Argentina vs Brazil Preview/Game Post

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Does this have anything to do with Barcelona? Besides Messi and Alves possibly being on the pitch at the same time? NO.

Are international breaks boring unless you also happen to be a rabid American college football fan and the season starts today although you still feel emptiness inside due to not watching Barca for a weekend (that’s me by the way)? Yes.

As such, we decided that maybe an Argentina-Brazil preview/game post would be in order if only to help us past the time with no Barca on TV. So, here you go.

As South Africa 2010 gets closer and closer, the blood soaked grinder that is CONMEBOL gauntlet, hands down the toughest group in the world, finds Argentina in real danger of not qualifying. Here’s the table right now.

  1. Brazil: 27 pts
  2. Chile: 26 pt
  3. Paraguay: 24 pts
  4. Argentina: 22 pts
  5. Ecuador: 20 pts
  6. Uruguay: 18 pts
  7. Colombia: 17 pts
  8. Venezuela: 17 pts
  9. Bolivia: 12 pts
  10. Peru: 7 pts

If that’s not a tough group then I don’t know what is. The first four qualify for the WC automatically while the fifth place team plays the fourth place team from CONCACAF in a playoff for the right to go to South Africa. Looking at this table you can see why Argentina is genuinely nervous about qualifying. They cannot afford to drop points right now. Especially considering that next week they have to fly out to face a very dangerous Paraguay team at their place.

However, what makes this interesting is the rivalry between the two nations. Sure, Mexico vs. the US has increased since the 90’s but this one has been going on for much longer. It has evolved in cycles. Argentina had the upper hand from 1986 (the year of the Diego) all the way to 1993 in terms of titles. However, it is interesting to note that during this time the Maradona teams only beat Brazil once in six games. Nonetheless it was to eliminate them in the ¼ finals of the 1990 WC. Making it one of the sweetest victory in Argentina’s history and one of the bitterest for Brazil. Here’s the Brazil broadcast’s version of the 1-0 goal resulting from Maradona’s pass that won it for the Argy’s.

After that, since 1994 it has pretty much been all Brazil, winning two World Cups and making the final of the third as well as beating Argentina in two Copa America finals and a Confederations Cup final. Argentina hasn’t beat Brazil since 2005 when this happened:

Damn. I miss Crespo. Now, let’s look at the two teams:

Brazil
• WC Quals Record: 7 wins, 6 draws, and 1 loss.

• Goal Difference: +19 (26 for-6 against)

• Squad:

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Victor (Gremio)
Defenders: Andre Santos (Fenerbahce), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Inter Milan), Filipe (Deportivo La Coruna), Lucio (Inter Milan), Luisao (Benfica), Miranda (Sao Paulo), Juan (AS Roma)
Midfielders: Elano (Galatasaray), Felipe Melo (Juventus), Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos), Sandro (Internacional), Ramires (Benfica), Julio Baptista (AS Roma), Kaka (Real Madrid), Lucas (Liverpool)
Forwards: Luis Fabiano (Sevilla), Nilmar (Villarreal), Robinho (Manchester City), Adriano (Flamengo)

My stance on Dunga is well known. I hate his guts. Not just because I am an Argentina fan but because of what he has done to Brazil’s beautiful football. At first glance it appears he’s done a great job. First on the table, a Confed Cup win, and a +19 goal difference? What else do you want? Well, I want beautiful football and so do a lot of Brasileros. The goal difference is deceiving because of the number of draws they’ve had. They’ve had a lot of very close games with a few “goleadas” spread in between. The key is always that they hardly concede. Their draws are usually of the 0-0 or 1-1 variety. Only six goals in 14 games is remarkable.
Dunga has built this team around Kaka. In theory he plays a 4-2-3-1 but in reality its more like a classic Milan style 4-3-2-1. They live off the counterattack and are their deadliest in space. Kaka and Robinho are two of the deadliest players in the world when given room to run in the open field. They feature three workhorses in the midfield: Gilberto Silva, Ramires, and Melo. Silva is a pure D-Mid while Melo and Ramires are tall, strong, and fast box to box midfielders. Their job is to break up play and give the ball to Kaka. Since they have three withdrawn central midfielders they count a lot on their fullbacks to spread the field. Maicon and Andre Santos/Dani Alves are the preferred starters. They are very prone to bomb forward and sometimes leave space open on the wings. In the “hole” we have Kaka cutting in from left to right and Robinho from right to left while Luis Fabiano plays the 9. Everything goes through Kaka so expect Mascherano to get at least one yellow card and kick him often. Also, Brazil is exceptional at set pieces with so many big tall physical players; not to mention so many good free kick takers (it is Brazil after all).

The key for them is to score first because once they do, they can stay back and play their counterattacking game. If Argentina scores first then we might actually see an interesting game. Consider them prohibitive favorites though.

Argentina

• WC Quals Record: 6 wins, 4 draw, and 4 losses.

• Goal Difference: +4 (19 for-15 against)

• Squad:

Goalkeepers: Juan Pablo Carrizo (Zaragoza), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar)
Defenders: Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan), Nicolas Pareja (Espanyol), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle), Gabriel Heinze (Marseille), Sebastian Dominguez, Emiliano Papa, Nicolas Otamendi (all Velez Sarsfield), Rolando Schiavi (Newell’s Old Boys);
Midfielders: Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Maxi Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Jesus Datolo (Napoli), Juan Sebastian Veron and Rodrigo Brana (Estudiantes), Mario Bolatti (Huracan), Sebastian Battaglia (Boca Juniors)
Forwards: Carlos Tevez (Manchester City), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Lisandro Lopez (Lyon), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli), Eduardo Salvio (Lanus), Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors).

Argentina has not had a good qualifying campaign at all. They are no longer this team:

Ex coach Afilo Basile was fired halfway through and surprisingly replaced by Diego Maradona. It is pretty much a consensus that el Diego is over his head. A great motivator (if you are Argentinean and GOD tells you to do something then you will give your life to do it) but a shitty tactician, his choice also resulted in the team’s center of attention, Juan Roman Riquelme resigning from la Seleccion. The team is now built around our very own Leo Messi but they still have not found the way to optimize his presence. Two friendly wins against France and Scotland and a rout against Venezuela gave way to a nightmare run of results. A massacre in Bolivia, a 1-0 win against Colombia, and a 2-0 loss against Ecuador has put Argentina between a rock and a hard place.

The team is not as good as some people make it seem in terms of talent. Part of it is Maradona’s fault. When you call up the likes of Gabriel Heinze and Newcastle’s own Jonas Gutierrez instead of Lazio’s Zarate or Real Madrid’s Higuain then you know something is woefully wrong. The other part is that a significant part of a generation that should right now be in its prime is missing for various reasons ranging from injury (Aimar) to flopping (Saviola and D’Alessandro) or resigning (Riquelme). Instead, Argentina has a lot of young talents with a bunch of old guys interspersed with a few players in their primes. How they play depends on the mad whims of el Diego. They’ve done everything from a 4-4-2 to a mad 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3. None of them have been particularly effective.

For the purposes of this game it looks like a 4-4-2 with a backline of Otamendi (good talent) and Dominguez (the pride of Velez-Sarsfield) at CB; with Zanetti and Heinze (WTF!?!?) at FB, Mascherano and Veron at center midfield, Maxi Rodriguez and Jesus Datolo as wingers, and Messi and Tevez up front. I honestly have no idea what they will do. Diego is so bat shit crazy that I just don’t know. Datolo is a real winger and a very underrated player IMO (certainly better than Gutierrez). Maxi is not a real winger and more of a volante or flank midfielder. Look for Maicon and Robinho to have a party against him and Heinze on the left. I like Veron next to Mascherano. That’s a good balance. What I don’t like is Tevez and Messi. The latter needs a real #9 to play off of and that’s Milito but apparently he is on Diego’s bad side.

Argentina claims they want to be offensive and attack but I think that’s also exactly what Brazil wants. They are underdogs in my opinion. That said, Argentina has a hell of a tough crowd. They have NEVER lost a home game for world cup qualifiers. Messi has a world of pressure on him but I think he can thrive off of it. He’s 22 years old and the hopes and dreams of his nation are on his shoulders. No pressure, right? A few days ago, Argentina played a third division side in a practice match… Messi scored 5 goals. He really wants this game. It won’t surprise me to see him man marked. Dunga has done it before using Anderson (Olympics) and Melo (WC quals). They will also kick him every chance they get. Say a prayer for our Argy Bargy because Brazil always plays him tough. The last game they played (a 0-0 draw) went like this for Messi:

If Argentina scores first then they have a chance. As far as I’m concerned they are the soccer national team version of the Cleveland Cavaliers offense (NBA reference). Its “give the ball to Messi and get out of the way ”. I’m not sure that’s enough to win against a pragmatic and effective Brazil side. We’ll see.

Prediction: Brazil 2 Argentina 2

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Written by:

A diehard culé since the Rivaldo/Figo Judas days, I am also a rabid Argentina and Boca Juniors fan despite definitely not being Argentine. Read more articles by me by clicking on the name-link.

246 Comments

  1. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    I do live in mars, utah mars

  2. September 5, 2009

    http://www.canchallena.com/1171386

    …and so it begins. Its all Messi’s fault. The better Messi performs for Barca the more he will be criticized in Argentina for “not feeling the flag”. Give him a Xavi or an Iniesta to get him the ball in good positions and take advantage of his runs and you’ll see how he improves. What the hell is he supposed to do?

  3. OhYes
    September 5, 2009

    Yeah that’s how it is over there. This is just pathetic. Can’t believe Messi is gonna feel the brunt of the Arg fans’ and/or media’s reaction.

  4. Jose
    September 5, 2009

    Luna I have the EXACT same problem: I live in Utah and don’t get Telemundo.

    Bizzare.

  5. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    Utah=Mars, Lol!

  6. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    you don’t get more mars than utah. oh my. sorry i brought that up.

    ha! back to mexico. why isn’t guardado on instead of washed up ass cuauhtémoc. i mean he’s doing/done well today on the pitch…but that guy should have been put out to pasture a while ago.

  7. jordi
    September 5, 2009

    Aint that rich. One of the comments on the articles on that site called him “Me$$i”.

  8. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    I have a soft spot for Cuau, but the way guardado has played in Spain, he should be in, but G suffers the Mexican complex at times-kick ass on club, choke on national.

    Utah ain’t that bad…if you like outdoors stuff

  9. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    i know i know…i’ve got peeps in utah. see i shouldn’t have brought it up 🙂

    gio & vela won the u-17 i think? they don’t quite fit that complex. if anything dos santos is the opposite. flop at his club & hero for the national team.

  10. September 5, 2009

    I don’t read Spanish, but as a Pakistani, I think I know what’s going to happen, from experience. With our media, whenever we lost at cricket, the media doesn’t blame the people who actually deserve it, but the biggest names and the easiest targets. They’ll go after the captain (even if he’s the only one performing) just so they can sell their trashy
    “journalism”.

    I’m pretty sure that’s how Latin American culture is with football.

  11. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    GOLLLLLLLLL

  12. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    Fuck Giovanni is looking so good. You’re right txiki, Gio and Vela are a new breed!

  13. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    gio to franco. golazo!!!!!! azo azo azo!!!!

    franco have a club yet?

  14. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    I think there’s a hang up, he’s trying to get back to Argentina but the federacion doesn’t want to let him, at least last I heard

  15. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    sabah on the bench? injured? awol?

  16. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    I think, not sure, Aguirre chose Franco over Sabah

  17. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    gio to guardado!

  18. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    OMG GIO!!!!!!!!!!! and Guardado

  19. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    costa ricans filing out the stadium. maybe we won’t have to play argentina to qualify.

  20. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    Do not want to face Argentina!

  21. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    ok sabah on

  22. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    nery castillo on. he still play for man city? what he injure his shoulder @ manchester & then never play again? great goal against brazil a while back but after watching him play the u.s. he seems like a total dick head.

  23. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    he went to Shakhtar and he was loaned out to another Ukrainian team. Don’t care much for him myself

  24. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    obligatory to rock my long sleeve mexico goal keeper jersey tonight.

  25. Luna
    September 5, 2009

    yup yup! streams out on my end! Till the next match txiki!

  26. txikidracula
    September 5, 2009

    peace & chicken grease!

  27. jordi
    September 6, 2009

    BS.com rated Messi at 5.5 but Veron at 6.5. Right.

  28. Pyro
    September 6, 2009

    Poor Argentina, they got owned in every aspect. In my opinion Datolo was the only one showing some promise out there.

  29. Ramzi
    September 6, 2009

    Anyone watched Argentina-Brazil training session? Maradona made a smart move by putting each of his player in the wrong position and role so they understand how their teammates in that role think and feel.

    When will they play?

  30. Jose
    September 6, 2009

    Ramzi, from what I understand, the next time Argentina might play Brazil is Copa America 2011.

  31. Jnice
    September 6, 2009

    I downloaded the Ivory Coast-Burkina Faso match, and Yaya’s play was ridiculous. He had a goal and two assists and was strolling throughout the match. When he has more offensive responsibility, these things happen. He is disgusting.

  32. eklavya
    September 6, 2009

    WTF David Villa has missed 3 penalties now with spain…one after the other what the hell?

  33. khairallah
    September 6, 2009

    The net is so full of shit, people are already out there spreading crap about it being Messi’s fault, because you know, it isnt enough that he ran through 5 brasilians twice or 3 times, he has to do more, he still has to go through the other 6 and score all by himself. Bullshit

  34. khairallah
    September 6, 2009

    and Yeah, Veron was absolutely amazing :S, a 36 year old AM always is..
    Brasil’s style of play has become disgusting with Dunga lately, they’re winning much, but not quite the reputation Brasil have.

  35. Helge
    September 6, 2009

    Damn, this is so ridiculous…

    What’s Messi supposed to do? Do they think Maradona would do better in this side AND with this coach?

    In an article on goal.com, Maradona says that this loss will make him work even harder, but he also admits it will be complicated to qualify. Unfortunately, he doesn’t think about retiring 🙁
    Will it make him work ever harder, just like the loss against Bolivia? Which was shortly followed by a match in Ecuador which contained the same errors? This guy never learns anything… he is the worst coach I’ve ever seen coaching a great football nation.
    And even if Argentina wins in Paraguay on Wednesday, it doesn’t make any differece for their World Cup ambitions. With Maradona and without players like Higuain, Cambiasso, Riquelme, Lucho Gonzales, Lisandro Lopez etc. their chances of winning it are 0.5 % .

  36. Muhammad
    September 6, 2009

    I wonder how this Dunga’s team is regarded in Brazil.
    I mean, if the Brazilians didn’t really like the philosophy of Parriera in 94, they must be vomiting every time they watch this version of their national team.
    good news Messi isn’t injured, as I read in skysports that Sneider’s foot is badly injured. he actually heard it getting broken!

  37. Helge
    September 6, 2009

    Well, about Sneijder: I’ve heard that it isn’t that bad. He probably has a stretched ligament only. But he should miss the CL clash anyway.

    As far as I know, Dunga has been anything but popular in Brazil because of his disciplined, rather unspectacular way of playing football. But since they won the Confed Cup, I haven’t heard much about it anymore. The end justifies the means…

  38. fcbfan
    September 6, 2009

    yeah now some of the arg fans are saying Messi is overrated.. and apparently, before the game Maradona showed the players some video to motivate them, just like he did before another game that they lost, Bolivia? Ecuador?

    At the moment, Messi and thong boy may not make it to wc. wow.

  39. Helge
    September 6, 2009

    Not to forget France, fcbfan.

    I’m not devastated if Portugal fails, but a World Cup without France and Argentina would suck!

  40. fcbfan
    September 6, 2009

    Yes Helge, forgot France, another clueless coach.

    No Sneijder for cl? mmmm

  41. Helge
    September 6, 2009

    It’s not confirmed yet, fcbfan. But usually such a injury takes 2-3 weeks to be cured.

  42. Jose
    September 6, 2009

    From what I understand, most Brazilians are fine with the state of play. The complaint the last few years has been the disconnect between the fans and the players, as most of them now play in Europe and not Brazil. At least that’s what the WCB Brazil blogger says.

    I would also consider that Dunga plays with what he has. The past ten years or so, there’s been an emphasis in Brazilian players to bulk up and be able to physically compete with European players. This change in emphasis has made the Brazilian player much more marketable, which is why Brazil has become the world’s biggest exporter of football talent.

    In that sense, being a national team coach is different than being a club coach. You can’t procure transfers, you see what you have and you design the best, most efficient system to win with that. Dunga has always had an affinity for that style of play, of course, but maybe he’s honestly felt that Brazil’s best shot at winning is playing like this. And you can’t damn well say it isn’t effective. Brazil isn’t scraping by with 1-0 wins, or playing for penalties. Their deadliness on set pieces and counter attack is unparalleled–even in club sides, I would say.

    Then again, maybe I’m just being a Dunga apologist.

  43. OhYes
    September 6, 2009

    “as his spectacular runs were nowhere to be seen.”

    Good fucking god! He made a handful!

    I hope he retires along with Riquelme. He doesn’t deserve this BS.

  44. pulpo
    September 6, 2009

    You know with all that has happening with Argentina, the ones I really feel sorry for are the players. Maradona, with his status and PR tactics is an unprecendented motivator. He has got the players so hyped up (esp Messi) that it hurts even more that they can’t perform. And lets not forget, the performances arent due to lack of heart- they have too much heart- there tactical cohension and concentration isnt there. Maradona is stupid, plain and simple. Stupid for not understanding that at this level you can’t will yourself to victory(maybe he could 20 years ago). You need a successful tactical plan. Whats all this crap I hear about him asking for prayers. You make your own fortune, sort out the tactics and only then when all else fails do you resort to divinity.

    Ok rant over!
    BTW how do you guys think Argentina shold play. They play 3 up front with messi slightly behind, but its all so narrow. I dont know why Maradona didnt see this.

  45. Helge
    September 6, 2009

    I’m excited how deadly Dunga’s Brazil works when they face opponents such as England or Spain, my personal other 2 favourites for the title next year.

  46. Alexinho
    September 6, 2009

    “Each coach, the Brazilian and the Argentine, played for his country 91 times, but what God gave Maradona — gifts bordering on soccer genius — he did not hand to Dunga.

    The Brazilian had to sweat, to think about his game. Maradona did what came from his soul — beautifully.”

    -Rob Hughes, NY Times

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