, and he was missed from the game entirely this time...well not entirely but in the last 20 minutes.
Is this a fate? A vicious cycle?

but all in all, I can say that it was really such a "beautiful game" as you say, and they deserve all the respect in the world. They should be proud when they go home. Afterall, we want to watch football that is "fun" to watch, not bloody old boring catenazio.

So, I'm really sorry that our interview was cancelled. The media goes like that and it's a real shame. But I just wanted to let you know that the second goal in the game against Servia & Montenegro was definitely the best goal of this years World Cup.

Seba said...

Aika, you don't have to worry. It was clear we will have the interview only if Argentina advanced to the semis. Seriously, don't worry about it.

Maybe we can have the interview when the basketball world championship is being played in August in your magnificient country! ;) The "Albiceleste" will be going for another great performance like four years ago in Indianapolis (when, by the way, we were robbed in the final match against Serbia & Montenegro).

To everybody: I still want to write a few things regarding the match. So expect my articles in which I will specifically talk about the referee and a couple of key plays that made me want to kick the TV set!

Plus, we'll look into the future. With a scoop on those players I think will be the stars for Argentina in the next World Cup.

And a review after Germany 2006. We'll take a look at the unforgettable moments this World Cup gave us and I will apologise to one player in particular.

Coming soon. Watch this space.

Anonymous said...

Possible argentina team for 2010:

Goalie- Oscar Ustari
Defenders: Heinze, Collochini, Samuel, Cufre
Midfielders: Maxi, Aimar, Lucho, Mascherano
Forwards: Messi, Tevez with saviola as a sub

I would say we have a foundation for great things.

a Chinese soccer fan said...

First, I totally agree with you.

Second, I feel very very sorry for poor Pekerman.

Ever since Argentina was eliminated he became the most hated Argentinian on earth. The whole world wanted his head.

Yes, his disastrous decision in the game cost Argentina the victory. But now he is going to suffer for the rest of his life for this.

I simply couldn't think of any worse punishment than the one he is suffering now, a lot worse than an instant death.

Finally, I don't believe he should stay. There has never been a coach who failed first and then succeed four years later. Remember Tele Santana for Brazil 82 and 86?

a Chinese soccer fan said...

I just read a report that your national team went back to Buenos Aires, only 3000 fans turned out to welcome them.

What's the matter? Just because they were eliminated they are no longer your heroes? I would go to welcome them because of their great performance!

subh said...

3000 is a huge number to assemble outside the airport.
anywayz seba will be able to be a more correct overview of the mood in Argentina.
But whatever be it, I will still rate Pekerman and his team very highly.
I doubt any other team will be able to play such fluid beautiful football in this WC or even in future WCs apart from argentina themselves

Seba said...

Yes, 3000 is a huge number (also considering the time of their arrival -very early in the morning-).

They were received in an excellent manner. They are still highly rated and the people is still behind the team.

Pekerman is adamant he'll quit. But I think the issue is not quite finish yet.

Two days after the World Cup Final, he is going to meet the president of the AFA (Julio Grondona) and they'll talk about the way forward.

a Chinese soccer fan said...

Seba, I have a question here. It is about that wonder boy Messi.

Here is his story. At a child from a poor family, Messi suffered from a hormone deficiency when he was 11. As his parents were unable to pay for treatment in Argentina, they immigrated to Spain. In is in Spain that Messi began his magnificent career.

Actually Spanish national team was the first to invite him. It is simply most natural and beneficial that he plays for the rich and strong Spain, that opens a golden road right in front of him.

Instead, he chose to play for Argentina, which means a lot of sacrifices from him. I would like to know why he made such a decision.

To be honest, I don't think Argentina left Messi many happy memories. A child from a poor family, who couldn't go to see doctors when he was sick. Such a shame.

So why is he still so loyal to Argentina, why does he love the country so much? Anyone tell me?

IanM said...

After the game I was furious with Pekerman for the defensive attitude of the last 20 minutes and the failure to bring on at least one of Messi, Aimar or Saviola..... but having thought about it I hope he stays as manager.

Apart from that last 20 minutes when fear got the better of him, he got Argentina to play the most attractive, attacking football seen at the World Cup. I hope he stays and the team continues to play this way until the next World Cup - hopefully he has learned his lesson, and next time Argentina find themselves in a similar situation Pekerman does not lose the courage of his convictions and Argentina continue to keep possession and attack.

My fear is that if someone else like Bianchi takes over, the team will play more defensively - I have even heard rumours of Bilardo (has everyone forgotten 1990!).

Argentina has a lot to be proud of after this tournament: I live in the UK and even many of the English journalists said the best team had gone out of the World Cup on Friday. Finally, thanks for the articles and posts, they've been a great read - it's very interesting to hear the views of an Argentine fan as it's not so easy to find much information about Argentine football here.

With so many great young players, surely it will be Argentina's time in 2010.

Anonymous said...

He might be loyal to argentina because it is still his homeland. Take america for example, it is full of immigrants from poorer countries trying to chase the dream and get a better life. But all those tht get it will never forget their roots and their heritage. Thats why i intensely dislike players like Alex of japan and dos santos of tunisia cuz they are no better than mercinaries. Playing for a country other than yours is a thing without honor.

About the coaching situation i would love for pekerman to stay and add maradona as a special member of the coaching staff to prime him for the managers job later.

Oso said...

Two straight World Cup exits due to poor coaching. Is it really that hard to find a good coach?

It's not as if the Argentine Federation needs to find a mastermind...just someone that will not get in the way of the talent on the field. First Bielsa's ego leads to just a few first round goals in 2002 en route to an early elimination; and now Pekerman leaves Messi and Aimar on the bench with Riquelme and Crespo.

Knowing that the Germans scored as many goals (10) as the Brazilians and Argentines going into the game, did Pekerman really think that Argentina could hold onto a 1-0 lead for about 40 minutes? Did he forget that he was hoping to accomplish that feat with a back-up goalkeeper? Did he even fathom the possibility that Germany could score, and that would leave Argentina without much offensive firepower, dooming the Albiazul to a penalty shoot-out with a slow-footed and dim-witted back up goalie?

Maybe Argentina needs to get a coach from outside of the country. Bilardo seems to be more unique with every passing "Mundial".

Without better direction the Argentine side will flounder and once again be eliminated early in 2010. After all, what good will Tevez and Messi be on the bench? Vamos Argentina todavia!

a Chinese soccer fan said...

It's too easy to say that one should be loyal to his homeland. But things don't turn out this way. Yes, there are a lot of immigants in USA who chased an Amrrican dream and lived a better live. But when they became Americans, they will be loyal to America and they will play for US national team. Have you ever heard an American great player still play for his old national team?

Look at Klose and Podolski. They were both born in Poland. Their families are complete Poland. They moved to German when they were young, like Messi. We all see what happened next - they are playing for German and they play wonderfully. If they win the world cip they will be national heroes. It doesn't matter where they come from.

That's what I say is special about Messi. Usually when someone from a poor country obtains success and citizenship from a rich country he immediately began to play for that rich country. Actually that's what happened to the great Stefano - he is a complete Argentina, but as soon as he received Spanish citizenship he began to play for Spain.

Besides, Argentina really didn't treat Messi well. I mean, just because his family was poor he couldn't got to see doctors when he was sick...poor boy. Does Argentian really deserve Messi's loyalty and devotion?

Seba said...

OK, here's a thing about Messi's situation that might help you understand his decision.

It's not that he was unable to go to the doctor. Yes, it is a poor country, but medicine is pretty advance here (from my experience having lived in England and Italy we've got nothing to be ashamed of in that field).

The illness he had was a little bit complicated and his parents couldn't pay for the treatment.

So his father got a job in Spain and decided to move with all the family to help Lionel with his situation.

But Lionel was allready a 12-year-old boy who felt pretty much Argentinean 100%.

It would've been different if he moved to Spain aged 4 or 2.

Take David TREZEGUET as an example. He was born in France, then moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with his family when he was 4. He learnt the Spanish language, went to school here and on top of that, started his football career in a club called Platense.

As a teenager, returned to France and started a great professional career.

When the time arrived to choose his national team, he decided to go with Les Bleus, despite having lived in Argentina for a very long period of his young life.

I think, bottomline, in those cases, you've got to respect the players' choice.

Messi feels very identified with Argentina and that doesn't mean he is not grateful of everything Spain has done for him and his family.

Seba said...

Ianm, thank you very much for your message.

Here's a quick and surprising revelation for you: I SUPPORT QUEENS PARK RANGERS!

Seriously! With great passion!

As for your comments, I'll gladly continue to share my thoughts about Argentine football with all of you.

I'll probably write some stuff about our local league (if you're interested) and we'll see which team does everyone of you support.


Seba said...

Oso, the manager situation really make me nervous!

I don't see any standouts or clear runners for the helm.

It scares me to death to hear BILARDO wants to have another go!

Not only he is ultra-defensive, but he is dirty. Remember when he gave the Brazilians contaminated water during our game in Italy 90?

He used to play with some pins to needle his rivals! Horrible!

Out of all the past managers we had, the only one I would like to see again, is Alfio "COCO" (which means COCONUT -his nickname-) BASILE.

Not only he comes from the youth ranks of my team (RACING CLUB), but he captained us in our great 66/67 season (winning the league, the Copa Libertadores and the European-South American Cup -against Celtic-). But to talk only about Argentina, he made us play beautifully all the way to the USA 94 World Cup (winning our last two big trophies -Copa America 91 and 93-) and being undefeated for 36 games.

He was able to play BATISTUTA, CANIGGIA, MARADONA, REDONDO, BALBO all together and we were the best team until Diego got suspended.

Lately, BASILE have won with Boca all 4 major tournaments in which he managed: Two league titles, 1 Copa Sudamericana and the Recopa Sudamericana.

A Chinese soccer fan said...

Seba, thank you for your comments about Messi.

Why do you disapprove Bilardo that much? Didn't he lead Arg 86 to the title? That was my first world cup and he really impressed me very much. Yes, he did play very defensively in 90, but what else could he do, with an aging Maradona and a wonderful goalkeeper?

Remember he led you to two finals. Arg hasn't reached another final for 16 years.

Brazil waited 24 years for their fourth world cup. They won it in 94 NOT because they attacked well, but because they defended well. Why do you think France won in 98? Because they have the best defend line (their forwards were terrible). Guys, I am afraid NO team is going to win the world cup without the best defense.

Allan Ng said...

If Pekerman does quit, then maybe Argentina ought to look for a foreign coach. Someone who knows how to really get the best out of this team and is not defensive.

Pekerman has been very defensive from the first game against the Ivory Coast, maybe if we had drawn that game then he would know not to be so defensive against the Germans.

I still don't understand the reason behind substituting Crespo for Cruz. To me it was a total waste. Crespo didn't really play a full season with Chelsea and he also didn't play against Holland, Mexico was a week ago and he was tired?

It seemed Pekerman felt he has lots of toys in his prams and he wanted to show them all off to his fellow coaches.

Seba said...

You have a strong point in Bilardo's achievements. I don't deny them. But you've got to have in mind that Italy 90 was 16 years ago! It's a long time for someone who has not been managing actively lately.

Yes we had a great team in Mexico 86 but to me it was pretty obvious that Diego won it almost singlehandly.

And in Italy 90 we did get to the finals but we won only 2 of the 7 games we played! (USSR in the first round and Brazil in quarterfinals). We've lost to Cameroon in the opening match and to Germany in the final and tied against Romania (1st rd), Yugoslavia (8th finals) and Italy (semis).

And Argentina played pretty badly in that World Cup.

I'm not saying I want somebody who doesn't want to pick good defenders or construct a solid back line. I'm just talking about how inclined they are to play offensively or not. And Bilardo is not a manager that suits my idea of attracting football.

I hope he doesn't become our next manager.

A Chinese soccer fan said...

Seba, I just saw the pictures of poor Pekerman at his last press conference resigning his job. This time my heart totally fell for him.

He looked so old, tired, and...miserable!!!I couldn't believe he is only 56, he looked at least 65!!!

I hope Argentina people will stop attacking him. After all, he brought a wonderful team to German and played wonderfully. Yes, he made mistakes, but he paid dearly. Just look at him! He almost aged five years within five days!!!

I heard his salary is a humble USD 170,000 per year compared to the USD 7 million of English manage Eriksson. Don't you think you really got a great deal on him? I mean, he gave his heart to the team.

I hope Argentina people can stop blaming him and just let him go. Van Basten of Holland made similiar mistakes by benching his best forward while the team trailed behind in that horrible Holland-Portugual game. I didn't hear people blaming him for the defeat. He will stay and he will lead Holland to Euro 08.

By the way, Pekerman's salary is ridiculously low compared with others. I know Hiddink of Austria is earning USD 2.5 million a year. I have never heard any first class coach earning as little as him.

I really feel sorry for Pekerman. It is really not worth of it. After the elimination I hoped he would suffer the rest of his life for his mistake, now I sincerely hope he forget the nightmare and live a good life ever after.

Oso said...

Pekerman proved his lack of strategic competence against Ivory Coast, Mexico, and Germany. He is only a fraction of the problem, however, as the AFA is truly the reason that the administrative personnel cannot help but to keep the talent down.

The politicking that the AFA and their selected coaches and administrative representatives exert during the grand stage of the Mundial is sickening. While a terrible tactician and a questionable coach, Bielsa was an accomplished politician. He greased the right palms, and consequently he stayed on as a coach despite the worst finish by a supremely talented Argentine team in 30 years!

That action in itself was an outrage. Pekerman is a better coach than Bielsa, but not nearly the politician that Bielsa was. Therefore, there has been much friction between Pekerman and the AFA. Following the debacle in Berlin, Pekerman knew he had no friends in the AFA, and resigned.

I cannot help but wonder if Pekerman did not play Messi to stick it to the AFA, which he felt interfered excessively with his selection of the team. I would not be surprised if Messi was used as a political pawn that may have led to the elimination of this team.

Until the AFA receives an enema and some of the crap making the decisions is flushed from office, Argentina will always underachieve in the Mundial.

Here's for a good dose of prune juice! Dale Argentina!!

A Chinese soccer fan said...

Anyone has Pekerman's mailing address? I want to send him a card.

I want to tell him that he is a GREAT coach. I want to tell him that millions and millions Chinese soccer fans who love Argentina team want to thank him for bringing up a wonderful team and playing wonderfully.

Yes, the Chinese fans were heartbroken after Argentina was elimanated. But do you know what we say? Argentina doesn't win the world cup, but they win the world.

Please, it is UNFAIR to treat him like this!

Oso said...

"Please, it is UNFAIR to treat him like this!" a chinese soccer fan

No, it is not. Pekerman lost with Crespo, Riquelme, Messi, Aimar, Saviola, and Abondanzieri all on the bench. Granted "El Pato" was injured, but what about the rest of them?

When is the last time you saw a championship caliber team place half of its best players on the bench during crunch time?

Yeah, that's what I thought...NEVER!!

Well, at least not until June 30th, 2006.

Pekerman made several grave mistakes that cost Argentina a chance to make the semifinal. As I stated above, however, it's not all his fault. He is but a player in a frustrating political game within the AFA.

I hope that changes are made at the top before 2009. Otherwise, Argentina will cough and wheeze its way out of the tournament before the finals again.

Forza Batigol said...

I think Peckerman should stay. I've have not seen such a wonderful performance from the Argentinian for the past 16 years...Yes they may have lost the world cup but they win the admiration and respect from the world. Forget about Peck's mistake and let's move on...Give him one more chance to prove himself..I'm sure he can lead the team to lift up the trophy again in 2010!!!

Jo said...

People out there,

Can we stop blaming Pekerman for the decisions that he had made?

What if his decisions proved to be right at that juncture? So are we going to say that he's a genius?

I admitted i do questioned his decision but we have to respect his professionalism. He is the one who made this team shine.

I know in general, people are results oriented. If you are a good coach, you will bring the team to glory. How shallow!

C'mon, i feel the pinch too. I cried when we lost becoz of penalty shoot out (so bloody unfair). I emphathized with u guyz too.

Folks, Pekerman is a good coach face it. I really hope to see him again in the next world cup...

Oso said...

"I admitted i do questioned his decision but we have to respect his professionalism." jo said

Pekerman quit within hours of losing the quarterfinal game with Germany. Professionalism is not defined as one who quits upon encountering adversity.

"What if his decisions proved to be right at that juncture?" jo said

Pekerman's decisions were so fundmentally flawed that there was no way the Argentine team could overcome them. Despite winning by a goal, Pekerman based his decisions on the strength of the opponents instead of playing the game best suited for his team.

Pekerman did not even learn from his mistakes, falling back into the same defensive shell against Germany as seen against the Ivory Coast. The same flawed strategy that led to a goal by the Ivory Coast.

Pekerman and Argentina won that game, but the criticsm regarding his change of game plan to accomodate the score (by the way, that was a 2-0 lead, not a 1-0 lead against a high scoring team)still came and remained valid despite the outcome. Pekerman was a last minute substitute coach, and it cost Argentina a realistic chance at the title.

Why is there such support for him? Argentina's scrubs outplayed Germany and the albiceleste were the best team in the Mundial. Despite an enormous amount of talent, Argentina is watching the rest of the tournament on TV.

Besides, the point of having Pekerman coach again is moot. He quit and reiterated his intention to bow out yesterday.

Changing gears a bit, besides Messi and Tevez, which other players will anchor the Argentine team in 2010? I would like to see a young play maker and a tough defensive player come up through the ranks by the next World Cup.

Anonymous said...

Most of us are looking to "Kun" and Gago. Even if Crespo can hang on for the next cup, we need someone with the fire of Kun.

Anonymous said...

Can Fernando Gago Be our Next Playmaker? , who else should be?.

Anonymous said...

Does Gago Play Like Riquelme?

Orlin said...

I really enjoyed these thoughts about the match Argentina vs Germany; they are all coherent with my opinion. 4 days later, I'm still disappointed from this exit.
I would like to add some of my observations.
There was absolutely a foul against Abbondanzieri, and that was a mistake from the refferee. I even go further - I think that Klose did it NOT inintentionnally (as in many other cases). It should be penalised, but that wouldn't change anything - the worst was done - the goalkeeper was anable to play anymore.
Further - I thing there was a clear pennalty when Maxi Rodriguez was brought down in the box by Lahn ( Instead - he was given a yellow card for "diving". It's one of the refferee's wrong decisions that impacted the game score.
Watching the way how France dismantled :) Brazil, I thought that Argentina had to do the same with Germany. France, in the same situation as was Argentina (a little bit underdogs, with mighty and fearsome opponents, coming to lead with 1:0) instead of deffending the score, came up and made his best play in the World Cup.
Argentina, despite showing to the whole world that the hosts (very probably the future winners of this Mundial) are not the great and invincible team, which many had believed, suddenly changed the way they played and that turned to be catastrophic.
I think that the big part of the responsability goes to the coach. And I think that his mistakes started with the game against Holland, when the tactics was to play a "trainning game" instead of full tension game oriented only to the victory. This deconcentrated the team. The win against Mexico was more a luck, than an imposing and undoubtfull play.
I think that Argentina came through the quaterfinals not because of great coaching, but despite him and because of the individual skills of the players.
But that wasn't enough with hosts Germany, favorised from the part of FIFA (which isn't a surprise).
Should he left Riquelme on the field, and should he brought Messi in the game - the score would be completely different - out of any doubt.
And speaking for possible future couch - and I'm very far from the details - but why that won't to be the great, the one and only Diego?
Klinsmann and Van Basten both were great players, even Stoichkov (the best player of my country of all times) is the coach of the bulgarian team. Why Diego not?
And, introducing myself with few words, I'm perhaps a little bit elder than more of you, and I'm a strong argentinian supporter since 1974 when the World Cup was also held in Germany. I appreciated Argentina even when they played with Bulgaria -- in 1986, 2:0 for Argentina in the group stage; and in the 1994 USA World Cup, when just prior to our game also in the group stage Diego was disqualified and in result Bulgaria won 2:0.
There was no greater joy for me than when Kempes scored his second in the 1978 final against Holland.
Sorry for my bad english and thank you.

Joey (A Chinese soccer fan) said...

OSO, Pekeman did make mistakes, and his mistake argurably cost Arg the victory that they deserve. But he already suffered enough. Please, HAVE A HEART. He is the one who bought this wonderful team to German and play wonderfully. I cried first time when Arg was eliminated, and I cried second time when I saw him yesterday at the press conference. He looked so old, tired, and miserable! He aged five years within the last five days! When he kissed his boys good bye, I simply couldn't hold back my tears any more.

If chopping off his head is going to help Arg win the next world cup, go ahead and do so.

If not, please just let him go, OK? How much more do you want him to suffer?

I have a serious suggestion here, Pekerman should contact the Chinese Football Association (CFA)and coach China's olympic team. As you all know, China is going to host the 2008 Olympics and we are looking desperately for a good coach. Pekerman is the undisputed best coach in the world at youth level. The CFA will be happy to pay him ten times what the meager AFA paid him, and millions of Chinese fans will love and worship him. I am serious. He should come to Chine and begin a new era here. Anybody know how to contact him?

Anonymous said...

Can anyone please let me know who are the potential Argentine defenders for WC2010 ?


Seba said...

I'll write an article about our probable squad for South Africa 2010.

Coming soon.

Gago does not play in the same position as Riquelme. He plays in the same position as Mascherano, but with a different style. He likes to pass the ball around. He is very similar to Fernando Redondo (a player who represented Argentina in USA 94 and played several seasons for Real Madrid).

Pekerman to China?

I don't think that's a realistic chance, even more so considering Beijing 2008 is not that far away and Pekerman would need more than 2 years to establish a serious youth program in China.

IanM said...

Seba, I think it would be great if you continued to write articles about the Argentine domestic league as I'd really like to hear more insight from genuine fans about it. We get highlights here now (at 4am!) but not much is written about the games. My favourite team in Argentina is River Plate - I started following them with the team of Francescoli, Gallardo and Ortega, then the team of Aimar, Saviola and Angel.

My team in the UK is Celtic, who Racing beat in the (in)famous World Club Cup in 1967, but I won't hold that against you!! I'm very surprised you support QPR, how did you begin following them? It can be easy being a Racing and QPR fan right now!

I'll be very interested in your article on a possible team for 2010, with young players like Messi, Kun Aguero, Gago and Ustari it should be a very strong squad - though I'm not so sure about defenders... maybe Gabi Milito to replace Ayala?

Andy said...

Yes, it is true Aregentina were probably the best team in this World Cup. As we see in every sport, the best team does not always win. Remember, Germany is playing at home and are a decent team. If the game was in Argentina, they probably would have won it at least 2-0.

Andy from USA

Anonymous said...

Seba, thanks for agreeing to write on Argentina probable team for WC2010 so that we can follow their progress henceforth.

Seba said...

Ianm, I'll let you know about my story supporting QPR and the wonderful things I've lived thanks to that great club and its amazing supporters!

But for now, I'll tell you that messages like yours, make me want to continue writing here and interacting with all of you.

More articles will follow.

And by the way, being half Italian, makes me feel half-happy today!

Mohamed-Somalia said...

seba, i'm happy that italian Coach did not make any mistake that could lead them a downfall. Germans where not thinking about to reach semifinals when they were playing against Argentina, but the some mistakes and poor refereeing helped them to reach there, but italians were very fimiliar about germans, finally Germans were shown the EXIT Door !

Mohamed-Somalia said...

As an Argentinian Fan , I would like to know Who Can be our Next Playmaker in Argentina Team for the Forth Coming Years?.... A player Like Roman Riquelme, Like a Midfield Machine.

Seba Can you Point Us?

Joey said...

The next playmaker should be Aimar, isn't it?

One more comment about that wonder boy Messi. He won my heart the minute he went to play in the Sevia game, and what a show! I know I will be his fan as long as he plays. But I have to say that he seems very slim and fragile, and I really worry about him. Just think about it: the poor boy has to shoulder all Argentina hope in the next decade. I am afraid he will be crushed under this enormous pressure, which is the last thing I want to see - For the sake of both Messi and Argentina.

Anonymous said...

i think the next playmaker is Kun Aguero! , but not Aimar.

Xander said...