Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Messi Resumes Normal Service

Prior to El Presidente Julio Grondona's brave/foolhardy/ridiculous decision to appoint Diego Maradona as national team coach a little under two years ago the pragmatists choice was Sergio 'Checho' Batista. Batista brings a blend of national team experience as a player in the 1986 World Cup winning team combined with a Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympics as coach and as if to underline his fallibility a spectacular failure at the South American under-20 championships. Aside from the shiny gold medal in Beijing he also managed to get the best out of Lionel Messi, something Maradona failed to do on a consistent basis. Now for the disclaimer, it was only a friendly, Spain were tired, the Spanish squad were more concerned with photo opps at La Bombonera than training, it wasn't there first choice 11 etc, etc. At the very least we were spared the strange sight of Jonas Gutierrez playing right back and for this we should be thankful. The AFA will find it very difficult not to appoint Batista as permanent coach.

Match report below courtesy of Stephen Coutts at:

Argentina...4 v Spain...1

7 SEP 2010, Antonio Vespucio Liberti

LIONEL MESSI inspired La Albiceleste to an impressive win over World Cup winners Spain in Buenos Aires.

The Barca maestro had failed to set the heather alight in South Africa and revelled in front of a boisterous 53,000 home support.

Spain fielded a strong team and despite a host of names benchwarming Messi put his adopted country to the sword.

Messi's marauding run was rewarded with a slide-rule pass the split the Spain defence and he effortlessly chipped Pepe Reina to open the scoring on 10 minutes.

Three minutes later and Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuaín doubled their lead as he broke free to round Reina and slot home from an acute angle.

Argentina had the woodwork to thank as David Villa's long range effort crashed off the post before Carlos Tevez pounced on Reina's slip to bundle in their third after 34 minutes.

Villa tried his luck again from a 25-yard direct free-kick but the same post managed to keep the Spaniards out.

The first-half goal-feast led to a lacklustre second 45 minutes and in a bright moment Argentina saw Ángel Di Maria's goal ruled-out for offside on 63 minutes after Messi hesitated on releasing the pass following another mazyz run.

Spain substitute Fernando Llorente managed a consolation after his neat control and turn effort found it's way into the net on 84 minutes.

And Kun Agüero wrapped up the scoring on 90 minutes with a fine header from Gabriel Heinze' cross.

Argentina: Romero, Heinze [b64], G Milito [b12], Demichelis, Zanetti, Cambiasso [b19], Mascherano, Banega, Messi, Tévez [Di María, 60], Higuaín [Agüero, 68]

Subs not used: D Milito, Andújar, Bolatti, Burdisso, Zabaleta, Samuel

Spain: Reina [Valdés, 46], Marchena, Monreal [b67], Arbeloa [b23], Piqué, Fábregas [b24, Xavi, 57], Iniesta [Llorente, 46], Alonso, Silva [Navas, 46], Busquets, Villa [Cazorla, 46]

Subs not used: Torres, Casillas, Capdevila, Pedro, Ramos