No Messi-ng for Jose
By James Pearson | Friday 30th June
Argentina coach Jose Pekerman is likely to have a long look in the mirror on Friday night following his side’s exit from the World Cup.
The South Americans, who many thought were the favourites to win this summer’s tournament, were sensationally dumped out by hosts Germany.
Things looked good for Argentina with Roberto Ayala’s powerful header shortly after half-time giving Pekerman’s charges a lead.
However, with the game entering a crucial stage, Pekerman made a host of baffling changes – opting to leave wonder kid Lionel Messi on the sidelines.
Pekerman did have his hands tied in that he was forced into bringing on Leo Franco for injured keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri after 72 minutes, but he still had one change left up his sleeve.
Rather bizarrely he took off Hernan Crespo, who had not had a sniff up front and ran his socks off, for the ineffective Julio Cruz.
With all three changes made, having brought on Esteban Cambiasso for Juan Roman Riquelme, starlet Messi would not have the chance to shine.
While Cruz did score from the penalty spot in the shoot-out he added little during extra-time when Germany had basically ten men with Michael Ballack a mere spectator.
Messi would have torn Germany apart, as he did when impressing off the bench against Mexico last weekend, but it was not to be as Argentina crashed out on penalties.