South Africa 2010: Argentina 1 – 0 Nigeria highlights

South Africa 2010 in Buenos Aires
Celebrations in San Telmo for a victory in Johannesburg

Argentina’s World Cup campaign is up and running, courtesy of a Gabriel Heinze header early on to give them a 1-0 win against Nigeria on Saturday. It wasn’t a match with very many highlights, and those that there were invariably involved Lionel Messi. If you’re at all interested in it of course, you’ve either already seen it or have it taped (in which case you shouldn’t have come here if you didn’t want to know the score), but for the sake of posterity, here’s the goal – how long it’ll stay on YouTube of course is anyone’s guess – and my own initial thoughts on the match.

World Cup South Africa 2010, Group B, Saturday 12th June: Argentina 1 – 0 Nigeria

The abiding memory of the game, hopefully, will be that for once Lionel Messi didn’t get roundly slated for not turning water into wine. In fact, quite the opposite – whenever he got the ball he caused the Nigerian defence problems, which was more than could be said for anyone else in a blue-and-white shirt (Carlos Tevez’s lively performance was also a joy to watch, but Messi’s threat was more consistent). The bar I was watching burst into a chant of ‘Messi, Messi, Messi’ during the second half and the commentators, rightly, loved him. His interplay with Tevez was neat, and he linked well with the midfield.

The third member of the forward line, Gonzalo Higuaín, must be fearing for his starting place in the next match though. Higuaín missed two great chances – one from a Messi centre, the other from a Tevez through ball – that would have made the match, respectively, 1-0 and 2-0. It was impossible to avoid the thought that, with Diego Milito on the pitch, it might have been a lot more comfortable. Higuaín’s had a great season for Madrid, but his slump in goalscoring form came towards the end of it – whereas Milito endured one too, he picked the pace back up again for the business end of the season. Coming off the bench, Milito didn’t see a lot of the ball, but by that point Argentina had already lost a lot of the momentum gathered during the first half.

Jonás Gutiérrez tried hard and shouldn’t be blamed for Nigeria’s penetration down his side of the pitch through the pacy Chinedu Ogbuke. The fact is, if Maradona wanted a player to do what he asked Jonás to do both today and against Canada, he should have named Javier Zanetti in the squad. Or, for that matter, anyone who’s used to playing as a right back. The introduction of Nicolás Burdisso to fill that void was a sign that he realised it was there, but it came in the 85th minute, by which time against higher-calibre opposition it might have been exploited to better effect. Predictably, Jonás was the only Argentine booked (well alright, it wasn’t so predictable that no-one else would be, but you know what I mean), for a challenge on Ogbuke.

Javier Mascherano summed it up afterwards; ‘There are always things to improve on, but by and large the positives outweighed the negatives.’ The opponents Argentina were most nervous about have been safely dispatched, but for now all that we’ve learned is that Lionel Messi is capable of playing very well indeed

Sorry, I forgot to complete that sentence:

for Argentina.

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Photo by me on Flickr

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5 thoughts on “South Africa 2010: Argentina 1 – 0 Nigeria highlights

  1. Veron is slower than a camel. Today his Pass completion rate was equal to higuain’s scoring rate= 0% . By the grace of god, things can get better. But am afraid of being overrun in midfield & being exploited down jonas’ wing by pacier opponents. Hope not.

    1. Let’s hope that Maradona can see that Jonas is not equiped to play right back. It was painful watching him struggle today. I would hope that he moves him to his usual position on the left and sits Di Maria. And Veron. A huge error not bringing Aimar and/or Banega. Veron just can’t cut it which leaves Messi doing double duty. I hope Pastore gets a shot. I have noticed that of all the posts I have read today not one person has mentioned replacing Veron with Bolatti. Bolatti can’t replace Veron and were something to happen to Mascherano, he can’t replace him either. Why o why is he on the team ?

  2. Agree with johnny. But man, complaining about who’s on the team & who isn’t will not change a thing as we both know. if the perfect squad had been selected , We would’ve been tagged as one of the favorites. As thing stand now, let’s hope veron improves at least on his horrible passing, jonas tightens up his defending & we go as far as we can. We win together, lose together. Nothing to be afraid of as over the years, we have endured our fair share of agonising defeats. As maradona said, ‘ it’s better to reserve your goals for the later stages of the tournament.’ Remember last world cup & the subsequent copa america ?

  3. also remember we have dark horses & game breakers on our bench like sergio kun aguero, javier pastore & palermo ( !!) .

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