There’s no headline to describe it, really. Diego Maradona’s first competitive match in charge of Argentina went like a dream, but his second was the kind of nightmare in which you realise partway through that all is not as it seems, but you just can’t wake yourself up, and it brought the worst defeat in the history of the Argentine national team. The decision to bring Lucho González in to replace the suspended Jonás Gutiérrez looked to have paid off after he cancelled out Marcelo Martins’ 11th-minute opener. Five more goals followed, though – and they were all from the hosts. Each one ‘a stab to my heart,’ in the words of Don Diego after the game. Read about it, and watch the goals, right here.
The first fifteen minutes only saw one goal, but already by that point Juan Pablo Carrizo was a very over-worked goalkeeper as the Bolivians tore into their more illustrious visitors, and they were 3-1 up by the break thanks to Martin’s opener and strikes from Joaquín Botero (who completed his hat trick with two more after the break) and Alex Da Rosa. Lionel Messi pulled a couple of moments out of the bag, and Maxi Rodríguez and Lucho both had attempts from mid-distance, but Argentina offered little of substance in reply.
After the break things went from bad to worse. Argentina looked disorientated, and when Botero hit his second just six minutes after the restart it was clear there was no way back. Angel Di María was sent off, Botero completed his hat-trick in the 66th minute, and Didí Torrico added the sixth with four minutes left on the clock.
Afterwards, Maradona refused to blame the altitude (prior to the game he’d praised Bolivian president Evo Morales for having fought for his country’s right to play their home games where they chose) and eulogised the hosts for their good level of play, but admitted that each goal had felt personal. ‘Now, we’ve got to start all over again,’ he told the press.
This was Argentina’s joint worst-ever defeat – they lost by the same scoreline to Czechoslovakia in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. A conspiracy theory believed by perhaps as many as twelve people worldwide once held that the 1958 World Cup never in fact took place, and that ‘footage’ of the tournament was staged by the CIA as some sort of bizarre mind-game during the Cold War. It’s perhaps fitting, then, that this second 6-1 defeat has come on the 1st April. It definitely happened, though. So after the impressive wins over France and Venezuela, which is Diego’s real Argentina?
World Cup South Africa 2010, South American qualifiers, 1st April 2009 – Bolivia 6 – 1 Argentina: