Don’t Cry For Argentina

Argentina beat the Costa Rican elementary schoolers today 3-0.  I supposed I shouldn’t really make fun given that those same elementary schoolers beat Bolivia and only lost to Colombia 1-0.  In any case Argentina has made it to the quarterfinals so the Argentinians can stop worrying about their team.

They can also stop worrying about Messi.  Give the poor guy a break.  He terrorized the Costa Ricans.  He was usual brilliant self, which is a good indication that coach Sergio Batista’s plan to remake a Barcelona is a failure because it requires a Xavi and an Iniesta.  The problem was not Messi, it was everyone else.  The 4-3-3 that Barcelona play did not work for Argentina although Messi did his part, no one else did theirs, particularly Tevez and Lavezzi.  In a 4-2-3-1, the rest of the squad is more comfortable and can keep up with Messi.  Notably both Tevez and Lavezzi were left out of the starting line up.

This is not just an Argentina thing.  Spain does not play Barcelona’s 4-3-3, even with Xavi and Iniesta.  Barcelona’s system is very difficult.  It requires time and effort.  Most of the players have been playing that way since their childhood or early teens.  That’s why even David Villa had trouble adjusting at first and why Zlatan Ibrahimovic never could.

Argentina look like Argentina again.  So much so that their own fans whistled at them whenever, up by three goals, the team slowed down the pace and passed back to the defense.  That right there is an unrealistic burden of expectations.   In any case, although he didn’t score, Messi set up two of the goals, and a host of other chances.  He looks brilliant again, and I am glad.  Once Maradona and his clown show was gone, I felt I could safely cheer for Argentina and Messi.  One always wants to see the greats win titles.

Of course Costa Rica is not Brazil, Uruguay, or Chile.  But it is nice to see Argentina look like world beaters for the night.

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