It was like a curse we had whenever we face DUNGA and his team. The record so far consisted in 2 wins for the Brazilian manager with 6 goals scored and none conceded (after that 0-3 result in a London friendly -first match for BASILE in his second spell as Argentina manager- and that 0-3 Copa America final).
The key? I think it was Brazil failing to score inside the first 5 minutes of the game. They've done that through ELANO in London and Julio BAPTISTA in Maracaibo and those early goals really changed the rest of those games. Argentina were forced to chase the game and were hit heavily on the counter-attack.
That's the game that suits DUNGA to perfection! Well...he was out-coached on Wednesday as BASILE finally seemed to have gotten his number.
If only he could pick a decent centre-forward so we can score goals against Brazil!!!!
That was another of the keys. I understand the idea of having a tower of a centre-forward to go along with a bunch of small geniuses so you actually have a variety in your game and you can hit rivals with powerful headers inside the box or have someone to hold up to the ball and give the little fellows a rest every now and then.
But CRUZ??? CRUZ has proven that he can't play for Argentina. As simple as that. CRESPO in one leg is 10 times better than him and BASILE should use Hernán or simply try other options. Such as CAVENAGHI or even Lisandro LOPEZ for that matter (who is a smaller player than CRUZ but surely has more speed, a great header and can shoot with both feet).
That said, here are my bullet-points with the things I think were the most important or relevant of the game on Wednesday:
- BASILE played a great wild-card by including Jonas GUTIERREZ. He was immense, top3 in my Argentine man-of-the-match shortlist (along with GAGO and MASCHERANO. I can't decide who was the best of those three but it doesn't matter, they were superb!). Jonas, also known as EL GALGO (which means THE GREYHOUND) surely did his job in keeping MAICON's run to a minimum. Not only that, he also contributed offensively and had a few runs of his own. Including one in which he sent a perfect cross for CRUZ and we all know what happened: easy one for the keeper.
- MAD MASCH and Fernando GAGO can really work together as a terrific holding midfielders duo. My friend Johnny pointed out that GAGO should work on his lateral moves when going forward and he'll be extremely dangerous and I've got to agree with that. I think his ball-winning performance on Wednesday and his running-all-day showing were World Class. MASCHERANO was his usual self and he completely dominated that part of the field. What a player!
- I'm quite pleased with our back three. They looked shaky at the beginning (specially BURDISSO) but they did a good job overall.
- ABBONDANZIERI deserves all the credit for an outstanding performance. That one-handed, pure reflexes save against ADRIANO in the first half was incredible. He also felt very comfortable to perform those long services in such a big pitch and he was very safe overall (I remember a free-kick and a flying volley by BAPTISTA being well-controlled by Pato). The only scary moment was that one-on-one against ROBINHO and that almost-a-penalty-for-Brazil move by Pato that in the end finished in nothing (because ROBINHO did everything wrong!).
- For all of what's been said on the press before the game, I think RIQUELME and MESSI worked quite well together. Not to perfection. Not to a standard they are perfectly capable of reaching, but they can co-exist in the field. BASILE needs to work on their relationship ON THE FIELD (I don't care that much if they really hate each other off it, as long as they deliver the goods on it). Everyone knows BASILE loves both players and they are the backbone of his team. That's why they need to interact a little bit more and they need to exploit their abilities to the maximum. RIQUELME should hold on to the ball a little bit more and MESSI should receive it with a little bit of space in front of him so he can make the most of his speed and lightning dribbling ability. They've been doing it quite the opposite for most of the match and the team felt it.
- ZANETTI had an off game. Probably more focused on not allowing GILBERTO to run forward on his wing.
- CRUZ should have done better with the chances he had and should have worked a little bit harder when he was dispossessed instead of walking next to the Brazilian defenders without even bothering to chase them just a little bit.
What would have happened if he falls to the floor following that tackle by MAICON just before he shot wide? Would the ref had given a penalty? We never know. So I think it was a good thing for him to try and get the ball, stay on his feet and try his luck with a powerful shot.
The best thing of the night for me?
Seeing MESSI being replaced with the whole crowd (Brazil supporters!) chanting his name and giving him a standing ovation! Granted it may come as a gesture against DUNGA and his team, but nevertheless, they gave one of our stars a standing ovation!
Next stop? Paraguay in Buenos Aires (around September 6) and Perú in Lima (roughly September 10).
Bring back Carlitos and let CRUZ stay in Milan!