Thursday, July 12, 2007

Argentina es un sentimiento: happiness, pride and the Albiceleste

Genius, genius, genius. Absolutely superb strike. And look, not a smile! What makes this guy smile? I mean, come on, Román, give us a look, give us a smile, baby.
- GolTV's Ray Hudson, after Juan Roman Riquelme scored a fantastic free kick for Villarreal in 2005.
Argentina 4 - 0 Peru

This is a different type of match report to my previous ones, which were based on individual player assessments. Because I wanted to say things that wouldn't have sounded right in that format, and the first of those is that watching Roman play right now reminds me over and over again just why I love football. I've never seen him play like this, not only passing brilliantly as always but running from box to box, tackling, and with a lethal finish. It makes one feel privileged to witness such an obviously inspired performance.

Ray - bless him - lamented the melancholy that we've all seen seemingly etched into his face, but now smiles from Roman have become far easier to come by, and from all indications, he's happy. In a way, Roman's quite easy to understand: when he's happy, he can play. And that's all you need to win games.

Bless 'Coco' Basile for grasping that.

Bless him also for recognising the worth of Javier Zanetti. You may say that everyone knows how good the Inter captain is, but his recall only looks like the most obvious move in hindsight because it has worked so beautifully. Zanetti sets an example for the team, because he never seems to get tired, he never stops working, looking for opportunities or defending with class.

I'm writing this just a few hours before the semi-final game against Mexico, and I feel a need to get this down: I believe in this team and their ability utterly. No matter what happens, I'll still feel proud to support the Albiceleste, and proud of this incredible squad of players.

How could I not be? Look at the fighting spirit, work rate and wonderful skill of Carlos Tevez, even though he's had to come off the bench. Look at the never-say-die attitude of Leo Messi, who takes the hard hits and keeps going, never letting fear dictate his style of play. Look at the absolutely masterful and tireless performances of Javier Mascherano.

Each and everyone of them desperate to come to Venezuela, to play and win for Argentina, despite whatever travails they experienced during the club season.

Thank you, boys. Now let's go for it.

Vamos Argentina!

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