Monday 20 November 2017

Don’t cry for Diego, he brought colour and humour to Africa

Germany expose Maradona's team of individuals, says Ossie Ardiles

This was a clinical victory, with Argentina beaten in the way that exposed football's greatest truth: it is a team game, and it is the team that always comes first, not the individuals.

It was always my fear at this World Cup. Argentina were without Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Juan Riquelme in the centre of operations, and there was no Gabriel Milito directing missions in central defence. All four would have been great assets against a team as organised as Germany were in this game.

They orchestrated a super game defensively and on the counter-attack, had done their sums correctly on the training ground. It was plain to see on the pitch. Germany now have the three components for success in international tournament football -- style, identity, and method.

That is very, very important at this stage in a World Cup. They have a look of a team that expect to score goals. Not in a frenetic manner, but from set pieces and on the counter attack -- when it is on. Otherwise, they just stay composed and work backwards and forwards together. Perfect team football.

Schweinsteiger is as much a team man as any other, but he had a wonderful game. The key was the German domination of the midfield. Yet he was allowed to control the midfield, because only Mascherano was there to challenge him.

Argentina were a team of individuals. This was Messi, Tevez and Co against the organisational efficiency of a German machine.

The first goal changed everything. Germany started exceptionally well, the Argentinean defending was woeful, and after the first goal, Germany were able to play the game they wanted and had planned for:

counter-attacking in numbers through midfield quickly, with Argentina leaving players stranded up front.

Germany now has a great chance of winning this World Cup, and this may sound strange, but they play in an English style. They go forward at every opportunity.

As soon as they win the ball, they look to attack. In principle, this is the football style which comes naturally to English players. In my view, it is the way England should be looking to play. It differs from the style of Spain, who play possession football and overdo the passing in my opinion. England would do well to study it, adopt it and play in such a style.

Was I upset by the way Argentina played? No, because Diego Maradona and his squad died having shown their cards. This was going to be their style, but you are not going to win a game with individuals against a team as organised as Germany now are. Naive? Yes, but I don't want to be too critical of Diego, or pillory him.

Maradona brought fresh air into the tournament, he brought colour, he brought humour, and he showed in South Africa that he is neither a clown nor a crazy man. In fact, the world watching began to love him. It was an honour to play with him and it remains one of the best things that happened in my life. He has made mistakes, he's new into management, he's human. Yet these four players I mentioned earlier stood out as absent on yesterday.

Zanetti was not there in midfield. Mascherano was the only one winning the ball back against Germany, and Cambiasso, for me, would have been an ideal player in the midfield partnership. Milito would have been a leader in central defence, holding the lines which were falling apart. Then there is Riquelme -- but then they are all 'ifs' now.

Sunday Independent

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