For the last eight years, Lionel Messi has been in the handful of best players in the world and he will have the most accomplished club career in the history of the sport. Naturally, much of Argentina hates his guts.
Argentinians were satisfied when this Pope was elected (Ché, he’s infallible already by national origin, they said), but they have only one god: Maradona, D10S himself.
One of the best ever and top two in my household, Diego Armando Maradona won Argentina the last of their two World Cups (1986). But aside from Argentinians, the wonderful Scots, and much of Napoli, Maradona is generally known for, umm… Questionable behavior and being a grandiose loudmouth. Messi barely talks, never dives, and for all we know he goes outside only to humiliate the 10 guys out give him shinectomies on the pitch. But no Copas, no World Cups. All his titles are with Barcelona, where’s he’s lived since he was a kid!, say the myriad of flag-waving Argentinian assholes who post shit like this on Taringa!
(Should be ¡Taringa!, but I guess English clicks > ¡Gramática!)
Yeah. What a colossal dick move to Barcelona by the Messi family. And Messi basically dragged Argentina to the 2014 World Cup final they had no business being in—Jesus that decider against Iran.
And, AND Messi brought Argentina to the Copa América Final in 2015 against host Chile. Most of La Pulga’s teammates stood idly while he took a Monty Python rugby beatdown. But nooooo: for too many, Messi has no huevos when it comes to Argentina. Stuff like this is why, for most Latin Americans, “Argentinian asshole” is redundant.
The Selección Argentina is full of players who are world beaters with their European clubs, but don’t make it work for country. Gonzalo Higuaín’s has been particularly erratic; that one-on-one disaster in the 2014 World Cup final comes to mind. Since then, Higuaín set the Serie A goal record for a season this year. Pipita Higuaín also scored a doozy in the scary 1-0 friendly against Honduras, where Messi had to leave because of a back injury. The rest of the squad is loaded:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Mariano Andújar (Estudiantes La Plata, ARG), Nahuel Guzmán (Tigres UANL, MEX), Sergio Romero (Manchester United, ENG).
Romero is their regular goalie. He rides the pine at Manure, but I don’t think anyone could’ve done a better job than Romero for Argentina’s 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa América second places. There’s no shame either in being behind David DeGea and conceding that Mario Götze wonder goal. He has also been pretty solid in the ongoing World Cup Qualifiers.
DEFENDERS (7): Victor Cuesta (Independiente, ARG), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton, ENG), Jonathan Maidana (River Plate, ARG), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate, ARG), Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City, ENG), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United, ENG), Facundo Roncaglia (Fiorentina, ITA)
Not a dud on that list, though Otamendi and Rojo get too much love for what little I’ve seen. Funes Mori is a hothead, which I like, and [TANGENT ALERT] brings to mind Funes The Memorious, the short story of a man who remembered EVERYTHING, and was also “known for certain peculiarities, such as avoiding contact with people and always knowing what time it was, like a clock”. (Full English text here.) That is by Jorge Luis Borges, the staggeringly intelligent and cultured Agentinian author. (Daniel Radcliff agrees.) Ole Jorge Luis was one of the few persons who could say, with complete authority, that “I fancy Freud as an old gossip”. Then again, Borges also hated sex, mass culture and popular passions—so he pretty much shat on fútbol whenever he got riled enough to do so. Borges once held a conference on immortality in Buenos Aires while Argentina played the inaugural game of the 1978 World Cup, played a car ride away. Which seems like the most un-Argentinian thing to do—or the most, if you factor in the “asshole” thing mentioned before.
MIDFIELDERS (7): Éver Banega (Sevilla, ESP), Lucas Biglia (Lazio, ITA), Augusto Fernández (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Matías Kranevitter (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona, ESP), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, ESP), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA)
Former Argentina captain Mascherano (the band is Messi’s now) plays with the same or more abandon for country than in Barcelona. He tore his anus with an ass-saving tackle in the 2014 semis against Holland. Messi also would. The rest may.
FORWARDS (6): Sergio Agüero (Manchester City, ENG), Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli, ITA), Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG), Ángel Di María (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA), Nicolás Gaitán (Benfica, POR), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebeir China Fortune, CHN)
Well this is just a fucking embarrassment of riches on paper. Agüero is doing world class work for City (except in those games he’s nowhere to be found, like against Real Madrid in the Champions League semis). DiMaria’s always lays it out for Argentina, but his status has dipped some after a successful coupla years with Real Madrid. Recently he had a bad spell at Man U but, I’ve read, he’s been solid in the There’s No Way I’m Watching A Ligue 1 Match. Lavezzi was in PSG, but left for the waaaay greener pastures of the Chinese Super League. Off the top of my head, this sums up Lavezzi.
Argentina’s current coach is Tata Martino, who rocks like few civilians the nunnish disapproval look with that haircut and glasses.
Catholic grade-school alumni shudder. Via insidespanishfootball.com
Martino’s main claim to fame was getting talent-poor Paraguay teams to surprising advancement in the 2010 World Cup (quarterfinals) and 2011 Copa America (final) through the bold strategy of making them play as a team that spurns everything that is wonderful about fútbol. Then he had a bad year at Barcelona but resurfaced in the Argentinian league with an impressive outing for a club I’m too lazy to Google. He has been the head coach of Argentina since the 2014 Copa América, and when aggravated he makes even Italians go My, what a drama queen.
Argentina plays the following group games:
• Chile – June 6 (Santa Clara, CA)
• Panamá – June 10 (Chicago, IL)
• Bolivia – June 14 (Seattle, WA)
The Chile game may get dicey, but I expect Argentina to go all out to avenge last year’s Copa América Final. They may cruise in the others—that is, unless they are overconfident and then panic, which has been known to happen. A win by Bolivia or Panamá would provoke Argentina to split in two camps: the tournament was loaded against us, and self-reflection that leads to mass suicide.
I’d say Argentina is the most likely to win the South American Euros. Plus, if Argentina and Uruguay finish in the same position in their respective groups, the River Plate Derby could well be the final. Hopefully: fútbol is at its best when there is bad, bad blood. But even if Messi wins his first Argentina trophy with the senior squad, I’m sure some vocal Argentinians will quibble that this was NOT a real tournament, like with the Olympics 2008 win. So yeah, Messi will never win with far too many hinchas.
On a final TANGENT, if you prefer to watch games with music instead of commentators, another Argentinian genius: Gustavo Cerati. (My wife got me into him.) The frontman of Soda Stereo also kept side projects and then went on to a wonderful solo career. And every song he ever wrote was about, or had, sex. I see you’re skeptical; here are two Soda Stereo album covers:
Soda also did a moody, Pink Floyd-ish awesome MTV Unplugged in 1996 (here ya go). But fucking Dynamo (1992). Christ: what an album. His solo work—OK OK, I’ll stop. Argentina thought fitting to put him on a mail stamp. Not bad for a guy who sang about a macroporno intenso and referred to his dick as “My Prince” in song. Cerati fell in a coma in 2010 after a stroke and died in 2014. He was 55, and most likely in his last hours he was engaged in a semen shootout in his mind. I hope Borges was forced to watch.