Gut full of hate, World Cup edition

Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war goeth the famous literary quote by Shakespeare, with an amendment (and all due apologies) by Kevin:

Cry incompetent, and unleash the dyspeptic dogs of war, gibbering, drooling, accusatory beasts thou art, to take a chunk out of the oh, so deserving backsides of Ruh Roh Dumbenech and Diego Maradumber.

Now, cules everywhere can be in some small part, thankful for the coaching ineptitude of Raymond Domenech and Diego Maradona. After all, once they do the trick and France and Argentina are out of the competition, those pesky international obligations will be over, once and for all, right?


Quite possibly, damn their obstinate hides. It should take something more than garden-variety dim-wittedness to rob the greatest footy tournament in the history of humankind of the singular gifts of Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry, two of the game’s greats. You expect to see an alien abduction, an act of some random deity, something more than “Um….well….the atmosphere is fine among the squad, and where’s my damned Botox?”

Our very own Seydou Keita, in lambasting the haplessness of his national side Mali, summed up the Maradona Complexity:

“The manager doesn’t play the games. Maradona can without a doubt sell papers, but he certainly can’t succeed as a national team manager. He’s not on the pitch.”

And yet, he is. Or at least he thinks that he is. When Argentina meekly rolled over against Paraguay to the tune of 1-0, there is the picture of Maradona, standing there, looking like a breathing wax figure of himself, surrounded by players and staff who don’t want to …. nay, who can’t watch. People have claimed so many things, from simple dim-wittedness to acute cluelessness, and excessive fondness for lads from his home region.

To me, he’s just a bad chef. The reason that I’m banging on this keyboard instead of running a five-star restaurant somewhere is because if you give a top chef and I the same ingredients, he will make magic, I will make something that might be edible. Maradona has amazing ingredients, from the Best Player Alive Right Now, to names such as DiMaria, Riquelme, Veron, Aguero, Mascherano, Tevez. But he doesn’t want to read anyone’s cookbook, preferring to just throw stuff into the pot in the hope that something good will come out.

Is he on the pitch? Maradona believes that inspiration from admittedly, one of the greatest players of all time, will get him over the hump as a coach. He’s forgetting that often, the best players make the worst coaches. The deficiencies of Argentina: organization, set piece defending, attacking structure, are what you work on in practice. Barcelona’s system works not only because it is, to a certain extent, set in stone. But it also works because the players and the coaches understand how it is supposed to work. You can’t just roll the ball out there, throw out a front line of Messi, Aguero and Tevez and say “Yay! We win!.”

Because you still have to play.

A 3-1 shellacking by Brazil? Maradona’s formation was like bringing a gun to a knife fight, and the set piece goals by Brazil were as easy as pie.

Sitting in 5th place right now, one point above a country that has never been to the World Cup, Argentina dangles. They are endangered, with a coach who doesn’t know how what to do next. He has the ingredients for a cake, but only seems to be able to bake tripe.

Which is about the only saving grace of Raymond Domenech, that he doesn’t have the best ingredients. Truth be told, this isn’t the strongest France side ever. But they aren’t in the most difficult group in the world, either. Serbia, Austria, Lithuania, Romania and the Faroe Islands make up their group mates. And still, they sit second place. Why, and what is a coach’s responsibility to have his side ready to roll?

Two crucial matches ended in 1-1 draws. France hasn’t, despite its attacking quality (Ribery, Henry, Gourcuff, Benzema, Anelka, Gignac), scored more than one goal since Les Bleus were Le Bleu. Both matches were winnable, both were hamstrung by coach selection and substitution decisions. Escude isn’t a bad defender, until he gets pressed. Then he flails, starts sticking out limbs and voila, an own goal for a side that wasn’t going to score on its own. Send in Ribery and Benzema without a real plan, because matches can change on a moment of brilliance, right? Is hope really a legitimate strategy?

The next match? A central defensive pairing of our own Eric Abidal, with William Gallas. Abidal is one of the best left wingers in the world. He isn’t anything vaguely approximating a great center back. And yet, there he sits. He and Gallas played a footy version of “apres-vous, mon cher Alphonse,” facilitating the play that became a dive that became a goal. And the rest is history.

Then Domenech pulled the sole attacking force, Thierry Henry, for a gimpy Franck Ribery. The result was inevitable. Where is David Trezeguet, a striker who has been out of favor with Domenech for eons? Valid question. Would he have made better decisions with the ball in both of the instances in which Nicolas Anelka chose no-hope shots from crazy angles? Almost certainly. Instead, the goal in both matches went begging.

Will we ultimately be without Henry and Messi, in what is almost certainly the last major international go-round for the former? Time will tell, but the second-place playoff, a home/away lottery is the sole hope for France right now. Argentina might finish fourth and automatically qualify (top 5 from the group go in). Or they might finish 5th, and have to get in via a playoff. Next matches should be gimmes for both sides, Austria for France, and last-place Peru for Argentina.

I would say that I am confident in the ability of great players to pull out results. Henry almost did against Serbia, scratching, running and clawing, whipping off a snap shot from distance that had the keeper beat, but not the post. Conversely, Messi seemed a bit subdued, as if cognizant of the outcome, and wanting to save himself for a big league match this weekend against Getafe.

And it comes back to coaching, which is about fundamentals: Structured offense, solid defense, an organized attack. So far, France and Argentina evince precious little of either. And unfortunately, both national sides share another trait: Both have federations that have nixed any changes at the head of the spear, leaving the men in charge with resignation as the only option.

They won’t, a situation which has the dire possibility of leaving us footy fans cheated of not seeing two of the world’s greats, whose hearts beat Blaugrana, on the greatest stage.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Well that was weird.
    Thelonius & Spencer I mean. Almost as if they were the same person with a multiple-personality disorder. LOL

  2. Where do you think France has the biggest personnel holes?

    They have some top-class attacking and playmaking people
    (Nasri, Gourcuff, Ribery, Henry, Anelka, Benzema, even Malouda can pull out something or two)
    Though it’s a crime that Trezeguet, Pires and even Giuly went unused by France for so long.

    In the central/defensive midfield they have Diarra, who is decent as a DM. But Toulalan for me is not much more than just competent. Call me crazy, but with the current options I’d like Vieira brought back.

    Sagna at RB is pretty good. They have 3 of the world’s best left backs in Abidal , Evra, and Clichy (maybe they should do something ala Dani Alves&Maicon that Brazil started doing?).

    All that’s left is the CB’s. Gallas has been in agreat run of form for Arsenal. The player accompanying him is the only other hole I have to point out. Escude sucks. Squillaci sucks. IF they can’t make it work with Mexes, who does a great jobs for Roma, then just forget it, all the other CB options for france suck.

    Oh, and there no great french goalkeepers.

    Are they the same squad(ingredient) deficiencies you see?

    (P.S. I would just add that Abou Diaby is starting to show what he can do with Arsenal. Pretty soon he will be a force, and he is very versatile)

    1. I’ve always thought Mexes was quality. There were some Arsenal rumors maybe a year ago that I wished had worked out.

      And Diaby MIGHT get into the squad one day if he can keep his focus for 90 minutes and not put the ball in his own net. But that is not my biggest problem with Diaby…his HUGELY noticeable problem is that he is really hesitant to pass and generally doesn’t make, or even attempt, difficult passes. If he really was Vieira, he could conceivably get away with this, but he likes to attack so much more that it hurts him. He has certainly improved and he is certainly improving still(let’s wait for the next injury), but I don’t see him playing at the international level at anything more than a utilitarian capacity. If Toulalan is adequate, so is Diaby.

      And last I checked, Pires was, like, the man? The ageless wonder? I don’t watch internationals until the major summer competitions (except USA), so I was surprised to hear that he hasn’t played for France for some time.

    2. Trezeguet is awesome. I’ve always really liked him as a striker. Domenech is an idiot for not using him.

      Never liked Malouda or Anelka. I think they are Mediocre.

      Then again… i don’t like the French national team. Never have.

  3. Ooo……

    So in UEFA only the 1st place goes through directly. And the 8 best second placed teams have to play an extra “repechaje” game.


    Portugal sit in 3rd, 3 points behind Sweeden!!!

    How sweet would it be for the world cup to be Cronaldo free!!! OMG, i am TOO excited right now…

    man i would love it.

    Mexico will definitely win 2014, but if Portugal, Argentina and France are out, we could win 2010 too.

  4. In the end, only Portugal will miss out, IMHO.

    Argentina play Peru at home (likely 3 points) and their contenders are either playing each other, or playing the top teams. If you look at it, Argentina has a great chance… if they were playing at even half their potential. But even limp they have a decent shot.

    France is in second and will get one of the lower ranked UEFA sides (of the ones that got second place) at the playoffs. They are in danger if they keep their current form, but even playing like this, it’s 50/50 for them. Really, it comes down to who they draw: it could be Norway, who just got 10 points from 8 matches, or… it could be Sweden.

  5. Woah there ElShow, is that sarcasm or are you for real about Mexico? I mean, I’m excited at the prospect of eventually having JDS in the midfield (crosses fingers), but the team perpetually suffers from inconsistency. They can bring it against good teams and then go all woeful with crap teams.

    Even if Argentina make it, I expect the contenders to include Spain and Brazil. England will choke.

    1. JAJA… it’s neither.

      I unfortunately am a Mexico fan.

      I was 100% kidding about winning 2010.

      There is a missing generation of players in between the time of Blanco, Pardo, O. Sanchez, Borghetti, Luiz El Matador Hernandez, Ramnocito Morales and the new Generation.

      Partly the player’s fault, for peaking and dissapearing, partly the club’s fault for not allowing their stars to go to Europe. This generation will be remembered for Potential and Promise, but it never materialized

      Daniel Osorno, Omar Bravo, Francisco ‘el kikin’ Fonseca, Jaime Lozano, Gonzalo Pineda, Luis Ernesto Perez, Fernando Arce, El Maza Rodriguez, El Gringo Castro. I’m missing SO many more. but these were the people that were supposed to have been at the peak of their careers in between the last WC and right now. But they are no where now. We just don’t have players with lasting careers anymore. A lot of those people were Europe-worthy, but they can’t seem to sustain a high level of football.

      I really think Guillermo Ochoa, Nery Castillo, and Andres Guardado could end up in the list if they don’t play their cards right. Ochoa needed to leave to Europe 2 year ago!, Nery needs to find regular minutes. He is talented as all hell, but his temperament is just ridiculous. and Guardado is barely getting back to the form that made him a house-hold name.

      Who knows about 2014.

      By then Gio should (hopefully) be Mexico’s star, leader, and maybe captain. Vela will be a world-class feared Striker, and we have Cesar Villaluz, Pablo Barrera, “Pato” Araujo, Efrain Juarez, Hector Moreno, El Hobit, and many more kids comming up, that are supposed to (hopefully) reach their potential. And lord willing, Jonathan will Xavi2.0 by then, because that is what Mexico so desperately needs. A non-defensive center mid. One that can keep play moving, and that can conduce play. Right now Gio does it because he is the most qualified to do it, but that is by no means his natural position.

      I would also love a coach that doesn’t use two Def. Mids.

      Ok, i know that i am now making it obvious that i am a spoiled Barca-fan, but Barcelona gets by with just one defensive mid, and has attacking fullbacks.

      Under Eriksson, we were using two DMs, and two defensive fullbacks! our formation was basically 6-0-4, and we couldn’t build to save our lives.

      Under Aguirre, we now employ Attacking fullbacks (Efrain Juarez and Salcido), and a more attacking defensive mid with a great longshot (Castro), and we have Gio hitting great form to remedy our creative deficiency.

      I think this comment has become long enough, so i’ll end it there.

    2. Even a sight improvement in personnel would do Mexico wonders. We gave Argentina a tough game in 2006, didn’t we? But I think our best chance was in 2002, know how that ended.

      With players like JDS, Gio, and Vela (and many others) all coming up, it does seem like 2014 is going to be a great year for Mexicans in the WC.

    3. I would say that of your list (Daniel Osorno, Omar Bravo, Francisco ‘el kikin’ Fonseca, Jaime Lozano, Gonzalo Pineda, Luis Ernesto Perez, Fernando Arce, El Maza Rodriguez, El Gringo Castro) there’s not a single one that isn’t massively overrated by El Tri fans. Seriously. I lived in Mexico during the ’06 WC and everyone there thought they were capable of winning the whole thing. They weren’t. Not even close. Yeah, they gave Argentina a game, but that’s like saying the US is a potential 2010 winner because we beat Spain and gave Brazil a game in the final of the ConfedCup. Yeah, right.

      Mexico is good, of course, but they’re consistently overrated by their fans. I’m sure American fans overrate our team as well (especially after that Spain game), but I found an almost willful attempt to ignore the realities by Mexican fans. They’re all “We can totally win the World Cup!” and in, in a sense, they’re right, but it would have be the most glorious and luckiest run in history. My thinking is basically because there are no superstar players for Mexico. Rafa is the most superstarry of the Mexican players, but otherwise, name me one (just one) game-changer a la Leo Messi. You can’t because there aren’t any.

      Guardado and Gio are obviously talented (though I think Guardado is overrated and Gio is too inconsistent), but they’re young and aren’t capable of carrying the entire team all the way through a tournament. Javier Aguirre has them back to where they should be (contending for top spot in the qualifiers), but the WC is a totally different animal than the Gold Cup or the CONCACAF qualifiers. Obviously.

      I just think that Mexico is overrated. We’ll see, of course. They’re better than the US, most of the time, but because of overblown expectations, they fail dramatically and constantly on the big stage. See Argentina over the last few WCs, especially 2002, for more examples of that. They do well in the Copa America, but never win it because they end up playing a Big Boy (Argentina, Brazil) who decides to finally play their starters and guess what, they win. Mexico always plays their best players in tournaments that other teams don’t play theirs in (Gold Cup this year, Copa America always) and when they do well they’re all “Look at us we can compete with anyone”…not true.

    4. My family is from Mexico, so I always cheered for them in tournaments and in the WC, but I’ve been trying to quit them. They frustrate me! There are some quality players, but I don’t see them getting that far in the WC. I would love it if they did, but I won’t get my hopes up.

      I’m not holding my breath for Nery to regain his form. His attitude is stank, which is evidenced from his apparent hero worship of Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Gross.

      I’m pretty sure that Mexico will be in South Africa this next year, but I don’t think they’ll go very far. I hope that in 2014 there’s a better, more cohesive and consistent team.

      Until then I’ll be cheering for Spain, since their midfield is Barça’s midfield.

    5. I remember sitting in front of a TV in Mexico watching Hugo Sanchez get his ass handed to him during Olympic Qualifiers. Now HE was a horrible coach ala Dumbenech and Maradonna.

    6. And oh yeah, i think Spain are the clear favorites to win, with Brazil a close second.

      England are promising, but don’t have the creativity, nor a system in place yet, plus i don’t like them.

      Italy suck, but when has that ever stopped them from succeeding before right? 🙂 … i hate Italian footy.

      Germany are always contenders, although i don’t see them touching Spain or Brazil.

      for some surprisingly good performances I’m throwing in Holland, Mexico, Ghana, and Ivory Coast.

      Holland has more world class Attackers than any team in the world. Nit-pickers will be quick to point out that they have no defense, and the team is inconsistent. I actually see the large number or world class attackers as a problem as the high rotation stops anyone from gaining rhythm. Not to mention the dutch tend to have fragile feet. They WILL also struggle against physical teams.

      Mexcio because i am a fan, and if i didn’t believe they had a shot than i wouldn’t be a fan would I? Mexico will easily qualify as the number 2 in the group stage, and when they get eliminated they it will be an entertaining dogfight of a game.

      Ghana and Ivory Coast have not only very physical players, but have some very good footy players in their ranks as well. Essien, Muntari, Appiah, and Assamoa for Ghana. Toure, Toure, Eboue, Drogba, Romaric, Zokora for I.C. They won’t win it, but i expect them to make some noise.

  6. article on soccernet about R80. the last sentence is brutal, but also made me guffaw a bit.


    1. poor rony. leave him alone!!!! :^) he never came back after flopping in the world cup. oh well.

      i do hope that spalleti takes over @ milan though.

    2. Woah, Fuck that Kxevin Palmer guy.

      He has no professionalism. They get Ronaldinho to take time away from his life to get an interview and then he says that WTF?

      He is not writing in his journal, or on an internet blog (no offense Kxevin and Isaiah). He is writing for ESPN.

      People go their for News, Statistics, Calendars, and whenever opinion comes into play, it should be on tactics, a team’s prospects, things like that, not bad mouthing a Player.

      I’m not saying they need to kiss every athlete’s ass, but come on, as the old saying goes, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it”. And if you absolutely need to get it out, their is a time and place for that. And that place to IS NOT in an ESPN article, especially one that where his opinion was not solicited. It’s an interview/ news piece. Just write the quotes, and use some current events to contextualize them. Jackass.

      Ronnie is gonna show them this year. Milan for the Scudetto!

    3. so… the Author of that article is “Kevin Palmer” … my fingers are just trained to type an “x” when typing the name “Kevin” …

      sorry for the typo in my above comment Kvev 😉

    4. he didn’t say anything wrong… Ronnie cuts a very sorry figure at milan. Love him to bits but he’s lost his way completely. If he really wanted it that bad, he would have lost all that weight to start off with. All he does is saunter around the pitch (watched the inter-milan game)and make a few easy short passes that even obi mikel makes in his sleep. That’s the Ronaldinho Barca know of. But then again Rijkaard tweaked our system perfectly to fit him in. He didn’t do any defensive work while he was here. I remember Rijkaard moving him to play up front when they played Milan in the UCL 2006 so that eto could do the defensive “dirty” work to cover the marauding Cafu who was brought on.

      He did wonderful things while he was here. No doubt about it. Wasn’t ever my favourite though.

  7. Maradona isn’t just cutting it. I think i’m not alone when i say that it would have been fine if they were losing but you could see a semblance of a system in place that he was trying to adopt.

    People asked questions of Pep after his first two la liga games last year. But when you watched those first two games I could tell that something really really big was brewing…(who am i kidding.. I had no clue!)However once pep and the team tweaked the systematic chaos, we all had a glorious year. That’s what Maradona and Domenech are struggling to find but they have no basis upon which their team can do anything worthwhile.

    I guess we’re just terribly blessed to be Barca supporters who follow a team boasting(in our own humble way) of a footballing philosophy that every other team in the world would kill for

  8. barca getafe being aired on goltv this saturday?


  9. Dumbenech has been with FRANCE for A WHILE….since July 04. Five years should be plenty of time to establish a system as a coach. Some people may say OH, he no longer has Zidane or Thuram, but retirements are always affecting national sides as they play much less than club teams. If you can’t deal with that then you should not be a national coach. Besides, France has many stars from which to choose, yet he avoids players such as Trezeguet while he bullied Makelele, forcing him to play even after he retired from international play. What is at the heart of this matter is that Dumbenech is F’n CRAZY. For one, he avoids playing Scorpio players because he does not trust them. Two, selections such as Chimbonda, Fabian Barthez (06 World Cup) Escude, Abidal (As a CB???) and possibly Gignac can compare to Maradonna’s madness. Third, he gave a marriage proposal at a press conference right after being destroyed in Euro 08….hmm all this and he is supposedly of Spanish and Catalan descent?? Not sure on that one though

  10. Why is Efrain Juarez allowed to leave from our club? I don’t know any thing about him… But for using them as reference, I know they suck) selected him in the team of internationals after first round of world cup qualifiers this week & ElShowDeJason seems to have a very high regard for the player

    1. Efrain Juarez came from Pumas UNAM’s cantera, and in 2006 after winning the U-17 WC with Gio and Vela, was picked up by Barcelona. He played a while for Barcelona B, but they decided he didn’t have what it took, so naturally he Signed for Pumas UNAM’s senior team, where he currently plays.

  11. I have a deep feeling (and I will recall this post in June/July 2010) that IF Maradona can put his team through to the World Cup, they will do better than they have done the last three tournaments, i.e. Argentina will at least reach the semi-finals if Maradona gets them to the World Cup.

    He’s gone through hell. He’ll have six months of friendlies to regroup with his coaching team/players and develop a real plan. He’ll make it work, because, if he stays on, he has to make it work. Maradona dreamed for all those years not of leading Argentina to the World Cup finals. He was dreaming, imagining, planning to get Argentina to win the World Cup finals.

    Disclaimer: if this doesn’t happen, forget I ever posted this, lol.

    1. Haha, I’ve never read such a positive comment about Maradona since the 1-6 loss in Bolivia 🙂
      You must be a real Maradona-fan, right? Because an objective person could not be so optimistic.

  12. Toulalan is only french player who delivers quality.Once the team clicks his performance will be praised…
    I see the semis of the world cup consisting of :

    A final of Holland-Spain would be awesome! I think Holland is going to win the WC….

    1. My money’s on Holland too! was waiting for a Holland v Spain final at Euro 2008. Pity they lost out to Russia. They were easily on par with Spain if not better during the group stages! The counter attacks against Italy were breathtaking!

    2. I’ve learned by experience not to put much hope in Holland securing a cup, I just enjoy the beautiful football, and pretend that losing with style is better than winning playing like Italy.
      I guess it is a way to save myself from more heartbreaks.

    3. Im a big fan of the Dutch national team, and listed them as ones who could surprise in the WC, but do not forget, they are literaly the Atletico Madrid of the national stage.

      1. They are Inconsistant
      2. They have self destructive tendencies.
      3. Great attack, but no defense.

    4. Sorry eklavya but against Serbia, Toulalan was giving balls away like Pere Noel.

      I just don’t believe that Dumbenech is that bright. Zidane bailed him out last go-round with a masterful tournament. Henry tried the other night, but came up short. The look on his face was scary intense.

  13. Guys I hear you talking about France and Argentina.but our very own(South Africa) Carlos Santana pulled a line-up of 5 diffenders(3 centre backs) + 2 diffensive midfielders + 1 attacking midfielder + 2 strikers,a 5-3-2, against Germany in a friendly.I mean why be so defensive in a friendly.i swear if it wasnt for the performance against spain in the confederations cup he wud have bn out bcos of his defensive approach.

  14. Looks like Messi will be rested against Getafe. Also, a user over at has a most excellent nickname for Iniesta, I must admit:

    Mini Vampire.

  15. goltv website shows they are televising the barca getafe match tomorrow. hopefully we’ll get some rayhud

  16. Please remove Veron from the list of the best (Argentine) players alive right now. He might have belonged there some 4 or 6 years ago!

    And let’s not forget about CR94, Bosingwa, Deco, Raul Meireles, Nani and Carvalho who might also sit out the WC Finals.

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