Monday, October 27, 2008

Argentina Won. It Was Hot. And Anticlimatic.

might as well tie off this knot from the previous post...

2008 Olympic Men's Final
Argentina 1-0 Nigeria.

The Olympic final never lived up to its epic potential, although that was down to the organizers rather than the teams. The Beijing organizers really wanted to have the final in "The Birdsnest", even though each & every one of the other matches of the tournament were played in other stadia. The only time they could squeeze it in between all of the track & field events was at noon local time, and the temperature on the field was pushing 114 degrees. This of course after every other match in the whole tournament was played at night in the relatively cooler temperatures. Dumbasses.

It was so unbelievably hot, that for the first time in history, FIFA took official timeouts halfway through each of the halves so that the players could rest & drink liquids. Crazy. As you can imagine, this took quite a bit away from the game. Add to that a temporary pitch which was laid just for this game in the infield track- and which was a bit dodgy- and the game was pretty damn disappointing.

If it was a fight you might be able to say that Nigeria just shaded it on points, especially in the first half. But it wasn't a fight, and Argentina scored a goal thanks to 1) a great through pass by Messi and 2) an absolutely inexplicable fuckup by the Nigerian goalkeeper where he came all the way out of his goal, stranded himself in no man's land, and allowed Di Maria to easily chip it over his head into the goal. It was a good finish, but never would have been possible without the keeper's moment of madness.

So that was that. It was especially foolish of the organizers to play the match in the noonday sun after the series of collapsing deaths in soccer in 2007; fortunately no one collapsed.

Argentina can basically now claim to be a youth soccer dynasty. In just the last 4 years they have won back to back Olympic {under 23} Gold Medals in 2004 & 2008, as well as back to back FIFA Under 20 World Cups in 2005 & 2007. At this point, with the incredible young talent they have, in addition to the ridiculous talent in their senior squad, they are in my mind the clear favorites to lift the 2010 World Cup.

No comments: