Posts Tagged ‘Argentina’

FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008 – Five-A-Side Football Kicks Off in Brazil

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Futsal, FIFA’s officially sanctioned version of Five-a-side football, may not be as widespread (or receive as much TV coverage) as the 11 vs. 11 “real thing”, but its popularity is very much on the rise. A popularity which can only grow further, with the 6th edition of the FIFA Futsal World Cup kicking off last Tuesday.

As title favorites Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Italy, and Portugal step onto the synthetic turf of Nilson Nelson Gymnasium and Ginásio do Maracanãzinho (the tournament’s two venues in the cities of Brasília and Rio de Janeiro), all eyes will be directed towards the soccer state for the biggest indoor footy showdown of the year.

Nigeria 0-1 Argentina: Albiceleste Retain Their Olympic Crown (OLYMPICS 2008)

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Four years after the gold in Athens, another 1-0 scoreline confirmed Argentina as Olympic football champions. In 2004, the match-winning goal had been scored by a certain Carlos Tevez; this year in Beijing, salvation came from above. “Little Angel” Di María flapped his celestial wings and delivered a fatal blow to finalists Nigeria, exploiting an inch-perfect pass by Lionel Messi. The real star of the football Olympics obviously, was the the little “atomic flea” from Barcelona: Messi was not even supposed to be here (after the Catalan club had won their late July CAS appeal), but in the end he was the first player to raise his gold medal high in the sky, his first big success with the Selección Argentina.

(From Gazzetta): The biggest highlight of the first half, without a doubt, was the time-out given to both teams by the referee to permit them to… drink. As far as we know this had never happened before in an international competition, but was surely a sensible choice given the extreme local weather situation (32ºC with 35% humidity… not too smart to be playing at noon huh IOC?). Needless to say these conditions naturally favored Nigeria more than Argentina, even though the African 1996 champions suffered a bit early in the match and after the “re-hydration” break (when Riquelme & Co. were playing more lucidly).

The rest of the time though, albeit risky, the offside trap organized by African coach Samson Siasia was working perfectly: Messi and Agüero could combine one-touch passes as much as they wanted, there was always one Nigerian defender glued to the Barcelona striker’s backside. As for the work down the wings of Zabaleta, the Argentine full-back was more effective with his forward runs than his crossing, to say the least. Thus, the only “real” Albiceleste chance to make the 1st half highlights reel was a long-range effort by Luciano Fabián Monzón, deflected without too many problems by Nigerian keeper Ambruse Vanzekin. In contrast the Africans were multiplying their runs down the wings, and progressively increasing their passing accuracy in doing so. In minute 34 Nigeria obtained the biggest chance of the half, as offensive midfielder Promise Isaac successively obtained not one, but two crosses from both sides. Alas for his team his finishing touches left something to be desired.

Catching a break at the half, the Argentines tried to “go for the kill” very early in the second, repositioning Messi in a central role in order to make him dictate play better. A move which was immediately going to pay dividends. After two very good chances in minutes 47 and 50 (a spot-on pass for Agüero and an accurate long-range effort, both well-saved by Vanzekin), the pixie from Barcelona struck the dagger deep into Nigerian hearts: executing a perfect pass for Di María in space, Argentina had their first big opportunity of the match and they were not going to miss it. Just like against Netherlands in overtime, the little Benfica winger did not flinch: a chipped shot over the rushing keeper finally but La Selección in the lead. 1-0 Argentina.

Knowing the final scoreline, it’s fairly easy to guess what happened in the remaining 30 minutes of play. Nigeria were now forced to push forward in order to equalize, giving Argentina acres of space to hit them on the counter-attack. The match suddenly became very vibrant, and although the African team were taking many risks at the back, they were the ones who obtained the most significant scoring chance. Substitute Victor Anichebe notably, was the most dangerous for Nigeria getting behind two very good crossed by Obinna. The Africans were was unlucky however because in both cases, the deflections of powerful center-back Ezequiel Garay and goalkeeper Sergio Romero on the line denied the Everton striker the joy of the equalizer.

Time eventually came to an end, thus giving Argentina a sweet revenge over their lost 1996 final in Atlanta, and re-confirming them Olympic football champions for the second time in a row. For Barcelona this was probably a pretty good operation as well: their star player will now return from Beijing happy, and all the more motivated to win a few extra pieces of silverware this season.


 Nigeria Football Association NIGERIA-ARGENTINA
Asociación del Fútbol Argentino (Argentine Football Association)
GOALSCORERS: 58’ Di María (A)
NIGERIA (4-3-3): Vanzekin – Adefemi, Apam, Adeleye, Okonkwo – Kaita, Isaac (70’ Ekpo), Ajilore – Okoronkwo (64’ Anichebe), Odemwingie, Obinna. (bench: James, Ogbuke Obasi, Ambrose, Ezenwa, Olufemi). Coach: Siasia.
ARGENTINA (4-4-2): Romero – Zabaleta, Garay, Pareja, Monzon – Gago, Riquelme, Mascherano, Di Maria (88’ Banega) – Messi (93’ Lavezzi), Agüero (79’ Sosa). (bench: Fazio, Acosta, Buonanotte, Navarro). Coach: Batista.


Argentina 3-0 Brazil: Seleçao Taught a Lesson in Futból (OLYMPICS 2008)

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Just like a sheet of paper from a page-a-day-calendar, Argentina ripped Brazil out of the stack, crunched it up, made a little paper ball, did a few juggles and then backheeled it into the trash. Everyone was anticipating this game as the final-before-the final in these 2008 Beijing Football Olympics, and boy did we not get disappointed.

Three goals to nil are a fierce but realistic goal difference, and the two red cards earned by the Auriverde (frustrated by an immense Javier Mascherano) will provide historical evidence this was indeed a severe beating inflicted on their rivals by Argentina. At the very least, a sweet sweet revenge from last year’s Copa America final, lost 3-0 in Maracaibo. Something tells us that in the next few hours, Dunga’s tenure as head of the Brazilian national team (already under severe criticism for poor performances in the World Cup qualifiers) will be severely at risk.

(From Gazzetta): EARLY INCANDESCENCE – As expected from a fixture like this one, Tuesday’s match took very little time to catch fire. In minute 2, Ronaldinho (bestowed with the usual playmaking duties alongside Diego) delivered an inch-perfect assist for Rafael Sobis, who (alas for Brazil) missed his control inside the box. With Argentina forced into their own half, it almost seemed as if this Brazilian team had abandonded their defensive focus à la sauce Dunga (this despite the three-defensive-midfielder line) and was back to the Samba-style footy everyone loves. Almost.

On the other end, Argentina had fielded 3 men behind lone striker Sergio Agüero, namely the always reliable Riquelme and Messi (on fire today, once again) and the little pixie from the 2007 U-20 World Cup in Canada, Ángel Di María (just recently signed on by Benfica). The Argentine winger was virtually everywhere on the field, almost causing Breno to an early own goal (min. 5) and then later setting up Agüero in perfect position to strike. The Atletico Madrid forward however, was quite evidently impressed by his “father-in-law’s” presence in the stands (he is dating Giannina Maradona), because his good dribble on Alex Silva was followed by a shot wide of the mark. No worries for Argentina though, “El Kun” would unwind in great style later in the game…

AURIVERDE STRIKERS NEEDED – Once again, Brazil was quite handicapped by the absence of a real striker up front (poor Rafael Sobis was trying his best to carry the weight of the attack by himself), and this rendered the good work of Rafinha and Marcelo down the wings, as well as that of Ronaldinho (almost playing the pass-without-moving “relay-man”) rather futile. In turn, the devastating runs of Messi were keeping the Brazilian defense very much on their toes, all the while the strong, physical work of Gago and Zabaleta were being met play-by-play by the (also strong) Anderson and Lucas Leiva.

However, Brazil were progressively forced to backtrack, so much so that in minute 52, a small step on the gas pedal was enough for Argentina to take the lead (and within minutes, to quickly transform it into a 2-goal advantage). Both tallies were the result of some good work by Di Maria, who first armed a powerful shot from the left side (deflected by Agüero’s torso into the net), then set up Lionel Messi for another devastating horizontal run, finalized by Zabaleta’s right-side cross to a wide-open “El Kun” (min. 58). 1-0 and 2-0 Argentina in the span of 6 minutes.

In addition of paying for their lack of initiative, Brazil were also dealing with considerable bad luck because just after the first goal, the bottom part of the Albiceleste post got hit by a Sobis long-range effort, shortly followed by a Ronaldinho free-kick. On the developments of the latter play Alexandre Pato (on for Sobis) finally found the net, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

BRAZIL SEES RED – The match effectively came to an end in minute 76, from the spot-kick, after a foul in the box by Breno on Agüero. Juan Román Riquelme did the honors, putting Argentina 3-0 up and virtually sealing the game for his team. Before the full-time whistle however, there was still time for Lucas and Thiago Neves to get sent to an early shower, as they earned a red for “use of excessive force” on Javier Mascherano.

Despite their two-man advantage however Argentina put on the brakes, probably out of pity for their now-defunct opponents. No doubt Brazil will very soon rise from their ashes but in the meantime, the Olympics remain the only tournament still escaping them. As for Argentina, they will have the opportunity on Saturday for an Atlanta ’96 re-match: indeed, Nigeria are the only thing left between them and a gold medal.


Asociación del Fútbol Argentino (Argentine Football Association) ARGENTINA-BRAZIL
[Match Highlights]
Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (Brazilian Football Confederation)
GOALSCORERS: 52′, 58′ Agüero (A), 76′ Riquelme (A)
ARGENTINA (4-2-3-1): Romero – Zabaleta, Garay, Pareja, Monzon – Gago, Mascherano – Di Maria, Riquelme (90′ Sosa), Messi – Agüero. (bench: Navarro, Fazio, Banega, Lavezzi, Acosta). Coach: Batista.
BRAZIL (4-3-1-2): Renan – Rafinha, Alex Silva, Breno, Marcelo – Hernanes (61′ Thiago Neves), Lucas, Anderson – Diego (77′ Jo) – Sobis (61′ Pato), Ronaldinho. (bench: Diego Alves, Thiago Silva, Ramires, Ilsinho). Coach: Dunga.