Pierre Boisrond

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.

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Argentina’s suicide caused by Marcelo Bielsa

    The Argentine national coach did not learn his lesson against England and caused the early exit of the suicidal Albiceleste. This is football, if a team can’t score, then that team does not belong in the big dance. If a team with such superstars, like Bati, Crespo, Veron and many others can’t score, then yes, that team does not belong in the grandiose fiesta. The system used by Bielsa plunged Argentina to chaos. When a coach refuses to learn the lesson given by Sven-Göran Eriksson, the English national coach, then it is justified that Bielsa does not belong in the ranks of great Argentina coaches such as Bilardo, Menotti, Basile and Passarella. Eriksson had done Bielsa a great favor by giving him a preview of what to come against Sweden. Bielsa, a stubborn coach, really deserved to pack his bags for Buenos Aires and resign thereafter so Carlos Bianchi can take over.

    It is not the fact that Argentina did not play well, but the finishers could not capitalize. When a player like Claudio Lopez missed so many opportunities, this player should have been substituted. Bielsa did not learn that fact. The Swedes did what they had to do, and they deserved lot of credit to resist so many attacks from Argentina. Why so many crosses against a disciplined defense armed by the Swedes? Why not having Bati and Crespo at the same time on the attack? How could Bati or Crespo be able to contain four defenders sometimes 5 or 6? This should have been a no brainer for Bielsa. He failed miserably.

    Teams that wasted opportunities are going to pack their bags. This is very simple. We have seen it happen to France, Uruguay, Cameroon, South Africa and Argentina. However, teams that show strength and character are playing well but with lot of precautions. Some of these teams are England, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Paraguay and Germany. It’s not about playing beautiful football, that era is over! it’s all about results. Thus the Argentines could not score, and only managed to get 2 goals; Ironically, these goals were scored by Batistuta and Crespo respectively. In a game where there is nothing to lose, Bielsa destroyed the hope of every Argentina fan by substituting Batistuta and leaving Claudio Lopez who missed so many opportunities. As stubborn as Bielsa is, he proved his point by refusing to use the duo Bati-Crespo. He paid the price and left a bad taste in the mouth of the Argentine fans around the world. A team with so many talented players like Argentina should have been through easily.

    No matter what the adversity is great teams do rise to the occasion. This Argentina national team did not rise to the occasion. The players gave their best for their people, but the coach completely ignored the people’s appeal by making suicidal decisions that plunged the team into the deepest hole ever. When the game is on the line, players like Crespo and Bati should play the entire game no matter what. When Bati and Crespo proved that they are among the best scorers in the world, none of them should be a benchwarmer. This is a dilemma that the sports journalists cannot seem to understand, perhaps Bielsa can explain this. When a player like Batistuta who probably was playing his last game for the national team, this is not the time to substitute him. Let him play the whole game, let him give his best, eventually he could have found an opening with his wicked shot. Bati should have played the whole game for what he had done for Argentina; he should not have been on the bench to suffer this agonizing draw. The coach completely destroyed Argentina. He had an opportunity to redeem himself against Sweden, but, indeed, he failed miserably.

    Bielsa is condemned by his own ridiculous system. I hope he will find the courage to resign after that horrible performance. Clearly, Argentina do not belong in the big dance. Yes, they were the favorites! Yes, they were among the best in the world! At the moment of truth, they succumbed simply by a detrimental system used by Marcelo Bielsa who has decided to ignore the lesson of Sven-Göran Eriksson, England's national coach.

    It’s almost over for the favorites and may the other teams beware. Teams like France and Argentina should have been in the next round, but their sense of pride destroyed them. When one thinks about Trezeguet, Thierry Henry, Batistuta, Crespo and to see that these world-class strikers manage to score among them two goals, then certainly something is wrong. This is football, and these players have to deal with it. It was not their time. Perhaps, France would have made it through if Zidane had participated in the first two games. Perhaps Argentina would have made it through if Bielsa had employed the duo Bati-Crespo. Bielsa could have learnt from Fabio Capello who had used the duo Bati-Montella. Perhaps France would have gone through if Lemerre had used Cisse for the whole game. Perhaps Argentina would have gone through if the talented Juan Roman Riquelme had been selected by the stubborn Bielsa. However, these are ifs... it’s all in vain now for these two giants of football. They will have to regroup and focus on 2006. For Argentina, the talent is there, there’s no doubt that this lesson will be very valuable for them in 2006. This team again will include many superstars such as Riquelme, Aimar, D’Alessandro, Saviola, Crespo etc; but they will need to find them an excellent goalie.

    On the other hand, this World Cup has been so far a valuable lesson for the favourites, they will have to learn about it. As Crespo said during the South American qualifiers: “let’s enjoy our moment now, since in the WC it only took a bad game and you’re out” His words were prophetic, and now Argentina are packing for Buenos Aires.

    As an Argentina fan myself, my cell phone could not stop ringing this early morning as my friends, family members, colleagues, brazilian supporters were calling me right after the game. They were calling me from Boston, New York, New Jersey, Haiti, Tampa and Houston to make it worst for me. There’s another friend, a Brazilian fan, that I have met in a Haitian restaurant in Boston and I know he would like to see me in my misery right now. Sooner or later, I will have to face him in my misery for the next four years. My Irish friends at my former employer, Baltimore Technologies just summed it for me last week after the England game by emailing the following: “Don’t cry for me Argentina” That explained it all. But I still had some hope! Now, I can only find some consolation in a bunch of ifs.

    Perhaps, I should have listened to our editor, Jan Alsos, when he wrote not to put my hope on Argentina for winning the World Cup since the favorites seldom get there. The Haitian-Argentine fans are in a total shock in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and besides that they will have to take the beatings and the humiliation from the Brazilian-Haitians fans. This is how it is! Since 1990, I’ve been suffering after Codesal robbed me. In 1994, I used the words of Maradona: “ Fifa, me cortaron las piernas”. In 1998, Holland sent me packing after a brilliant goal by Bergkamp, and now the most humiliated of all, the defeat against England, and a Swedish ticket to pack my bags for Buenos Aires. The next four years won’t be easy since I will be in the receiving hands of constant humiliation from the Brazilian fans. In 2006 I hope for a different result, I hope that Riquelme, D’Alessandro, Saviola, Aimar under the direction of Carlos Bianchi (Should be the next coach, not Cuper) can bring back the glory days of 1978 and 1986. I can only hope, I can only dream about it, and may this dream become a reality! I can only say may the best team win this 2002 World Cup!

    Congratulations to Sweden, England, Ireland and McCarthy, Spain, Paraguay, Senegal, Brazil, Denmark, they have accomplished their tasks. The final result is what counts, not playing beautifully.



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