South American soccer stars are shining bright at this World Cup and on Tuesday Argentina became the first side to win all its points in a group. There was a hint of calculation in their line-up, as Mascherano, Higuain, Di Maria, Samuel, Tevez, Garce and Heinze were rested. But if Greece were in any way hopeful that the new squad would somehow perform less effectively, well, the reality was sobering: Lionel Messi’s team attacked in wave upon wave and even as they managed to puncture Greece’s defences and the excellent goalkeeper on the night, Tsorvas, only in 77th minute, there was no doubt who was the cat and who was the mouse in this game.
Make no mistake, Greeces fought bravely and with conviction. It is just that Argentinean soccer is so brimming with talent and so committed to an attacking style that their call these days can only be answered by Brazilians and maybe Spaniards.
And then there’s the wizard, Messi. He is yet to register his name as a scorer, but he is operating in his own space-time continuum. He is a blessing for football and we hope he’ll continue to grace the global stage for many years to come.
Group B matches set up the games for Saturday: Argentina will play Mexico, which should be a mouth-watering duel, and Uruguay will play South Korea. We can’t wait for those duels.
Here are this reporter’s notes:
Greece: Tzorvas, Kyrgiakos, Vyntra, Papadopoulos, Torosidis, Tziolis, Papastathopoulos, Moras, Karagounis, Katsouranis, Samaras
Argentina: Romero, Burdisso, Demichelis, Otamendi, Rodriguez, Veron, Bolatti, Maxi, Aguero, Messi, Milito
Man of the match
Seven changes in Argentine team tonight. Maradona opted to rest some of his stars ahead of the quarterfinal game against Mexico. Yes, we know they still may play against Uruguay, but we can’t see Greece beating Argentina tonight.
Lionel Messi is Argentine captain tonight, as Mascherano is on the bench.
The game is terribly slow. Argentine team are showing no signs of urgency that so defined the games against Nigeria and Korea.
The game is slow and uninteresting in the 20s. As they expire, Kostas Katsouranis gets the first yellow card of the game, for bringing down Guerro. (Yes, Maradona’s son-in-law.)
Photo: Argentina’s Lionel Messi (C) fights for the ball with Greece’s Nikos Spyropoulos (bottom) during a 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti
The game is slow to the point of falling asleep. Messi’s returning ball to the Greeks after an injury interview outrages Greek captain Karagounis, for some reason. Maybe because there’s nothing else to do than quarrel over the way ball is returned to the game.
Rehhagel looks strangely pensive. Does he feel this could be his last World Cup game? His players are fighting bravely against the favoured Argentineans, every inch of the field.
Argentines are so superior that they have time for show-boating. Although Greeks are losing, they don’t even get to see Argentinean half.
By Branko Brkic
Photo: Argentina’s Martin Demichelis celebrates scoring a goal during a 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match against Greece at Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
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