The foreign legion

With the top three tiers in Argentine football having broken up for the summer (speaking of which the lower division results service will make a belated return tomorrow for Primeras C and D), the main focus for Argentine fans this weekend was on their Europe-based players. In England, Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano found themselves on opposite sides of a monumental rivalry which Olé christened the ‘Super Derby’, there was disappointment in Spain for Lio Messi, but Inter’s Argentines once again did rather better in Serie A.

At Anfield, where Liverpool hosted Manchester United in a desperately poor game, Carlitos came out on top against his friend and old rival Mascherano, scoring the game’s only goal just before half-time. The two were team-mates at Corinthians and West Ham, as well as for the national side of course, but were on opposite sides of the superclásico before leaving their homeland, and now know what one of England’s fiercest rivalries feels like in comparison. Tevez diverted home a long shot from Wayne Rooney to send United top for a few hours before Arsenal beat Chelsea later in the day.

On Saturday night in Valencia, Barcelona, with only one win away from home all season in La Liga, finally broke that poor run with a convincing win in the Mestalla, thanks to Samuel Eto’o’s two-goal return from long-term injury, and their dominance wasn’t reflected even by a final score of 3-0. Gaby Milito and the rest of Barcelona’s backline were called into action a couple of times during the second half, but never really had to stretch themselves. Messi, however, left the pitch in the first half with a tear to a thigh muscle, and will need around a month to recover – he’ll miss Spain’s own biggest rivalry, when Barça host Real Madrid next weekend, but should be OK in time for the selección‘s next matches.

Internazionale continue their march at the top of Serie A, meanwhile, with Julio Cruz setting them on their way in a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Cagliari. Honduran David Suazo got the second. Javier Zanetti, Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso and Hernán Crespo also started for Inter, and as Cruz got his 9th league goal of the season, one question surely arises: should Alfio Basile be giving El Jardinero more serious consideration as backup (or even first choice) target man for the selección, in the event of Crespo picking up any more injuries? Next weekend Inter will, like Gaby Milito at Barcelona, also have a major rivalry – the city derby against newly crowned world champions Milan.

6 thoughts on “The foreign legion

  1. A further note to your article.

    There is no dount in my mind that Julio CRUZ must be given a re-call to the National Team.

    The very simple reason is, he is striker and he scores goal. You can’t argue with that.

  2. Julio Cruz is shite (pardon the castellano). A donkey journeyman if ever i saw one. It was Pekermans isistance of putting him on aginst Germany that cost Argentina a world cup

  3. Murt, I’ll let you off, although in my opinion it was subbing Riquelme for Cambiasso that handed the initiative to the Germans – a more attacking sub (Messi or Aimar, for instance) would have kept them on the back foot a little more.

    I did used to agree with that assessment of Cruz, though, but this season he’s been scoring regularly and, as John says, that’s what strikers are on the pitch to do…

  4. thanks for letting me off on that one. i must admit i havent seen to much of him this season, i was basing my insightful argument on performance down the years and last world cup. Would you have him ahead of mesi, tevez, Aguero, Higuain, saviola or Milito. no probably not. He is 33 remember.

  5. As an Inter season ticket holder, I get to see Cruz live pretty much ever other week.

    He is a very effective goalscorer, but a signficant majority of his goals are one of two types: either converting crosses from the likes of Maicon, Figo or Maxwell, or putting away rebounds (most often of shots from Ibrahimovic) from close range. Given that having guys bomb down the touch line to fire in crosses tends not to be an integral part of the Albiceleste’s game plan and that free rebounds are likely less common in serious international matches than they are in Serie A, it isn’t really suprising that Cruz has not been as effective for Argentina as he is with Inter.

    And while there are some superficial similarities in the way that Messi and Ibra serve as the focal point of their clubs’ respective offences, Messi tends to be most successful if he has a very quick forward to whom he can play the ball in space. Cruz is not quick enough, nor is he the instinctive finisher that Eto’o is (though that is nothing to be ashamed of, I’m not sure anyone in the world is right now).

    So, while I’m not sure just who I would pair with Leo up front (given my inability to magically make Batigol ten years younger), Cruz wouldn’t be my first choice either. I would seriously consider having him in the squad, though, as he can provide a type of attack that is different from the rest of the usual suspects, and has proven to be very effective as a substitute.

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