Pierre Boisrond has followed soccer and the World Cup
closely for many years and also writes for other websites. We at PWC are proud to have him as
a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of
the World Cup.
Read earlier columns
Controversial coaching decisions - fair on the players?
Over the years, soccerfans have witnessed coaches who completely refuse to bring certain players. That seems to
happen a lot in South American National Teams. It has happened with Brazil and also with Argentina. In the case of Brazil, a
controversial decision by Zagallo and Zico cost Romario the 1998 World Cup. For some strange reasons, Passarella refused
to call Fernando Redondo for France 1998. These sorts of silly decisions only hurt the games and prevent the fans
around the world to see great players who are capable of furnishing something really special on the football pitch.
Brazil and Argentina will have to face each other on September 5th and the rendezvous for this grandiose South
American derby will be at the River Plate Monumental Stadium. However, Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentine national coach,
decided to spoil the party since he had refused to call the Argentine Super Star, Gabriel Omar Batistuta, for this game. Bielsa
deliberately decided to spoil the party for the fans of the round ball. The question that troubled me is a simple “Why?”
These days, when a fan talks about Argentina; one knows that this fan has to mention the name of Batistuta. With a
lame excuse, Bielsa had decided not call Batigol and therefore prevented the fans to see the tandem duo “Bati-Crespo”. Sometimes,
one wonders why these coaches are making so many bad decisions. In the case of Bielsa, Argentina is already qualified,
now is the time for him to start using the “Duo”. Many fans were convinced that Batigol would have received the call, but
these fans ended up being disappointed by the coach of the “Albiceleste”.
The verb that Bielsa tends to conjugate is that Crespo and Batistuta cannot play together. This is an absurd statement
that lament many international coaches. It would have been a dream for international coaches to have these two players in
their squad. It is quite impossible for myself to understand this phenomenon. There’s no logical reasoning behind Bielsa’s decision. The knee injury is no longer an issue for the world's
deadliest striker. It’s not a contest between Crespo and Batistuta but a contest between Bielsa and Batistuta.
Bielsa can easily say that his coaching principles worked since Argentina had already qualified. But, a coach should
be able to make accommodations. In a derby between Argentina and Brazil, the best players must be there if they can
play. These players will give the games a different meaning and will render it very special so the fans around the world can
enjoy it. When the best players in the world step on the soccer pitch, everyone expects some magnificent moves like the ones
we have seen from Rivaldo, Veron, Crespo, Bati or Denilson who did get rid of the Paraguayan defender to set a beauty for
Rivaldo, an idol of the Ex-Argentine International, Diego Armando Maradona. Coaches must put special formulas aside
and let the players take the games to the highest level.
This Bielsa will destroy the harmony of the Albiceleste and must be really careful in his decisions. At that level, there’s
no excuse for leaving Bati out. It is time for Bielsa to put Batigol and Crespo on the pitch. It is time to do it. If not, when will
that happen, in Korea-Japan? I hope not. So far, the Bielsa era had caused Argentina three losses against Brazil. Bielsa had
only won one game against Brazil. After all we all know that Brazil is Brazil and the Brazilians are not going to make it easy
for the Argentines. In any great game, great players do rise to the expectations like Karl Heinz Rummenigue did it
against the France of Michel Platini in 1982; like Diego Armando Maradona did against a talented Australian team to
qualify Argentina for the 1994 World Cup; like Rivaldo and Denilson did against Paraguay to restore the hope of the
Brazilian fans and give Brazil a chance to be in Korea-Japan 2002; Like Dennis Bergkamp did against Argentina in
France 98 to give the Netherlands a chance to face Brazil in the semi-final; Like Paolo Rossi did in Spain 82 against
the talented Brazilian team conducted by Arthur Coimbra (Zico) and a superb doctor better known as Socrates, or should I
steal the line from the Haitian's commentators who called him “Docteur Socrates.” I could go on and on. It’s all about
passion, my dear readers; it’s all about the love for the game; that's what makes derbies very special. When there are derbies,
fans do expect to see the best players. When there are derbies among national teams, the whole country is waiting and
therefore employees can go home, business shut down. It's all about passion! To really understand this one has to experience
it and I do believe many of us who were not born in the USA do experience that sort of passion. If
a fan still hasn't experienced this passion, I would suggest that he or she got his or her plane ticket to Buenos Aires for this
September 5th derby. A national coach should never interfere with that passion and must also
think about the fans, not only his or her benefits.
The Bielsa saga is not over, it will continue. He has not called Riquelme yet, although Romy is injured. Believe me, he
will call him. Riquelme should definitely have been the candidate to replace Veron; But, Bielsa is lucky on this point due to the
Boca Superstar's knee injury. Remember this point, national pressure will force Bielsa to call Riquelme and to put the duo
Bati-Crespo up front. Imagine an attack with Veron, Riquelme in the place of Aimar and Bati-Crespo upfront. Argentina would
become like a Manchester United conducted by a sensational Veron with the eternal David Beckham; or should I say a
Brazilian attack with Rivaldo, Denilson, Romario and Ronaldo! Imagine what we would have seen!
To conclude, I must say that this week the fans will enjoy a European Derby: England vs Germany and a South
American Super “Clasico”, Argentina vs. Brazil. I hope that Oliver Kahn can resist the young English Superstar, Michael
Owen, if not, it could be pretty ugly for the Germans. For the Argentines, Bielsa better not go down in Buenos Aires; if not,
he will be 1-4 against Brazil conducted by a talented and spectacular magician such as Rivaldo.
Rivaldo is not going to make it easy for Argentina — Remember that Argentina has no Veron and Aimar does not convince me
yet. He needs to step it up like he did against Italy this year. If he can't do that, he must be on the bench and
let Gallardo run the show. With Aimar not playing well, Veron out and Bati left out things get complicated for Argentina.
I would rather see Aimar replaced by Riquelme who is now the best player that Argentina has and might even be the best in
the world at this very moment. Well, remember that Riquelme displayed his repertoires against Figo and company in the past
Inter Continental Cup. We have to wait and see and let’s hope the coaches won’t interfere with the game by preventing the
world's best players participate in games that could be historical.
See you all next time!
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