Do South American World Cup qualifiers put the Champions League to shame?

September 6, 2016

“Now that Copa América and the Euros are behind us, the focus turns to World Cup qualification. For South American teams – who kicked off their campaigns last October – the road to the biggest football tournament in the world has always been tough and since 1996, when the current round-robin format was originally introduced, competition has improved tremendously. Historical powerhouses such as Brazil and Argentina are no longer shoe-ins to qualify as teams such as Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay and Ecuador, with star players of their own, are more than just also-rans.” Guardian

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The sad story of Omar Orestes Corbatta, scorer of Argentina’s second greatest goal

September 6, 2016

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“Before Diego Maradona’s second goal against England in 1986, the greatest goal in Argentinian history had been scored by Omar Orestes Corbatta in a 4-0 win over Chile in qualifying for the 1958 World Cup. Argentina already led 2-0 when Corbatta beat his marker, took the ball round the goalkeeper, waited for another Chilean to approach, dribbled past him and then, as the crowd urged him to finish the move off, with the goalkeeper and two other defenders charging back, dummied to shoot, leaving all three on the ground before finally stroking the ball over the line.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


Angels with Dirty Faces: How Argentinian Soccer Defined a Nation and Changed the Game Forever

July 19, 2016

“Argentina has produced Alfredo Di Stéfano, Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi—some of the greatest soccer players of all time. The country’s rich, volatile history is by turns sublime and ruthlessly pragmatic. A nation obsessed with soccer, Argentina lives and breathes the game, its theories, and its myths. Jonathan Wilson lived in Buenos Aires, in an apartment between La Recoleta Cemetery—where the country’s leading poets and politicians are buried—and the Huracán stadium. Like his apartment, Angels with Dirty Faces lies at the intersection of politics, literature, and sport. Here, he chronicles the evolution of Argentinian soccer: the appropriation of the British game, the golden age of la nuestra, the exuberant style of playing that developed as Juan Perón led the country into isolation, a hardening into the brutal methods of anti-fútbol, the fusing of beauty and efficacy under César Luis Menotti, and the emergence of all-time greats in Maradona and Messi against a backdrop of economic turbulence.” amazon – Jonathan Wilson


Copa America 2016 Tactical Analysis: Argentina 0-0 Chile (2-4 pens) | Chile adapt quickest & win midfield battle

July 1, 2016

“The Copa America Centenario concluded on Sunday night with a tense, closely-fought contest between Argentina and Chile in a repeat of last year’s final. And, in a prescient case of déjà vu, it once again saw Chile emerge triumphant from a penalty shootout after a goalless draw, handing them their second trophy in quick succession. Much of the aftermath was dominated by Lionel Messi’s shock announcement that he would be retiring from international football following a fourth final defeat for Argentina. However, this shouldn’t overshadow the great achievement by Chile in what was a fascinating final between two well-matched sides.” Outside of the Boot


Toxic psyche clouds Argentina as team hits mental breaking point

June 27, 2016

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“Argentina has more psychologists per capita than any country in the world—one can’t go out in Buenos Aires without meeting bunches of them—and not a single one of them can fix the toxic psyche of its national team. The latest example came on Sunday, when Lionel Messi and an Argentina team that had lorded over the Copa América Centenario failed to seal the deal again and came away losers in another final. The third straight major final in as many years, to be exact, this time to Chile on penalty kicks after a 0–0 tie. And whether or not Messi follows through on his stunning words that he’s probably retiring from the national team at 29, his drastic response is only a manifestation of a larger psychosis surrounding this team.” SI
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Second straight Copa America win solidifies Chile as one of world’s elite
“Claudio Bravo dropped to his knees in the corner of MetLife Stadium, raising his arms toward the sky as his teammates swarmed the field behind him, then shifted quickly in his direction. The team arrived to greet the goalkeeper in that corner, jumping and hugging and yelling in a joyous mass, all while stadium workers began to erect the the stage upon which they would celebrate. In the mass of hardware and fencing, the workers inadvertently pinned Chile’s team in its own corner.” SI
Lionel Messi and Argentina Miss Again as Chile Wins Copa América
Lionel Messi had the collar of his shirt pulled up to his nose. With his eyes peeking out just over the fabric, he watched a nightmare unfold. Argentina and Chile had played 120 minutes of ruthless, scoreless soccer on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. Penalty kicks would be needed to decide the winner of the 45th Copa América. Up stepped Messi, widely regarded as the best player in the world, to take the first shot for Argentina, and he missed, sending the ball sailing over the crossbar and into the crowd. Moments later, he watched as Francisco Silva of Chile buried a shot inside the left post to give his team a 4-2 shootout win. All of the Argentine players hung their heads near the center circle as the Chileans erupted in celebration. But Messi took a slow, solitary walk across the grass and took a seat on the far end of his team’s bench.” NY Times


Tactical Analysis: Argentina 4-1 Venezuela | Messi equals record, runs the show

June 23, 2016

“As the centenary edition of the Copa America reaches its knock-out phases, the competition has really begun to hot up. High-profile casualties Brazil and Uruguay have already fallen by the wayside, while Chile destroyed the fancied Mexico 7-0 in what has been a tournament of shocks so far. Venezuela were hoping to spring another surprise when they took on Argentina in the quarter final at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts but were ultimately unable to find a way of stopping Messi and co.” Outside of the Boot


First Look: Argentina vs. Chile in Copa America final rematch

June 23, 2016

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“The Copa America final is set, and it’s a familiar one. Argentina and Chile will vie for the Copa America title for a second straight summer after each easily dispatched its semifinal opponent. Argentina overran the USA in a 4-0 result on Tuesday night, while Chile blitzed Colombia out of gate, picking up where it left off in the quarterfinal against Mexico and advancing after a weather-delayed 2-0 win.  In addition to meeting in last year’s final, which Chile won on penalty kicks, the two sides engaged in one of the more entertaining games of this Copa America, opening group play against one another. Argentina prevailed, 2-1, with Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega scoring and assisting for each other before Chile nicked one in the last minute.” SI