Friday, June 22, 2007

Riquelme Rejoins the Albicelestes

Juan Roman Riquelme's return to the Argentina squad for the upcoming Copa America tournament has been announced, and as a result I am probably more excited about these upcoming matches than I have been about any games since the World Cup.

I have a confession to make: I had to work during the live broadcast of last year's Germany v. Argentina World Cup match, and after learning the match results, I have never been able to bring myself to watch it, although I still have it lying around on tape somewhere. What makes a World Cup loss so upsetting is the fact that once a team you have fallen in love with is eliminated, you will most likely never again see that particular squad play. Many players see the World Cup as a kind of swan song, the glorious (or not-so-glorious) close to a career. And when Argentina got knocked out followed by the immediate resignation of Jose Pekerman, it seemed all over for that particular squad. I actually felt wronged by their elimination, as though--I am trying to not be overly dramatic here, but this is how I felt--I had been interrupted in the middle of watching a beautiful piece of art taking shape, or like someone had snatched an intriguing book out of my hands and set fire to it before I could finish reading it. To this day I feel vaguely, unjustifiably, resentful toward fans of Germany's national team, as though they personally tromped all over something while I was in the middle of enjoying it, and didn't even have the decency to notice how beautiful it was! And Riquelme's announced retirement from the national team a couple of months later only confirmed it.

Of course, despite the fielding of many of my favorite players--in addition to Riquelme, there's Messi, Cambiasso, Crespo, and Tevez, among others (though Barca's Javier Saviola, alas, is not included)--it remains to be seen what sort of tactics will be encouraged by manager Alfio Basile. Many pundits praised Pekerman's commitment to cleanly played and beautiful football and suggested the likelihood of Basile's returning the squad to its stereotypically diving, fouling, cheating roots. On the other hand, just as the saying goes that a woman must do any job twice as well as a man in order to be taken seriously, a Latin footballer, it seems, is twice or three times more likely to be dubbed a cheater than, say, an American or English footballer for the same number and nature of offenses. (Why, didn't I see a yellow card for diving issued against Landon Donovan during the Gold Cup match against Canada yesterday?) I'm really holding out hope for more of the gorgeously choreographed play we saw last summer.

Does anyone know if there's someplace in Portland where a contingency of Argentine nationals/fans might be watching any of these games? I'd like to try to see at least one in the company of some fellow supporters of the Albicelestes.


linda said...

I watched that game live and I don't think I've ever recovered. Watching Ayala and Cambiasso miss their penalties was so horribly painful.

So needless to say, I'm pleased to see Roman back, although now questions have to be asked about how Argentina are going to line up. Far too many attacking options.

Zach Dundas said...

You guys figure anything out for watching that match?

Lynda said...

Zach: I haven't heard from any homesick Argentines, but it looks like we won't be able to get out for the match on Thursday anyway. But Argentina (and the US, for that matter, earlier) also plays on July 2 and July 5 and we'd be up for a meetup of some kind...