Argentina 2 – Greece 0 (Match Summary)

June 22, 2010 - Polokwane, LIMPOPO, South Africa - epa02217012 Argentine head coach Diego Maradona celebrates after his team was scoring the 2-0 during the FIFA World Cup 2010 group B preliminary round match between Greece and Argentina at the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, South Africa, 22 June 2010.
Diego Maradona took advantage of what will be Argentina’s last “low-pressure” game before moving onto the Round of 16 to rest 7 of his starters from the previous two matches. Mascherano, Di Maria, Higuain, and Heinze, among others, began the day as spectators to make way for Argentina’s “second team”—although it’s hard to see a front line of Messi, Aguero and Milito as a diminished threat! Diego’s men took the pitch in a fairly straightforward 4-3-3.

Greece lined up in a defensive 4-5-1, with lone striker Samaras left to trailblaze alone through the Argentine backline. He did show great strength and determination on several occasions, sending Argentine keeper Romero diving the wrong way on one attack but striking the ball wide of the goal. In general, however, Samaras was alone in his ambition to do that all-important thing in the beautiful game—score goals. Was the Greek side unaware of the status of the other game, not realizing a draw would no longer suffice to move on? Had twitter been banished from their handheld devices?

Not that Argentina seemed too inclined to score themselves in the first half. It’s true they did dominate possession, at points approaching or even passing the 70% mark, but aside from a nice effort on goal by Aguero, it wasn’t until the closing minutes of the half that Argentine poured on a little pressure, including a stinger by Messi that Greek keeper Tzorbas pushed over the crossbar.

One expected—and hoped—the game would open up in the 2nd half, assuming the Greeks would have some contact with the outside world in the locker room and understand the math involved. Aside from some more whispers from Samaras, however, the game was, well, pretty boring until Argentina finally tallied off a corner kick in the 77th minute. Centerback Demichelis found a rebounded ball in front of the net begging for a kick into the net and gratefully obliged, perhaps partially redeeming himself for the mistake that allowed Korea a goal in their second match.

If you are like me, your attention at this point was probably on the nail-biting finish to the Nigeria – Korea match, but here’s what happened. Greece apparently still hadn’t figured out the simple algebra, or had simply resigned, and Argentina continued to possess and pressure. It paid off in the 89th minute when another lazer-like shot from Messi bounced off Tzorbas to a waiting Palermo. The 36 year old veteran striker didn’t hesitate to coolly bury it.

Although Argentina had obviously shifted down a gear and the quality of play was not what will see them through the later stages, the positive chemistry exhibited between Diego and every last player on the squad is unmatched by any other team at this tournament (except for the spirit displayed, I say in all modesty, by team USA in the second half of their comeback), especially in contrast to some other squads we won’t mention. When you can celebrate even the simple victories with intense joy and passion as Diego and his boys do—when every last miniscule goal feels as if it were the World Cup winner—you’ve found the beauty in the “beautiful game.”

2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Blake Owen says:

    For me, Greece played a lot like Algeria did today – happy for a draw. It was quite odd.

    Oh, and the cynic in me wants to say that Diego had some chemical assistance in his joie de vivre.

  2. I stumbled across your blog and think it’s fantastic, keep us posting

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