The Great Argentinian Failure
Fourteen years. That’s how long Buenos Aires has been without a trophy of any importance in their sport. On the fourth of July 1993 Gabriel Batistuta raised the Copa America trophy in celebration, but in fact bringing on a sequence of successive failures for Argentina.
Argentina has a rich football tradition and is often regarded as one of the best teams in the world, but the fact is that not since the days of Kempes and Maradona have they been able to win or dominate on the world stage. Frustration is always turned into optimism with the next crop of talented players, and the nonstop comparisons to who is the ‘next’ Maradona.
The Argentinian syndrome of who is “the new Diego Maradona” is perhaps their biggest problem, because you can’t replace him. The list of those who were crowned the successor and failed grows every couple of years. From Diego Latorre and Burrito Ortega in the past to Saviola and Riquelme in the present, to the new kids on the block – Leo Messi and Sergio Aguero. Messi and Aguero are carrying a burden of history and success that can not be surpassed and will be extremely difficult to equal. Both are undoubtably exciting to watch and will likely have great careers. But for the press to put the Maradona label on them at an early stage of their career will always lead to disappointment. Maradona singly handedly destroyed England (pun intended!) and brought Argentina their second and final World Cup. That earned him the highest praise and awards in the years to follow. Fastforward to 2010, where either Messi or Aguero will likely be asked to carry the nation on their back and lead Argentina to a World Cup – something they havent seen in twenty one years (1986). The pressure on them will be unbearable and that is what brings a team down early.
Remember their disaster in Koreak-Japan 2002?
The greatness of Argentinian football ended with Maradona. Since then its been team after team of world class players, cruising through the COMEBOL qualifiers only to crash and burn in the World Cup. Granted, a lot of the coaches have been pretty bad because the talent level has always been really high, but the disappointments never stopped.
Which brings us to this Copa America, where nobody at the AFA wanted to leave anything to chance. Argentina comes fully loaded. Not only ready to play, but ready to win. Because this is their big chance.
They are obliged to end the drought. The fans demand a championship and the team needs a championship to get the momentum for South Africa ’10. They have been overshadowed by their portuguese speaking rivals for the last two decades and they know their neighbors are weak. Argentina smells blood and is out to attack. If they don’t, it will be the next on their list of consecutive failures. Because this year, they are not only favorites, they are forced to win. There is no alternative. And tonight that determination is something Colombia must be terrified about.