Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
"In Argentina, people only talk about football and sex," says Argentinos Juniors coach Claudo ‘Bichi’ Borghi.
"And they think they are good at it."
"Good at it" could refer to their ability to talk about it. It could also refer to having a flair for one, the other or indeed both of the world’s two favoured pastimes (whether enjoyed as participant or viewer).
Bichi’s statement is open to interpretation, but given that this blog is freely available on the web, Argie Bargy will refrain from commenting for the sake of maintaining a number of valued friendships.
Bichi Borghi is something of a legend. He was the leader of the mid-80s Argentinos Juniors team that won league titles, the Libertadores, and came within a whisker of beating Platini and Laudrup’s Juventus in the Intercontinental Cup.
Bichi claimed he was useless with his left foot, which is why he became known for the rabona – kicking the ball by wrapping your favoured foot behind the weaker one – a move which he perfected to the extent that one journalist wrote he deserved the copyright.
He was the first “next Maradona,” "until they realised it was never going to happen," as he himself admits.
Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan could have been built around Van Basten, Gullit and Borghi, only some Dutch guy called Frank got in the way.
"I tell my players I wasn’t a bad footballer," he says, "but I know they look at me, see a fat guy, and don’t believe me."
To complete the picture, he is a Mormon.
Anyway, Borghi’s comment about football and sex this week was particularly appropriate, given the timing: summer's just around the corner.
That means lots of things. Months of perfect afternoons for coronary-inducing asados. The country’s buses turn into mobile saunas. Pasty white-legged gringos traipse around Buenos Aires looking for a couple dancing the tango.
And Argentines discuss just two things, only more excitedly than normal.
The men don’t stop talking about how many stunning chicas there are around, while the chicas do their best to make sure that the men don’t stop talking about them.
And then there’s football.
We are in the Fútbol Para Todos era, after all, so football is free and available for all to enjoy. But then, summer’s coming. Matches can’t be played in the heat, so kick-off times have to be later.
So far so good, but here comes the problem.
In most other countries, games would simply be played at the same time. But Fútbol Para Todos means what it says – football for everyone – and if everyone is going to watch games free on TV, you can’t have two matches at the same time.
As a result, in two or maybe three weeks (depending on decisions made by the suits), Argie Bargy’s ‘weekend preview’ will become more of a ‘mini-break preview.’
Games will be played from Friday night through to Monday night.
While we consider the implications of four days of top flight football every week, let’s stick with the here and now.
The Big Two are up against it. The fixtures involving these two sides this weekend would usually look like potential classics, but such is the crisis at River Plate and Boca Juniors that they are simply damage limitation exercises.
River are away to a San Lorenzo side on the back of a nine without defeat. Boca, meanwhile, host Vélez, with Juan Román Riquelme 70 percent fit – at best – going into the game.
Acts of God notwithstanding, the smart money is on another week of crisis for both.
The game of the weekend, then, promises to be at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
League leaders Estudiantes take on an unbeaten Argentinos Juniors side, and if Bichi Borghi can convince his men to forget about procreation and focus on football for a full 90 minutes, it should be a classic.
STATS: Argentina results, fixtures and table
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