After they had accustomed themselves at Rome to the spectacles of the slaughter of animals, they proceeded to those of the slaughter of men, to the gladiators. – Of Cruelty
Argentina’s glorious procession over the strewn cadavers of CONCACAF contingents continues apace. Haiti, Panama, Jamaica and Costa Rica have all felt their wrath, all been put to the sword by rippling-muscled, rampaging Homebase squads and tonight was no exception as the blood bayed for from the celeste y blanco bedecked Monumental coursed warmly, thickly and sweetly. Canada was the heifer to be led a mysterious priest, lowing at the skies with all her silken flanks with garlands drest, to be slaughtered on the green altar of the Monumental. Argentina beat them up good and sent them packing, Argentina destroyed them, 5-0 carajo! Aguante Argentina la concha de tu madre!
Yes, the Bicentennial celebrations and the doling out of the tickets to activists sympathetic to la Presidenta meant that the atmosphere was positively anthropophagous. To this end the organisers’ decision to put out the soprano, and dinger, Katherine Jenkins to sing the Canadian national anthem was inspired: if not quite quell the masses’ murderous desire, she did at least manage to distract them long enough not to boo. And soon they were singing their little hearts out as pegamequemegusta heard the Argentine national anthem for, easily, the 40th time this weekend (an underrated one actually). This time the honours went to Ciro Martínez, who gave an unconventional rendition on the harmonicay:
The nation’s pulse, groggy now after three days of unexpurgated partying, throbbed back into life as the game got under way. Though Messi was out after a knock on the knee with Mascherano in training on Friday afternoon, Tevez, making a rare start, lined up with Higuaín, Di María, Pastore and Maxi Rodriguez. ‘Olé, Olé, Olé, Diegoooo, Diegooo’, the horded masses were singing down at the Obelisco on 9 de julio. Before long the missus and the mother-in-law were screaming with pleasure and castigating nonplussed dogs, cats and gringo dogs for not displaying the requisite enthusiasm that such an illustrious occasion demanded. “You don’t know what it’s like to be Argentine!” Quite.
Yet soon an anxious note crept into their warblings. More than 20 minutes had gone by and Argentina had not scored. Canchallena’s breathless minute by minute could only point to a corner each, good play in the box and Argentina’s ‘probing’ for an opener. The Canadians were up for it! Too up for it, in fact: there was a nasty two-footed foul on Tevez from behind which wouldn’t have looked out of place in an Argieball game. And when Pastore broke down the left wing and tore towards the box like the ‘thunder bolt’ Caniggia, Maradona went streaming down the touchline in a manner reminiscent of his seal-dance in the transplendent triumph over Peru to protest that Pastore had been pulled down in the box. The Monumental was alight and the referee booed roundly as a free kick was indicated. Yet the Argentines were a-festejando a minute later, however, as Maxi’s free flew passed the a goalkeeper whose flapping was convincing enough to get him a place if there ever is a re-run of a certain 1990s soup ad.
And the goals duly followed after that: on the break – Maradona’s tactics executed excellently! – Higuaín and Tevez broke before the latter slotted a pass through for Maxi to grab his second. Then Di María scored a lovely dink, described by canchallena as ‘unstoppable no matter who’s in goal’. The Canadian aggression, which had seen Maxi limp off in the first half, was suffocated by a heroic Tevez tap in after some horrendous defending in the second half, and Aguero knocked on in about two seconds after coming on to make it five. San Martín Palermo came on after a stirring chorus from the Boca contingent in the crowd and perhaps should have done better with a back-post header. Here are the goals (techno free, amazingly, but with awful music, nonetheless):
But this game doesn’t warrant a match report, pegamequemegusta is interested to know whether there exists some kind of friendly etiquette. As always, canchallena were somewhat more sober but still felt the sub-headline warranted the fantastic verb ‘apabullar’, which suggests ‘to crush’. Olé‘s headline during the match was “Son unas fieras”, meaning that they’re ruthless, bloodthirsty beasts. Yet when a vastly superior team, which has a decent chance of even winning the World Cup, plays a send-off friendly, shouldn’t it be a joyous occasion or at least have a little class? Is the Bicentennial the excuse for excessive nationalist pride? Or precisely because one is celebrating the ‘birth’ of a nation (it’s not, either, no more than the formation of the first Dáil was the decisive step in Irish independence) is an even greater level of decorum required? Pegamequemegusta was reading somewhere or other the other day about whether people liked or were annoyed by the gooooooooooooooooooooooool exclamations of commentators in South America, Spain, Italy, etc. One thing we can surely agree on is that a friendly like this is not the place for it. It’s lame, small-minded and witless. Sure there were smiles late on, but mainly they had to do with triumphing over the lousy canucks.
We learned nothing today. Maradona had said he didn’t want to play the match but he was obliged by the AFA’s debt with the Presidency to take part in the Bicentennial celebrations, as pegamequemegusta reported on Saturday. Besides friendly etiquette, we’re not sure, however, how useful pre-World Cup friendlies are. What did England learn today? And Portugal? Besides everything else that happened in Saipan, what did Ireland’s matches against those cracker teams in Japan really matter?
Still, it’s intriguing that Paraguay, Greece, North Korea, etc. are all playing three and four matches before the World Cup. Is it just because their football associations are flogging them for cash while they can? Or will they reap the benefits of match practice in a short space of time when the real games come around? Argentina’s other friendly, which was supposed to be in Dubai against unknown opposition, was cancelled in mysterious circumstances. Yet for reasons we all know, this team is only barely forming. Games would surely have done it the world of good. Today’s game, bicentennial or no, was a joke. It wasn’t even a send-off for football fans, but a grand political gesture from the president to her slavish followers.
Still, as gestures go, this anthem-filled super weekend has been pretty impressive. Tonight after the match the enormous Teatro Colón down on 9 de julio in ‘downtown’ Buenos Aires was reopened after refurbishment for the first time since October 2006. Proof at just the right time that Argentina does indeed have class:
coronados de gloria vivamos
o juremos con gloria morir
For my part I have never been able to see, without displeasure, an innocent and defenseless animal, from whom we receive no offense or harm, pursued and slaughtered . . . Plato, in his picture of the golden age under Saturn, reckons, among the chief advantages that a man then had, his communication with beasts, of whom, inquiring and informing himself, he knew the true qualities and differences of them all, by which he acquired a very perfect intelligence and prudence, and led his life more happily than we could do. Need we a better proof to condemn human imprudence in the concern of beasts? – An Apology of Raymond Sebond