Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Batista Out!!! Hope for Argentina

The words that I was dreaming a lot, since I watched Argentina playing against Bolivia in the inaugural match of Copa America '11 is out.

AFA has decided to not continue with Batista as the Albiceleste coach.

Argentina has been the best under achieving team in world football since 1993. Since 93 they could not win a single major tournament, inspite of playing good. This culminated in 2006 World cup when they were out in the quarters after losing to Germany in penalties and were rated as one of the best teams in the world that did not win a world cup. Argentina was playing mesmerising possession football till then. There after, in 2007 they reached Copa America finals, playing the best football they have played in the last decade, but choked to Brazil in the finals. After that finals, Argentina has never gone back to its best, inspite of having some of the world's best talents.

In 2010 World cup, they took a gamble by giving the coaching job to Deigo Maradona who lacked any coaching experience. With his charm to keep the whole team as a single unit, Deigo managed to make Argentina play the best attacking football till the pre quarters. However, he was a disaster tactically and when faced against an astute tactician like Geochim Leow of Germany Argentina had to pack its bag.

And then came Batista, the defensive mid fielder who held the fort when Deigo was the best attacking midfielder in  '86. Batista announced his desire to play like Barcelona and proved it by keeping Tevez out of the team for long. It was quite clear that Tevez could never play together with players like Messi as he was too individualistic. Well he was forced by public opinion and just before the Copa America, Batista made a topsy turvy and took Tevez in the team. It was quite sure then that Argentina will not last long in the tournament.

I still had my hopes as Maradona had managed to keep down the ego of Tevez in the world cup. Then came the inaugural match of Copa and it proved what a poor tactician Batista was. He decided to give Leo Messi the same role as in Barca, the false 9, but kept absolutely wrong players around him. Tevez and Lavezzi at the wings and the 3 defensive midfielders behind. Messi has revolutionised the idea of False 9, ever since he first played that role against Manchester United in the Champions League final in Rome '09. But for this to succeed, he needed players with lot of mobility by his sides, making lot of movements and off the ball runs. But it turned out that most Argentine players wanted to prove they were better than Messi and Argentina failed as a team. After one more horrible display against Columbia, Batista kept out Tevez and Lavezzi against Cota rica and also introduced more mobile players. Even if the tactics was not much better, for eg. he used De Maria in the centre of the field, there was some difference to the play. And then came Uruguay lead by a master tactitician, Tabarez, and Batista didnt know how to make use of the man advantage, when Uruguay were playing with 10 men. He infact was really poor and showed that he was absolutely 0, when he bought back Tevez and made him play even behind Messi. Till that match Argentine media was happy to put all the blame on Messi, yes the poor maestro, and ignore all other problems. But this match opened the eyes of many. And here is the result. Batista is out.

Nobody knows who the next person will be. I simply wish it will be a person with real experience. There are news that Sabella, who took an Argentine team with ordinary players all the way up to the club world cup final and gave Barcelona a real scare in the 2009 final, could be the new man. That was one of the toughest matches for Barcelona in the recent times I have seen, and if it is that coach, he might turn out good.

I really wish, Argentina finds a good coach who is tactically as astute as Tabarez or Guardiola. It will be such a pity if a country with so much of bloody talent (Messi, Aguero, Higuain, Pastore, Mascherrano, Banega all should be around 25 - 29 years for next world cup, at their primes) will not at least reach the finals of the Brazil world cup. 

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