Argentina vs. Mexico
It’s raining heavily in Buenos Aires as I write these lines a couple of hours before Argentina face Mexico for a place in the quarter finals to play against Germany.
The first images live from the Leipzig stadium are coming through every TV channel in Argentina and up there is warm and sunny.
Which side of the coin will our team show to the world today?
The chaos of the last 20-25 minutes against Ivory Coast? The brilliant passing game that captured the attention of everybody while we defeated Serbia & Montenegro 6-0? The inability to find the back of the net we showed against Holland? Or the incredible goal-rate of the first two matches with 13 shots on goal and 8 of those going in?
This game is different than the previous three. It’s bigger, more important and much more difficult. And one of the reasons is the rival itself: Mexico.
They might not be playing as good as they can. They might have escaped the group stage by defeating only Iran (and doing it in the last 15 minutes of the game thanks to an incredible mistake by defender REZAEI). They might have been unable to score against humble Angola and they might have played a horrible first half against Portugal. But they are really dangerous for Argentina.
I’m confident in our team once again. I’m confident after seeing our players singing inside the bus that took them to the stadium. Letting all the adrenaline go. Losing it. Enjoying the moment as they prepare to play the most important football match of their lives.
They look focused. They don’t look like they are underestimating anybody (like they seemed to do in 2002!) and that’s the spirit I want to see coming from them.
The last time we won a knock out match in a World Cup was 16 years ago! Even though we advanced to the quarter finals in France ’98, we did so by beating England in a penalty shoot-out, after drawing 2-2.
In USA ’94 we lost against Romania in the second round and in Korea-Japan 2002 we went home in the first round. So if you’re looking for our last victory in a game like the one we have today, you’ve got to go all the way to Turin in Italy ’90 when we defeated Brazil thanks to a wonderful assist by MARADONA for CANIGGIA to score after rounding TAFFAREL.
These group of players have the chance to make a little history by winning today and to get the better out of a tough rival that kept us at bay in the last Confederations Cup’s semifinal when we had to go all the way to the penalty shoot-out.
They’ve got an Argentinean manager (Ricardo LAVOLPE) and a striker who was also born in our country (Guillermo FRANCO). They know us to the very last detail and they know how to play against us.
But today, we’ve got to birthday boys! Juan Roman RIQUELME is celebrating his 28th birthday today and he’ll try everything to have plenty of things to remember in the future.
And talking about the future, Lionel MESSI is also blowing the candles today. 19 years old for the best young player in the world, who will again start the match sitting on the bench, waiting for the second half to come, to have another chance to shine.
Our line-up for today sends me good vibes. I like our starting 11 and here they are for you to have it before the match begins:
3. SORIN (captain)
13. SCALONI (thank you PEKERMAN for not using COLOCCINI today!)
18. Maxi RODRIGUEZ
So a back line of SCALONI-AYALA-HEINZE-SORIN (with SORIN going forward everytime Mexico allow him to and SCALONI allways staying back, like BURDISSO did in our first three matches before he got injured).
The same midfield that started against Ivory Coast and Holland and the striking partnership of the first two matches.
The key to this game for Argentina?
Pass the ball around. Don’t get into Mexico’s rhythm and try to give RIQUELME the ball. Win the midfield battle through CAMBIASSO and MASCHERANO and use MAXI’s runs from the right and SORIN’s from the left to surprise Mexico if they are on the attack.
And if we manage to score first, don’t forget what we love to see the most: ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK, ATTACK and most importantly: KEEP ON ATTACKING!