Preview of Argentina vs Germany match plus today’s headlines. Lionel Messi missed Argentina’s training yesterday because of a cold but has recovered and should be fit to start. On how he would play against Germany, Maradona said, “It would be a sin to change now. I am not going to play 4-4-2.” He also announced that Demechelis will start but is unsure who will partner him in the crucial area of central defence saying, “Samuel or Burdisso? We are still analysing all the options.” Discuss here.
Meanwhile, Batistuta is now back in Argentina, speaking to Ole newspaper he said Maradona is doing a fantastic job, it will be a tough match against Germany.
Maradona, looking ahead to the meeting with Javier Aguirre’s Mexicans, said: “They all did the job I asked of them. “I’m going to field the best I’ve got because now it’s do or die. The class of the so-called big teams comes into the reckoning. “We’ll attack them looking for their weak points with our best prepared players, hoping … to get it right as we have done so far.”
Maradona has also confirmed that Walter Samuel will miss the match, Samuel has not recovered from his thigh injury he picked up in Argentina’s 4-1 win over South Korea last week, he will be replaced by Nicolas Burdisso. “Samuel is not feeling well and we cannot risk [using him] now,” Maradona said at a press conference. Discuss here.
Diego Maradona talks about whether Palermo or Higuaín should come on in last night match against Greece. “Enrique, Mancuso and Maradona deliberated over whether Palermo or Higuaín should come on,” he said. “Enrique and Mancuso wanted ‘Pipita’ so I said ‘yeah? bring on Martin then.” He says he told Martin Palermo to ‘”go in and define this for me.” Said and done, the 36-year-old striker had his first-ever taste of a World Cup and scored on the 89th minute.
On his late clincher in the 2-0 win over Greece, Martin Palermo said, “I was overcome with emotion. Everybody celebrated that goal as if every one of them had scored it too. I’m really pleased with all the affection they have for me,” said Palermo of his team-mates’ enthusiastic congratulations after his crisp finish with his weaker right foot on 89 minutes.”
He also took the opportunity thank Maradona for including him in the South Africa 2010 squad. “I’ll always be eternally grateful to Diego for this opportunity. I’ve seen a lot of World Cups pass by during my career and I was never part of them. To be here and part of a squad with such magnificent players at the age of 36 is more than a dream come true.”
Argentina is through to the second round after beating Greece 2 – 0 in their last group match, goals were scored by Demechelis (77) and Martin Palermo (89). Argentina will play Mexico in the knock-out round on.
Maradona stays grounded after flawless group campaign, “Now the road gets more difficult, and the hierarchy of each team comes into play,” Maradona said. “You always talk about Germany, Italy, Brazil, that they’re playing bad, but they are always in the semi-finals, in the final, in the second round, in the quarters.”
On being the country’s youngest ever captain in a World Cup at 22 years old, Messi said: “It was a unique experience – something very special.”
Argentina: Sergio Romero, Martin Demichelis, Clemente Rodriguez, Nicolas Burdisso, Mario Bolatti, Juan Sebastian Veron, Lionel Messi, Nicolas Otamendi, Sergio Aguero (Javier Pastore, 76), Diego Milito (Martin Palermo, 80), Maxi Rodriguez (Angel Di Maria, 63).
Defender Martin Demichelis and substitute Martin Palermo succeeded where Argentina’s multi-talented strikeforce had failed as they scored the goals to break Greece’s resilience and end their World Cup hopes at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Demichelis fired home from close range in the 77th minute after his header from Lionel Messi’s corner bounced back off team-mate Diego Milito. Palermo tapped in the rebound from Messi’s shot to complete the victory a minute from time. It sent Argentina into the knockout phase to face Mexico full of confidence on the back of three successive wins as Greece’s best defensive efforts ultimately proved to be in vain. South Korea’s 2-2 draw with Nigeria put them through as Group B runners-up.
For long periods Diego Maradona’s side were frustrated by Greece, for whom defending is what they do best – having used the tactic to become surprise European champions in 2004. However, what Otto Rehhagel’s side desperately needed more than anything was a goal and despite the unstinting efforts of Celtic striker Georgios Samaras – who at times appeared to be the one in a 10-1 formation – they just did not threaten enough.
Argentina, by contrast, did not really need to exert themselves as they were virtually guaranteed to progress as group winners before the match kicked off. Messi captained the side after Maradona made seven changes from victory over South Korea but found himself closely marked throughout. Sergio Aguero’s first sight of goal saw the busy Alexandros Tzorvas palm his shot away for a corner in the 18th minute and the goalkeeper then immediately had to tip over Juan Sebastian Veron’s 30-yard strike.
Tzorvas almost undid all Greece’s hard work when he spilled Diego Milito’s low cross into the path of Aguero but Loukas Vyntra charged down his shot at the far post. But he redeemed himself in first-half added time when he saved from Maxi Rodriguez and Messi in quick succession. Three minutes into the second half Greece almost snatched the lead when Samaras beat Demichelis to another long ball out of defence and raced into the penalty area but drove wide of far post with his left foot – Greece’s first shot of the match.
But injuries were not kind to Rehhagel’s side as they lost Georgios Karagounis, Konstantinos Katsouranis and Vasileios Torosidis all within 10 minutes of the restart. Argentina pressed on regardless with Milito inches from heading in a cross from left-back Clemente Rodriguez, who himself hit a dipping shot just wide. In the 68th minute Messi’s long-range free-kick brought another save out of Tzorvas and from the resulting corner the ball dropped to defensive midfielder Mario Bolatti but he shot straight at the goalkeeper from six yards.
It was 24 years to the day since Maradona scored his infamous Hand of God goal against England in the quarter-finals of 1986 Mexico World Cup – Argentina’s last triumph at this tournament – and the frustrated players might have felt like indulging in similar skulduggery themselves. But Demichelis saved anyone the embarrassment by drilling into the roof of the net with 13 minutes to go.
Things opened up after that and Messi smashed a left-footed shot off the post having weaved his way into the penalty area. His next effort was more productive as Tzorvas parried his strike into the path of the 36-year-old Palermo who took full advantage.