Colombia did Argentina a good turn yesterday with their 2-0 win over Ecuador which meant that they still retained fourth spot even as they crashed to defeat against Brazil at the Grand Arroyito.
This maybe the way to go to SA, with a little help from other teams. Because the public seems to be quietly giving up on the team as over 65% of them in a survey believe that they will not make it to the World Cup.
It is still a sign of how Maradona is considered a national treasure, that criticism of his coaching still remains relatively muted. But Clarin has a headline "Maradona and the public, an unfailing love?" which suggests that their limitless patience is wearing off. There is also a chance that Carlos Bilardo might step in as coach if Argentina manages to qualify. Which is what people probably secretly hope as it also gives Maradona a chance to gracefully resign and keep intact his godlike status. As a manager so far he has shown feet of clay. One cannot believe that a coach who adulates a bruiser like Oscar Ruggeri would go for such a soft and lifeless defense.
It's not a good sign, when the public doles out applause based on your performance against Brazil. If this was an indication then Heinze should announce his international retirement immediately and Veron should feel vindicated after being treated with scorn for his 2002 World Cup debacle. Is there anymore evidence needed that in Argentina, players play for redemption rather than for results?
The media is basically backing off any overt criticism because in three days the Argentinians travel to Paraguay for another big game. The Paraguayans are in third place and have been quite frugal on defense with Salvador Cabanas as their top goalscoring threat. Argentina's road record has been dismal with one win, four losses and two draws. Their last success came against Venezuela almost a year ago in Round 2 at Maracaibo.
The one bit of optimism is that the strength of draw favours Argentina in the remaining matches with bottom dwellers Peru at home and underachieving Uruguay on the road. Colombia face Uruguay on the road, second placed Chile at home, and finish of in Asuncion against Paraguay. Ecuador travel to La Paz, in a high altitude fight against Bolivia, come back home to Uruguay and finish away against Chile. Yes, Uruguay is ubiquitous in these fixtures and they might be the dark horses or at worst spoilers. They have a better goal differential than Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador.