Saturday, May 03, 2014

Meet the Team: Argentina

To be fair..there is some white
Nickname: La Albiceleste (The White and Sky Blue) isn't exactly fearsome, intimidating or the least bit interesting, but it is uh...accurate...wait no...that's a navy kit...screw it.

Star: Here's one of the four names that American sports fans of all stripes would be hard pressed NOT to know already: Lionel Messi aka "The New Maradona", aka "La Pulga Atomica/The Atomic Flea". To put it simply: he's good, really good, probably the best player in the world, and has been for the last 6 years or so. He creates, he finishes and he has arguably the biggest target on his back of any player in the world, along with the crushing expectations associated with it. He was great as a distributor in South Africa, will the pressure to score push him faster than he needs?

Hip-Star: Obviously, everybody knows about Messi, and only poseurs would really think that Sergio Agüero or Gonzalo Higuaín aren't totally mainstream too. If you really want to show your awesomeness, Ezequiel Lavezzi who would be the top threat if it weren't for the three sell-outs ahead of him. The PSG striker can hang with the big guns, and makes an awesome threat off the bench.

Romero can't believe he's the
weak link either
X-Factor: There's no real concern with what the Argentinians are going to do offensively, and in their relatively anemic group, there's little worry that they'll be fine until the knockout rounds. But that's the point where goal keeping form will suddenly matter. Sergio Romero, the most trusted Argentine keeper isn't seeing much of the pitch at Monaco, and the others (Mariano Andújar, Augustín Orión and Óscar Ustari) are either older, far less familiar with international competition or both. The goals allowed against the likes of Iran, Nigeria and Bosnia/Herzegovinia may be telling in how they handle tougher outs like France, Ecuador or Switzerland.

Coach: Alejandro Sabella lacks a few things the last man to guide Argentina to the world cup had: international fame, a history of dating Madonna, a total lack of self control. But the phlegmatic new coach has been valuable to Argentina in a way the old guy (what was his name...Mara-donda?) didn't. Going undefeated against an increasingly ominous South American competition, and forging a firm bond with the maestro named Messi.

History: A pair of titles in 1978 and 1986 are the dominant laurels of Maradonna and Kempes' golden generation. Since they bowed out, however, they haven't made it past the quarterfinals. For all the furor around Messi and co, they need a little more hardware before they rank among the legends in local lore.

Breakfast with Argentina--
This on toast.
Food: With so many games being played in the afternoon, and lunch being the biggest meal of the day in Argentina the prospect of a couple empanadas and a cake with dulce du leche sounds great, though I'm not sure it could help me stay awake...I know, a glass of Malbec! No way that'll make me sleepy.

Fool: Christine Fernandez de Kirchner offers something of a cautionary tale for any politically astute wife of a former president (not that we know anyone like that). Sure she's got two terms, but she also has a rotten economy and a ceaseless run of corruption scandals to inspire protests against her. On the plus side, Pope Francis is both Argentinian and a futbol fan, so God might be on their side, even if political reliability isn't.

Best Case: Messi runs circles around everyone, and dismantles Cristiano Ronaldo in a quarter, Mario Balotelli in the semi, and Neymar in the final to add a third star to the AFA crest.

Worst Case: A freak samba accident breaks La Pulga Atomica's leg, and the despondant teammates sleepwalk to a stunning run of ties that leave them just short of the out rounds.

My prediction: While Edin Dzeko and Bosnia might sneak a point in the first match, Sergio Romero should get back into form throughout the group stage, and can probably handle the second round rival (likely Switzerland or Ecuador). The quarters is where things get interesting, and while I think they make the semi's, I don't think they go any further than that. 4th Place

Added Bonus: Our Argentine representives in the Hip-Hop world Cup are Koxmoz

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