Thursday, August 15, 2013

Papal football

Settling in a new country and with leagues slowly starting up, I have not had time to dwell much on football lately. However, last night I enjoyed watching the Papal match in Rome, between Argentina and Italy.
A match in honour of the first Argentinean Pope was indeed appropriate for two countries that share so much outside the pitch, and certainly also inside the pitch, where Italy played with the Argentinean Pablo Osvaldo as a replacement for Mario Balotelli.
Argentina also missed their greatest star, Lionel Messi, who could not give his divine touches due to an injury. However, Argentina seemed in control without him: they had more possession against an Italian side that seemed without concentration, in particular in defense, where a giveaway resulted in Gonzalo Higuain's opener for Argentina. Higuain has recently changed from Real Madrid to AS Napoli. I am of the opinion that this can only be a good deal for Real Madrid; in spite of a good goal and being a decent fighter, Higuain also misses too many chances; last night he had one huge miss.
Argentina without Messi or Aguero worked well, in spite of the poor Italians. In general the weakest part of Argentina is defense, and in spite of them not suffering too much (they could do nothing against Lorenzo Insigne's elegant goal), they have still not found a magic formula.
Argentina will surely be going to Brazil, and can already book their tickets in September in their qualifier against Paraguay. However, no matter Messi or the Pope, or any form of divine intervention, Argentina will not become world champion. They are far behind quality sides such as Germany, Brazil and the Netherlands, and light years behind Spain, the world champions of 2014 (who defeated Ecuador 0-2 in a friendly in Guayaquil, one of the strongest South American sides).
An interesting friendly Papal match, but one that is not worth much to anyone.

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