Win shows spirit of Argentine squad


POLOKWANE — A tearful Martin Palermo after scoring his first World Cup goal on Tuesday was a symbol of the spirit as much as footballing depth of Diego Maradona’s Argentina squad.
The 36-year-old Palermo, making a World Cup debut he could not have dreamt of a year ago, helped Argentina beat Greece 2-0 in their final group game after they had spent most of the match patiently breaking down their ultra conservative opponents.
The team that won the match was not Maradona’s first choice side who beat Nigeria and South Korea, yet they played as if they were such is the belief running through the squad from himself down through the whole of his coaching staff.
A defence without Walter Samuel, Gabriel Heinze and Javier Mascherano provided a rock solid platform on which Juan Sebastian Veron and Maxi Rodriguez helped Messi and the strikers chip away at Greek resistance.
Some coaches might have been satisfied to keep the point that ensured Argentina won the group unbeaten but Maradona saw chinks in the Greek armour.
The fresh Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore made the team stronger in attack down the middle. It was in the final quarter that a freer Messi came so close to breaking his tournament duck.
Other coaches would have been worried by Argentina’s failure to come in ahead at halftime and by the hour perhaps opted to bolster the defence but Greece posed so little threat that Maradona felt confident in his choice of Palermo.
As usual captain Mascherano said recently Argentina were not concerned by a perceived imbalance between defence and attack with so many good forwards in the squad. —Reuters