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World Cup winners pace their tournaments

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Tim Vickery | 06:55 UK time, Monday, 14 June 2010

A World Cup is like time speeded up, a kaleidoscope of emotions crammed into a month.
But the tournament is rarely won by the team that gets out of the blocks fastest.

For those sides that start well, dealing with euphoria can often present problems - as the Germans might find after their superb 4-0 win over Australia.

Pacing tournaments is normally a traditional German strength, but the 2010 team are young and it will be interesting to see how they cope with the expectations they have now aroused.

And Argentina may find themselves in a similar situation.

Without an excellent performance from Enyeama in the Nigeria goal Diego Maradona's men would have won by more than 1-0.

And bearing in mind their problems in qualifying, Argentina can feel as ecstatic as the Germans at getting their campaign off to a winning start. And therein could lie the danger.

So far, Maradona has had a good year - and the tide started to turn when his side won 1-0 away to Germany at the start of March.

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Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, tormentors of Australia's flat back line, made little impression in a match where the Germans could only manage one shot on target.

Maradona was delighted. Shoring up the defence had been his priority. In a bid for solidity, he had gone with a back four essentially made up of four centre backs (Nicolas Otamendi, Martin De Michelis, Walter Samuel and Gabriel Heinze) and a team set up for the counter-attack.

After the match he announced that this would be his team for the World Cup.

In the ensuing months, doubts crept in. Such a line-up had worked well away to the Germans, but might not prove appropriate against defensive opponents.

Throw in the fact that so many Argentine strikers were running into form, factor in the positive vibes of good team spirit, and Maradona's line-up has gone through important changes.

First, in the farewell friendly against Canada, which they won 5-0, Jonas Gutierrez dropped from midfield to roving right back, making space for Maxi Rodriguez. With Lionel Messi not risked, Carlos Tevez came in.

The stocky Manchester City striker is desperate to make an impression, and did so well in training that Maradona could not bring himself to leave him out.

So against Nigeria the variation on the Germany game was Tevez rather than Rodriguez in for Otamendi.

And with just one change, a side whose balance was over-cautious, may have swung too far in the other direction.

The introduction of Tevez allowed Messi to float free - and surely now we can forget the talk, substantiated by nothing more than dislike for the man, that Maradona is jealous of Messi and out to sabotage his campaign. Messi could have scored a hat-trick on Saturday.

There may be grounds for concern, though, that Argentina needed so many chances to score one goal.

It also seems to be the case that pushing the team forward reduces the space available to spring Angel Di Maria down the left.

And the debate over Tevez will continue. An international record of nine goals in 53 games suggests that at the highest level, for all his hard work, he does not carry enough of a threat - a theory that Saturday's game did nothing to disprove.

All this is significant because the addition of the extra striker left the team alarmingly open, especially after midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron went off for the last 15 minutes.

Veron and Messi are room-mates, and are forging an interesting partnership on the field.

As their tactical consultations during the game revealed, Veron is Maradona's coach on the field.

Responsibility has been heaped upon the shaven head of a player who is now 35 - and, as I have commented here before, Argentina's squad is short on central midfielders.

Newcastle's Gutierrez is by no means a natural right back, and the rest of the back line are not the quickest.

And Maradona must surely fear captain Javier Mascherano will be forced into giving away free kicks to protect the defenders, with the risk of picking up cards and sitting out a vital match through suspension.

His deputy Mario Bolatti is elegant on the ball but has nothing like the same defensive tenacity.

Maradona might be well advised to revert to a more cautious line-up at some point in the tournament.

But in the post-victory euphoria the temptation to make defensive changes is easy to resist. Perhaps on Thursday the speed of the South Koreans will make him think again.

Now to a quick word on Brazil's fascinating opener against North Korea on Tuesday. Dunga's men will outgun their opponents technically and physically, and should win comfortably.

But - and this is the intriguing element - they have tended to struggle against defensive teams who do not play into the hands of their counter-attack.

Often in this situation they have broken the deadlock from a set piece. A favourite is the corner which swings out before it reaches the near post - one of their giants will attack the space and flick the ball on, either at goal or towards the far post for a team-mate.

When they played Ireland in a friendly a few months ago it was clear that rival coach Giovanni Trapattoni had done his homework.

At Brazil's corners, Ireland placed two men blocking the space, preventing the Brazilians from getting a run.

It worked well, and it will be interesting to see if North Korea, and Brazil's other opponents, have picked up on it.

Normal service resumes next week with questions - please send them to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next time.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think Maradona might revert to 4-3-3 against South Korea with a flat back 4. South Korea is going to attack if Argentina allows them and this will allow Argentina to break at the counter-attacks. As long as Mascherano keeps Park Ji-Sung in check, there should not be too much problem.

    I think Argentina has not peaked too early, it was a good win but not a great win, many do not think Argentina will win it after seeing the game so the expectations are certainly still not high. Argentina beat South Korea 3-1 in 1986, too and Nigeria now is much better than South Korea then.

  • Comment number 3.

    Several good points Tim, summed up perfectly by your opening statement 'the tournament is rarely won by the team that gets out of the blocks fastest.'

    Initial factors to account for: Tournament jitters, the level of ability of opening day opposition, acclimatisation, the team your able to field, teams knowing they still have two further games to claw things back, players not up to game speed - still rusty, not fully focused. Blunders setting the whole team on edge for rest of the tournament!

    As tournament progresses: Previous results effecting approach, injuries, suspensions, having to utilise weaker squad members, key players returning, player tiredness, facing sudden-death elimination and managing hot-head emotions, developing form and rhythm, sometimes discovering key players or formations by accident (England '90). Referee blunders, unforseen penalties, red-cards - Stupid Boy! Figuring out best route to take in draw if you have that luxury...positive or negative momentum both as a team and in individuals....SUDDEN-DEATH PENALTIES :(

    ...still it doesn't hurt opening 4-0 and knowing a 1-0 win in 1 of last 2 group games will ease all pressure and see you through ;)

  • Comment number 4.

    Better to win 4-0 than draw 1-1. You're really clutching at straws here, just because England were shown up as a very ordinary side with an imagination deficiency you're trying to twist it. Very silly article, West Germany won 4-1 in the 1990 opener and won the tournament, this undermines your view.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Gutierrez at right back will be their downfall.

    He will not be able to play that role - and attack - for 90 minutes without getting caught out by any of the better teams.

  • Comment number 7.

    As with most folk, it seems, I think that Argentina's backline will be their downfall. Gutiérrez is not a full-back, Heinze is too small for CB and too rubbish for a Full Back. And if Demichelis is the answer, then you're obviously asking a stupid question. Samuel has the credentials, but even he seemed a liability against Nigeria.

    Still, they have Messi, thus a great chance to win 2010.

  • Comment number 8.

    What do you make of Uruguay's performance. Granted they were defensive but they managed to hold France to a goalless draw despite playing with then men for over ten minutes.

    I feel that they could qualify should they beat South Africa.

  • Comment number 9.

    Great Post Tim,

    Like you I have a feeling Chile will have a good tournament, none of the other football writers's have even mentioned them, I think the way they move the ball so quickly will be too much for Hinduras and Switzerland and I feel they have a great chance against Spain in the last group game when I expect both teams will all ready have qualified.
    I think there only worries are lack of goals, so hopefully Suazo will be fit and ready to go.

  • Comment number 10.

    It was interesting to watch Argentina's opening game against Nigeria. Despite some relatively poor defending that could very easily be exposed by better and more clinical sides, I honestly think they could have very easily won 4-0 or 5-0. Messi was as Messi is that game, and he will continue to be so until the competition ends for him.

    I thought that Higuain was very nervous, and as a result, he was very off-colour with his shooting. I remember he had about 4 good chances to score, and he managed to miss each and every single one of them in spectacular fashion. I couldn't believe my eyes! Di Maria, for the reasons above, was pretty mute during the game as well, which is a shame, because they will end up needing to use his talent once they progress from the group stages.

    South Korea will be a test, and I really must say that I'm looking forward to it - 2 sides packed full of pace and attacking flair can only lead to lots of goals!

  • Comment number 11.

    Am a Brazil fan and i hope they win a 6th title. It is true that they rely heavily on set pieces and the counter attack. But don't you also agree that they can also turn on the style when they have to? The second goal against Ireland and the third against Zimbabwe were brilliant and well worked goals.

    Another fact that has been ignored is that Dunga selected versatile players who can be used in various positions depending on the situation they find themselves in. And as for what would happen if Kaka got injured, i think Baptista is a worthy replacement. IMO, Brazil played better with him than with Kaka against Zimbabwe. So contrary to popular opinion, Dunga has many options at his disposal.

    The major glaring weakness is Michel Bastos at Left Back. But his contribution at set pieces makes him a worthy risk i guess.

    About Argentina, i think their abundance of attacking players (Messi, Teves, Higuain and Di Maria) denies them the balance required in a winning team. A stronger team would have punished them.

  • Comment number 12.

    If Argentina lack depth in the central midfield area, how on earth did Maradona justify leaving out Cambiasso? Is it just a consequence of having so many world class forwards that had to be included?

  • Comment number 13.

    Good article Tim, nice to see someone giving considered opinions on Argentina who do appear to have run into form coming up to the World Cup. Messi is extremely talented and on top form, despite no goal on his first showing, but it does seem it might be how they harness all that talent. I have been picking a fantasy team and Messi is clearly one of the first names down, but which Argentine to take next is difficult.

    Blasos that is very cynical, when this is an article from the Beebs South American correspondent giving us a view on Argentina and comparing their start to Germany’s good start.

    Suggest if you are looking for sites going over the top about how poor or how good England are mostly based on the last game they played you go to some of the UKs gutter press there will be ample there for you.

  • Comment number 14.

    holland v denmark - possibly the dullest game of the world cup so far..?

  • Comment number 15.

    Heinze really impressed whenever he burst forward, but whenever he or Gutierrez did that Argentina looked really vulnerable to the Nigeria counterattack. I think had the Nigerians been bettered organised and took their chances it might have been a different outcome. Far too much blaming each-other and no emphasis on the team whatsoever. Seems like Lagerback has not sorted this out yet.

    Also I still can't understand why Vincent Enyeama is constantly overlooked as one of the best keepers in the world. He's arguably the most underrated keeper in the WC.

    One thing that did stand out though was the immense team spirit that Argentina possessed. Argentina celebrated with each other at the end like they had won the tournament. Throughout the match, Maradona had his arms round the players and really gave off this paternal impression he has towards his players.

    I can only see this team getting stronger and stronger as the tournament goes on. They do look like a team that wants to play for each other. And I think that might just count for a lot when the going gets tough later on.

  • Comment number 16.

    Bravo on your words of the Nigerian Goalkeeper... what a performance! Had the Nigerians inserted Martins earlier, they might have at least scored one in, although I still think Argentina would have won the game anyway.

  • Comment number 17.

    Maradona's men put up a fantastic performance against Nigeria on saturday, though, they were expected to defeat Nigeria with at least 3 goals to nothing considering the poor performances of Lagerback's team before the match.

    The Nigerian team also suprised many of us who believed they would have a poor campaign at the world cup. If we can keep up this performance for the remaining two matches, i see us qualifying for the next round....

  • Comment number 18.

    Although Argentina had many chances to add to their one goal lead, things need to be looked into with perspective. Enyeama, the Nigerian goalie was impressive - his dive to save from a Messi volley was top drawer. Nigeria also had themselves to blame. Obasi Ogbuike, the Hoffeinheim striker who played on the left wing wasted a couple of chances with their his final ball or decision making when he had gotten the better of Gutierrez. Had Odemwingie slotted a ball across for the waiting Yakubu in the final 20mins, it could ve been different. Martins, in my opinion should ve been introduced far earlier; and its obvious that had Nigeria scored an equalizer, it would ve shook Argentina especially after earlier misses.

    I think Romero had a decent game, saving a Martins blister of a shot. Messi, who sometimes pple expect to create a chance an also simultaneously get at the end of it and convert, had a fantastic game. Head and shoulders above Rooney and Ronaldo, who are his said peers. Messi is the real deal steel. He had Yobo and Taiwo shook to make a proper tackle whenever he had the ball with only Shittu brave enough. Di Maria's influence was little, admittedly because he would function better on the left of a front three, in the position where Tevez started.

    In all, a good game.

    Can't wait for Brazil

  • Comment number 19.

    To all the doubters, Samuel is a quality defender. Did ok against Drogba, Messi and co in the Champs League didn't he?
    As for the Mascherano and Gutierrez problems, this all comes down to Maradona. He left out Cambiasso and Zanetti. Now Zanetti may be into the twilight of his career, but his performances to win the Italian League and Champions League showed he had one last big tournament in him, he managed to keep Messi in check after all. Cambiasso also has had a brilliant season and is arguably a more complete player than Mascher (although I am a huge Mascher fan being Liverpool, so I'd say he edges it on a purely defensive basis) and has been left out of the squad. But why? Probably for the same reason Riquelme isn't in, it's that Maradona doesn't get on with them. He doesn't care who is the best player, he cares that they are obsequious and servile to him. Their loss.

  • Comment number 20.

    Duh. So does anybody think it's preferable to start their WC campaign with a draw ala England versus a 1-0 win ala Argentina? Let's get serious.

    We all have doubts about Argentina's defense because us 'english speakers' do not see them in the PL. The WC will show if they're strong or not.

    The poor past performance of the offense has been the real confusion and one of the mysteries has been how to let Messi be the 'Messi of Barcelona'. It appears that Saturday's lineup is the answer. Stick Tevez in front of him and let him roam. Messi could have scored 4 and didn't but it was a Barcelona-like game for him ... he created scoring chances for himself and his mates at will. It was very nice to see.

    Also, let's not forget that while Tevez's international record shows few results - it's the WC qualifying that has been poor and has been for the ENTIRE team. Carlos has other international records he can be proud of -- olympic glory, world CLUB championship, U17 and U21 titles.

    It was comforting to see the offense starting to find itself. I don't really see England taking advantage of their defense too much.

  • Comment number 21.

    hello everyone i am from argentina!!! i liked the match :P

  • Comment number 22.

    Argentina's problem is not with their midfield (at the moment, but Veron is a liability) but rather with their strikers. I think Tevez plays a good deep position and frees Messi. However the main problem is Higuain. He is not clinical and wastes too many clear chances....reminds me of Heskey, but Im sure Higuain is not so kak.
    Millito hasnt done much either, but Maradona has to try another option. Perhaps Aguero. But they create alot, and waste too many chances.

  • Comment number 23.

    Fastest out of the blocks could hardly apply to any team other than Germany. All teams have struggled including Argentina. And I believe Germans know very well how to deal with euphoria generated by a thumping win.

    Korea will be a tough test for Argentina. Diego can deal with many aspects of the game except defeat; so he better remain on course. Cambiasso's presence would have been a big asset.

  • Comment number 24.

    HI Tim, no word on paraguay v Italy? they play in 2 hours! I'm hoping it will be a cracker, although 2 teams famed for their defense against each other is probably not a good sign of a good game...

  • Comment number 25.

    I hope the North Korean don't read what you have to stay on how to stop Brazil at their corners!

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent analysis of Argentina's tactics, Tim.

    To be fair it Maradona, he did say after the friendly in Germany that that would be the formation against the stronger teams in the World Cup, but that he might play differently against less strong teams (or, presumably, ones that only want to defend.

    Seems to me that, basically, maradona has a plan A and a plan B (and a plan C - Palermo and crosses in last 10 mins if they need a goal, which isn't bad for a coach who is supposedly tactically inept.

  • Comment number 27.

    Tim, do you get frustrated by all the misinformation that gets written about Argentina, and South American football in general, in the British press?

    Just as an example (and there are many), I've read in just about every single British paper now (in some, several times over) that Maradona used over 100 players in the qualifiers. What rubbish.

    Think about it, it's mathematically impossible, anyway - he was in charge for 8 games, so even if he had fielded a completely different 11 for every game it still only comes to 88.

    He didn't use any more players than most other international managers in the qualifiers.

    Also, there was a completely nothing incident a couple of weeks ago that hardly got mentioned in South America - some stupid jobsworth journalists surrounded and blocked Maradona's car as he was trying to drive into the training ground and his wheel touched one of their feet (he calmly wound down his window and said, quite rightly in my opinion, "You 'idiot', why are you putting your foot there for when you know it can get runover?" - a non-incident, but, of course, with a bit of exageration and some big headlines, it makes a cracking story in England.

    What doesn't get reported is that Maradona, quite eloquently, imho, often tries to explain his tactics in press conferences and interviews - whether you agree with his ideas or not, at least there is a logic to his thinking, and he's going out of his way to try and explain it to the public, but all that's too boring and not good enough a story for the British press, and moreover, it doesn't sit with the perception of a hopeless nutter who doesn't know what he's doing, which is the pre-prepared story they're looking for each time.

    Hey, I'm not saying Maradona is a good manager, but let's see how Argentina do in this World Cup before judging him.

    (it also rarely gets mentioned that he inherited a poor team, who were alrady struggling in the qualifiers before he tookover).

  • Comment number 28.

    Some interesting points about Argentina and they will be tested defensively at some point and I wonder then whether Diego will sorely regret not taking Cambiasso and Zanetti. Even though it was just the first game, Veron looks unsure and I thought his distribution was poor at times. I wonder if he will last the pace of this tournament.

    Germans played very well against a side that looks as if it could now do with another Viduka and a younger Kewell. Australia were disappointing to say the least and I expected more from them. Ozil was very good and the coach sensibly took off his strikers once the game was won.

  • Comment number 29.

    If you'd seen how Zanetti played at right back in the qualifiers against Brazil and Paraguay (his last appearances fro Argentina), you'd understand why Maradona hasn't taken him.

    Infact, it looked as if Paraguay had deliberately targeted Zanetti and ran down his flank with pace, exposing his slowness.

    Zanetti mainly plays midfield for Inter, but he simply doesn't fit the sistem Maradona wants to play. Ditto Cambiasso. The captain Mascherano prefers to play as a single holding midfielder, playing horizontally across the pitch, and has told his manager this.

    There is also the problem that Cambiasso and Veron don't get on (they had a big falling out when Veron was at Inter - Cambiasso is a friend of Sorin, who Veron famously doesn't get on with - they even came to blows on the pitch when Inter played Villareal 3 years ago)

    Cambiasso's admission has as much to do with Veron and Mascherano requesting it as Maradona.

  • Comment number 30.

    GET IN!!! Par 1 - Ita 0!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    Maradona will play with this strategy only against poor teams. I'm sure he will use the tight 4-4-2 that use against Uruguay and Germany to play the real important matches.
    Korea will be a real test, and I believe he will be playing 4-4-2 to assure clasification to the next phase. If he wins the next match, then a substitute team will be facing the Greeks. Probably he will save Messi to rest and other ones, Giving the chance to Aguero, Milito and Tevez to play the hole match.
    Argentina Maradona will be a very difficult team to defeat... and only the Brazilians know the secret to easly do that!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    dammmit... 1-1 lucky italians.... if we'd had a full strength team it would've been more of a game...

  • Comment number 33.

    clacky1

    I agree with your post on the misinformation in the English press, every time Maradona's name is mentioned it is immediately followed by "his hand of God" most other nations remember him for running past the english team and scoring the best goal in history.

    Anyways, Maradona did use somewhere near 100 players but what the English press don't notice or rather ignore as it makes Maradona look useless, is that a lot of games that were played were meaningless friendlies against nations like Haiti in which he only used local players.

    he did take control of a team that could not win against school boys. Cambiasso and Riquelme being the main reason why. Veron might be getting on and while I am baffled that maradona did not take a player like Banega, those crying for Riquelme obviously never pay attention to south American football. Riquelme led Boca to one of their worst season finishes ever and Veron is South American footballer of the year, this season he took Estudiantes to the Q. Finals of the Libertadores and took the title challenge down to the last game of the season

    oh and the guy who compared Higuain to Heskey...seriously?

  • Comment number 34.

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  • Comment number 35.

    A very important factor when it comes to Latin people is emotions and motivation. I'm pretty sure Maradona appeals to their emotions to motivate them and adds that special something to his skillful squad, after all, he's always been quite passionate in his support of the Albiceleste, way before he became their coach.

    This issue was all too evident back in 1994 when Argentina started off brightly but faded away as soon as Maradona was banned for drug taking midway through the WC group stage. The players were the same, they didn't even need Maradona as they had a very strong team, but that wasn't enough. They lost their "mojo", as it were, and lost the next couple of games to lesser teams.

    So, he may not be as tactically savvy or gifted as other coaches but his "skill" may just prove to be what Argentina needs to regain their old glory... as long as they don't come against Brazil of course.

  • Comment number 36.

    All this cries for Zanetti is just people trying to say Maradona has been a bad coach who did not pick Zanetti for personal reasons. It is as if they know Zanetti, but in fact all they know is that Inter Milan won the Champions League so all its players must be good. Italian coach Marcelo Lippi didn't pick Materazzi either, but I don't hear anyone complaining about it.

    The only right sided player who might be a legitimate contender for Argentina's right back position is Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City. But no one ever mentions him. Maybe they are too busy echoing what others have said.

  • Comment number 37.

    Alistair - that was my point

    Those friendlies against the likes of Haiti and Ghana reserves weren't even of FIFA dates, so he couldn't call up any European-based players for any of them, nor home-based players playing in the Libertadores Cup for some of them, hence the high figure, but the British press from the Guardian to the Sun insist on saying he used over 100 players in the qualifiers, which is complete nonsence and poor journalism (especially as it's not mathematically possible - by a long way!)

    Apparently even the ITV coometnator said it during the match on sat, and noone corrected him

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    Tim, I think you make a good point regarding World Cup winners pacing themselves. History definitely supports your argument. I believe that Argentina could go all the way spurred on by the inspirational Maradona. He's been criticised by all since he became manager after the Argies lost 1-0 in Santiago against Chile, but Argentina have been much improved pre-World Cup and there could be no greater inspiration in the dressing room than Maradona.

    Here's an interesting, thought-provoking article on the issue: elchuncho.co.uk

  • Comment number 40.

    Tim, I think you make a good point regarding World Cup winners pacing themselves. History definitely supports your argument. I believe that Argentina could go all the way spurred on by the inspirational Maradona. He's been criticised by all since he became manager after the Argies lost 1-0 in Santiago against Chile, but Argentina have been much improved pre-World Cup and there could be no greater inspiration in the dressing room than Maradona.

    Here's an interesting, thought-provoking article on the issue: www.elchuncho.co.uk

  • Comment number 41.

    Hey Clacky,

    I was agreeing with you, i just wanted to explain your point further and show how the press manipulate "facts".
    I also like it how they always focus on his flaws in fashion sense, earings, cheap suit, to name a few. other things i have heard "laughable Heinze" he looked pretty good to me the other day, demichelis being a liability, he was in the final of the champ league.

    It just seems that everyone in the English press will have a go at the argies (except Mr. Vickery) which I can understand, but when it is aimed at their fashion sense you can tell they are just scared.

  • Comment number 42.

    Good stuff. It's looking like he will stick with Jonás at right back alright. Thankfully Verón is injured for the next one, though, so at least Peter Parker will have some protection this time.

    I'm not sure what to think after all the changes in line-ups, formations and squads (which even if they were inflated by the 'Selección local' games was still absurdly large, Clacky1), whether he should just decide on something and go with it or keep chopping and changing. If your appetite has not been sated or you're just greedy for a second course, you could do worse than check out this: http://tinyurl.com/27u57q7

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi Tim,
    good post as always. Don't you think though that all teams but the Germans have "been pacing their tournament" (perhaps less so an inefficient Argentina and Brazil...?) as another way of saying that they have been too afraid to try to create something?
    Cheers, E

  • Comment number 44.

    If Maradona retains the same back 4 in future games then I can see a team which plays wingers like Holland (Robben & Elia) or France (Ribery & Malouda) having a field day against the likes of Jonas and Heinze who were very poor against Nigeria. Jonas was particularly awful and was beaten time after time and also he kept running into De Michelis. Only Samuel played decently at the back. Romero looks suspect as well, as he was punching everything and this usually leads to disaster at some stage of a game. Messi was magnificent but it was a bit of a one-man band and I can't see Messi playing 90' flat-out game after game though. He'll burn out. Argentina will score lots of goals but so will the better teams playing against them later in the tournament. A word on Maradona - his antics on the touchline were disgraceful but sadly what we have come to expect from this deplorable character.

  • Comment number 45.

    You were bang on about Alexis Sanchez Tim , reminded me of Cristiano Ronaldo as a teenager , electric pace , decision making not as good as it could be , there were rumours about Real Madrid following him, based on today i don't think he would be ready to step into such a pressure cooker that is the Bernabeu. I think if he got a manager who could channel his undoubted ability into more effective parts of the game , e.g assists , goals , crossing , decision making then we could have a real star in the making. On a romantic level , as a admirer of Barcelona i would love to see him team up with Messi , which could become a partnership for many years to come.

  • Comment number 46.

    So Tim... it looks like South Africa is tourning out to be pretty good for our South America, right? If Chile can deal Swiss, I can see all team comfortably going through to the knon out stage. With the beautifully unpredictable football you never know... but even the Charruas have been able to get a win without suffering until the 90th minute, so why not beeing optimistic!

  • Comment number 47.


    Nice insights Tim on those three champion sides. Argentina is moving along well after their narrow win in their first encounter. Brazil too struggled a bit for their win against the well knit North Koreans. Germany had a massive win over the Aussies. It will be interesting to see how this young and talented German squad fares when it faces the more powerful sides from Latin America and Europe.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 48.

    Tim: I guess that after brilliant article after article, you are not scoring in this one...

    You say: 'There may be grounds for concern, though, that Argentina needed so many chances to score one goal.'

    How does this work? Heinze's goal was scored in the fourth minute of the game! Basically, Argentina left Nigeria off the hook, that's all there is to it. And the man of the match was the goalie, c'mon!

    'And the debate over Tevez will continue. An international record of nine goals in 53 games suggests that at the highest level, for all his hard work, he does not carry enough of a threat - a theory that Saturday's game did nothing to disprove.'

    I would submit that Tevez' work rate actually gives a team more than eleven players on the field. He recovers the ball and creates chances, participates in the breaks, takes free kicks, holds the ball well with his back to goal. And is ENOUGH of a threat that he will create space for others. If goals scored were the criterion, then C Ronaldo would sit on Queiroz' bench forever! You said yourself that Messi was a brilliant decoy a few blogs ago. A this point, here in Argentina there is not one iota of debate over Tevez, period.

  • Comment number 49.

    PS: Give me a low scoring forward and a high scoring offense... what about Messi-dependence? You cancel THE player and then you are doomed???

    Please for reference see Argentina vs SKorea

  • Comment number 50.

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  • Comment number 51.

    Dear Tim,

    A lot of controversy has arisen here in the US in the wake of the infamous disallowed goal during the Slovenia match. I've even been subjected to listening to countless American sports analysts (who don't tend to know a thing about football, mind you, and, for example, continuously stumble over some of the world's greatest and most recognizable players names) use the missed call in the US-Slovenia tie in order to support the argument for instant replay in sports. American sports fans (aside from ONLY(!!) me it seems) love the idea and practice of replay/review in sports. A few months ago (or perhaps only a month and a half ago) on WFPI you gave your reasoning why you were opposed to instant replay. I've since deleted that week's show off of my iPod, but I remember a smile coming to my face as I listened to you eloquently articulate how replay would negatively effect football. I agreed completely with you. Since I no longer have this show on my iPod, would you mind briefly giving your stance on this issue again (so the next time my NFL obsessive friends bring the conversation up I can refute their arguments with Legendinho like adeptness and authority)? Thanks, Tim.

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  • Comment number 54.

    So Tim... it looks like South Africa is tourning out to be pretty good for our South America, right? If Chile can deal Swiss, I can see all team comfortably going through to the knon out stage. With the beautifully unpredictable football you never know... but even the Charruas have been able to get a win without suffering until the 90th minute, so why not beeing optimistic! Civil Engineering Society

  • Comment number 55.

    I think Romero had a decent game, saving a Martins blister of a shot. Messi, who sometimes pple expect to create a chance an also simultaneously get at the end of it and convert, had a fantastic game. Head and shoulders above Rooney and Ronaldo, who are his said peers. Messi is the real deal steel. He had Yobo and Taiwo shook to make a proper tackle whenever he had the ball with only Shittu brave enough. work onlinemake money from homepayday loansbest payday loans..

  • Comment number 56.

    I like mesut özil in this tournement but I think the best one is Xavi.. He must get the golden ball..ozon yağı also is one of the creative player in our country.. You can look at profile the ozon yagi he will be the best in future...

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    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

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  • Comment number 62.

    Hello Tim... it looks like South Africa is tourning out to be pretty good for our South America, right? If Chile can deal Swiss, I can see all team comfortably going through to the knon out stage. With the beautifully unpredictable football you never know... but even the Charruas have been able to get a win without suffering until the 90th minute, so why not beeing optimistic! World Most Amazing RecordsWorld Most Amazing Records

  • Comment number 63.

    The truth is, im really agree about ur statement of this ; Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller, tormentors of Australia's flat back line, made little impression in a match where the Germans could only manage one shot on target.

    Maradona was delighted. Shoring up the defence had been his priority. In a bid for solidity, he had gone with a back four essentially made up of four centre backs (Nicolas Otamendi, Martin De Michelis, Walter Samuel and Gabriel Heinze) and a team set up for the counter-attack.

    Regards

 

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