Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Maradona Experiment

In the first competitive game with Maradona in charge, Argentina bombed Venezuela 4-0 on goals from Tevez, Messi, Maxi Rodriguez, and Aguero.

(Messi and Maxi both had their starts with Newell's, Messi going to Spain's Barcelona at 13 due to Newell's not being able to provide him with needed medication at the time, while Maxi has played 56 games for La Lepra, scoring 20 times in those games. Maxi still considers himself a part of the Newell's family, visiting the club during the winter break while the seats at El Coloso were being worked on.)

Weeks before this World Cup Qualifier the headlines were all about a spat between the team's playmaker, Riquelme, and coach Maradona. Maradona basically stated that he needed Riquelme to play up to his top form, something that the player has been criticized for drifting in and out of in the past (sometimes even during a single game.)

Riquelme then proceeded to quit la Albiceleste for the second time (the first time he claimed was due to fear over his mother's health.) Of all those I know of who follow the Argentine League and National side the only ones who were not happy to see Román go are fans of Boca Jrs, Riquelme's team in Argentina.

Due to there being no fit and willing playmaker available, El D10s (Maradona) chose to take the time he had with his players before this game to work at playing in a 3-4-3 formation, with Messi, Tevez, and son in law Aguero as the attacking trio.

In this game, the experiment worked, but it is only Venezuela after all, where Baseball is the favored sport. Maradona down played that, saying that Venezuela has improved (true,) and that scoring 4 goals against them wasn't easy (sure, Diego, anything you say.)

Here's the best video highlights I could find for the game. Don't ask me what language it's in...

I wasn't able to see the Argentina game, but I did watch the USA play in El Salvador. The US team does finally appear to be grasping a concept that I've bitched about at length about them. In this game they did at least try to make passes into space with the receiving player then running onto the ball.

Unfortunately with all the crowd noise they were having trouble communicating, and often times the intended target was unaware that they should be moving until the saw the ball passed. If anyone can relay a message to Bradley and his boys tell 'em they have to work on keeping on their toes. It does no good to be out their flatfooted when the pass is intended for you, or rely on hearing your teammate call your name as the pass is being made. Do you think the crowds in South Africa are going to be quite?

All and all, they did well to come back from a 2-0 defect taken by El Salvador in the first half to end in a 2-2 draw. Keeper Tim Howard had to sit out the game due to accumulation of yellow cards in previous games, which makes one wonder if this game would have ended differently had he been able to play. Guzman, at 24, is still young as a goalie, and may eventually develop into a fine stopper. During this game all he show was that he was adequate.

Here's the goals from the USA's draw at El Salvador... along with far too much post game commentary from the announcers:

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