Checho Checks Out of the Overlook Hotel

For the last year the Selección has been all about image, an insubstantial rebranding exercise with about as much chance of success as getting rid of a tape worm by rougeing yourself up. Batista constantly tried to give the impression that he was feelin’ fine, that he was a nice, simple guy, just a football man – nothing like the media whore Maradona. Yet in reality he was far worse. His laconic, laid-back style was just as vacuous as Diego’s occasional diatribes. Lest we forget, however, Maradona is a real sociopath whereas Batista is a poser. His desperate attempts to convince us of his self-assurance never once rang true. His endless harping on about his idea futbolística was as cringeworthy as the holiday snaps he’d take with startled and/or bored footballers and show the world on twitter. The craven little captions remind us of a hip priest trying to get down with the kids.

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The stubbly wonder Sergio Batista had just taken his seat before the gang of shivering pressmen. Serious questions needed to be asked; serious answers needed to be given. This was very serious. A 1-1 draw at home against Bolivia is a serious matter at the best of times, but, seriously, when you’re looking to kickstart a long-term project of reinstating Argentina among the serious teams of the world, a project so serious even stopping to pick up the gaudy bauble that is the over-sized Copa América along the way needs to be given some serious thought, an emphatic win is hardly even sufficient – you need a serious declaration of serious principles, you need to finally see the much-vaunted footballing philosophy manifest itself on the pitch for the full 90 minutes, you need to produce a display of such earth-scorching fantasy that a mere footballing humiliation of the kind not seen since Maradona’s boys last went to La Paz does serious harm to the normally chummy relations between the Silver Surfer and the Tin Man. But a lame, frustrating, heart-chilling farce of a performance, a desperately humdrum, plodding, exasperating showing from your boys, no, that’s a very serious matter indeed.

Checho had just got into his opening mumbles about how happy he was with the group, however, when the grave atmosphere was interrupted whimsically by some unseen announcer. The Man of the Match award had to be given out. The LG Man of the Match award had priority and Batista could damn well wait. The camera zoomed out jerkily, taken unawares much like Banega at the near post, and Messi shuffled in from the right, as he once did for Barcelona. All hunched shoulders and darting eyes, Lionel had to walk across the front of the table where Checho sat statue-like in a vain attempt to maintain his dignity. The best way to do this, he seemed to suggest, was to try and put the few feet of the universe immediately surrounding him on pause.

Messi wasn’t having such a great time of it either. Although posing gormlessly for photos must be a reflex at this stage, the seconds he spent holding what looked like a giant cheque seemed seriously vexing. Not for the first time watching Messi suffer in South America, we were reminded of Kevin Kilbane, in particular his bewilderment at being named man of the match after the 1-2 win over San Marino a few years back. He tried to exit swiftly, but he was stopped by some LG stooges, who gestured to him to put his hand on or near one of their new line of phones.

Checho continued to sit upright, passive in attitude, impassive in aspect. It was only a matter of some thirty seconds but by the time Messi scuttled back across the front of the podium and straight out the door on the far side, icicles were hanging from his stately nose, the Jack Torrance impression reinforced by the greasy slicked-back hair.

Checho Batista at the post-game press conference

That would never have happened to Maradona. Or if it had, he would have dealt with it so differently, as after the now-foreboding Germany friendly in March 2010.

Poor Checho, he never really had a chance, did he? Tonight, if the carefully orchestrated ‘rumour’ mill is to believed, he’ll become the first manager to be fired in don Julio Grondona’s thirty-two year reign. He’ll also have the ignominious distinction of having been in charge for less time than any Argentina manager since the early 1970s. The fact is, however, that Batista was never really in charge. He was just the caretaker. He has always been the caretaker.

The evil spirits at the Overlook Hotel/AFA have been calling the shots all along. We’ve been through all this before: ghouls like Humbertito Grondona and Bilardo deliberately delayed Batista’s appointment in order to accommodate themselves in their respective positions in the turmoil that threatened to engulf them following the World Cup last year. This strategy carried the extra bonus of weakening the new man’s hand. After Diego had spent a year and a half giving them wedgies and indian burns, it was imperative the next man be a pushover – someone willing to lead a band of nobodies on a Tour of Shame round Nigeria and Belgium a few weeks before the first Copa América on home soil in a quarter of a century; someone whose ear could be bent so that players bound to certain agents could get some potentially-lucrative game-time in the prestigious albiceleste jersey. A financially-secure national team coach with his own ideas about what games will be played where and with which players is merely a hindrance, an eyesore on an otherwise delightful, lush, dollar-green prairie. Besides, what’s the point of racking one’s brains for the perfect candidate anyway? Sure with better men than Batista, the results in World Cups and Copas were always the same: quarter finals or lose to Brazil. Unlike Delbert Grady, the AFA aren’t even too interested if the job gets done or not. People are not going to lose interest in football: they’ll keep painting their faces and playing for tickets. A new man can be brought in. They’re not worried about any ‘nigger cook’. 

What is important, though, is that the illusion is maintained; the pueblo loves an idol, an image. And so Messi was thrust to the fore – the Messiah presented as a strong man whose every whim must be met, the man to whom the rest must bow and cower if anything is to be achieved. It was irrelevant whether Messi actually wanted any of this, – pegamequemegusta has it on good authority that lil Lionel’s only real concerns as he roamed the halls of the hotel on his tricycle was to avoid the terrifying spectre of the Milito-Burdisso sisters – but someone had to be seen to be occupying the vacuum the mumbling Checho clearly couldn’t fill. 

Messi enjoying some downtime during the Copa América earlier this month

For the last year the Selección has been all about image, an insubstantial rebranding exercise with about as much chance of success as getting rid of a tape worm by rougeing yourself up. Batista constantly tried to give the impression that he was feelin’ fine, that he was a nice, simple guy, just a football man – nothing like the media whore Maradona. Yet in reality he was far worse. His laconic, laid-back style was just as vacuous as Diego’s occasional diatribes. Lest we forget, however, Maradona is a real sociopath whereas Batista  is a poser. His desperate attempts to convince us of his self-assurance never once rang true. His endless harping on about his idea futbolística was as cringeworthy as the holiday snaps he’d take with startled and/or bored footballers and show the world on twitter. The craven little captions remind us of a hip priest trying to get down with the kids.

May 6th: 'We gave Nico the folio. He's really psyched! Always a pleasure to talk footie with him.'
11th May: 'With Otamendi watching the Barcelona game. We talked football and what lies ahead.'
April 28th: 'Meeting over with Lucas Biglia. We spoke of the future and our footballing idea.'
May 4th: 'At an Inter Milan training session. I was received very well by Leonardo. Later I had lunch with the players.'

It’s a still-frame version of An Impossible Job – but without the sympathy. Do you, dear handsome reader, think for one minute the players didn’t take the piss out of him for it?

He was isolated and alone from the start, then, but he did himself no favours. The shallowness of the ‘project’ was reflected in the gutless displays on the pitch. For all his talk of a plan, of folios, DVDs and analysis to ensure success, it immediately became clear in the Copa América that, far from producing something novel, he may as well have spent the previous few months rattling out the same sentence over and over again on a beat-up Underwood. His one innovation, playing Messi as the central striker, he abandoned after 45 goalless minutes against Bolivia. The Uruguayans bashed him on the head with a bat and locked him in the pantry. The ghouls were none too pleased. 

Over the last few days, the brave administrators at the AFA have been calling for his head. Yes, in the great democracy that is Argentine football, the same people who apparently voted Batista in last October 19-1 are now, according to a report in Olé today, 16-4 against him staying on. They regard the Copa América campaign as an unremitting disaster and have lost all faith in the man who only last month signed his contract taking him through to the end of the World Cup qualifiers. Most importantly, however, some are upset they were not allowed into the dressing room in Santa Fe, while Checho’s brothers were. Now it’s Batista’s turn to stay out in the freezing cold, lost in a maze midst a blizzard of bullshit as the little pigs at the AFA yet again seek to save the hairs on their chinny-chin-chins.

Humbertito & Bilardo

The favourite for the job is Alejandro Sabella. He spent much of his career as Passarella’s assistant before winning the Libertadores and a few league titles with Estudiantes in 2009. It’s really quite irrelevant, however. Humbertito Grondona and Bilardo look  likely to stay on in their posts, looking out for their own interests, messing about in team affairs, undermining the manager and generally helping to bring out the worst in the players available. Don Julio, of course, will remain untouched and will continue to sate the ghouls at the AFA with the blood of Argieball. Great party, isn’t it?

El Checho Batistenstein

As is well known, Dr Batistenstein began his investigations last year by stealing a corpse from a a cemetery in Barcelona. The theft sparked outrage not just because of the affront to public morals but because the cadaver in question turned out to be alive. He was spared, however, when those in charge of the Montjuic necropolis agreed not to press charges after the victim, one Andrés Iniesta, declared that it was an easy mistake to make.

Not one to be easily deterred, this scientific Olympian went back to his lab in Ezeiza and worked tirelessly compiling dvds of the finest specimens of Argentine manhood, which, unlike its beef, seems to develop best on a poor diet in what would appear to be unfavourable, cramped conditions. Foiled in his plans to use the dead, he set about surveying the finest living body parts for a monster that would do away once and for all with the constraints that, according to Dr Batistenstein, “have mired the execrable human race in an infernal anxiety to produce, like twisted horticulturists, ever more rotten fruit.” If this first success is propagated, this could well spell the end of long-abhorred Progress, of the blind, excruciating repetition of the Same; it could be the end of futile longing for a future that never comes, the end of capitalism, of slavery, of war, the end of Sorrow with the end of Love; the end, in short, of Time. For, as Dr Batistenstein explains in his new book, The Biglia Paradox, the only viable and desirable future of the human race lies not in its perfection, but its subversion. “The future, that is the immediate future,” el Checho declared on Monday night post-game in Córdoba, “is the sub-human.”

“It’s aliiiiive!” screamed el Checho. After several disastrous experiments, Dr Batistenstein’s monster finally bore some resemblance to animated flesh on Monday night as it clubbed a contingent of Costa Rican children to death 3-0 in the fog-enveloped, crag-nesting castle of horrors that is the Copa América. The mad scientist, bent on doing away with Nature’s cruel monopoly on life, was left transfixed, his once noble mouth contorted into a rictus of psychotic ecstasy, as can be seen in exhibit A:

As is well known, Dr Batistenstein began his investigations last year by stealing a corpse from a a cemetery in Barcelona. The theft sparked outrage not just because of the affront to public morals but because the cadaver in question turned out to be alive. He was spared, however, when those in charge of the Montjuic necropolis agreed not to press charges after the victim, one Andrés Iniesta, declared that it was an easy mistake to make.

Not one to be easily deterred, this scientific Olympian went back to his lab in Ezeiza and worked tirelessly compiling dvds of the finest specimens of Argentine manhood, which, unlike its beef, seems to develop best on a poor diet in what would appear to be unfavourable, cramped conditions. Foiled in his plans to use the dead, he set about surveying the finest living body parts for a monster that would do away once and for all with the constraints that, according to Dr Batistenstein, “have mired the execrable human race in an infernal anxiety to produce, like twisted horticulturists, ever more rotten fruit.” If this first success is propagated, this could well spell the end of long-abhorred Progress, of the blind, excruciating repetition of the Same; it could be the end of futile longing for a future that never comes, the end of capitalism, of slavery, of war, the end of Sorrow with the end of Love; the end, in short, of Time. For, as Dr Batistenstein explains in his new book, The Biglia Paradox, the only viable and desirable future of the human race lies not in its perfection, but its subversion. “The future, that is the immediate future,” el Checho declared on Monday night post-game in Córdoba, “is the sub-human.”

Heretofore, despite the great expectation surrounding his project, evinced by the enormous interest taken by banks and other companies eager to clothe the stitch-lined flesh of the creature and provide it with the tools of communication so necessary in today’s most advanced of all worlds, the results had been disappointing to say the least. Having amassed all the necessary parts and assembled them in a matter guaranteed, we were assured, to bring success, it immediately became clear that the opening night had been rushed.

Dr Batistenstein’s monster was technically alive alright, but it could do little more than jerk and twitch. It struggled to overcome the band of Bolivian mountain men who had only been sent out into the spanking new arena in La Plata as a training exercise for the galvanised leviathan. When the beast tried to kick, invariably it would lose its balance and fall over. When it attempted to clap, the arms would swing apishly, missing each other by a ticketable margin. Its legs even wobbled and oft’times refused to function as a pair. Its eyes were cloudy, its faculties extinguished; it did nothing but drool, slobber and moan. Indeed, the vindication of Dr Batistenstein’s decision to increase the monster’s size in order to overcome the difficulties inherent in a normal body’s micro-circuitry was the only positive that could be taken from the affair: for only after halting the encounter in the second half to attach what many consider to be the monster’s most vital element, its schwanzstucker (or the Kun, as it’s known in these parts), could any reputable kind of thrust or purpose be attributed to its wretched bumbling. The contest was eventually called a draw, but not even that was enough to satisfy the bloodthirsty public, who departed feeling most cheated and dismayed. 

Nonetheless, thousands of people turned out once again to see it at its next appearance in Santa Fe a few days later. Befitting the name of their noble city, they were sure el Checho’s creation would rise to the occasion and choke the life out of the Colombian upstarts. The less said about that ghastly evening, the better, however. Dr Batistenstein himself, with uncharacteristic humility, gave an adequate summary of events:

Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.

On Monday night, though, after all the disappointment, the monster finally came to life. Finally did it manage to stand upright, to focus and rain blows upon the heads of the Costa Rican goat-boys offered to it in sacrifice. The replacement of Carlos Tevez and Ezequiel Lavezzi by el Kun Agüero and el Pipita Higuaín did wonders for its appearance. What’s more, it became clear that the charges of many following its first two presentations, namely that Dr Batistenstein had not in fact created life but a semi-mobile vegetable, were no longer valid. For the creature had become self-aware. The pineal gland, harvested from one L. Messi, sparkled as it soldered the numinous and the physical; while the heart, oh the heart, freshly taken from one F. Gago, maintained a martial rhythm, never missing a beat.

Yes, Dr Batistenstein’s monster finally woke up. Yet it looked oddly familiar. Some claimed to have seen its likes stalking the veldt of South Africa last year. Had Checho gone back to his grave-robbing ways and pilfered his plans from the tomb of the late Professor Maradona? For the resemblance was striking: weak spindly legs, thin in the middle but a massive bulk up top, with one shoulder out of all proportion with the other. To date, however, no copyright claims have been filed. Besides, if anything, Batistenstein had made a poor copy of the blueprint: the original had as a key concept the use of Menottian engaño – a by-pass facilitating deception, guile – where Messi would effectively function as a decoy for Di María. Batista’s model, however, lacks such subtlety. It positions Messi in the pineal gland in the centre of the brain – a straight number 10 in football parlance -, a central hub upon which other areas of the body depend almost exclusively like alms-seeking children, helpless once their benefactor is put out of action by a vicious Uruguayan virus.

Let there be no mistake about it, however. For all its vastly improved co-ordination, its newfound grace, Batistenstein’s creation is still a monster of hideous aspect. Bah, enough of this silly monster metaphor! It took Di María all of 11 seconds to lose the ball the other night. Despite his goal, he played badly. Indeed, his position on the pitch was quite puzzling in that he spent most of the game on the left side of midfield, while Agüero occupied the more advanced position on the same side. After the game, lest we attribute this rather strange arrangement to the whims of the players, Batista explicitly stated that this had been his plan. Pegamequemegusta doesn’t understand at all why he would do this, though. Why not let Di María and Agüero both do what they do best? El Kun’s goals in themselves were a fine demonstration of what he can contribute when he’s in and around the box. He said himself the other day: “When Lío gets the ball, I start running.” If he’s out wide, though, he quite simply has a lot more work to do to get near the goal. Plus, the angles are more difficult, as could be seen from several of the chances he blasted wide and over from acute angles on Monday night. 

Strange though it may sound, we were far more pleased with the performance of Higuaín. Despite missing a plethora of chances, his contribution, especially in the first half, was far greater than that of either Agüero or Di María. His movement was excellent and went beyond simply providing a ‘pivot’ around which the others could whirl. He constantly picked up the right positions, moving out to the right, dropping deep, making the right runs, etc. The contrast with Lavezzi and Tevez, who repeatedly made the wrong decisions, was enormous. His finishing was just as wayward as their’s, though, and arguably Batista made a mistake by taking him off. He was the one player you got the impression really needed a goal – ton convince himself as much as anything else that he had done well.

The performance of the night, however, and really one of the most surprising things we’ve seen since Marathon became Snickers, belonged to Fernando Gago. Sweet Jaysus he was magnificent. Against Colombia he had come on and made a few simple passes whilst the rest were stood in tears midst the alien corn. Soon, however, he was swallowed up into the general confusion and lost his way. On Monday, though, and here it really doesn’t matter who the opposition were, every touch of the ball radiated intelligence. He didn’t lose it once and always chose correctly. He was even winning headers in defence! At one point in the first half, he took a ball down out of the air with his chest and, without looking, volleyed it over to the left wing to the waiting Agüero, who scurried off on a long run before eventually shooting wide. No-other midfielder had attempted such a thing in the other games. While they’re more than capable of it, of course, judging by their appearances so far, either Cambiasso or Banega would have – presuming they managed to control the ball at all – just layed it off to Messi, even if that wasn’t the best option. Gago, of course, combined with Messi several times, but by no means did he slavishly shrink before him, as that’s not what Messi needs. It was delightful. He showed balls, skill and smarts all night. We have no idea where this came from or whether it will be repeated tomorrow, but it was arguably Gago’s brilliance that allowed the team to grow in confidence to the point where they actually looked like footballers again in the second half and Messi started to run the show. 

There were plenty of errors in the first half, though, when the game was still a contest. Argentina were slow to start and conceded two corners in the first eight minutes. Despite many of the positive signs in Monday’s game, we cannot forget that the defence is an absolute joke. Batista sticking with Milito brings back horrid memories of the Demichelis affair last year. Meanwhile, we have to hope Diego Forlán continues to be as wasteful as he has been so far in the tournament, and that Romero continues to leave us all dumbfounded with another fine performance. 

A win tomorrow for Argentina won’t be the vindication of Batistenstein’s fiendish plan any more than it would be a condemnation of the intriguingly, the gloriously-named Washington Tábarez. Both of these Prometheans have seen their respective creations give some performances recently that have left science well and truly baffled. Indeed, despite Dr Batistenstein’s attempt to claim all the kudos for Monday’s successful test run, some reports suggest he actually activated the machine accidentally when he mistook the control panel for his remote. Some claim it was divine intervention, God having had quite enough of this attempted encroachment on his powers and decided to beat Man to it. 

The monster was unconcerned. Having seen a little of life, it spent most of the week in Ezeiza giving interviews where it expressed considerable scorn for human society: “I will go to the vast wilds of South America. My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment.” It also demanded a mate from its creator: “My companion will be of the same nature as myself and will be content with the same fare. We shall make our bed of dried leaves; the sun will shine on us as on man and will ripen our food.” Dr Batistenstein looked on nervously. Will he be able to do it again?

Lionel Messi & the Campaign Against Heterofascism

There is hope, however. Occasionally the perverts break out. Last night in Santa Fe was a prime example of otherness, of freaky queerness, as Sergio Batista’s boys gave us a lesson in how to buck the system. Cunningly, they made a mockery of the whirlwind of promotions using the Copa América as an excuse to vend their dubious wares. Every stumble, every misplaced pass, every balooned free kick, every weakling challenge with less shoulder than a quadreplegic, every outlandishly bizarre through-ball to an advancing Colombian striker, every aimless scuttle up the wing was a hook in the eye of the hustlers and their shoddy merchandise. Buy a new TV for the Copa América! Make it a plasma! Get 15% off your building supplies with this Copa América coupon! Play like Messi, drink Coca Cola! Well, last night Messi showed em all Coca Cola doesn’t just rot your teeth.

The newspapers and radio waves of the Argentine Republic were a-fizzle again this morning with questions that go right to the core of one’s being, questions of such profundity angels need a crash course in spelunking just to probe their quartz-starred depths for a whiff of sin. More than mere questions, indeed, they were treating issues. For one doesn’t like to mess around when it comes to the overarching matter of identity, of who you are and what you are doing with your life; not to mention the ethical quandaries involved regarding one’s relationship to society, how your work affects others, how, my god, how it could affect children, or how you should feel about accepting money in exchange for the giving of pleasure. Yes, the newspapers and airwaves were positively buzzing with debate over the removal of what is known as Rubro 59 from a well-known Buy & Sell-type publication.

Rubro 59, of course, is where the advertisements appear for those seeking a little solace with a stranger. Scandalously, the project of human happiness begun several thousand years ago has failed to develop a system whereby every member of a society can discharge themselves of the tyrannous instincts their body and mind impose on them. Nor has it ensured a common level of wealth for all, hence some people quite rightly seek to fill this hole in the market by offering themselves as receptacles for the genital-orientated violence of others in return for money. If these despotic urges are not satisfied, and regularly by gum, emotional states commonly known as unhappiness, frustration and even anger come to prevail. Hence, for the good of all, the people willing to provide these services quite naturally seek to let others know about them. They do so, just like any other business, through the media. On Tuesday, however, the President decreed that henceforth this practice would be prohibited, Rubro 59 would be no more, presumably because sated citizens do precious good to a nation’s economy.

Dear handsome readers, so sure in your skins, of course you have never suffered exclusion or crises of the self. Yet although the demagogues of the free press will no doubt try to convince you the move is solely concerned with the protection of the vulnerable, be not so fooled. This is about identity. It’s about streamlining the urges of the masses, bringing them into line with the demands of the market. It’s their way of telling you who to be. Sure they’ll put a few sell-out queers on primetime tv now and again, but they’re always hardworking, honest consumers, slaves to the capitalist machine. The real deviants (from the norm) they condemn to clandestine dives. 

There is hope, however. Occasionally the perverts break out. Last night in Santa Fe was a prime example of otherness, of freaky queerness, as Sergio Batista’s boys gave us a lesson in how to buck the system. Cunningly, they made a mockery of the whirlwind of promotions using the Copa América as an excuse to vend their dubious wares. Every stumble, every misplaced pass, every ballooned free kick, every suicidal through-ball to an advancing Colombian striker, every aimless scuttle up the wing was a hook in the eye of the hustlers and their shoddy merchandise. Buy a new TV for the Copa América! Make it a plasma! Get 15% off your building supplies with this Copa América coupon! Play like Messi, drink Coca Cola! Well, last night Messi showed em all Coca Cola doesn’t just rot your teeth. What other possible explanation is there for this, for example?

The only thing that went wrong in la Selección‘s plan to raspberry capitalism and heterofascism in the face was that the match ended 0-0. Despite the pleasing symbolism of those two gay-friendly digits – anti-digits really, to boot – a Colombian victory would really have led to a revolution. God knows Gaby Milito and Zanetti did everything to help them, but the cafeteros managed to miss two open goals. Moreover, Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero clearly hadn’t been filled in on the plan, making several excellent saves to follow up on his nifty performance against Bolivia Friday last. 

Hence the media was left without a real fracas to savour, just a bewildering, ominous evening. They felt they had been challenged but weren’t quite sure why. Qualification was still pretty likely, after all. With the appearance of the Rubro 59 story, they were saved. It became clear that to discuss questions of identity and Argentina’s Copa América campaign was more or less the same thing.

So Olé was once again consumed by angst concerning the team’s innermost being. The photo on the front cover portrays the people’s warrior as a nancy, pulling out of a challenge with the fiery, maned, Colombian alpha male Yepes. Inside, two of their top scribes address the question of identity. Marcelo Sottile says: “Checho has spoke so often of playing like Barcelona that la Selección no longer even plays like Argentina.” While Juan Pablo Varsky’s editorial piece on the onside cover carries the headline: ‘An Unrecognisable Messi’ [‘Ni Messi se parece a Messi‘].

Here it is in full:

La Selección rescued a point last night. A vital point. When you play that badly, when you’re so completely outplayed, when the only saving grace is your goalkeeper, when you end up hoofing the ball out of defence hanging on for dear life, a draw feels like a blessing. Especially in a competition that doesn’t leave you much room for manoeuvre. La Selección is not dead yet. They can still advance to the next round.

But is the Selección still alive? Rather, is the team still alive? The team, the, team, what bloody team? Let’s see. When you have the best player in the world at your disposal, the obvious question is how the team measure up to him. And if you’ve been watching this version of the Selección, you’d have to say: in no conceivable way. La Selección in no way reflects Messi. Hell, Messi himself is unrecognisable. If you didn’t know who the little fella in the number 10 jersey was, you’d probably say to yourself: he’s an interesting player that there lefty, he’s got some nice moves…

Batista. Let’s talk about Batista. It might seem insulting, a lack of respect, but it’s about time. Possession alone does not make a team. It’s about how you use the ball, how the team occupies the space on the field, how you deal with your opponents. And the way the Selección occupies space on the pitch is horrifying. When they have the ball, there is a dearth of options, of angles, of intensity. And when they lose it, there’s no-one standing by, they don’t regroup, there’s no cover. Colombia, on the contrary, had all of that. Wise to Argentina’s strengths and weaknesses, Colombia controlled, bossed and schooled the Selección in how to work as a unit. Far from personifying their individual genius, the Selección was the embodiment of Lavezzi’s obstinacy, Tevez’s contumacy, Zanetti’s obduracy. A Selección, in the end, where everyone either takes two touches too many or one too few.

You will note, dear handsome reader, that the article in no way singles out Messi for blame or attacks him personally. These days Messi-bashing only features in the discourse of the terminally wretched – shock jocks, daytime chat show hosts and dyslexic teenagers on twitter. Criticism from the crowd in Santa Fe was in no way limited to Messi himself, raining down from all sides on all the players in the form of a sarcastic song usually reserved for (club) teams in the most ignominious of circumstances: Jugadooores / La concha de su maaaadre / A ver si ponen hueeevos / Que no juegan con naaaadie [Basically: give it some socks, sure the other team are shite]

Hence our surprise at Jonathan Wilson’s piece in the Guardian today. No, all football people recognise that Argentina’s football ills go far beyond Messi. He still occupies the centre of it, but only because everyone is so convinced any possible solution must come through him. 

In any case, any criticism that might be out there only comes from the capitalist establishment. We here at pegamequemegusta, and now you, dear perverted reader, know that the Messi who plays for Barcelona could not possibly resemble the one who turns out for Argentina as they are two completely different projects. Barcelona seek to advance the cause of the Catalan nation, and the Qatari one, too. Why, until recently they explicitly sponsored the protection of children via UNICEF. Whereas Argentina look to give a voice to all those who rejoice in the wasting of seed.

We argued on Tuesday that the Selección would overcome Colombia once they rediscovered the death drive, personified by el Kun Aguero, who is currently seeking a move to Real Madrid. However, last night’s events in Santa Fe showed us the error of our ways. Last night in Santa Fe we saw an expression of queerness, a refusal to reproduce, a refusal to get into bed with capitalism and heterofascism. We saw quite a daring refusal to even play the game of football. It was remarkable. Unfortunately, the revolution was left incomplete as Colombia never went beyond giving a masterclass in tantric titillation. However, you can be damn sure the same mistakes will not be repeated against Costa Rica. Next Monday night Argentina will finish the job: no more football, no future. Aguante Argentina carajo!