Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ecuador 2-0 Argentina - What now?

My short answer would be: I still support the team and MARADONA.

For a longer answer and analysis, I will say a few things and I'll try not to fall into the "what ifs".

Some "what ifs" are inevitable and that penalty-kick miss by TEVEZ is certainly one of them.

In my opinion, Argentina played a very intelligent first half. We were the better team and apart from that penalty-kick miss by TEVEZ, we also enjoyed a few other chances.

MESSI one-on-one with the keeper, missed with his right foot and I think it was down to a miscalculation from Lio.

Argentina enjoyed some possession and managed to put some pressure on Ecuador. Especially on the break and sometimes making the most out of Ecuador's sloppy use of the off-side trap.

We lost 2-0 today, and ironically, and all things considered (the altitude, the wet pitch) I think overall, we played better than on Saturday against Colombia. Granted, it was difficult to play as badly as we did against Colombia, but I think the team reacted quite well and played much better. At least in the first half.

I don't know what happened in the second half. Ecuador obviously made some adjustments and we struggled to repeat what we did so well in the first half.

Again Argentina had a terrific chance to go ahead in the score, but ELIZAGA (playing for free after he should have been red-carded when he fouled TEVEZ in the first half), stopped an effort from GAGO from close range. It was another "what if" moment. But after that, it all went wrong for us.

Surely oxygen was at a prime for our players in that last segment of the game and we failed to have possession or even launching a single deadly counter-attack.

Ecuador were not creating too many chances. They were crossing the ball into our box a lot, but they weren't creating too many dangerous clear chances, until that ball bounced off Maxi RODRIGUEZ's back and then AYOVI fired that missile towards ANDÚJAR's far post and it went in.

From that moment on, it was game over.

Now what? I ask again.

Now is not the time to change our manager again. Now is the time to think with a cool head and to also consider that he lost two WCQ matches and won two. The ones he lost, were played in unusual conditions. In conditions in which Argentina rarely won in previous campaigns. Yes, he also defeated beatable teams at home, but he did get the win.

To change right now, like some people are already asking, would be nothing short of suicidal.

There are four matches to be played. Brazil at home and Paraguay away, will be very very difficult, but they are not impossible to beat. Brazil rarely win in Buenos Aires. We can beat Paraguay in Asunción.

I know some of you would think I'm being naively positive and optimistic, but I want to consider every aspect and avoid the dangerous exercise of start calling names and asking for the manager's head to roll.

Dave's players' rating will come with a little delay from what we're used to, but they will arrive. And a new edition of our podcast will also come soon.

Until then, let's hear what's on your heart/mind right now.


Anonymous said...

Ecuador definitely wasn't that much, as I expected much more pressure from them, and Argentina could have won if it weren't for that Messi's unexplainable miscalculation (at least he did it with his right foot), and Tevez' penalty.
I wanted Tevez to kick the penalty, because if you watched the previous Argentina-France match, you might have noticed how (and I don't know how to say this) 'girlie' they kicked each one of them. Yet, Tevez did the same, and it was the same in the 2006 WC match against Germany (remember Cambiasso's penalty?). I hate that, I just don't find words to explain how angry I am because of this bad habit of kicking the ball with fear. Kick like you should! Have they never seen Kempes? It's terrible.

But that's not all. They had 90 minutes to score; they had many clear situations where the wet and fast field didn't influence the game.

I can't judge anything else. The defense looks improved, yet Ecuador wasn't at it best to think that way. The midfield was a complete disaster, they couldn't coordinate defense and forward, not even with Veron. Is maybe this the problem?
I don't know what to think.

RG said...

A goal in the first half would have made the difference. I was absolutely shocked when Tevez went to take the penalty, when he is not even a regular penalty taker in ManU. Maradona got the tactics right in the first half but the team really let him down. There was absolutely no sync between Messi and Tevez. It is time for in form players with a certain calibre to play. I think we need players that can hold the ball and pass around. It is time for Zarate and Higuain to play. They have great potential and hopefully they will be able to connect with Messi.
Key moments in the match:
1. Messi missed a sitter by his standard: Though the benefit of doubt can be given to him as the ball was traveling considerably faster in this altitude compared to ground level
2. Tevez penalty: Wrong strategy to get him to take the penalty. It was pathetic to say the least
3. Gago miss: He seems to miss always.
Hope Argentina manage to make it to South Africa. Every team there will have a chance.
Finally time has come for Veron and Zanetti ( one of my all time fav) to call it quits. Veron has not done anything for Argentine football except bringing the team down by snubbing batistuta in 2002.
When will we ever have another Batistuta!!The need of the day is a strong forward.There is unfortunately none at the moment. Please do not consider Milito he is the most overrated player I have seen.

The points that could have been influenced by Maradona:
1. Who should take penalties?
2. Are the players selected in good form. Dunga is successful just because of that
3. Better preparation for matches at altitude. The passing by the team left a lot to be desired. Would be surprised if the accurate passes was more than 60%
Finally all said and done match is won by players on the field.
Not sure whether changing coach will make a difference because defense wins matches. The last good defender that played for Argentina was Ayala. Samuel was great but injuries have affected him.Garay, Pareja … yet to deliver or prove in the big stage.
There is plenty of talent upfront but certainly today there is a lack of ball holding midfielders and solid defenders.

Anyway these matches at altitude are always irritable be it for the players or for us watching it.

Another sad day for Argentina football

p2bn said...

I agree with annon, I just don't know what to think. Replacing Diego now; not a good idea even though he hasn't really given us much to celebrate. Well the onus is again on him to prove as there are no difficult games in the sense he cant control it like bolivia and ecquador. I want to be positive but yet again we would have to wait whole 3 months in anguish. When I saw the table, I was like shit; we could have been first if we had won. And looking in the future, I am a bit worried now. Anyway, we can do nothing else them say VAMOS ARGENTINA no matter what. So I hope it works out for us but its going to be very hard.

BTW Seba, making a facebook group for the blog or in the national team name is one way of getting alot more fans together I think as many of my friends are very regular there and would love to be in the thrill, maybe a twitter feed as well. Those doesn't take too much time, so the blog wont be affected and we all can contribute. What do you guys think? I bet it would be awesome for alot of fans out there who would love such an up to date info.

Vamos Argentina

johnny said...

A very trying night to be sure. I won't be longwinded because I don't have it in me. My take-the midfield from an offensive perspective is nothing short of a disaster. The defense played well tonight until they were constantly bombarded, and as is usually the case in a bombardment, eventually they got hurt. Offensively we could not maintain possession and it killed us. I fear this particular problem is developing into a crisis that could put the kibosh on Argentina's hopes of qualifying, not to mention having any kind of success in the WC. And, this problem is not new. This has been tagging along with Argentina for quite awhile, what with the doubts about Riquelme, whether Messi would become the enganche, and etc and etc. I don't think Veron is going to be the answer. If I were Diego I would send out a loud and clear call to D'Allesandro. Why not ? He can't be worse than the current enganche wannabes, and I think, alot better.

My 2 cents.

Paulina said...

Maradona needs to go. I loved him as a player, but he's not a coach. And, what was more problematic, he doesn't seem that great at motivating the players, or putting them in a good mindset. Messi missed a chance that he never misses with Barca, and Tevez's penalty was really poor -- the reason for both misses -- they were visibly nervous.

It doesn't really matter that they played better than against Colombia. This is a team that should be playing as well or better than Spain.

A little bit, though, about Ecuador. Seba -- can you at least give us SOME props for scoring two excellent goals? You know, our players are not Quitenian - they aren't used to the altitude either. They come from the coast. And then they play in Europe. Altitude is of course a factor, but Ecuador is also a good team.

Anyway, I really worry about Arg now. They NEED to go to the WC and show everybody their beautiful football!

Allan said...

We can't play with Messi and Tevez upfront. It just doesn't work. We should make Messi the playmaker/attacking midfielder, feeding two strikers.

I think it is time to call Higuain in. He is scoring goals galore for Real so why shouldn't he be in the team?

The only consolation is that Brazil lost 1-0 to Paraguay.

Anonymous said...

No way! That's only bad news, since we gotta play Paraguay at Asuncion. They're gonna kill us!

Anonymous said...

A few days left for my trip to Argentina and I get to watch this horrible showing from the side. I just do not get it. What in the world was Messi doing with that open goal in front of him? And Tevez, I do not want to even think about that PK he took. I agree with a few people that Diego needs to go. It is not working and it is time. We missed the U-20 WC and I do not want us to miss the WC in SA.This team lacks a identity from the back to front, they are just a bunch of individual players who show nothing on the pitch. I do not see those lovely one-twos that I have seen in the past from Argentina's teams. I agree that Messi and Tevez playing a entire game does not pan out, but it's a lot better then Messi and Kun. I will promise you that much. Diego is getting on my LAST nerve when he does not want to play a true #9. He never has played it so far, never never never! What in the world is his problem? Will we qualify yes sure I hope so but I do not see us doing much after this. Maybe this team comes onto the pitch saying, we are playing Colombia, Ecuador we do not need to play to our best ability vs them, we will save it for the big boys. Only time will tell what is going to happen.


Anonymous said...

hi, long time reader, first time poster here..

i don't think that axing Maradona would be the answer. Changing coaches will bring more bad than good to the team. The team need stability, sir Alex Ferguson need a few years before winning the FA cup.(club and national team is different, i know, but still, you need to give the manager times to do something).
I don't know why, but i just got the feeling that Maradona will come good in the end..
oh, and I hope Aimar will be fit enough to be recall to the national team.


Sebastian said...

Paulina! Welcome to Mundo Albiceleste and thank you for your interesting comments.

Well...I have to be honest with you. Of course I don't think it was ALL down to the altitude, but I have to tell you that I rate this Ecuadorian players very highly! The fact that you have the excellent GUERRON as a substitute, speaks volumes of what I want to say here.

Therefore, I was surprised with their performance today. I think they can play much better than that.

Regarding the altitude and the fact that most of the players are not from Quito and play in Europe, well...we also have to mention that VIZUETE preserved a lot of them for the trip to Peru during the weekend and not only they were fresh to play today, they were also acclimatised to the altitude because they spent a few days up there in Quito.

That said, I guess the main point I was trying to make was that I felt Argentina had the game in their hands and their inability to score what was proved to be the decisive factor of the game.

As for MARADONA...I think we need to cut him some slack. Yes, he lost two matches. But our players won't find the same conditions again in the remaining WCQ fixtures (or in the WC itself). With a not-so-crazy combination of results in the next round, Argentina could be heading to the last three matches needing only 2 points to clinch the fifth spot and you have to consider the fact that Ecuador still have to play Uruguay and Colombia (our chasers will be taking points from each other).

I'm still with Diego 100%

Sebastian said...

Also...welcome to Mundo Albiceleste's comments' box, Koma! Another member of our Albiceleste Malaysian Gang!

John said...

A BIG welcome to all the new readers at Mundo Albiceleste. Great to see the variety of comments coming in as well. I think I will reserve some of my thoughts for our next podcast.

Koma, nice to meet another Argentina fan from Malaysia. Tell us more about yourself.

Roy said...

Welcome to the new readers. Not sure how long you guys have been around(assuming less than a week), but it's also great to see new faces here on the blog.

As for the match itself, as TEVEZ was stepping up to take that penalty, I just had this feeling that he would miss. And sadly, I was right. Once he missed, I knew we wouldn't score. 1 clear chance and 1 penalty, if you don't score, you never will.

It's sad when HEINZE of all people is arguably your best player, along with MESSI. II can't for the life of me understand what MARADONA is trying to do with this team. How many matches has it been now where he has played with TEVEZ and MESSI up front? IT DOESN'T WORK! Stop trying to play it, DIEGO! Someone line HIGUAIN would be perfect right now. Was scoring goals left and right and can be used as a target man. Play him along with MESSI and TEVEZ and see what happens.

Also, as much as it pains me to say... We need to start playing ZABALETA ahead of ZANETTI. ZANETTI got smoked for pace yesterday and if it wasn't for the other defenders bailing him out(I can't believe I just wrote that), it could have been much worse.

Our midfield was lost. They had no clue what to do. It seemed whenever they got the ball they just kept giving it to MESSI hoping that he would score alone. Bring RIQUELME, bring D'ALESSANDRO, bring anyone for the midfield, because they are LOST.

Anonymous said...

Another loss for Argentina to a team they should beat or at least draw with. Argentina will qualify for South Africa but it will have make changes to the current team to reach its full potential. I will not despair as teams that excel in the qualifiers tend to fail under the weight of expectation. The teams that reached the latter stages of 2002 & 2006 were teams that struggled during the qualifiers.

Argentina have excellent players Riquelme, Hinguain, Cambiaso, Gonzalo Rodriguez who are being ignored. Juan Riquelme is an excellent player who despite his lack of pace controls games. His passing is exquisite, he provides a lot of assists and chips in with his fair ratio of goals. He may have fallen out with Maradona but its time for them to bury the hatchet for the sake of football & the national team. A clash of personalities should be avoided as it caused Argentina dearly in 1998. His inclusion will also take some of the pressure of Messi as the responsibility for leadership will be shared.

Hinguain was one of Real Madrid's best players in a dismal season. He scored over 20 goals & was one of the top scorers in Spain. He also has a physical prescence which Tevez & Arguerro lack. Though not a complete finisher in the Crespo mode he has a lot of attributes. He is good in the air, scores with both feet & sets up play very well. If the selection was based on current form he should be selected ahead of Tevez & Arguerro as he did more for his club.

Cambiasso was a champion with Inter Milan. Unlike Jonas Guttierez whose team was relegated. He is vastly experienced, initiates moves, leads from the front & scores decisive goals. Gonzalo Rodriguez is one of the key players in Villarel team that has been over achieving for the last couple of years. He is quick, tackles well and has a lot of Champions league experience.

There are also other players like Zabaleta who changed clubs & coped quite well with the change in footballing cultures.

The current team has excellent individual players but it lacks balance & is easy out muscle. The warning signs are there & changes should be made to avoid a repeat of 2002.

Zanetti is becoming like Cafu in that he has seen better days & does not want to quit. Veron had his chance to drive Argentina to glory in 2002. He failed when Argentina needed him most against England. There is no need to persist with him. His distribution is excellent but he is old, slow & predictable. He may be of use as a back up player but to rely on him to provide match winning performes against top sides is risky. Arguerro is a very gifted player but he did not score as many goals as Hinguain and i feel its to soon to expect him to deliver. Tevez plays like a lion whose industry & skill are undeniable. However he is first choice for Man Utd & should not be 1st choice for Argentina.

I know this may be hard to contemplate but i think Argentina should ditch Maradona. Brasil ditched their coach in 2001 & appointed Louis Felipe Scolari & the rest is history. All is not lost if the necessary decisions are taken. The omens are similar to that of Brasil 2002. Maybe this defeat is a blessing in disguise as the failings are clear for all to see. Take action now & reap the rewards in South Africa. Failure to act will lead to failure. All is not lost there is still hope. Yes we can.

Paulina said...

Seba and all -

I agree with what you say. But does everyone really believe that Maradona can take Arg to a WC final? Because that's what we should be talking about. This is the most talented team in the world.

I see two main problems with the team, and they both have to do with Maradona.

1) Even though the players rever Maradona, I don't think that they regard him well as a coach. We are talking about guys who play under Fergy, Mourinho, Guardiola with their clubs.

Maradona isn't a tactician or a disciplinarian the way these other coaches are. He's sort of a cheerleader, supposedly giving the guys a boost of confidence for games. But that just hasn't happened. The guys look nervous, like they are paying under the weight of Maradona-sized expectations.

2) Arg is great, as a country, because of their style, the way they interpret their game. That all starts at the midfield. But Maradona hasn't been able to recover from the Riquelme fiasco.

I would want Riquelme back on the team this second. But it's not like he's the only midfielder in Arg. Veron is great, but he obviously can't do it on his own.

Why isn't Gonzalez, Aimar, Cambiasso, D'Allssandro even getting a mention? I know some of them are injured at the moment, but they have every right to be in the thoughts of the coach. Even more problematic , the IDEA of the midfield has been almost abandoned in favor of the little birds.

Anyway, looking forward to the new podcast.

Rune said...

In the heat of the moment yesterday I said something like "we will not get to the world cup with Diego as our coach".....the day after I am more calm. We should not fire Diego. Let him stay. The game was much better than the colombia game, though that says more about the colombia game than this one really....Good first half, terrible missed chances. Second half we got tired. We could end up in fifth spot, a win against Brazil and Paraguay is nearly impossible with this team. We need to beat Peru and get a draw in Uruguay. Pared with a draw against Brazil or Para, I am sure we will qualify. But this team is not a big Argentina team, it certainly doesn't look like that in this moment of time. We did however struggle to qualify both in 86 and 94 aswell, and both those teams are regarded as great teams.

Anonymous said...

i also believe Diego should stay. Argentina will definetely make it to the wc. and i think if they will qualify 4th that will be better than qualify as the first, like in 2002. the pressure would be very big then.

also it will give the team much confidence if they will overcome all their problems and difficulties and qualify. it is good for the team that they have to deal with difficulties now, when the situation can be repaired. that will unite the players to reach their aim and is a good preparation for the wc. and a dull 1:0 win after a corner against colombia is psychologically better than a 5:0.

also history has shown that the results and performance of a team in the 2-3 years before the wc doesn't tell anything how the team will perform at the wc. best example: brazil and germany 2002. and Maradona is the best motivator there is, and he knows what it means to play at the wc.

Vitalij from Germany

Anonymous said...

vamos vamos argentina ,pibe de oro it's high time to wake up and call the right players zarate,higuain,cambiasso one of the best defensive midfield in the world who scores goals when it's needed nor does gago,d'alessandro ,christian ledesma,garay,pareja,monzon,gonzaloetc please diego call them and don't sacrify messi i want him to win this world cup but he needs to play with those players.

principee said...

OK this will be an interesting topic to talk about. What goes wrong with the national team? For me:

1. Diego's strength is 4-2-2-2. Yes that formation failed against Ecuador, but that's still our best formation! Brazil have been playing with 4-2-2-2 for ages. That's what makes them look so good. Batista's Argentina also looked great in Olympics with 4-2-2-2. So don't change the formation at all times. No matter what, I think 4-2-2-2 is better than 4-3-1-2 ala Basile which relied too heavily on Riquelme.

2. In four-TWO-TWO-two formation, the DM and the attacking midfielders must be superb! Brazil used to have the likes of Kaka and Ronaldinho as their 2 attacking midfielders. Nowadays, it's Kaka and Elano. Several years ago, they had Ronaldinho and Rivaldo as their 2 attacking midfielders. They are all world class. Argentina had 2 excellent world class DM in Mascherano and Gago, but the 2 attacking midfielders are just average! OK, Gutierrez and Maxi, especially the first, always seemed to play good for Argentina, but they are not world class midfielders at all!! Gutierrez's Newcastle even got relegated this season. Even if we have the current best player in the world in Messi upfront, it wouldn't mean anything if the attacking midfielders didn't support him. We need 2 world class attacking midfielders for the 4-2-2-2 tactic. Stop relying on Gutierrez and Maxi/Veron. They won't take us to win the WC! I can't imagine we win the WC with Gutierrez-Maxi/Veron playing all the WC matches.... it's just too unrealistic.

In Olympics, we had 2 great attacking midfielders in Riquelme and Di Maria, that's why we won the championship. Di Maria is raw, but he has talent. He's still suspended for 2 more games, but I hope Maradona gives him another chance either in friendlies next month against Nigeria and in August against Russia or in our last 2 WCQ games. Higuain played attacking midfielder right in his last 10 games for Madrid. I think he and Di Maria look good to complement with Mascherano-Gago and Messi-Tevez upfront. Again, let me say it one more time: WE NEED 2 WORLD CLASS ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS!

Gutierrez reminded me of Mario Santana of Fiorentina. When given chances, Santana always played good for Argentina, but come on.... he's not good enough to start for the mighty team like Argentina. The same goes for Figueroa who always played good for Argentina....but we can't expect to win anything with him starting.

3. Another prove that our attacking midfielders look really weak is the number of goals we score so far. It's embarassing. That shows that they don't really do a nice job passing the ball upfront to Messi and Tevez. That also explains why Messi and Tevez played really bad for the national team.

4. The defenders selection is not smart. Call Samuel back. Include Gonzalo. Rely more on Burdisso!

5. I don't think Cambiasso is the answer. We need #5 who's very defensive minded when Mascherano isn't available. If we play Cambiasso-Gago as double five, I think we would look vulnerable. The problem isn't the DM, but the attacking midfielders. We can't control the midfield with Gutierrez-Maxi. No way!

As for the bright aspects, I think the discovery of Andujar really pleases me. I can't remember when the last time we had a goalie who's almost as tall as Dida. Andujar has great size. He's similar to Peter Cech for me.

Anonymous said...

I am not Argentinian but i have always been a fan of your football. Argentina is my favourite team and their brand of football has brought me a lot of joy over the years. Argentina have been involved in so many classics so i am very concerned about the defeat to Ecuador and need clarity with regards to the following issues.

1) Is Argentinian footbaal in crisis or is this loss of form a blip. I remember watching Argentina thrash Ecuador 6-1 in 2004 and making them look third rate. On Wednesday Ecuador scored goals that Brasil would have been proud of.

2) Have Ecuador improved that much. They have taken 4 out of 6 points from Argentina and appear to have closed the gap that existed.

3) What exactly is wrong with Argentina. They were the most complete and accomplished team in 2006. They were also head and shoulders above all the teams at the Copa America. A lot of the players who excelled in these competitions are stii around.

4) Is the problem tactical, psycological, or is it with the personnel. Argentina have players who are the most important at their clubs and who play at a high level on a weekly basis. Therefore it should be easier for them to cope with different conditions.

5)Argentina is struggling against Latin American teams. They do not struggle against European teams because their players are more skilful. Does anyone think that Argentina have become too European and place more emphasis on tactics instead of the artistry which made them admired. What ever happened to the team where almost everyone was the mixture of an artist and street fighter.

6)Does anyone think that Brasil will use the game in September to twist the knife and plunge Argentina into further despair. They know that Argentina will be one of their main rivals in South Africa.It would be a great opportunity to remove Argentina from the scene. This game has the makings of another classic.

7) Finally i wish Argentina re-discover their form so that they qualify for South Africa and showcase the beauty of their football.

A world cup without Argentina is too depressing to contemplate. It would be like the NBA without the Lakers. So come on and re discover your greatness.


Abs said...

Diego should stay, and he should make a revlotion in the team. Younger players, bring in those who got Arg the last glory, the Bejin team. Trust me, they'll do just great !!

No team in the world other than Spain can match Arg if they play thier hearts out, and here where MARADONA should come. Bring in 30-40 players and make them fight for the shirts, this is what you like to do, so do it !!

All am asking for is a frindly game before Brazil game, against a lower class team, let the kids score goal, 12-0 would be amazing. That will boost them enought to kick Brazil's a$$ and make it to the WC2006.