Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
One is the classic squad photo. Sparkling ironed kits, all smiles, the coach on the front row flanked by his main men – Messi and Tévez in this case – and the trio of keepers stood in the middle. All good.
The other looks like a group of extras from a Guy Ritchie film. Sharp suits, gelled hair, a wide boy demeanour… Given the recent debate that’s got people talking in Argentina, perhaps the cinematic reference should be Sexy Beast.
As the World Cup nears, Argentina had two squad photos taken and, like other countries, took the opportunity to lay down a few ground rules for the coming weeks.
No jacket required - well not in this picture anyway...
Now, looking at what other countries are up to, Spain have decided that social networking is strictly off limits. ‘We’re not allowed to go online till we get back from the world cup,’ tweeted @Carles5puyol. ‘I’ll tell you about it when I’m back!’ @andresiniesta8 was typically composed and monotone. ‘We’ve been asked not to use Facebook or Twitter until the World Cup is over.’
Capello has taken the same route with the England players, but Brazil have allowed the likes of @RealKaka and @luis_fabuloso to air their thoughts… for now.
Rather than worrying what @OfficialMessi, @HiguainPipita and company are putting into 140 characters, however, Diego Maradona might be worrying what @aguerosergiokun is up to in his free time.
‘Sex is part of everyone’s social life,’ said team doctor Donato Villani yesterday on local radio. ‘The problem (for finely-tuned machines such as footballer) is not sex in itself. The problem is sex at two in the morning with a bottle of champagne, with someone who isn’t the steady partner.
After that glimpse into the lives of the young millionaires who will represent Argentina in South Africa, Villani confirmed that Argentine players will be allowed to see their girlfriends and wives during the competition, with benefits.
Carlos Bilardo (absent from the team photo as conspiracy theorists pointed out) will no doubt chip in with his opinion on the situation. He allowed his players some R&R with their señoritas in 1986 and 1990, under the strict condition that ‘the woman does the work,’ and the player doesn’t tire his legs.
Along with allowing the players moments of intimacy with their loved ones, Argentina are trying to maintain some semblance of normality during the World Cup. ‘You can’t deny the players an asado, a glass of wine or a bit of dulce de leche for a whole month,’ believes Villani.
Diego advises Aguero to ignore Doctor's orders...
There are, of course, different ways of unwinding. Fernado Signorini, the squad’s fitness coach admits ‘I like good books just as much as beautiful women.’ Signorini, who has accompanied Maradona since the 1980s, is something of a philosopher. He once argued his atheist beliefs with Heinze and Mascherano till the small hours of the morning, and then gave them both Bertrand Russel’s Why I Am Not a Christian. He regularly hands over suggested reading matter to the players.
Whether Argentina’s players use the down time during the World Cup to read the classics is, despite Signorini’s attempts, unlikely.
If Argentina crash and burn, the botineras – WAGS – will have some serious questions to answer.
But if all this pays off, then be warned. Maradona says he will run around Buenos Aires’s phallic centre piece, the Obelisk, in his birthday suit. Perhaps those team photo suits weren’t so bad after all.
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‘You can’t deny the players an asado, a glass of wine or a bit of dulce de leche for a whole month,’ --- Quote of the year... Ha, Ha! Excellent piece.
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