Sunday, April 4, 2010

Can Argentina Win The World Cup?


It is perhaps one of the most intriguing stories of a World Cup with many intriguing stories. Steered by the unsteady hand of Diego Maradonna, Argentina qualified for the finals by the skin of their teeth but boast some world class players that make them genuine contenders in South Africa this summer.

Can Argentina Win The World Cup?


Few men have won the World Cup as player and coach - Maradonna's legend is already secure but lifting the Jules Rimet trophy again would bring true god-like status among his people.

It is amazing that in spite of his many previous transgressions he is national coach at all. A chaotic qualifying campaign did little to enhance his coaching reputation and he loses friends at an alarming rate. Still he is there though and in Lionel Messi he has the one player who could emulate Maradonna's own feat at Mexico 86 - single handedly inspiring his country to become World Champions.

There's a snag though - Maradonna has yet to find the right role for Messi and has struggled to get the best from his best player. Messi's domestic form for Barcelona is rarely transferred to the international team and Maradonna must work out this conundrum before the finals begin if his team are to have any chance of lifting the famous trophy.

Finding the right blend has been an wider problem as well - in qualifying 78 players were used with people falling in and out of favour by the game. They lost 6-1 to Bolivia early in the campaign and eventually qualified in fourth place in quite bizarre circumstances.

The final game against Uruguay was a must win for both sides to secure fourth spot. Debutant Mario Bolatti's 84th minute winner was enough to see Argentina home but it was the previous game that saw lady luck smile on La Albiceleste.

An incredible finale to the penultimate match against bottom side Peru saw the Peruvians score in the last minute to make it 1-1 and put Argentina in real peril. Then in biblical storms, Martin Palermo scored an offside looking 93rd minute winner to send the home crowd into frenzy. Unbelievably, straight from the kick off, Peru player, Juan Vargas, launched the ball at goal and forced the home keeper to tip it onto the bar. Argentina were seconds, a flag, or a glove away from total disaster.

The latter stages of a World Cup generally sees the usual suspects battling it out for the big prize. How many times have an average German team made the final? Aside from Messi, Argentina can boast the likes of Carlos Tevez (currently inspiring Manchester City to Champions League qualification), Gonzalo Higuain (locked in a goalscoring battle with Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid), Diego Millito (firing the goals for Inter Milan), and a rejuvenated Juan Sebastian Veron providing the ammunition for this potent strike force.

And then of course there is Sergio Aguero - Maradonna's son-in-law and heir apparent to Messi and perhaps Maradonna himself. Aguero is a player of real talent and every world cup sees the emergence of a new world star - Aguero could be the one this time around.

Their weakness is in defence but with the protection of Javier Mascherano sat in front (potentially alongside Esteban Cambiasso) the leaks can be plugged, providing a solid and uncompromising platform for their exciting forwards to wreak havoc.

The bookies have Argentina as fourth favourites and really they could be anything under Maradonna. This is what makes the story so appealing and it will be fascinating to watch in what promises to be just one of many sub plots in South Africa this summer.

BruiseLee

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