According to a very (very!) official survey of nine Argentines in a Recoleta bar last night — and trust me, all nine of them assured me they were speaking on behalf of the entire population — watching paint dry was absolutely more interesting than yesterday’s match between Argentina and Uruguay.
To be honest, if there was paint readily available, I wouldn’t be surprised if people started drinking it following last night’s abysmal showing.
In the team’s first official match under new coach Jorge Sampaoli, Uruguay proved to be a tough nut to crack. Anticipation was high before the game. No one expected it to be easy, but at the same time, I don’t think anyone expected it to be that boring.
Arguably four of the world’s best players took to the field last night in what was supposed to be a gladiatorial clash of football titans. Instead, 30 grown men, whose market value probably exceeds the combined defense budgets of Argentina and Uruguay (US $4.5 billion), only managed to record five shots on target.
Yesterday evening, Argentina was held to a draw in an extremely underwhelming game. A 0-0 draw in Uruguay. A match that possessed some of the best attacking prowess in the world that should have resulted in great, fast, flowing offensive football. And yet, for people on both sides of the Rio de la Plata, the match was an atrocious mess, with Argentina having 80 percent possession (80 percent!) but only managing to record three shots on target.
Luis Suarez, who people thought would be out due to medical reasons, was able to play in the end. But even the presence of a prolific marksman like himself failed to add any flair. Suarez was able to have some positive input. First, he didn’t bite anyone, and second, he limped off injured. Great news for Argentina!
So where does this leave Argentina? Believe it or not, last night could have been worse. Way, way worse. Yes, it could get worse.
Argentina’s great rival Chile suffered a surprising 3-0 defeat to Argentina’s other great rival Paraguay, in Santiago, while Argentina’s other great rival Brazil was victorious over Ecuador.
Even better news for Argentina is that Venezuela and Colombia (also great rivals!) also drew. Bad news for Argentina is that Peru overcame Bolivia at home, moving them to within two points of Argentina.
Now Argentina remains in fifth place in the playoff position, one point behind Chile in fourth and two points behind Colombia in second. All teams have three games left to play.
However, Argentina also finds itself in a precarious situation, as lurking behind them are Peru, Paraguay and Ecuador. Only three points separate Argentina from eighth-place Ecuador.
Argentina is yet to play Peru at home, and faces a difficult clash in Quito next month. Qualification, is likely to go down to the wire.
Given the sheer depth of talent the National Team has at its disposal, they should have qualified weeks ago. Their lackluster performances have added fuel to the fire. Previously, Argentina’s underperformance was about pride. Now there’s a real danger they might not be going to Russia.
Argentina takes on Venezuela here in Buenos Aires this Tuesday, September 5. For those of you who are interested, I have two buckets of Alba, non-drip, pure white paint waiting for me at home.