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Prodigious resources wasted by incompetent narcissists: that’s Argentina. But enough about politics. Let’s talk fútbol.
In the last World Cup, Argentina had one of the more STACKT rosters but were buried under coach Jorge Sampaoli, a clueless diva whose main talent was out-asshole-ing himself.
“Smurfs! I HATE SMURFS!” (traslation mine)
In Russia 2018, Argentina tied Iceland 1-1, a game in which Messi missed a penalty. (Fun Fact! Nobody does penalty debacles like La Albiceleste). Then tournament darlings Croatia destroyed the Args 3-0, and the knives came out. After a mini mutiny, Sampaoli was kept for appearances’ sake and the players did as Messi said. Argentina then defeated Nigeria to go to the knockouts, in a game that reiterated an undeniable truth: alcohol and Percos are a young man’s game.
It was a sloppy and tense match—but Jesus Christ Messi! The poise and coordination are uncanny, even in slow motion:
Then France knocked them outta Russia, and Argentinian fútbol carried on business as usual. Which, for the Argentinian Futbol Association (AFA), means trying to out-clusterfuck themselves.
The most famous and accomplished clubs in Argentina, River Plate and Boca Juniors, made the final of the Copa Libertadores–an unprecedented superclásico. The Libertadores is the continental fútbol tournament among top Latin American clubs, whose name is a direct reference to the liberation wars against Spain.* The 2019 final had to be suspended because of hooliganism. Ultimately, the Liberators’ Cup deciding match was played in–wait for it–SPAIN. That’s Argentina for you: their disdain for order subverts language.
* [sighs] And Portugal. Fuck you, facts, for undermining a trenchant point.
After Sampaoli was fired, the AFA kept a coach from his staff: Lionel Scaloni. A journeyman defenseman who had stints all over Europe, including West Ham, Scaloni was given the interim job as the coach of the adult national team. He arranged several friendlies, called up youngsters, and left out the big names–Messi, Higuaín, Agoo Erer (as he’s called in England)… The results were all wins, with a 1-0 defeat against Brasil in Saudi Arabia, but gauging performance from friendlies is akin to judging looks from Snapchat pics. Though I am worried; the fact that Scaloni was able to arrange games made him overqualified to work at AFA.
The Albiceleste’s squad has hella Names (via 90-min.com, tildes and umlauts mine because SPANISH YOU FEKIN PRECKS):
Goalkeepers: Franco Armani (River Plate), Agustín Marchesín (Club América), Esteban Andrada (Boca Juniors)
Defenders: Nicolás Otamendi (Manchester City), Ramiro Funes Mori (Villarreal), Marcos Acuña (Sporting Lisbon), Nicolás Tagliafico (Ajax), Germán Pezzella (Fiorentina), Renzo Saravia (Racing), Juan Foyth (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Angel Di María (PSG), Roberto Pereyra (Watford), Giovani Lo Celso (Real Betis), Leandro Paredes (PSG), Rodrigo De Paúl (Udinese), Exequiel Palacios (River Plate), Guido Rodríguez (Club América)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Sergio Agüero (Manchester City), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Angel Correa (Atlético Madrid), Lautaro Martínez (Inter), Matías Suárez (River Plate)
Uf. You could make two decent teams outta that squad. Argentina’s Copa group is pretty decent and includes pesky neighbor Qatar. The games are:
June 15 – vs. Colombia
June 19 – vs. Paraguay
June 23 – vs Qatar
The Colombia game is a must-watch. The most exciting 0-0 game I’ve ever seen pitted those two teams in the last Copa América–oh, it got testy. Turning to the important stuff,
|Country||2019 Copa América Odds at Bovada|
Argentina made the final in the last Copa América (in Chile) and in the intramural exhibition named “Copa America Centenario” in the US in 2016. (That event does not deserve the name, much less the tilde.) Chile won both times, in PKs. It was equally funny, and heartbreaking. Yes, the Argies may deserve the reputation as arrogant fucks, but seeing Messi cry is something I can never enjoy.
Finally, I dunno: this Albiceleste squad feels fresh and may just take the whole megillah, even in Brasil. Argentina is currently on a 25-year trophy drought, which spans eight World Cups and 72 Copa Américas. OK I’m exaggerating; six World Cups–didja know there’s another Copa América next year? Oh yes. If only I hadn’t blown my best material in the other 12 previews I’ve done on the Argies. Not that I’m complaining. Argentina will always be a spectacle–of chaos, resignation, and wasted potential. May they always be an inspiration to underachievers everywhere.
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