Saturday, April 07, 2007

All Time Greatest

I've often heard about which was the greatest team ever in the history of football. If ask a Brazilian, they will tell you that the 1970 World Cup winning team was the best bunch ever. As for the younger generation, they might tell you that the best team they ever seen was the Manchester United class of 99 (treble winning side). To counterfeit that, fans of Liverpool, Arsenal, Real Madrid or AC Milan will tell you otherwise. What about Johan CRUYFF and his Total Voetball crew of the 1970's? Even Franz BECKENBAUER has bossed about his 1990 Germany World Cup winning team saying that "If I wake them up at 2.00 am in the morning, they will beat the current German team 10-0!!!"

OK I think I had enough of that. But one thing for sure, not many people out there has rated our 1986 World Cup winning team into that entire list that I've mentioned above. One of the main reason is that it was often looked at as a one-man performance rather than a whole team. But I'm pretty sure that they were some players in that team that have equally contributed to that success.

But if I'd ask you to name the eleven best players who have don the Albicelestes colours throughout history, what would your choice be? Trust me, the more you think about it, the harder it gets, especially when I've already decide on one player and suddenly out of the blue moon another player comes to the picture. It took me days to figure out who should be in my list, as I needed to really be sure about this. At times when discussing this with my friend Alwin, we often had our preference on who deserves the most. This is when I realized that the best team might depend on one opinion on how he or she would like the team to be. Which is the main reason for me to why I decided to write this article. So that YOU out there might want to share with us who do YOU think are the best players, the best formation and the captain to lead them or even the best coach for that matter.

But below is my final eleven that I've selected after weeks of mind blowing and head cracking session. I've decided to go with the 3-4-1-2 formations.


Nery PUMPIDO - One of the few memorable things that I remember about the 1986 World Cup, was the silver shinning plated jersey wore by PUMPIDO. After all it was the 1980's. However this was a tough choice but in the end, no one can deny what a great goalkeeper he was. Even I feel those who came after him were not that close to what he was. This is why he is my first choice keeper.


Oscar RUGGERI - Arguably the most successful defender in the history of Albicelestes and who can argue that? Having represented Argentina for 97 times plus a World Cup medal, twice captaining us to Copa America success plus numerous titles that he has won with Real Madrid, River Plate and Boca Juniors. Without the tough and uncompromising El Cabezon in defense, we would have been a weaker team in 1986.

Jorge Luis BROWN - I have to admit I was really attracted to the name first but who can forget that fantastic header he scored in the 1986 World Cup Final. To prove how crucial Tata was, Germany scored two consecutive goals after he suffered a dislocated right arm during the game. Even that didn't stop him at all as he refused to be substituted, which is why a warrior like him is must in my team

Daniel PASSARELLA - Despite of his average height, his leadership, organization prowess and a defender who often joined attack and the ability to score goals is arguably second to none. In fact at one point his was the history's top scoring defender, with 134 goals in 451 matches. Amazingly enough he is the only player to feature in both of our World Cup winning team, even though he didn't play in Mexico 86 as he had a stomach infection.


Osvaldo "Ossie" ARDILES - A competitive and skillful player. Despite the tension that was surrounding in England during the Falkland Island War, Ossie prove to be a hit with his magnificent sublime skills both with the Spurs fans and elsewhere. Is there anything else special about him? Oh yes there is, I like the number of his jersey, very unique indeed.

Diego SIMEONE - Be afraid for you are ought to be. El Cholo is well known for his hardman and tackling quality, probably one of the best in the world for his position. Once he told the press that Argentina had to play against Paraguay in a World Cup Qualifier "with a knife in between his teeth". But what most of us are not aware is the great leadership that he possesses, a knowledge that he has even transform into his managerial career as well.

Fernando REDONDO - At times I wonder, what would the Albicelestes been like if instead of 29 caps, he had over 100 of them? Well weˇll never know but one thing for sure, any reasonable coach would never ignore both his creativity and combative exploits on the field. Which is why he is in my list.

Jorge BURRUCHAGA - El Burru will forever be remembered for scoring that all important winning goal that gave us our second World Cup. I'll never forget that blistering run he made from the right flank before firing the ball into the goal post with his left foot. And that, my friends, is a one way ticket to immortality.


Diego MARADONA - Well what can I say? Do I need to say anything else about him? Well for all our loyal readers in this blog, I believe everyone would agree 120% on this. But for those of you who are still living in denial, scratching their heads and trying to figure out why I choose him, you have no idea what you have been missing


Guilermo STABILE - Something from the old school and arguably the first superstar to come out from Argentina. STABILE will be remembered for being the 1930 World Cup leading goalscorer, scoring 8 goals in 4 matches. Although his career with the Albicelestes lasted only for a blink of an eye, but what a blink it was as his legacy went on to inspire generations of Argentine players.

Gabriel BATISTUTA - I only have three reasons for this. Goals! Goals! Goals! That is what Batigol will give you. And they just kept coming from Florence to Rome to Qatar. The fact that he is Argentina all-time goalscorer (59 goals in 78 caps) means he holds the throne to the No.9 jersey (as much as Diego has the No.10)

And the best man to coach them?

Cesar Luis MENOTTI - I've got nothing against Señor Carlos BILARDO's "win at all cost" approach. But when you have a line-up that contains the best of the best it has to be the beautiful attacking approach, that MENOTTI emphazised

And last but not least the Captain.

There can only be ONE...


pablo said...

wow this is very hard,id add to the team/ goal filloi,hes always mentioned as one of the world great keepers.
others id add are kempes,de stefano,zanetti,ayala,houseman,valdano the hard bit is who to start with for the 11.
ill be very busy thinking about this.

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John said...

Pablo, I did come across those names you’ve mentioned. Looks like you’ve got your own first eleven.

Facundo, great to have you with us and thanks for your comment. Please do stick around as we could use your expertise in basketball

alwin said...

Un trabajo bien hecho , Good Job Mate.

Could not dispute most of the names there as i think its agreable. I would still think that SUPER MARIO KEMPES should have been included as a striker to partner BATIGOL.

The midfield partnership of REDONDO and SIMEONE is very fiesty yet creative, i like it.



Anonymous said...

I sort of like the double number 5s we got going with Simeone and Redondo - albeit, Redondo has a lot of flair in him.

but you cannot leave off Di Stefano. If you don't consider him to be Arg, then Kempes should replace Stabile. One good WC doesn't replace a decade of goals, and let's not forget, Kempes also scored heavily in 78.

I also would love to have seen Francéscoli somehow crack the list, but there can only be room for one enganche and this is Diego of course.

John said...

It seems like we got of plenty of lobby for Mario KEMPES. For a start I had a tremendous problem finding the best strike partnership for me.

I had to choose between BATIGOL, STABILE, KEMPES & DI STEFANO. There was no way I’m going to leave BATIGOL out, as he is our all time top scorer. And the reason why I pick STABILE to partner him is because I just wanted to pay tribute to the Old School Heroes. I just felt one of them had to be in my list.

I wasn’t easy to leave the other two out in fact they were other players that I face similar problems such as AYALA, SIVORI, VOLDANO etc.

Seba said...

That's the good thing about supporting Argentina! You could select more than one team and still have a lot of quality in your selections.

That's the beauty of it. It has to be difficult to pick just XI.

That's why I will disagree with a lot of your picks, but at the same time, I understand perfectly just why you have picked each and every one of the players on your list.


Ubaldo Matildo FILLOL: I think he ranks amongst the best 5 keepers in history of football and he is surely the best goalkeeper I've ever seen playing live in a football stadium.

Defense (I'll pick a back line composed by three centre-backs):

Roberto PERFUMO: El Mariscal (The Marshall) was pure class. He didn't play in successful national teams but his ability was beyond that. He had to suffer Johan CRUYFF and company in Germany 1974 but he surely was the kind of defender I want in my team. Quality and tough tackling combined in one elegant centre-back.

Daniel PASSARELLA: The first Argentine man to ever hold and lift the World Cup trophy. Leadership, presence, goal-scoring ability. The whole package.

Oscar RUGGERI: Just to think that he should have played alongside Daniel PASSARELLA in Mexico 86 makes me wonder if that could have been the best pair of central defenders in the history of the World Cup. Unfortunatelly PASSARELLA was ill and RUGGERI accepted the challenge of becoming the leader of that defense and he even scored in his World Cup debut against Korea.

Midfield: (a line of four)

This will look similar to John's list.

Fernando REDONDO: I can't think of a more talented central midfielder in the history of our national team. He had everything and he had in the right dose. Unfortunatelly he played only one World Cup and we went home earlier than expected because of that Diego doping incident. But REDONDO was pure class. Injuries and differences with our managers kept us from enjoying his class a little bit more.

Osvaldo ARDILES: Class. All-around play. He marked, he created, he shot. He did it all and he did it greatly.

Diego SIMEONE: I wish that the eleven players that wear the Albiceleste have the heart El Cholo had. Not a man of many talents when he was on the ball, but he more than made up for that with a courage that was second to none.

Diego Armando MARADONA: I'll be clever here and I'll use him in my midfield. With REDONDO covering and starting the distribution, OSSIE and CHOLO chasing everyone round the pitch and with DIEGO sitting just behind the three forwards. In contrast to SIMEONE, MARADONA could do anything he wanted with the ball, but still, the fact that I admire the most about Diego is also his tremendous heart. That's what took him head and shoulders about all the other men who ever played football in human history.


Gabriel Omar BATISTUTA: What a powerful striker! What a goal-machine. He gave 110% every time he played. He is the kind of striker every manager dreams about.

Mario Alberto KEMPES: El Matador was inmense when we needed him most. He scored a brace in our first World Cup victory and was another case of never-say-die attitude. Sensational.

Leopoldo Jacinto LUQUE: The big moustache was one of the icons of our first World Cup victory and scored very important goals in that tournament. It was hard to pick this last player but I never considered DE STEFANO (as he also played for Spain and didn't have an important role for Argentina). Some votes were going to Claudio CANIGGIA, who was memorable scoring against Brazil and Italy in Italia 90, and some to Hernán CRESPO, who despite playing most of his career for Argentina as a substitute of Gabriel BATISTUTA, is the third all-time scorer for Argentina (only 2 goals behind a little fellow that goes by the name of Diego!). But it was LUQUE in the end because he won that damn trophy in the end!

Seba said...

As for that anonymous poster who was suggesting Enzo FRANCESCOLI to be included in the list...for much as I wished he was Argentine, unfortunatelly he was born and played international football for Uruguay (World Cup 86 and 90).

John said...

By the way Seba, whom would appoint to coach your team?

Seba said...

That's a tricky one, John.

I left it out on purpose! haha!

Surely not PEKERMAN or BIELSA.

I like BASILE. I really do. I think he was unlucky with what happened with Diego and that great team in USA 94.

Out of MENOTTI and BILARDO I can't make my mind. I'm closer to the MENOTTI's approach but I consider him as a coach that stayed in the 70's and was unable to adapt to new times as he won virtually NOTHING since that World Cup in 1978.

From the old school, I don't have a great knowledge and I don't think it'd be fair if I pick one from more than 30 years ago.

So...I leave it vacant. I just concentrate on the players.