Feb 15, 1995	Brazil and Argentina in WC'94 (Stefano Tine', Gabriele Marcotti, Daniel Windler)
Mar 26, 1998	Argentina in 1990 and 1994 (Ariel Mazzarelli, Marco Paserman)

Subject: Re: Italy should have won WC94
From: Stefano Tine' (stefano@feynman.physics.unlv.edu) 
Date: 15 Feb 1995


Brasil: it was a mediocre team with the exception of Romario and Leonardo;
        but they have always the psychological factor in their favour:
        everyone is scared by them because they have the best individual
        technique in the world (but that isn't all); but where were the
        like of Pele', Rivelino, Falcao, Socrates, Cerezo, that Brasil has
        accustomed us to? For this team to win the cup a lot of luck has to
        be involved. The luck, as I see it, was in: a) getting an easy path
        to the final, b) getting one more game in Pasadena than Italy,
        c) having Romania and Argentina cleared from their path,
        d) getting an unfit Baggio for the final (that missed shot in extra
        time still cries out loud for revenge), e) winning on the penalty
        kicks lottery. The only very unfortunate circumstance for them was
        Leonardo's disqualification.

Argentina: the team to beat, definitively. And not because Maradona was
           there. Because Batistuta and Balbo and Caniggia were there!
           Who can beat an attack like that? But Maradona's affair
           unfocused them, and they had to face Romania in that critical

From: Gabriele Marcotti (marcotti@mail2.sas.upenn.edu) 
Subject: Re: Italy should have won WC94
Date: 15 Feb 1995 

I couldn't agree more. Luck (and Havelange & Blatter) were crucial to
Brazil. I would have loved to see them play against Maradona and the
Argentinian team. Several on this thread like to extol the virtues of
this team, but please look at the facts. Except for the forwards this was
one of the weakest individual Brazil teams ever: Rai is an inconsistent
reject, Dunga is valiant but ancient and as unskilled as ever and Mazinho
is, well, let's just say he was cut by one of the most pathetic teams in
Italy. Face it, they won because of lack of opponents and luck as much
as team strength.

Argentina were easily number one. Of course Maradona has always been 
on Fifa's blacklist so it wasn't even that surprising that he was kicked 
out. They would have crushed Brazil.

From: dwindler@uclink2.berkeley.edu (Daniel Windler)
Subject: Re: Italy should have won WC94
Date: 15 Feb 1995 10:21:34 GMT

        Let me say that I don't really believe in luck.  Luck is what we
call all those small things we don't have the time nor inclination to
account for.  This world cup had some exciting matches... not because there
were many good teams, but because most teams were on the same crappy level.
Amongst this crap, Brasil was good, and this allowed them to justifyably
win the WC.  Are we disappointed that Parreira elected to play practical
rather than beautiful football?  Are we upset that the World Cup had to
be decided by penalties?  Of course we are.
        Was this one of the weakest Brasil teams individually?  I'm too
young to judge.  But they had at least solid players at every position.
Leonardo, Jorginho, Romario (who I used to say was a very overrated
player, but now that everyone says he sucks, I must admit that he is also
a good player), Bebeto (who I still maintain is better than Romario and
one of the best strikers in the world), and most of all Mauro Silva made
Brasil, after Argentina, the best collection of individual talent in the
WC.  They put aside their divisions, and played with a good strategy.
They won all the games they had to win (except the final), the draw with
Sweden being in an unimportant match.
        The point of football is to score more than your opponent.
Although they lacked what we call "contundencia" in Argentina, they were
the best in every game they played.  That they weren't challenged?  I
call that a good defense.  Anyway, who was to challenge them?  All the
other teams in the WC stunk, are we supposed to get a time machine and
bring sides from the past?
       The teams that are said that could have beat them are Romania and
Argentina.  I'll get to Argentina later (being an expert in the field).
We'll never know (because Romania was eliminated, remember, by a team
that Brasil beat), but I don't think Romania would have beaten Brasil.
First is the belief that the big 4 come out on top in the big games.  I
doubt Romania would have believed they could beat Brasil had they met
them in the late stages of the cup... they would have been content with
their already respectable finish.  Second, although Romania counted with
some great players, Brasil was still individually better.  Thirdly (and
most importantly), Parreira wouldn't have given Romania the strategical
advantages that Argentina and Colombia did.  Romania was based on the
counterattack, fitting perfectly against Colombia and Argentina's all
out attack.  But against a patient Brasil?  A Mauro Silva that would
have killed the encroaching counterattacks?  I'm not saying that there's
no way Romania would have won, but Brasil would win a majority of these
games that were played.
        No one's saying that Brasil was the most exciting, rather that
they were the best in playing the type of game they wanted.

        I'm elated that you hold Argentine football in such high esteem,
but I must say that you guys are going a bit too far. I can write a book
about why, but I'll at least attempt to be brief.
       First, let me say that its a shame what hapenned to the Argentina
team.  My first football memory was, as a young child, watching the 1978
team win the World Cup with great individual talent and open, attacking
football.  Of course I cheered when we won again in 1986, but I always
preferred a team replete with stars rather than one completely dependent
on just one genius.  This team had the talent to go way beyond the
champions of '78.  Individually, it was stacked.  Chamot, Balbo,
Batistuta, Caniggia, Redondo are all stars of the highest international
order.  Even Sensini, Caceres, etc. are well respected in the leagues
they play in.  But they had a coach that makes Sacchi look like a
genius.  They also had Ruggeri as a central defender (by Maradona's
order), and this cost them 2 goals against Romania.
       Great individual talent... but its like in the NBA if the eastern
all-stars were to play the Los Angeles Lakers.  The all-stars have more
talent, but the other team is more prepared, disciplined, etc.  The
Maradona situation unleashed storms that had been with the team before.
Remember, these players weren't friends... Maradona and Redondo, forget
it.  Add to that after Maradona was gone there was no one to set up the
forwards... Maradona had decided before the WC not to take anyone
competent in his position.  His replacement was Leo Rodriguez.  You
Italians know Leo Rodriguez (bidone of serie B)... rest assured that
Argentina has many better mezza-punte that weren't called.  Even before
the Diego situation, Argentina had many defensive liabilities that
weren't solved.  I can't say that the first two games in the WC totally
dispelled these.  Greece can't be considered a test of a defense.
Nigeria got my hopes up, but I can't say that the defense could have
withheld Romario and Bebeto.
        Because of injury, Caceres was one of the central defenders
(Maradona didn't want him as a starter, since he was in the Redondo
camp).  Chamot was the other.  So, half the defense was well manned. But
the other two defenders were Sensini and Ruggeri.  Sensini is a good
player, but lacks the speed to play right back.  In Italy, he plays in
the midfield almost exclusively, where his battling and class serve him
the best...even still, I don't think he should have been in the starting
line-up.  Ruggeri had no business being on the team.  After the Colombia
game, everyone had called for his head, and he did no better in the
friendlies before the cup.  It pisses me off that a player like Ayala
(current captain of the argentine nat'l team, and possible future player
of Juventus) wasn't on the list of 22.
        The defense was badly manned.  Even worse, it was badly
organized.  It played a flatback four in zone, just begging for any team
to go through its holes.  Also, Balbo played in the midfield!  What kind
of moron coach puts Balbo in the midfield.  Look, you've got Caniggia,
Batistuta, and Balbo... don't you think two are enough!  Basile wasn't
courageous enough to put one on the bench (I would have left Caniggia
back home) and put a system which a midfielder would give the balls to
Bati and Balbo.  Redondo even played number 10 agaisnt Romania... that's
how disorganized they were!
        To sum up (I know I haven't been brief), you sound like Maradona
blaming Argentina's demise to some conspiracy.  Argentina lost because of
self inflicted chaos on and off the field.  I could (and did) say what
would happen to Argentina if Maradona were part of their team. Moreover,
these guys are professionals... why did they roll over and die against
Bulgaria.  I must save Redondo from this criticism, he was the only guy
to try to put the team on his shoulders. Agianst Romania they tried, but
they couldn't score on any of their many chances... not defining isn't
bad luck, its not defining.  I'm not convinced that Argentina would have
won this WC, had it not been for Maradona.  A world cup isn't won by
pointing out that you have the best players, its by making it work on
the field... Brasil did that.

        But the what if bothers me so much.  I'd rather this Maradona
thing had never hapenned, and that they would have been eliminated
entirely on the field... then, I'd never wonder.

Subject: Re: "Hands of God"
Date: 26 Mar 1998 06:35:00 -0700
From: mazzare@primenet.erase2mail.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)

People make mistakes. When Diego bought the wrong brand of diet pills, 
FIFA found it convenient to throw the book at him--our desire to see the 
thing decided on the field be damned. Our desire to see the greatest player
in the history of the game--irrelevant. Here was a man who had spoken out
against things like scheduling world cup games at high noon in summer and
the bureaucrats liked the chance to sink him. The 1994 world cup became 
a sham after that. The effect of the heat and humidity was obvious, giving
the games that glazed plastic look--e.g. Belgians who could not be bothered
to run after a Saudi player that wanted to score a big goal. The irony is
that many "fans" cheered when the man that would raise the quality of the
sport they love was struck down in this petty way.

It is fitting that the winner was decided by penales, because that was 
a bureaucrat's tournament.

Subject: Re: "Hands of God"
Date: 26 Mar 1998 13:00:12 GMT
From: mdpaserm@login3.fas.harvard.edu (Marco Paserman)

Incidentally, Argentina was the best team in WC '94, with or without Maradona.
They were running an unbeaten streak until the Colombia disaster, IIRC, had
won the previous two Copa Americas, and had enough talent to walk away 
with the Cup. I can take the "psychological shock" excuse to explain the Bulgaria
defeat (or maybe you guys were just trying to avoid Italy), but against
Romania the team should have regrouped and won, had they had enough
huevos to go with their talent.  They didn't, and it's silly
to blame Havelange.

Subject: Re: "Hands of God"
Date: 26 Mar 1998 15:28:00 -0700
From: mazzare@primenet.erase2mail.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)

I think they had huevos. It was just a set of very unfortunate circumstances.

When you make a decision tree on the game Argentina-Rumania in that cup,
it is remarkable how many things that could have gone either way went against

It is better to be lucky than unlucky: Argentina was unlucky (too many
close shots that did not go in to mention), Rumania was lucky (that first
goal, for one; never facing an adverse score, for another).

It is better to be well prepared: Rumania had been waiting in LA for a week,
Argentina had 3 days to turn everything upside down and prepare for a
team that was not in the plans--and without Diego. Of all the teams to
face in such a situation, Rumania was probably the worst one because they
had already played the game they needed to play against Colombia.

Referee department: that first Rumanian shot on goal should have never
taken place since Caceres did not commit a foul, and the player that
stopped Simeone as the last man was not given a red card.

If they replay that very same game with a simple change at the beginning
where Balbo scores that mano a mano rather than not score it, Argentina
wins easily. If they replay that game with Argentina and Rumania having
more or less the same amount of time to settle down and prepare,
Argentina wins it 9 out of 10 times. If they replay that very same game
with the very same circumstances, but pressing the reset button on the
issue of whether a scoring chance is successful, Argentina wins it 8 or 9
out of 10 times.

And after their fine win, what does Rumania do? They stink up the joint
against Sweden, who then proceed to stink up the joint against the brasucas. 
The one team that the brasucas did not want to face was Argentina.
Futbol sucks.

Subject: Re: "Hands of God"
Date: 27 Mar 1998 06:50:16 GMT
From: mdpaserm@login2.fas.harvard.edu (Marco Paserman)

[Everything that could have possibly gone wrong for Argentina against
 Romania went wrong...]

On the other hand, everything that could have possibly gone right for
Argentina in WC 1990 did go right:

Maradona doing his best impersonation of Schnellinger against the Soviets,
and ignored by the referee.

The brasucas taking particular delight at aiming at the Argentinian post 
in the first half of the second round match.

Diego deciding that his only 15 seconds of futbol that his aching legs 
would allow him in the whole WC would be devoted to buying the brasucas
a return ticket to Rio.

A Yugo player mysteriously sent off in the first half of the quarterfinal.

Zenga, arguably the best goalie in the world at the time, inexplicably
trying to catch butterflies on Caniggia's head in the semifinal.

The padanian fans deciding to pick on Argentina as The Most Hated Team
Of The Tournament, thus multiplying the huevo-level of the mediocre 
bunch assembled by Bilardo by a factor of 10.

And best of all: starting goalkeeper Pumpido getting injured against the 
Soviets, paving the way for Goycochea, an average goalkeeper, but a phenomenal
penalty-saving machine, to start.

Hence, futbol is beautiful.

(Then of course came Sen~or Codesal, together with the Oscar (c)
winning performances of Rudi and Jurgi, so futbol sucks once again...)

Subject: Re: "Hands of God"
Date: 27 Mar 1998 03:04:00 -0700
From: mazzare@primenet.erase2mail.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)

>[Argentina displays a tremendous culo during 1990 WC]
>Hence, futbol is beautiful.

And because it is beautiful, it gives you illusion, and then it sucks 
extra hard.

>(Then of course came Sen~or Codesal, together with the Oscar (c)
>winning performances of Rudi and Jurgi, so futbol sucks once again...)

This is the worst part of Codesal: he ruined what would have been the
canonical definition of culo at the world cup. For centuries, when people
wanted to talk about culo, they would have said "you are a Bilardo". 
Codesal... that jerk single-handedly warped history. Futbol sucks.