Monday, June 28, 2010

Carlitos Come Alive With Two Goals Against El Tri

Argentina is never far from controversy. The Albiceleste are often times soap-operatic with a hint of dramatism thrown in. As if not willing to be outdone by England's unfortunate "Wembley Goal", Argentina created their own talking point in the last 16 match against Mexico.

Once again, the referee and linesman decisions threatened to overshadow a potentially excellent match. Prior to that fateful offside goal, El Tri had rattled the Argentinians. Marauding fullback, Carlos Salcido unleashed a long-range shot which Romero did well to tip it onto his crossbar. Gio dos Santos was doing his best impression of Lionel Messi in the earlier minutes. Gio's through ball after some fine running, allowed Javier Hernandez a chance to flash his shot just wide of Romero's goal. Highly rated Andres Guardado was stunning in the first half, as he tried to find a way through the Argentinian midfield and defence.

All the Mexicans' good work and lively football fell apart as Carlos Tevez headed home a goal that was so offside that only Roberto Rosettie and Stefano Ayroldi can explain why the goal stood. That controversy completely knocked the wind out of Mexico's sails and they never recovered. Worse yet, El Tri conceded a poor goal which the predatory Higuain gleefully accepted and rolled it into the Mexican net. Those two pivotal moments killed off any Mexican hopes of upsetting the mighty Argentina.

Just to balance things out, Tevez crowned his all-action display with a stunning 25-yarder to put the game beyond doubt. On a night when Lionel Messi was physically abused, Carlitos stepped up to provide that much needed cutting edge. Anyone is a potential match winner in this Argentine squad!

As said before, the way the players hug each other after each and every match shows a sense of team spirit and togetherness not found as yet in any other team. The desire to fight for each other will be crucial as Maradona's charges go deeper in this World Cup. If only England players exhibit these sort of togetherness and fight for the cause....if only.

Tevez said that his superhuman effort has given him the reassurance that he is at peak form,

“I needed a match like this to prove I’m happy, I’m well and that I really want to go for glory.”
There were still anxious moments though as the Argentinian defence tried to ward off Mexican attack after attack. Gabriel Heinze was the leader of a defiant back four. The ease in which the lightning-quick Chicarito turned Demichelis and scored Mexico's consolation must be worrying but as a whole, Argentina defended well without "The Wall". Manchester United may have found themselves a prized asset in Javi "Chicarito" Hernandez and the fact he speaks fluent English will make acclimatisation must faster at Old Trafford.

Under the charismatic guidance of Diego Maradona, Argentina have now won their first knockout match in normal time, an unexpected record which stretches back to 1990 when the Albiceleste beat Brazil in the 1990 second round i.e. eight matches ago. This must count as a historic moment.

El Tri once again go out in the last 16 of a World Cup finals. True to form, their South African World Cup adventure ended under unfortunate circumstances as were the case in their last four World Cup campaigns,

1994: Lost to Bulgaria on penalty kicks, when Mexico couldn’t convert its first three kicks.
1998: Surrendered two goals in the final 15 minutes to lose to Germany, 2-1
2002: Embarrassingly lost to their rival the United States, 2-0.
2006: Lost to Argentina in extra time, 2-1. Who could forget that year's Goal of The Tournament? Maxi Rodriguez chest trapping a cross from the left flank and then ripping a volley just inside the far post.

With this win, Argentina has booked a quarterfinal date with Germany. This promises to be a very open affair with both teams committed to playing expansive attacking football. Being a supremely superstitious man, Diego Maradona will not relish knowing that teams that beat Mexico in previous World Cups have gone on to lose their quarterfinal match.

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