Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
A fortnight ago, rumour spread that AFA were going to make Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola an offer he couldn’t refuse – to take over the Argentina national team.
Señor Guardiola is, apparently, the only man in the world with enough common sense and ability at his disposal to bring the best out of Leo Messi.
When they’re not busy talking, debating, writing editorials, screaming or fighting over the new media law, Argentines are spending a considerable amount of time worrying about why Messi isn’t beating eight players and scoring wonder goals for Argentina, but turns on the style every weekend for Barcelona.
Cynics would say there are around 12 million reasons a year that explain this phenomenon, but Argie Bargy will leave those kind of comments for others to make.
Perhaps the man AFA are looking for is in fact Independiente coach Americo ‘Tolo’ Gallego, not least after this weekend’s triumph in the Avallaneda clásico.
Tolo’s opposite number, Ricardo Caruso Lombardi, had said that the clásico would be a tough match for Racing, but it wasn’t like they were playing Bayern Munich or anyone stupid like that.
“He was right,” admitted Gallego afterwards. “We played like Barcelona, not Bayern.”
A touch over the top, Tolo? Definitely, but he had just won the clásico, so we’ll let him have his fun.
It was his side that managed to deal with the conditions – toilet-roll snowstorm, that sort of thing – at Racing’s Cilindro, The Coliseum, The Juan Domingo Perón Stadium, or whatever the hell their ground is called.
While Gallego garrulously gathered the glory, the man currently asked to manage Messi for the country was keeping a close eye on the weekend’s proceedings.
Maradona has called up a squad of locally-based players to face Ghana midweek.
The idea is to check out if there’s anyone earning their keep in Argentina who can do a better job than the fancy-Dan exiles in Europe.
So it is that Diego will have winced as Estudiantes comfortably beat Boca (Basile is staying this time) and laughed as River collapsed to a draw from a perfectly healthy 2-0 home lead against Gimnasia.
And perhaps Diego will have understood why Vélez supporters took to throwing onions at the Huracán side, and avoided the thoroughly underwhelming explanation that it comes from a kids’ TV series from years back.
There were brilliant goals to keep him happy, like Jonathan Cristaldo’s second for Velez against Huracán and San Lorenzo’s first against Tigre.
Diego will also have a clearer idea of why San Lorenzo have failed to win in the last six games, when they failed to score after keeper-captain Pablo Migliore insisted on taking the penalty and missed.
So while the weekend left plenty of talking points, and as ever several refereeing decisions that ranged from the bad to disgraceful with everything in between, Maradona will have been taking notes.
If he wasn’t, here’s a quick crib sheet:
Rolando Schiavi – Another reason not to call up the 36-year-old. The pressure’s on for the world cup qualifiers in two week’s time. The team need a cool head at the back. Rolando’s foul and abusive language was nothing compared to the obscenity of the gestures he made after (correctly) being sent off.
Martín Palermo – It’s him, Higuaín or Tevez to play alongside Messi against Peru. Thankfully he didn’t have to take a penalty, but he hit a great volley against Estudiantes.
Ariel Ortega – There seemed little point in calling up the Little Donkey, but any discussion about the pros and cons of Ortega playing for the national team again are null and void. He’s injured.
Gabriel Hauche – Has his work cut out making the starting XI up front, but responding to a call-up with a hat-trick for Godoy Cruz isn't a bad start.
Enzo Perez – Great performance against Boca, and scored the winning goal. Oh, and he also decided that some testicle-grabbing violence-inciting gestures towards the Boca fans was in a good idea. “I didn’t do anything, you can look at all the replays you want," claimed Perez. We have, which is why the previous sentence is staying in.
VIDEO! All the goals here, to U2’s Angel of Harlem. These guys really need a new DJ...
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Doesn't it strike you that Maradona is only capping players he was familiar with or at least remembered during the days when he wasn't in a cocaine-induced stupor?
Palermo plays "older" than does Sebastian Abreu for the Uruguayan National Team and El Burrito Ortega would have been great 3 years ago for Argentina but no so today.
The only has-been that Maradona should consider is Juan Román Riquelme but he won't because for whatever the reason Riquelme will not play for Diego---- Regarding Messi, since he's apparently suffering from a case of "Gotta Protect My Legs" while playing for Argentina, If I were Maradona (thank God that I'm not!) I would bury Messi as a deep field play-maker thereby freeing him from "having to score", get rid of Tevez and play Ezequiel Lavezzi & Diego Milito upfront.
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