Under Pressure – It’s Argentina vs a Costa Rica boy scout XI for a place in the quarter finals.Posted: July 11, 2011
What do Freddie Mercury and Sergio Batista have in common? Greasy hair you say? Well yeah, but that’s not wha…Questionable facial shrubbery? Again, valid but the answer we were hoping for was pressure.
For Batista, Messi and co, it really is pushing down on them. The real stories of this Copa so far have all come about due to the pressure of the tournament situation, whether good or bad.
Argentina are the bad.
Being hosts and favourites, there was inevitable pressure on the albiceleste. The problem has been that they have not thrived under it like true champions. Tactically mismanaged by ‘Checho’ their manager who has now received the dreaded ‘vote of confidence’ from Argentinean football chief Julio Grondona. As pressure has built on them, they’ve become the flustered, disjointed outfit that we’ve seen. They’ve lacked any of the fluency, dynamism or quality of the Barcelona side that they so desperately are trying to emulate.
Costa Rica are the good.
Costa Rica came to the Copa with an under-23 side that is entirely based in their own domestic league bar two – one of whom who plays for his college side in the USA. The way they played in both of their games thus far is one that has perfectly reflected their situation, that nobody expects anything of them and they have played with the resultant freedom.
In their first game, perhaps they got a bit carried away with their freedom. Skipper Brenes was sent off for a rash tackle and they lost 1-0 to Colombia, though still a respectable score. In their second, against Argentina’s (semi) conquerors Bolivia, they played with the verve and energy you’d expect from a plucky outsider full of young players. Would they have won if the verde hadn’t self-imploded and had two men sent off? It’s impossible to know, but it’s irrelevant, they resulted 2-0 victors and put themselves in with a plausible chance of qualification.
As these two sides face off in tonight’s game, Costa Rica know that a draw would see them through, and could well send the hosts and favourites spiralling out of the competition. With surprise packages Venezuela and Peru already through to the quarter final stage, who would bet against another surprise in this unpredictable Copa?