World Cup 2010: Peru 1 – 1 Argentina

Esteban Cambiasso had the goal and, without actually impressing anyone, Argentina were putting to bed the run of six matches without a win that’s seen them slip from first to fourth in the South American qualification table for South Africa 2010. A poor performance but the result was still as expected. And then, three minutes into stoppage time with the match all but dead, Johan Fano grabbed an equaliser for Peru that piles the pressure onto the Albiceleste.

Cambiasso’s strike, the culmination of a brilliant team move that had begun with Juan Román Riquelme, was one of very few bright points in the match for Argentina. Germán Denis missed a good chance before, still in the first half, the match swung on the injury sustained by Newcastle United midfielder Jonás Gutiérrez. That obliged Alfio Basile to make some tweaks to the midfield at half time, but the side he sent out for the second period, against a team like Peru – who without seeking to offend anyone, don’t have the same individual quality that Argentina possess – was frankly baffling.

As well as Gutiérrez, Angel Di María had also been withdrawn and thus there was a midfield three of Sebastián Battaglia, Fernando Gago and Esteban Cambiasso behind Riquelme in the playmaker’s role. Good players, for sure, but a little more defensively minded than was perhaps apt to keep Peru on the back foot, and the lack of width in the second half was notable. Sergio Agüero replaced Denis, but Peru moved to a three-man frontline with Juan Manuel Vargas and Argentina were kept firmly on the back foot.

With three men on or around Riquelme, things were complicated further for Argentina. Peru manager José Guillermo Del Solar theorised that if Riquelme couldn’t relax on the ball, and get it to Messi, then Argentina, playing as they have done lately, were a far less dangerous prospect. He was proved correct, and Peru pressed forward. Juan Pablo Carrizo kept them at bay for as long as he could, but in the end the pressure proved too much. Argentina have a break now, but in the space of a few short months and a couple of matches, they’ve gone from top of the world rankings and joint favourites with Spain for South Africa 2010, to being rather concerned about whether they’ll actually be playing there.

To see the goals, check back later.

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8 thoughts on “World Cup 2010: Peru 1 – 1 Argentina

  1. I’ll make some more comments later, but I think a very good summary by Sam. This reminded me of Brazil’s strategy in the Copa disaster. Hammer away in the midfield, quick countershots and see what happens.

  2. My question-Roman reacted last night to the collapsing defense on him the same way he has done at times in the past. Rather than look for the quick pass before he is completely surrounded, he does his fancy footwork thing only to eventually lose possession. My guess is that this bad habit is some sort of ego thing with Roman, i.e.-“I can beat this and I won’t be forced to change my style”. What to other readers make of this ? Am I off base with this observation ? Is the only alternative to eventually go to Messi as the enganche ? And, would Messi be as dangerous in that role and still get his scoring chances ?

    Anyway, a horrible ending to an ugly match last night and you got to think that some changes will be forthcoming.

  3. It’s surely more a question of changing the style of the team and not playing Riquelme, Johnny. Riquelme does what he does, and if the manager of the selección (whoever that is at a given time) includes him in the starting XI, it’s because the team are going to be set up to make the most of JRR’s (undoubted) abilities.

    What I didn’t get – and recorded my disagreement with the decision on this site – was that a few months ago Basile spent the ‘mini tour’ of the States, when Argentina played the USA and Mexico, working out a formation that would allow the team to function without Riquelme. When the next round of qualifiers came round, though, Riquelme was back in the squad, even though he wasn’t fully fit – and Argentina ended up playing Ecuador with effectively ten men.

    In my opinion the creative duties should be shared more evenly across the team – which means I’d have Messi or Agüero in the enganche position, bring Lucho back into the team, and have the carrileros playing higher up the pitch. That makes it much harder to shut down the whole team just by shutting down one man.

    But what do I know.

  4. I love Riquelme, but he probably won’t be around for 2010 anyway, so why not replace him now? Messi will play as enganche. Gago and Masch behind him, Di Maria and Maxi on the wings, Aguero/ Tevez/Cavenaghi/Denis/whoever upfront.

  5. Thanks Sam for your take on the NT’s problems. Yes, Roman has not been in his best gear since the Copa Libertadores before the last one. Why, who can say ? He was injured some, but there is apparently no current physical problem. It is frustrating watching the team struggle as they do, though they are not the only very talented team having their problems as we know. At least the argentine faithful come out to support the team. I read today that there were only 20,000 in attendance the other night in Rio for Brazil and Bolivia. Cheapest ticket-55 US bucks.

  6. That Brazil match was held in Botafogo’s new stadium, Johnny, which ‘only’ has a capacity of about 30,000 or so I think, as opposed to the Maracana. It was a bit of an odd decision and the ticket prices were absolutely ridiculous. Still, the fans who stayed away didn’t miss much…

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