Argentina Will Win The World Cup

by Michael Somerville

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Argentinians know that Brazil took 24 years to win their first post-Pele World Cup, and precisely after their own World Cup triumph in Mexico 86’, they feel that their time has come again.

The parallels are striking. Maradona is still with the team, albeit in the dugout, and it’s very likely he will run onto the pitch during the tournament! Also in 86’ they played their first World Cup finals game against South Korea- the same opponents this time around.

Maradona’s behaviour has admittedly been hilariously erratic and unpredictable during the World Cup preparations. He has run over a reporters leg and then called the injured man “an a**hole,” had a fight with his dog and ended up in hospital and has promised to run around stark naked in Buenes Aries if his team win. Diego has juggled an extraordinary 108 players in just over 18 months. He is mad.

So, the omens couldn’t be better for Argentina but the question has got to be; can they produce a coherent team that is capable of beating the likes of Spain, Brazil and England. Yes, I think they can.

Firstly, Argentina boasts the best player in the world without question– Lionel Messi. Scoring 34 league goals this year to tie Ronaldo’s club record set in 1996-1997 you would not bet against him beating the record next year.

Unsurprisingly, it has become a national obsession to get the best out of Lionel Messi but if anyone can, his doppelganger can! Maradona and Messi are strikingly similar in the way they dribble, pass and move with the ball. Surely Diego is the man to fix the missing piece in the jigsaw? Messi would love to pick up his fifteenth team honour in his career- the World Cup.

The wait for a top class striker in the mould of Hernan Crespo or Gabriel Batistuta has also ended.

Step forward Gonzalo Higuain.

‘Pipita’ is feared across La Liga for his powerful, direct attacking threat and incisive finishing. 27 goals this season for Real Madrid and 22 in the previous campaign proves that he will be a big part of Maradona’s plans.

If Higuain can’t quite deliver on the biggest footballing stage then there’s always the Champions League and Copa Italia hero Diego Milito. Add Europa league winner Sergio Augero and City blue Carlos Tevez to bring off the bench and you have the most feared attacking threat in the world.

Argentina’s six strikers have scored 134 goals between them this season; thrashing their nearest net- busting challengers Ivory Coast (88 goals) and Italy (80.)

Of course the doubters will argue that the Argentinean defence is nowhere near good enough to win a major tournament but I disagree. After a 6-1 thrashing in qualifying by Bolivia and surprising losses to Columbia, Paraguay and Chile, the weaknesses have been addressed. Current form has been good with a recent win and notable clean sheet against Germany in Munich reiterating their big-game credentials. 

The average height of the team has been raised with Martin Demichelis and Walter Samuel being recalled to centre defence. The two lined against each other in the Champions League final this year so you can be sure they’ll do a classy job.

In other areas where the Argies could possibly go awry is the omission of two experienced players- Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso. Mad Maradona has called up two relative unknowns, Martin Palermo- a 36 year old striker who is famous for missing three penalties in one game and Ariel Garce who has only won a single competitive cap for his country. Palermo is, amazingly, the leading goal scorer under Maradona so it’s proved to be an inspired and astute recall.

Messi and Angel Di Maria can provide scintillating pace down the flanks, and Everton fans will remember the skills dished out by Benfica and Di Maria in the Europa League this season.

Injuries to top players such as Rio Ferdinand, Arjen Robben and Michael Ballack has severely dented the threat of teams close to Argentina and this will clearly work to their advantage.

I am backing Argentina because I really think they can do it- even though their manager may be crazy and incoherent. Spiritual leader Juan Sebestian Veron can give them the calmness on the football field even when Maradona is ranting and raving on the touchline. I sincerely believe that you need a bit of madness in football and Maradona can give just that. Brazil and Spain are strong favourites but I consider the high pressures that come with that to ultimately count against them.

Unfortunately England’s hopes have hit a low new low after Rio Ferdinand got himself injured. I would love to be proved wrong but I just don’t think its possible for England to do it this year.

Follow my reports where I’ll be blogging on every single World Cup match in South Africa with refreshing reactions and insight.

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  • Julie Anderton

    A shoddy piece of journalism, riddled with errors. I hope you aren’t hoping for a career in journalism. Absolute tripe.

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