With two days still to go before Argentina take on Germany in perhaps the most evenly-matches quarter-final of the South Africa 2010 World Cup, there’s not a lot interesting to report – Diego Maradona won’t be changing the formation, though one or two players might come in or be dropped. You can read about those here, as well as the psychic octopus named Paul, who reckons Joachim Löw’s side will be victorious…
With good reason, Diego Maradona’s been pleased with his side’s performances so far in the World Cup, but there have been voices suggesting a different system will be needed against Germany, who will be the strongest opponents Argentina have faced thus far in the competition. The idea of a doble cinco – two holding midfielders – has been floated, with Mario Bolatti suggested as the man to bolster the middle alongside Javier Mascherano. Maradona, though, has confirmed he’ll stick with his so-far winning tactics.
Nicolás Otamendi’s emergence as a more comfortable right back than Jonás Gutiérrez at least eases the biggest worry over the defence, which will surely be tested far more frequently by a quick German side than it has been so far. Martín Demichelis’ on-off form (on and off in the same match, that is) is more of a cause for concern though, and to that end he might be the centre back to make way for Walter Samuel if ‘The Wall’ is passed fit to play. Maradona has expressed support for Demichelis, but of course as the pressure increases he could be playing his cards close to his chest still.
The same can be said for Ángel Di María, whose transfer to Real Madrid went through a couple of days ago. Maradona insists he could ‘explode at any moment,’ but he’s been disappointing so far and the possibility of Seba Verón or Javier Pastore being given a go in his place would seem very real. Of the two I’d think Pastore is the better bet, offering more pace and operating closer to the forwards than Verón would do.
Any changes look useless, though, to be honest. That’s because an English-born, German-raised octopus has already predicted that Germany will be the victors on Saturday and advance to the semi-finals. Paul, who lives at Sea Life in Oberhausen, has successfully predicted all of Germany’s results so far in the World Cup – victories over Ghana, Australia and England, and a loss to Serbia – by medium of two boxes of food with the competing nations’ flags on. After much wavering – he took over an hour to decide, compared with mere seconds prior to the England vs Germany match – he announced the victory for Germany.
Now, you might think that’s silly, but get this: at Euro 2008, Paul’s success rate was 80%! Be afraid, Maradona & co. Be very afraid.
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