Di Stéfano – We Argentines are the Biggest Bullshitters in the World.

– Bah, the team we wanted to win, didn’t. Argentina went out with a whimper. So much enthusiasm, so much blather, and then poof, it all falls apart. I didn’t like it one little bit. Not a jot.

– Now it all seems so clear. But many people were shocked by the 0-4 against Germany.

– Sure we hadn’t shown we were a proper team, what are you on about? How far are you going to get without something to prop up all the quality we had in attack? No-where, no, no, no. Three or four small lads played up front, all those lads, they played a bit, but the rest, the rest are guys you wouldn’t… you wouldn’t… Look: you can’t have everyone doing their own thing. We Argentines are the biggest bullshitters in the world. We’ve always been like this. We can’t get enough of being right smart-arses. We, we, we – no, sir, we poppycock! The time for me me me is over. The thing is we’ve had good players plenty of times, good groups, a good team spirit, and we’ve even put together some good teams. But then we go on hailing victories [that haven’t happened yet], we’ve cheered so many victories, but look at us now. In my day there was a school, an idea, a style – a style that was also a great show! Now even that’s gone. Argentine football is constantly up for sale, the players spread out all over the world. They sell everything they can get their hands on, they’re going to end up bollock naked: our football is going to end up bollock naked. We won’t even have any players. That’s where we’re at. And the farce goes on.

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Pegamequemegusta’s been silent for a few days now, days that have been spent licking our wounds like a particularly assiduous cat after an aborted open-air vivisection down at the tar pits, days spent feebly fending off ham-carrying neighbours eager to steal the glaze from our tear-filled eyes, days like any other, then. We tried to take out our rage on poor unsuspecting day editors of reputable newspapers with many a missive featuring the words ‘shoddy’ and ‘outlandish’. Yet they weren’t interested in what we should name our children.

Today's Olé cover: a self-mocking 'We weren't the best' in response to FIFA's team of the tournament

At least we had the World Cup for one week more. Yet even that was ultimately disappointing. Uruguay would’ve given Spain a better game, we bellowed in yet another missive. This time it was to the RFEF insisting Spain abandon the dull, defensive European Championships to take place in yet another sprawling, poverty-stricken sub-continent in favour of the Copa América next year, which will be in, er, Argentina. Only there will they get a real balompié challenge and the Street Fighter 2 background people kind of atmosphere a real football tournament needs. Plus, Japan will be there! Pegamequemegusta will keep you up to date on this campaign.

In the meantime, we have not been the only ones trying to make spurious links between Spain and Argentina. Today we bring you another interview from Olé‘s irrepressible Ignacio Fusco (the original interview was in Sunday’s Olé as part of their preview of the final, but we just found it). No matter who he talks to, no matter how apparently anodyne the matter, his interviews are always fleghmy and bespittled. Usually Nacho is the irascible one, but today Don Alfredo Di Stéfano is the one who betrays a crankiness of spirit that makes Kaká look like Karol Wojtyła.

Señor Fusco appears to be intent on outdoing Cruyff’s attempt to claim all the credit for Spain’s win for himself by sending his Paulian tentacles even further back in time to the 1950s. Despite the fact that Argentina either didn’t participate or went out in the first round, the fact that Don Di Stéfano originated here seems to be enough to launch a claim in this War of the Spanish Success[ion]. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go into why they didn’t participate [political wranglings involving Perón himself], why Di Stéfano led such a peripatetic career or why, having won 6/10 Copa Américas between 1945 and 1959, Argentina could still be thrashed 1-3 and 1-6 against West Germany and Hungary in the group stage in Sweden 1958. [The kind of story a good blog would pounce on as if it were a tasty mussel, given its parallels to the present, where they’ve won 5 under-20 WCs in the last 15 years without getting past the quarters finals of the real thing. Hmm, we may look into this].

Nonetheless, spurious credit-hunting aside, it’s a good read. Di Stéfano’s fuse is shorter than Howard Webb’s… fingernails and he goes on an almighty rant. We don’t think he’s 100% right about that either but we do feel a certain affinity with the cynical wallowings of grouchy ex-pats. The translation, as always, is ours. Let us know what you think – pegame, que me gusta.

The War of the Spanish Success rages on

An idol and an adopted son of Spain, who today will play their first ever WC final, Don Alfredo Di Stéfano laments the state of our Selección: they didn’t keep the ball, it’s not a proper team, there’s not even a recognisable style anymore. Once again, he says, we were arrogant, and the best football has been played by Spain: “But today they have to win, eh.” Cheers, old fellow.

The story starts in Chamartín. In the north of Madrid on the night of the 23rd September 1953, Spain is getting ready to take its first steps. Few things are as inevitable as an inheritance, as being what others have been: to learn, plagiarise, continue. That day Alfredo di Stéfano makes his debut with Real Madrid. He’s fat, slow, irksome: it’s been nine months since he last played. Despite his goal, French side Nancy win 4-2 in a friendly that laid the basis of the current story, the continuing past, today’s final. Don Alfredo was Xavi, he was Iniesta, he was Cesc: the Motherland’s stars spring from his branch.

“These days they talk about midfielders. Rogelio Dominguez, a lovely fellow, once said to me: ‘Alfredo, you are an all-over-the-fielder!’ What can I say, I liked defending. I’d drop back and they’d say: ‘What are you doing here? Get back up front!’ laughs the maestro, the man who came up with this kind of football, ‘the Founder of the modern game’, according to Platini. The crack, who more than 50 years ago played the way Spain do now, patient, pleasure dripping slow.

  • What did you make of the World Cup, Alfredo? Did you watch much of it?
  • Why the hell wouldn’t I have watched it? It’s my job, don’t you know, I have to watch it!
  • And?
  • And what?
  • What did you make of it?
  • Bah, the team we wanted to win, didn’t. Argentina went out with a whimper. So much enthusiasm, so much blather, and then poof, it all falls apart. I didn’t like it one little bit. Not a jot.
  • Now it all seems so clear. But many people were shocked by the 0-4 against Germany.
  • Sure we hadn’t shown we were a proper team, what are you on about? How far are you going to get without something to prop up all the quality we had in attack? No-where, no, no, no. Three or four small lads played up front, all those lads, they played a bit, but the rest, the rest are guys you wouldn’t… you wouldn’t… Look: you can’t have everyone doing their own thing. We Argentines are the biggest bullshitters in the world. We’ve always been like this. We can’t get enough of being right smart-arses. We, we, we – no, sir, we poppycock! The time for me me me is over. The thing is we’ve had good players plenty of times, good groups, a good team spirit, and we’ve even put together some good teams. But then we go on hailing victories [that haven’t happened yet], we’ve cheered so many victories, but look at us now. In my day there was a school, an idea, a style – a style that was also a great show! Now even that’s gone. Argentine football is constantly up for sale, the players spread out all over the world. They sell everything they can get their hands on, they’re going to end up bollock naked: our football is going to end up bollock naked. We won’t even have any players. That’s where we’re at. And the farce goes on.
  • We don’t even have our own style anymore?
  • We had one, we had one; but not for years now, not for a long time.
  • How long ago?
  • When we were admired. The world copied our style of play, and look at the depths we’ve sunk to now, a real nadir. If there were some kind of continuity at least, a style to cradle all these 18 year olds for when after they’re sold, for those who rushed onto the market before they’ve been able to become cracks… but we don’t even have that.
  • Were you happy with Maradona?
  • Sure Maradona didn’t play!
  • It would’ve been no bad thing to have had the ’86 Diego…
  • What of it: he’s not a player anymore. If he were, things might be different.
  • And as a coach?
  • I don’t know, I don’t know… Look: the players are the ones who win, and buenas noches.

    Don Alfredo last month with Satan himself

It’s been one long night for Don Alfredo, one long, unforgettable night: in spite of having turned out for Argentina, Colombia and Spain, he never did play in a World Cup. He could have gone to Brazil in 1950, but Argentina didn’t go owing to strained diplomatic relations. “And Colombia didn’t go either,” recalls la Saeta Rubia [the Golden Arrow]. It sounds like a joke: “Switzerland ’54 came along when I was in bureaucratic limbo; and for Sweden ’58 I finally had Spanish citizenship but la Furia failed to qualify,” recounts the honorary president of Real Madrid. Then comes Chile in 1962: the Argentine Helenio Herrera includes him in the squad. Now’s the time, he’s ready, finally he’ll play in a World Cup, “but I got injured in a friendly against an Austrian team just before we travelled. I was so anxious to play that at night in the hotel i’d put a lamp on my right knee so as to keep the muscle warm.”

Di Stéfano
  • Politics, paperwork, injuries, it sounds incredible, doesn’t it? But I never lost any sleep over it, you know. At that time I wanted to play in a World Cup so that my parents could see me out there. That’s all.
  • And to think that this Spain team, Don Alfredo, plays just as you did: passing, keeping the ball moving.
  • But if you don’t move, if you don’t ask for the ball, if you don’t get free of your marker, tell me, how am I supposed to give you the ball? It would be flat football, lifeless and just plain bad. Spain play like Barcelona. It’s not about such and such a player: it’s about everyone coming together to form a team, that’s the secret. That’s how you win a championship.
  • How do you see things turning out today?
  • Spain have been the best team at the World Cup. The Dutch can play a bit but they’re not great. We’ll see.
  • Have la Furia already earned their place in history or do they need to something else to seal it?
  • [Silence] Do they have to what?
  • Win, Alfredo.
  • No, no; these things have to be finished off. Spain have to win. Since when is winning the same as losing? Spain have tried to play a certain way and it’s worked out well. Let’s hope they win. It’s us who haven’t been doing things right for a long time. Let’s take it piano piano, nice and slow, and try to build a team.

    Us, especially us, the best in the world.

    Argentina 0-4 Germany: Part III – I Wanted to Play Football for the Coach

    After 30 seconds he received the ball in a comfortable position, tried to pass it to a teammate and promptly fell on his arse. After two minutes he gave away a silly foul out by the touchline. From the ensuing free kick he lost his man and Argentina were a goal behind. In the next ten minutes, he gave the ball away several times and by the tenth minute he had been booked. Only Germany deciding to relinquish their grip on Argentina’s neck meant that he was able to hide until half time.

    Just as in the Nigeria match, however, Maradona was too slow with his substitutions. More or less the first time the ball came his way more than twenty minutes into the second half, Otamendi and Demichelis contrived to turn a relatively unthreatening situation into the killer goal for Germany. [Muller lying prone on the grass was still more than a match for both of them]. Maradona bottled it spectacularly, taking off Otamendi and replacing him with… nobody.

    Pegamequemegusta spilled maté all over the table at this point and yelled furiously at scandalised family and friends. He’s just turned a 2-0 or, at best, a 2-1 into a three or four goal rout! Yet again an Argentina manager bottles it in the second half of a WC quarter final. Incredible. In that respect, never having been in that position before, Maradoan was found out. He finished the match with four or five strikers on the pitch but now without any pretence of a system whatsoever, like Louis Van Gaal with Holland in the Greatest Match of All time in 2001.

    Part III

    Uff, this is getting tiresome. The match feels like it was a million years ago. It’s hard to care much anymore. The writing of all this nonsense has involved endless commentaries on the telly and protracted conversations on exactly the same topic. It’s necrophilia without the pulse-quickening thrill of transgression or the refreshing spike of the wind on your bare nipples; it’s sadomasochism without the alluring smell of leather. Still, this post-mortem would be nothing without a few words devoted to the defence.

    Although no-one was in any way convinced by Argentina’s defence coming into the game, most informed people reckoned they might just be able to get away with it. Jonathan Wilson again:

    “Manager Diego Maradona will surely maintain that solid, deep back four. [….] Germany’s forwards are very good at exploiting space, but Argentina won’t give them space. Its back four focuses almost exclusively on defending; Maradona’s side is not reliant, as England and Australia are, on attacking full-backs.”

    For whatever reason, no team had really gotten behind them so far. Nigeria had once or twice but were too bad to punish them; Korea came straight at them and created little or nothing; Greece didn’t even play; Mexico scored the first time they tried to turn Demichelis, but for some reason persisted with speculative long shots.

    Germany didn’t. Their patience in attack was remarkable. The didn’t even need long diagonal balls to pull the players out of position. They just passed the ball past the defenders calmly, and along the ground, too. All the goals were scored from within about ten yards of the goal. It seemed unreal the ease with which they sailed by the non-existent challenges. Wilson: “it doesn’t matter how many players you have at the back if none of them put in a challenge.”

    The brain in the tank’s best line, though was: “Argentina’s insipidness was bewildering.” Bewildering is good, as the obtuse counsellor would say. And as Carlitos Tevez said after the game, Germany didn’t surprise Argentina at all: “We knew what they were going to do, we had worked on it in training but we were unable to stop them. That was our greatest sin.”

    If there were to be one central thesis of this whole mammoth piece, it’ wouldn’t be Jogi Löw’s theory that Argentina were simply ‘a broken team’: Argentina were set up to stop Germany but lost every single battle on the pitch; and that Maradona failed to take action in time, despite the fact that several players were playing as if they’d just found themselves transported Quantum Leap-style onto the pitch in a World Cup quarter-final.

    The greatest example of a player having a nervous breakdown on the pitch was poor Nico Otamendi. He’s a good player, he has played well before and will again. Perhaps he wasn’t playing in his best position but he had arguably been man of the match against Mexico. The kind of meltdown he had in the second half on Saturday usually comes served with tuna. Maradona was doing him no favour by leaving him on the pitch and he should have come off at half-time at the latest.

    Otamendi misses Al desperately as his latest Quantum Leap sees him thrust into right back in a WC quarter final

    After 30 seconds he received the ball in a comfortable position, tried to pass it to a teammate and promptly fell on his arse. After two minutes he gave away a silly foul out by the touchline. From the ensuing free kick he lost his man and Argentina were a goal behind. In the next ten minutes, he gave the ball away several times and by the tenth minute he had been booked. Only Germany deciding to relinquish their grip on Argentina’s neck meant that he was able to hide until half time.

    Just as in the Nigeria match, however, Maradona was too slow with his substitutions. More or less the first time the ball came his way more than twenty minutes into the second half, Otamendi and Demichelis contrived to turn a relatively unthreatening situation into the killer goal for Germany. [Muller lying prone on the grass was still more than a match for both of them]. Maradona bottled it spectacularly, taking off Otamendi and replacing him with… nobody.

    Pegamequemegusta spilled maté all over the table at this point and yelled furiously at scandalised family and friends. He’s just turned a 2-0 or, at best, a 2-1 into a three or four goal rout! Yet again an Argentina manager bottles it in the second half of a WC quarter-final. Bewildering. In that respect, never having been in that position before, Maradona was found out. He finished the match with four or five strikers on the pitch but now without any pretence of a system whatsoever, like Louis Van Gaal with Holland in the Greatest Match of All time in 2001.

    It seemed obvious that if Argentina went behind first in the game it was going to be a lot more difficult, nigh on impossible, such is Germany’s strength on the counter-attack. Surprisingly though, and good news for Spain on Wednesday, that’s not how the match was won. Germany didn’t just sit back and wait: they wither lost their nerve or were genuinely unable to do anything for a good fourty minutes of the match. Mascherano kept Özil quiet as a laryngitis-stricken mouse. Olé described his efforts, aptly in our opinion, as ‘almost moving at times’.

    Most of the analysis of this match focused on the first twenty minutes and the last twenty. As we detailed in the previous instalment, it was the initial Otamendi collapse coupled with Argentina’s misfiring front players who let them down, failing to even come close despite extended bouts of possession.

    Unlike the internet geeks pegamequemegusta spent the whole first part of this glorified exercise in self-harm taking the piss out of, Johnny Giles on RTÉ offered a simpler, more sensible, more traditional breakdown of events. Jonathan Wilson’s reading of events was correct, too, of course, but he approaches the game from a completely different point of view. Gilesy’s is more conventional, more classic, and more accurate than the diagrams and stills of the bloggers:

    • Would a better team have punished them in that 15-20 spell [in the second half]?

    • Well they could have done, Darren, that’s the problem, and they had a little bit of bad luck cause they had some reasonable chances at that stage that could have changed the whole course of the game. In any game… every game is different and there are stages in it where you’re on top and you have to score your goals. Sometimes the other team get on top and you have to defend… It ebbs and flows. Through experience you learn that ‘if that happens then this is what we’re going to do’, and I think that the German team have to learn that. They have to learn to say [to themselves]: ‘Look, this team is not doing its stuff, we’re a goal up, we have to take advantage of it’. And the best way to take that advantage and kill a game off is to score goals.

    We feared coming into the competition that even if things were to work out for Maradona’s Argentina, even if the butterfly didn’t emerge from the chrysalis horribly deformed, the lack of game time and the poor squad selection could come back to haunt him. In the end it was somewhat more complicated than that rather facile argument. Those aspects of the preparations certainly didn’t help but the inexplicable implosion of Brazil does constitute a rebuttal to a certain extent.

    Unfortunately, Gilesy let himself down immediately after this speech by admitting that he had no idea what things were like in the Argentine camp or what their preparations were. This lack of background knowledge is the downside of the wizened footballer pundit (yet it is not too far removed from the know-it-all geeks who so spectacularly fall between two sweaty thighs of ignorance in their attempts to offer pseudo-scientific previews and reviews of every single match). Nevertheless, he didn’t imagine Maradona working on corners, free kicks or on instilling any kind of discipline on the team. Pegamequemegusta has only spent the last three weeks demolishing that myth: four of their ten goals came from set-pieces and only excellent goalkeeping denied them on a few more. A bewildering indicator of how lost they were in the Germany match was that all these training ground moves just disappeared.

    Or the match can be summed up in an even more concise way: Argentina were shit.  And unless they come up with at least three midfielders and four defenders over the next four years, they won’t win in Brazil either. So far Maradona could well be staying for the Copa América next year in his homeland: one last shot at some kind of glory and the opportunity to show that just as he learned from the qualifiers he is capable of drawing lessons from this defeat, too. If he does, as Lou Reed mumbles sweetly into the ear of a transvestite,  Diego, i’d give it all up for you:

    Argentina 0-4 Germany – Part II: Full of High Sentence but a Bit Obtuse

    With Tevez, Di María and Higuaín all performing so badly and with such a lack of discipline, Maradona’s plan imploded spectacularly on Saturday. Despite, as Jonathan Wilson says in his Sports Illustrated article, Argentina looking the more ‘threatening team’ after the opening 20 minutes or so, they didn’t create one decent chance. On Off the Ball tonight, he expanded on why Argentina’s approach should work, saying, in characteristic fashion, that “triangles always beat lines”. The only two times we remember the forwards actually making those angles they created two half-chances: the first when Messi put Tevez through; the second when Higuaín was caught offside. This was supposed to be Argentina’s great strength but they individuals failed spectacularly. They were impatient from the off. Frustrated with their own ineptitude, it wasn’t long before they began shooting lamely over the bar from 25 yards. A strikeforce that had promised to slice the German defence in a manner reminscent of a mathematician’s wet dream, ended up looking but full of high sentence and more than little obtuse.

    Part II

    No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two […]

    Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous— Almost, at times, the Fool.

    Pegamequemegusta would not be at all surprised to learn that all of these wretched scribblers – though we are all scribbling wretchedly for our one reader, Jebus – have a framed picture of famed tactics guru and Krang impersonator, Jonathan Wilson, sitting on their desks midst the piles of kleenex and take-away receptacles. Unfortunately, they lack the knowledge, writing ability and the class.

    Jonathan Wilson towers above his imitators

    In his preview of the game, he argued that Argentina had the edge over Germany, and not just due to certain individual talents. Even in midfield, he reckoned Maxi and Di María should have been able to make up for their lack of energy against Schweinsteiger and Khedira with their movement: “And if Di Maria does start to drift left, threatening to unleash the crossing ability that proved so devastating at Benfica last season, then Germany really is in trouble.

    The forwards

    As it turned out, however, no matter where Di María drifted in the game he was going to be equally ineffective. We talked in our own preview about how important he was to the team. Following the abandonment of Maradona’s ‘Verón is my Xavi’ plan, and Jonás’s replacement by Otamendi to ensure greater balance and security, the Xavi-Iniesta tandem was entrusted to a deep-lying combination of Tevez & Messi. In this schema, with the real Lionel operating almost as a decoy, Di María was effectively supposed to take on the Messi role. (Not that Argentina were trying to ape Barcelona but certain aspects of their plan are best illustrated by a comparison with that team).

    The new idea was quite sophisticated and received a great deal of kudos from pegamequemegusta and everyone who enjoyed watching Argentina in the opening games. All the time, however, they were carrying Di María, who looked as composed as a bag of snakes. We signalled in the preview that what we considered one of Maradona’s most astute decisions looked like it was going to blow up in his face.

    He did up his game somewhat in the Germany match – at least this time he looked for the ball – didn’t know what foot he wanted to use and his execution was woeful. He is certainly well capable of the role but it appears the burden was too much for Real Madrid’s new signing. (Indeed, we wonder if that added sense of expectation wasn’t another contributory factor to his flaccid WC).

    Pegamequemegusta doesn’t mean to blame Di María for a 4-0 defeat, though, not by any means. Besides the defence, which we never expected to be the most solid unit known to man since Diego Forlán’s six-pack, we reserve a great share of that for other favourite players of ours, and much more experienced ones, too.

    Carlitos Tevez, for example, had an absolute nightmare. Olé gave him a 5/10 when the rest of his teammates averaged about 3/10. These extra points were down to his commitment and his fighting spirit, the old Carlitos clichés. We love Tevez but he talks too much. In 2006 he spent the entire build-up to the Germany match talking about how if it came to penalties he was going to take the first and blast it at Lehman’s head: “it’ll either be a goal or it’ll take his head off.” Funny, ballsy, delightful; but when it came to the penalty shoot-out he was absent. Ayala and Cambiasso stepped up before him; they missed and Argentina were out.

    Tevez last Monday

    Likewise this week, his two goals against Mexico meant he was on the front cover of Olé last Monday and was shooting his mouth off all week. When it came to the match, however, he played like an angry mob. There was plenty of commitment alright but no control, plenty of gesticulating but no organising. He embodied the caricature that so many people had expected of this Maradona team. He completely abandoned his defensive responsibilities and failed to link up with any of his teammates, be it the midfielders or the attack. He bottled it so badly that even though Argentina were chasing the game, it would have been preferable to have hauled him off and put someone else in midfield. The failure was not a question of tactics, it was the personnel: Tevez had a job to do and all he did was a Steven Gerrard impression.

    There have been many soothing words for Messi, too, and we aren’t going to pillory him either for the failures of the entire team. He could have done much better, though. Again we back Maradona’s plan: it wasn’t foolproof by any means but with all the pieces working in sync it could well have made the most of Messi’s ability. He was let down by Tevez in particular, as Carlitos was in the team primarily to associate with him and generate play.

    Without the help of his teammates, far from being the Messi of Barcelona, Messi just ended up looking like a poor man’s Xavi in a team of Ibrahimobitches. His influence was diluted successively until it disappeared completely. Argentina looked as naive as Arsenal in the 2009 semifinal and they were torn apart. This time Otamendi starred as the unfortunate Kieron Gibbs, Muller as Ronaldo.

    Yet, like Tevez, Messi cannot be absolved so easily of all responsibility to organise things. Maradona’s rhetoric may overstep the mark in terms of his demands for Messi to ‘become a man’, but he really is going to have to impose himself more in future. A measure of how ineffective he was is revealed by a factoid we read that he wasn’t fouled once in the entire game.

    Pegamequemegusta giddily hoped after the first round that Messi would continue to hit the post with Higuaín & co. knocking in the rebounds so that he’d keep tilting towards goal for the full 90 minutes of every game. In hindsight, though, we can’t help but feel the lack of a goal just pissed him off and drained his confidence.

    Higuaín was just hopeless on Saturday. Of course he didn’t get much service and the Germans defended surprisingly well. Still, his match was summed up by being caught offside three times in about five minutes. He looked distraught when it was still one-nil and there was half an hour to go. If Tevez lived up to his own caricature as a headless chicken, Higuaín could well have had a River crest on his jersey, so gutless was his performance.

    With Tevez, Di María and Higuaín all performing so badly and with such a lack of discipline, Maradona’s plan imploded spectacularly on Saturday. Despite, as Jonathan Wilson says in his Sports Illustrated article, Argentina looking the more ‘threatening team’ after the opening 20 minutes or so, they didn’t create one decent chance. On Off the Ball tonight, he expanded on why Argentina’s approach should work, saying, in characteristic fashion, that “triangles always beat lines”. The only two times we remember the forwards actually making those angles they created two half-chances: the first when Messi put Tevez through; the second when Higuaín was caught offside. This was supposed to be Argentina’s great strength but they individuals failed spectacularly. They were impatient from the off. Frustrated with their own ineptitude, it wasn’t long before they began shooting lamely over the bar from 25 yards. A strike force that had promised to slice the German defence in a manner reminiscent of a mathematician’s wet dream, ended up looking but full of high sentence and more than little obtuse.