Argentina advances. Dale! Well, actually, I thought Argentina advanced, but my father-in-law informed me at dinner that technically it is possible for Argentina to not advance. Even so, it’s gotta be like 99%.
1. I am less sanguine about Argentina than most. South Korea really should have scored when the game was 2-1. If they do, this is not a 4-1 game. Argentina beat Nigeria by 1 goal and South Korea by 3, where 2 goals were scored relatively late. Perhaps it is my experience rooting for Holland, but
2. Nigeria. Sigh. I was impressed by Nigeria in the 94 World Cup and have had a soft spot in my heart for them in World Cups since. I have few doubts that they are the second best team in this group. And even though they have 0 points, they still have a chance to advance if they can get it together and beat South Korea. They play well, but a stupid red card put a massive dent in the hopes of advancing for the 8th most populous nation in the world. Still, Argentina should beat Greece, so if Nigeria beats Korea, then Nigeria would advance. All is not lost, but they need to get it together.
3. Have I mentioned I don’t like Angel Di Maria? Of course I have, many times! He’s so overrated. After today, I don’t even think it’s opinion that he is having a terrible disaster of a World Cup (Maradona left Jesus Datolo and Ezequiel Lavezzi off the roster, dumb dumb dumb). My father in law agreed with me at dinner tonight, and liked my off the cuff suggestion to move Tevez into Di Maria’s slot. Aguero or Milito can play forward.
That’s the sick part of being Maradona. He just has so much talent available.
4. Have I mentioned I don’t like Jonas Gutierrez? Indeed I have. That yellow card was just stupid, an unforced error. Still, there is some reason for Gutierrez when Juan Sebastian Veron is playing, to cover Veron’s lack of mobility. However, he was out hurt today, and Maxi Rodriguez (who I would start in many tactical situations) was in his place, so there’s no conceivable excuse for having Gutierrez in the game.
5. Gonzalo Higuain scored 3 right-place, right-time goals. Hey, I’m a Higuain fan even if I don’t like River or Real Madrid: I criticized Maradona for months for keeping him out. Some people have the gift of being in the right spot: Martin Palermo generally does, Higuain does.
6. Maradona introduced Kun Aguero into the game at the perfect moment. My father in law mentioned this tonight. I hadn’t thought of it, but he is right.
7. Messi took for himself a deeper-lying playmaking role. To be honest, I didn’t have a problem with it. In the interview I saw with Messi, he made it sound like it was how he felt like playing at the moment. If it was Maradona’s idea, I give the Diego credit. I don’t really know that it was, but it softened the blow of Riquelme’s absence.
8. Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama (not gonna look it up now) had a little bit of a Robert Green moment. A shame for him, as he had perhaps been the best player of the World Cup until then.
9. Mexico! Raymond Domenech seems to be a worse manager than Diego Maradona, but vamos Mexico! France had the ball more often, but not by a lot, and never in very compromising positions. Mexico created the chances and today was absolutely the better side. I would like to point out that I yelled for Javier Hernandez to be introduced until he finally was…and quickly scored the first goal of the game. Amazing timing on his run to beat the offsides trap.
10. More importantly, Mexico looked to be a team focused on winning. As the Argentine announcers said after the game, they played directly. This has frequently been Mexico’s problem, but today it wasn’t, and beating France by 2 goals is a huge victory for Mexico and even for CONCACAF.
11. Mexico’s second goal was a penalty. The Argentine announcers (generally quality commentators) both repeated ad nauseum that it shouldn’t have been a PK, which nearly gave me a heart attack. I do not understand how any sensible person could possibly consider this. Que estupidez total!
12. No Henry, Raymond Domenech? Yet lots of Govou? I do not like. No me gusta para nada.
13. It is close to certain that Uruguay and Mexico advance. That means Uruguay v Mexico will determine who is able to avoid playing Argentina. Interestingly, Argentina beat Uruguay to force Uruguay into playing Costa Rica for the final World Cup spot, and Argentina beat Mexico in the round of 16 in the last World Cup.
14. The US needs a win against Slovenia tomorrow. I’m surprisingly nervous. All the games tomorrow (Germany v Serbia, US v Slovenia, England v Algeria) are quite interesting from my perspective, but probably because I’m an American.