Paul was right

One #10 consoles another

The octopus predicting Argentina’s downfall was right. On Saturday, Diego Maradona’s team crashed out of the 2010 World Cup, thrashed 4-0 by an excellent Germany side meeting their own first real challenge of the knockout stages. A lack of creativity in midfield, Javier Mascherano being asked to do too much as the sole cinco and poor performances from both full backs all helped the Europeans, but Germany were brilliant. Diego Maradona was distraught after the match, but insisted in his press conference that he wasn’t resigning right away without having thought things through.

After falling behind in only the second minute to a poorly defended free kick from Bastian Schweinsteiger which Thomas Müller headed in off Sergio Romero, Argentina were forced to chase a match for the first time in this World Cup, and struggled. Germany’s early goal gave them the chance to relax and play their own game, whilst Maradona’s men looked increasingly rushed as the first half went on.

Argentina’s midfield were too narrow to deal with Germany’s threat down the flanks, and with the front three remaining fairly static when Germany had the ball, the pressure was taken off Germany’s full backs – especially Philip Lahm who was given plenty of space to isolate Gabriel Heinze. By contrast, when Argentina got forward Heinze and Nicolás Otamendi on the right were hesitant to join the attack. A lack of creativity in Argentina’s midfield meant Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi had to drop increasingly deep to pick the ball up.

Messi did as well as he could under the circumstances, evading any number of challenges and passing the ball far better than his team mates for the most part. Gonzalo Higuaín had a bad day distribution-wise up front, and was easily crowded out by Germany’s centre backs, and Ángel Di María decided to ensure he couldn’t be criticised for poor passing by just not bothering to pass the ball at all.

There were basic errors then from some players, but they were exacerbated by a genuinely excellent German performance. Maradona’s only tactical gambit before the break was to tell Di María (who started on the left) and Maxi Rodríguez (on the right) to swap sides, which just led to both of them continually cutting inside from the edge of the penalty area, giving Germany’s defence plenty of time to adjust. After the break, as Germany got three further goals from targeting Argentina in the right back position where Otamendi had an uncharacteristically bad game defensively, the only answer the manager could come up with was the throw more and more attackers on.

Seba Verón or Javier Pastore might have made a difference in the first half – more creativity in the midfield would have allowed Messi to stay a little further forward, whilst Verón’s discipline and experience would have helped Mascherano out in the deep midfield role as well – but Argentina finished the match with Messi, Tevez, Sergio Agüero, Pastore and Higuaín all on at the same time. Tactics? Nothing of the sort. Diego Maradona has demonstrated throughout this World Cup that he’s a better man manager than he was given credit for, and that he’s improved his understanding of how to run a team immeasurably. He’s still not a true football manager, though.

After the match, Maradona rightly praised the players for their effort and previous performances during the tournament, and expressed his wish that ‘they keep demonstrating what they can do.’ He also – wisely in my opinion – said he wouldn’t be resigning yet, having not had time to consider his position. I’m not sure he can really continue now, but I wished José Pekerman had taken more time four years ago, so I shan’t bawl at Maradona for doing so now.

Uruguay, for all the controversy surrounding the final minute of their match yesterday, are in the semis thanks to a clear system. The Netherlands outwitted and out-thought Brazil. Germany arrived with a good idea of how to play their game, and triumphed. It’ll be interesting to see where the selección go from here.

World Cup South Africa 2010, quarter final, Saturday 3rd July: Germany 4 – 0 Argentina

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Picture taken from ole.clarin.com

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8 thoughts on “Paul was right

  1. Although am Scottish, I have followed the argentinian national team and the domestic game for years and was gutted at todays result especially as I was sitting amongst many german supporters at the bar I watched the game. There is no denying the germans wher the far superior team today but I cant help but think how much more solid the team could have been today with the inclusion of Cambassio and Zanetti in the team at the expense of say Maxi Rodriguez and Ortamendi. Also Maradonas larger than life personality maybe got in the way of asking Riquelme to rejoin the team. Messi is sucessful at Barca because of a playmaker like Xavi behind him in the team although him and Riquelme are different players there wasnt really a proper playmaker within the team it is unfair to expect Messi to do it all by his self even though Tevez and Di Maria where helping today Riquelme could have still played a role at this tournament as much as I love Seba Veron he couldnt have dealt with the pace of the germans today at this advanced stage of his career. Having the wall which Walter Samuel playing in defence today would have helped greatly as well De Michelis got torn to shreds today and hasnt ever convinced me as a defender anyway I probaly amnt saying anything that everybody else doesnt know. Unfortunately there is notyhing anybody can do for another four years and hindsight is a great thing but Diego should have swalloed his pride over these issues keep up the good work with the site

  2. Our shortcomings were ruthlessly exposed today. However, I am proud of Diego and the team. The spirit in the camp has been a joy to behold, and our play at times was a delight. There is considerable room for improvement, but we’ve got enough good young players to do so. Whether Diego is there to oversee it is the next big question!

  3. Well, we knew it was only a matter of time before the defense was exposed. I’m not in the mood for in depth post mortems, but would echo all those poor souls bellowing in the dank mist about the absence of Pupi and Cambiasso (though for my money Banega would have been just as valuable an addition). With the squad Maradona picked, I figure they played about as well, and advanced about as far, as we could expect.

    It will be interesting to see what Maradona and the AFA do now. Certainly the performance in the WC can’t be viewed as an unmitigated disaster by any means. Is it possible that Diego could actually learn from some of his mistakes ? Vamos a ver.

    And so….. an irritated and distraught Bostero Forever texted me after the match that he was taking a vow to become an even more obnoxious Boca fan. I’m with him.:) Let’s get this WC madness behind us and get back to the local state of things.

  4. A good run from an attacking side not afraid to play positive football but ruthlessly exposed by the counterattacking Germans. After the first goal, when Argentina had to advance the slow defensive line, everybody could see the space behind and knew the albiceleste would be in trouble. I love Veron and Clemente and Riquelme, but I’m not sure any team could have beaten the Germans today – Klose was ruthless and Podolski looked dangerous all game

  5. Johnny, I’m with you and BosteroForver – let’s get the domestic fun started so River and Boca can fight it out for 11th place!

    1. Ha Ha Justin ! Hey, when your horse gets whupped, you get on another one and look for another race ! Even if you might end up in 11th !

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