Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
Uruguay is a relatively small patch of country that borders both behemoths Brazil and Argentina. Derided as a province by most Argentines, it is often said that Uruguayans have a bit of a chip on their shoulders.
Tango, they claim, began there. They actually eat more meat that their larger neighbours (which is saying something), they drink even more maté (a ubiquitous tea sucked through a straw and shared) and they produce some very fine red wines.
"Everything," a Uruguayan recently told me, "is like in Argentina, only better." It is certainly a warmer country – the people that is – but they are undoubtedly the poorer neighbours football-wise.
"We eat more meat than you, we eat more meat than you..."
Sure, they won the first ever World Cup in 1930 – beating Argentina 4-2 – and they won it again against Brazil in 1950. And they are the only country to have won a World Cup with a population of less than four million. Recently though, they have been a bit, well, rubbish.
Uruguay's national team will make the short ferry ride across the Rio de la Plata to play Argentina at River Plate's Monumental on Saturday. And with Argentina having played relatively poorly in recent World Cup qualifiers, Uruguayans are looking to this game as an opportunity to humiliate their bolshy enemy.
Uruguay are currently fifth in the qualification standings, and are in reasonable form, while Argentina are third, but have been consistently criticised for lacking team structure despite the amazing talent at their disposal.
In-form: Aguero & Messi aim to run Uruguay ragged
It is quite amazing, in this day and age when managers seem to last, on average, about five days, that Argentina's coach Alfio Basile is still in charge. A loss on Saturday, however, would surely hammer the final nail into his coffin.
But he has been experimenting in training, employing a 3-4-3 formation with an irresistible front-line trio of Leo Messi, Carlos Tevez and Kun Agüero.
How can that fail?
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