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.”

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“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!

Balls, balls, balls – Maradona, Demichelis, Pope Joan & the Death of Metrosexuality

What on earth is going on at this World Cup? Capello is being told what to do by EBJT, Vicente ‘I am the Walrus’ Del Bosque looks like he’d starve to death on a fish farm and Maradona, until recently the worst manager in the world since Stan’s reign of terror, feels comfortable enough to make a mid-game hommage to Marcelo Lippi circa 2006. Of course the circumstances were different; it wasn’t a semi-final and it was Korea, not Germany playing at home. Still, the plums on the man would make a jam worthy of gracing Zidane’s toast.

What is going on at this World Cup? Pegamequemegusta has the low-down: it’s been a crushing victory for old-fashioned John Wayne-style machismo that has seen fey, effeminate, metrosexual, glib, glasses-wearing nonces trounced over and over again : Sven, Lippi, Capello and Domenech have been spanked with such violence there’s not enough arse cream in the world to get them back into a normal seating position. By who? By real men, by rugged [probably] sexist South Americans such as Maradona, Bielsa, Martino, Tabarez, Aguirre & Co.

Beckham sits awkwardly in an impeccable suit on the English bench for no reason whatsoever. Is it because he’s so universally loved by the players that his mere presence, his faultless career and legendary oratorial ability will be able to coax a performance out of the inhibited millionaires? Who knows… What we do know is that on the Argentina bench we have a real man, an old-school man who was never meant to wear a suit, a man who, indeed, looks desperately uncomfortable doing so; a man who triumphed in spite of his physique, not because of it; a man, in short, with balls so potent they make Chuck Norris look like a pale, emasculated blogger.

Forasmuch as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls, from which many evils may arise, which God forbid, we command and forbid on behalf of the King, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in future. – Edward II, Royal proclamation, banning football from the streets of London.

The latest acquisition to pegamequemegusta’s unrivalled collection of antiques, you will be pleased to know, oh dear handsome readers, is a 9th century chair, a sedia stercoraria. Desist from beating your children and/or yourselves for a few moments and let me tell you its story, for apart from being loin-burningly spicy, it’s the rusty hinge on which this whole post turns.

Before the papacy became a retirement home for failed footballers and deluded cranks, it was an institution that prized learning higher than it could toss a cactus. This thirst for knowledge had its downsides, however, for such was their philosophic zeal that circa 855 they overlooked their dearly held misogyny and the crucial fact that the brilliant, erudite, and not at all suspiciously smooth-faced papal secretary, Johannes Anglicus, was in fact a woman when they made her Pope. She took the name Benedict III or John VIII, but she is commonly referred to as the Popess Joan, or as the much more lyrical Spanish has it, Juana la Papisa. All went well for a few years as the deception went unnoticed.

Popess Tarot Card

However, unlike our own times, where the vow of chastity is scrupulously observed and the words ‘scandal’ and ‘church’ are less likely to be seen walking hand in hand than Ray-Ray Domenech and Jebus, in those days no-one even batted an eye when the Gillette-baiting Pontiff’s belly began to swell and his mornings were punctuated by bouts of vomiting. “The Pope is just hungry for God, yea,” was the official line, after some were perturbed by a clearly ravenous Holy Father noisily wolfing down some roast chicken in the pulpit.

Just as with pegamequemegusta’s short-lived career as a surgeon, however, the lie couldn’t go on forever. One day as Juana took part in a procession from St Peter’s to the Lateran Palace, she went into labour in front of the faithful Christians who had come out to see the Swollen Father. Matters came to a head quite literally as the Popess gave birth in a side street near the Coliseum. Replaying the incident seven million times on Sky News was not necessary: the outraged crowd stoned Juana and her ambassador lover on the spot.

The heretofore sleepy Vatican officials sprang into life and resolved that such a farce would never occur again. Records were altered and over the centuries the story was gradually dismissed as anti-Papist satire. First it was attributed to the dogs in Constantinople, jealous of Roman power, and later on unholy Protestants were blamed for propagating the fiction.

The most significant innovation, all the same, was the creation of a new rite that all new Popes would have to to sit and pass in order to avoid such a frail, deceitful creature ascending to the seat of Saint Peter ever again. A new chair was designed, the infamous ‘pierced chair’. In appearance it resembles a commode yet as Peter Stanford says in his unfortunately titled, The Legend of Pope Joan, the reclining design of the throne means that “any practical bodily movement” would be severely impeded. Despite its name, which literally translates as ‘dung chair, the antique that has recently come into pegamequemegusta’s possession was not intended for defecatory convenience.

Rather, it formed the centre piece of the new ritual whereby all new Popes would have their nether regions examined by a young cardinal. He would pass his hands up through the front of the throne to grope the Pope’s testicles. Upon locating the dangling proof of the candidate’s divine right to explain the ways of God to man, the young man would exclaim Duos habet et bene pendentes – or ‘He’s got two and they hang well!’South Africa and the ‘Dung Chair’

Of course when it comes to football, the sedia stercoraria has, as far as we know, never been used. If it had, there would have been no chance of that England team taking the field yesterday. The American, Cameroonian and Danish players, on the contrary, would have required a cardinal/FIFA official with enormous hands in order to be able to cup their enormous appendages.

In general, though, in football we content ourselves with determining the gonadular capacity of a team by their commitment, their tackling and their persistence, whether it be by pressing towards goal and/or withstanding attacks when the other team roars like a squirrel with its nuts in a vice. In fact, unlike the Pontiff, we tend to demand that all teams’ balls are continually on show – whether we want them to win or not.

The first few days of this World Cup looked like like scissors day in a harem. In tune with the much-tweeted metrosexuality of our times, many teams seemed to have deliberately castrated themselves, playing an insipid excuse for counter-attacking football but without, of course, the payoff of a notable improvement in their singing voices or a worryless crack at their master’s missus. Argentina were the only team who looked even remotely capable of overcoming the wave of erectile dysfunction that seemed to be sweeping the continent, but even they were firing blanks.

As predicted by pegamequemegusta, it was only with the arrival of Bielsa’s hueveones that teams remembered they too had all their bits intact and needn’t sit at home crying on Saturday nights just cause they’d missed Hale-Bopp. It’s safe to say that attack-attack-attack was in Maradona’s plans as soon as he got the group together in Baires last month and realised what Kurt Russel-like, bone-munching monsters he had at his disposal up front. For the rest of the teams, however, we insist that  although in these parts it is the English who are commonly referred to as pirates, it was only with the cutlass-wielding Chileans setting up camp in the Honduran half that this World Cup got under way. Of course they only won one-nil and might well go out on goal difference as a result, but the insurgency’s flame had been lit.

The Spaniards, oh the irony, the colonial oppressors whose viceroyalty was overthrown by many of the Central and South American countries 200 sun revolutions ago this year, were in action too soon after the Chile game to realise the course history was taking. Like a lisping collective of Eoin MacNeills, they failed to recognise a revolution was underway. Spain are apparently so good now that they don’t even need to win. They were rightly punished for playing two more or less holding midfielders and playing fourty yards from the opponent’s goal.

The men from the Banda Oriental, on the other hand, duly lined up with three goal-hungry beasts up front and trounced a shell-shocked South Africa 3-0. Paraguay adopted a similar approach this morning and denied Slovakia so much as a kick of the ball. Even teams like Greece, the USA, Cameroon and whose seabags had but recently been filled, started throwing themselves forward as if Ares, the “many-faced monster” himself, were mastering the field. ¡Viva la revolución!

In all the discussions (good one here) so far on why the Central and South American teams have been leading the revolution, many reasons have been put forth. Some say it has to do with better technique, better teamwork, better managers, that they’re used to playing at altitude, that they’re more used to travelling, that their qualifying is more competitive, etc. Pegamequemegusta isn’t qualified to answer the altitude question but none of the others are too convincing. Maradona himself put forward the last reason today but to me it’s irrelevant. The fact that Argentina qualified at all after not winning for a year and then losing four out of five games in row wasn’t an advertisement for sumptuous yet brutally attritional football. Rather, it just exposed how awfully inconsistent and tactically naive they were, as all the teams that did qualify, with the exception of Paraguay, were trounced by Brazil at home: Argentina lost 3-1 in Rosario, Chile 3-0 in Santiago and Uruguay 4-0 in Montevideo. The only serious argument is that upon arrival in South Africa, these teams imbibed a Bilardonic tonic that facilitated the growth of a Godzilla-like pair… of… balls.

A bit of an aside/a sideswipe without using the word ‘balls’

Going back to our attack on defensive football, we’d like to point out it’s not that we’re just slavish unsophisticated goal-worshippers. This being one of the most pretentious blogs on the net, we would never accept such a charge. For example, we totally reject an article by the usually awesome Terry Eagleton that was in the Guardian the other day. He embarrassed himself with a naive piece speaking about how football was thwarting socialist revolution by taking the place of nationalism and religion, etc.as the opiate of the people:

Modern societies deny men and women the experience of solidarity, which football provides to the point of collective delirium. Most car mechanics and shop assistants feel shut out by high culture; but once a week they bear witness to displays of sublime artistry by men for whom the word genius is sometimes no mere hype. Like a jazz band or drama company, football blends dazzling individual talent with selfless teamwork, thus solving a problem over which sociologists have long agonised.

Besides the fact that football is basically just another feather in telly’s bow rather than an extension of its power or, God forbid, a replacement for it, he forgot that most football is awful. Most of us who while away our lives consuming it, “even those of us for whom Rimbaud is a cinematic strongman”, consider most football to be pretty rubbish. While we never had the good fortune to be a crackhead, pegamequemgusta nevertheless reckons that the highs and lows of a full-on drug addiction come nothing close to the dull murmuring that is the lot of your average football ‘fan’. Maybe you disagree, but we’re pretty satisfied with a minimum flash of the teams’ ball sacks now and again. (No, not like this, you filthy bugger).

Highlights packages, general marketing hype and the possibility to see many of the world’s best players all together in one team add to this idea that football is all about stars and purse-emptying gangs of galácticos. Yet while we don’t wish to trot out the tired old underdog theme, if you support a team like Ireland or Racing, a team that has little or no chance of ever winning anything worthwhile, or like a lost table leg you don’t support anyone at all, you’ll probably agree that the one indispensable element, the one thing that makes the never-ending circus even remotely bearable, is balls.

Goals are often overrated, excitement, too. Skill is great whenever it appears, but balls are the totemic centre piece of the gathering. All the other shit has about as much to do with football as Budweiser has to do with beer, or Michael Jackson’s nose does Off the Wall.

Maradona’s balls

One man who’s sworn by his own balls more times than pegamequemegusta has been politely asked to leave Burger King, is el Diego. Having committed every possible error in his first year and half in charge, it now appears the novice manager can do nothing wrong. Exuding a lucidity that would make Euclid blush, Maradona has got precious little wrong thus far.

Fine, playing Jonás at right back has not led to Hiroshimic tweet clouds of praise. In fact, it hasn’t even benefitted the attack much. It’s not like having a slightly dodgy Dani Alves or Roberto Carlos there: at least you can count on them to rip open the opposing team’s left flank as if they were hiding a big jar of jam next to their left kidney. But Jonás’s spidey sense has been so off kilter that it looks like he’s even lost confidence to get forward. Pegamequemegusta can’t remember one goal or decent chance for Argentina created by a marauding Peter Parker.

Jonás’s suspension for the final group game against Greece means he’ll be replaced by Otamendi, in a return to the flat back four. One of the many aspects of Maradona’s world cup reign that has earned him gushing praise has been his man management. Unlike the qualifiers, he has chosen to give his players the benefit of the doubt rather than hauling them off and never calling them up again (step forward Enzo Perez, Dátolo and a dude ranch full of defenders) a [la] Capello. It takes big balls to make a virtue out of stubbornness, and it clearly worked on the players, too: Higuaín, Tevez and Di María all had much improved performances against South Korea.

The proverbial horse's bollocks

Tevez’s performance, in particular, was so barnstorming even the police cavalry horses averted their eyes discretely. Now we’ve always known this about Tevez, but as he freely admitted in the months before this World Cup, he had lost his place in the first eleven on merit. Maradona needed a big pair of brass ones to put him back in, and that faith is now being repayed.

For that very reason, nonetheless, pegamequemegusta was positively apoplectic when Carlitos was taken off with 15 minutes to go. It was during Korea’s best spell of the game. More than a spell, indeed, it came after a 25 minute period which had seen three reckless Argentina defenders booked. Yet Maradona, who before arriving in South Africa had never been distinguished as a particularly attack-minded coach, rejected the idea of putting on a holding midfielder or a proper right back. Instead he gave el Kun Agüero his World Cup debut in order to push for a third. The expression on our face at that moment was not akun to happiness. And yet within a minute he’d laid one on for Messi, who in turn smacked one off the post, allowing Higuaín to score his second. What golden nuggets he has.

What the balls is going on at this World Cup?

What on earth is going on at this World Cup? Capello is being told what to do by EBJT, Vicente ‘I am the Walrus’ Del Bosque looks like he’d starve to death on a fish farm and Maradona, until recently the worst manager in the world since Stan’s reign of terror, feels comfortable enough to make a mid-game homage to Marcelo Lippi circa 2006. Of course the circumstances were different; it wasn’t a semi-final and it was Korea, not Germany playing at home. Still, the plums on the man would make a jam worthy of gracing Zidane’s toast.

Time's up, you dandies

What is going on at this World Cup? Pegamequemegusta has the low-down: it’s been a crushing victory for old-fashioned John Wayne-style machismo that has seen fey, effeminate, metrosexual, glib, glasses-wearing nonces trounced over and over again:  Sven, Lippi, Capello and Domenech have been spanked with such violence there’s not enough arse cream in the world to get them back into a normal sitting position. By who? By real men, by rugged [probably] sexist South Americans such as Maradona, Bielsa, Martino, Tabarez, Aguirre & Co.

Beckham sits awkwardly in an impeccable suit on the English bench for no reason whatsoever. Is it because he’s so universally loved by the players that his mere presence, his faultless career and legendary oratorical  ability will be able to coax a performance out of the inhibited millionaires? Who knows… What we do know is that on the Argentina bench we have a real man, who has no problem motivating his players or making them as comfortable as possible in order to allow them to display their mostly unquestioned talent; an old-school man who was never meant to wear a suit, a man who, indeed, looks desperately  uncomfortable doing so; a man who triumphed in spite of his physique, not because of it; a man, in short, with balls so potent they make Chuck Norris look like a pale, emasculated blogger.

Man love

All this is terrible new for feminists, of course. If the Central and South American teams continue to do well in South Africa, it could set the women’s rights movement back a hundred years. It would be frighteningly wonderful to see Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina in the semi-finals. The amount of groin-clutching and macho fist-pumping would make for a delightful contrast to 2006, when Zizou made his spectacular exit defending a woman’s honour.

Of course, with this much testosterone flying around, an outlet is needed; and not everyone has been convinced. The effusiveness of Maradona’s public displays of affection for his players raised an eyebrow or two before the Korea game. Despite the much-publicised permission to spend quality time with their WAGS, el Diego ensured that his players’ hearts were full of love as they walked out onto the pitch, planting as he did a Tango ad smooch on each of them. When a cheeky BBC journalist brought up the matter in the post-match press conference, the Argentina manager was quick to dismiss all accusations of wimpiness: “I like women ok,” he insisted, with the kind of look on his face one would usually reserve for seeing a duck swallowing an elephant in one gulp:

The Popess’s balls

Balls or no, though, all of this gung-ho, attacking, Randy Savage football will have been as useless as a Jack’s proverbial man tits if Argentina get done by a succession of defensive blunders. The damage was already done in the squad selection: the error in omitting Zanetti is well known (after all, other players were offered chances to redeem themselves) but pegamequemegusta would have loved to have seen Nico Pareja get an opportunity, and Burdisso should have more games under his belt at centre-half. He will play there on Tuesday against Greece, and it will be extremely interesting to see whether Maradona’s balls indicate sticking or switching is the braver move.

If Burdisso plays well, why drop him again? Who cares if Demichelis’s confidence is shook if someone else proves they’re more accomplished? Likewise, although Maradona apparently considers Jonás an untouchable, if Otamendi has a great game at right back,  or, less likely, Clemente on the left, the difficulty of the decision is weighted evenly.

As we discussed last week, Maradona has brought excellent man management to the World Cup where before his reign had been characterised by a shockingly ruthless attitude to his players. As long as he can keep the group together, the World Cup makes the decisions somewhat easier, in theory at least, since anything is justified as long as it achieves the next result.

Martín Demichelis, Argentina's weakest link, is said to put botox in his lips as part of his pre-match ritual. Should he be made to take the exam?

Just like the Papacy, however, pegamequemegusta struggles with the idea of living one’s life by faith alone. Oh yes, we put up a front and quote Kierkegaard with the rest of the boys down the docks, 70,000 fathoms and all that, but really, deep down in our rotten little heart, we wonder, we doubt, we want to know whether the exquisitely produced Demichelis, the pony-tailed, arse-botoxed Tyson of Bavaria is indeed another Papisa Juana. But unless the AFA heed this cry, our latest acquisition, our glorious sedia stercoraria, our dung chair, will remain a mere antique. Maradona’s balls could yet end up but a freak of nature, pleasing aesthetically but practically useless, like Jamie Redknapp, and the feminists and metrosexuals will once more return to dictate the terms of our sorry lives’ favourite spectacle.