South Africa 2010: Argentina through, with a little help

Look at me ref! I've scored! No, no don't look at the linesman...

Carlos Tevez is, according to Diego Maradona, el jugador del pueblo (‘the player of the people’). On Sunday, hours after the controversy during Germany’s 4-1 thrashing of England, linesman Stefano Ayroldi confirmed to the world that he was indeed one of those ‘people’, allowing Tevez to open the scoring from a long way offside after Argentina and Mexico had got stuck into a very entertaining match. Following that controversy though, there was no arguing with Gonzalo Higuaín’s neat finish or with Tevez’s thunderous second. Manchester United’s new signing Javier Hernández pulled one back for Mexico, but it wasn’t to be. Argentina won 3-1 and now look forward to Germany in a rematch of the 2006 quarter-final.

Carlos Salcido, the Mexican left back, had already smashed a long-range shot against the crossbar early on, and the game was flowing from end to end, by the time Tevez rushed towards goal and Oscar Pérez rushed out of Mexico’s goal to block his effort. Lionel Messi was following up and his shot was deflected in by Tevez, who was by that point in a clearly offside position. Quite aside from (instinctively and not deliberately, of course) stealing what would finally have been Messi’s first goal in the tournament, Tevez ran off to celebrate and the goal looked like it was going to stand, whilst the Mexican players surrounded Ayroldi. The TV screens in the stadium were replaying the goal and both referee Roberto Rossetti and Ayroldi, having already awarded the goal, were unable to chalk it off even as they watched and saw that it shouldn’t have been given.

Argentina had profited from that piece of good fortune, and another came their way shortly afterwards when Ricardo Osorio had a moment of madness whilst trying to play the ball out of the Mexican defence and presented the ball straight to Gonzalo Higuaín, who took it round the goalkeeper wonderfully and made it 2-0 to Argentina. At the interval there was a melée involving players from both teams and – inevitably – Diego Maradona as Mexico continued to protest to the referee about the goal.

The second half was played at a more sedate pace, principally because just seven minutes into it Tevez shrugged off a couple of Mexican challenges and lashed in a vicious shot from all of 25 yards which was quite definitely not offside. At 3-0 down, Mexico seemed to decide it wasn’t to be their day, although Salcido still came close and Hernández, turning Martín Demichelis superbly as he had earlier in the first half with the score at 0-0, struck a well-taken consolation for Mexico. The final score was 3-1 to Argentina though. It’s the Albiceleste’s first win in 90 minutes in the knockout stages of a World Cup since Italia 90, believe it or not!

And what do they get for it? A date with Germany on Saturday. After a replay of 2006’s round of sixteen, we’ve got a replay of 2006’s quarter-final. The nail-biting starts here. Not least for Lionel Messi, who as a result of once again failing to score lost a bet with manager Maradona. ‘I’m going to tell him it’s double or nothing for the next match,’ Messi told reporters after the game.

World Cup South Africa 2010 second round, Sunday 27th June: Argentina 3 – 1 Mexico

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15 thoughts on “South Africa 2010: Argentina through, with a little help

  1. I’m convinced that the difference in this Argentina squad at the moment is Tevez. And not only because of his two goals today. He has been humongous for Argentina, playing smarter than he ever has, helping out in midfield, dangerous at all times, tracking back, no silly fouls, no red cards. It’s a squad with tons of attacking talent but Carlitos is the lit fuse at the moment. He has definitely come of age.

  2. I agree. Tevez is a machine on the pitch, a magic machine, and it was a (fortunately not costly) mistake to take him out today; should’ve subbed Higuain out instead, who inspite of his goal wasn’t having his best game.

    I suspect that what is happening is that so much defensive ammunition is used against Messi that it is leaving more room than usual for Tevez to spin said magic.

    1. It was very funny seeing him get hit by the camera (and then the camera get hit by him)! He’s been good, much better than he has been for Argentina for years. I’d have Clemente in there ahead of him though, still.

  3. I also think that maybe we have better players on this position from technical point of view, but for me Heinze gives this team something more than others and there is no coincidence that also previous coaches chooses him ahead of anyone else. Vamos Argentina!

  4. Heinze was huge yesterday and I am always happy to see a player take a swipe at a cameraman. Get off the pitch you boludos !!

  5. No-one’s really debated this properly, but this is what you get when you fiddle with the meaning of the offside rule.
    In the olden days, Tevez would have been flagged off probably before Messi even hit the ball forward. Linesmen would have been conditioned to it, seeing one guy so far ahead of the defenders, and there would have been no debate. Now, in a high pressure situation, linesman possibly sees Tevez in such a position, but he supposedly isn’t interfering with play. The linesman wants the game to continue, as he reckons Messi is bypassing Tev and shooting anyway, so it isn’t really an issue. Yet. As soon as Tev touches the ball he becomes ‘active’, and in the confusion, the linesman really can’t be sure exactly where Tevez was a few seconds ago when Messi kicked the ball. So he takes a guess, giving the benefit of the doubt to the attacker, as the rule encourages. The rule was changed to encourage more goals, but it’s a wonder it hasn’t created even more illegal goals like this.

    Wasn’t there a goal in the Merseyside cup final where Tony Cottee actually ran back into Liverpool’s goal to avoid being offside, whether Stuart McCall’s shot hit him or not? Those were the good old days, you knew where you were. As Bill Shankly said, ‘if you’re not interfering with play, what are you doing on the bloomin’ pitch?’ Nowadays, free kick routines with one attacker virtually standing on the keeper’s toes confuse the hell out of me.

    As for Tevez himself, as a City fan, I fear he is now too big for us and he knows it. I think he will be the hottest property after the WC and he won’t stay. It’s not about money, it’s about status, and despite what Garry Cook thinks, we can never compete with Real Madrid or even Inter on this. I don’t know how we’ll replace him. But he will go with most Blues’ good wishes, because he did his 100% utmost every game he played and didn’t take the p**s out of us like Robinho. If we’ve no Tevez but are still lumbered with up himself Robbin’-Ho by Aug 31st, I’ll be pretty unhappy.

  6. And just to add to the above, I really mean ‘a few miliseconds’, unless you are standing next to the linesman, it’s impossible to imagine exactly how fast this is all happening. TV never does the speed of sport any justice, I can think of a few players who turned out to be quicker than I thought they were from having first just seen them on TV.

  7. I was all for the Otamendi-Gutierrez swap, but am now unsure. The team seemed a lot less dynamic without him, even if the defence looked better. What do you think?

    1. I think the defence looking better is the more important thing, Linda. I didn’t think Jonás got the chance to make much of a difference going forward from right back because he was having to do too much/learn on the job at the back instead. They would have got found out against a better team if they’d kept him there, and Germany are a much better team than any of Argentina’s group opponents.

  8. Comment from the ITV ‘panel’ before today’s Paraguay v Japan game:

    “Apart from Roque Santa Cruz, most of the Paraguay players are a mystery to us.”

    We do get a high level of expert football coverage here in the UK, we’re very lucky. I would suggest that any reader of this blog is better qualified to comment on a Paraguay match than Andy Townshend and Gareth Southgate.

    It would be extremely funny if Ortigoza helped bring Spain’s much vaunted midfield to a juddering halt in the QF, Gareth Southgate would be speechless. Mind you, he played pretty poor today until just before he went off, when he nearly bundled his way past two defenders to score and made two important defensive challenges. I do like his style of play, though, he’s had a great 2010 and it could still get better.

    1. Gotta agree on the ITV comment. They have next to no knowledge of any player playing outside of Europe, with very little knowledge of a lot of players actually inside Europe!

      I kind of agree that Ortigoza wasn’t great against Japan, but it did annoy me that, after slating his performance and rather overweight stature for a professional footballer on several occasions, they failed to give him any credit whatsoever for playing the best through-ball of the entire game during the second-half (which, in the end, didn’t lead to anything much).

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