Sunday, May 23, 2010

World Cup - Argentina

Anyone watch the Champions League Final? There was this midfield pairing for the winners, Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiosso, that was really impressive, and they represent the same country internationally, so they should be really fun to watch at the World Cup, oh, wait...

Diego Maradona is a legend, he may the greatest player in the history of the beautiful game. The English will call him a cheat, but they are forgetting his second goal against them. That is irrelevant to his coaching ability though. And he may be the worst manager in the entire World Cup. Most of the others have some identifiable strength, or history of achievement, that allows at least some justification to their presence at the largest sporting event in the world. But not Maradona. He has precious little management experience, and most of his results have been disastrous.

The rumor mill is overstocked with reasons why Zanetti was not included in the squad. The most convincing is that during Argentina's crucial final qualifier, he told the squad to forget Maradona's asinine tactics and just play how he told them to. They won the match and managed to qualify, but reports are that Maradona has not forgiven Zanetti for undermining him and actually wanting to win the match. Cutting off your nose to spite your face not being an endearing quality among managers, one has to assume this decision will come back to haunt Argentina.

Off the field drama aside, this is still an incredibly talented squad of players. Just on the front line you have Diego Milito, who was second in Serie A with 22 goals, and had 32 in all competitions, and Carlos Tevez, who was fourth in the Premier League with 23 goals, 29 in all competitions. Also Gonzalo Higuain (27 goals in La Liga) and Sergio Aguero (12 goals in only 24 matches), not too mention the young man whom many consider the best player in the world, Lionel Messi. He scored 34 goals in La Liga, 45 in all competitions.

The defense is solid and experienced, with Javier Mascherano in a holding midfield role, right in front of Nicolas Burdisso, Walter Samuel, and Martin Dimechellis along the back line.

Argentina's first match will be against a Nigerian side that is not as strong as it once was. They will meet South Korea second, and Greece in their final match. I think this will be a hard fought group as far as second place is concerned, but Argentina, even with Maradona calling the shots, should easily walk away with first position.

1 comment:

Joey said...

Mascherano in the midfield is what would worry me most. He has the ability to disappear for 15-20 min. intervals during the game. Messi is great, let's see if Argentina can make him look as good as Barcelona does.