Diego Maradona

Best team: Germany. Consistently dynamic, the German team was dazzling from start to finish. Beckenbauer wasn’t exaggerating when he said that the performance against Argentina was perhaps the best game ever by a German team. The maturity shown by the German side was even more impressive when one considers the team’s youth: Manuel Neuer is 24 years old, Mesut Ozil is 21, Bastian Schweinsteiger – that veteran – is 25. That’s just amazing. Generous, hardworking and even humble, the Germans were the opposite of the odious French or the smug Argentines.

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There’s no doubt that Germany looked magisterial against Argentina. Late last year, I watched a team pummel Diego Maradona’s team in similar fashion. They ran all over them with astonishing ease, making them look like a third division team on the brink of the brink of relegation. This was a particularly low moment for Maradona, the winter when his team was more messy than Messi. Still, the side that beat them clearly possessed players of superior quality. That was last December when the albiceleste ventured into Barcelona’s Nou Camp. They left the stadium that day defeated 4-2.

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A contribution from Vinod Sreeharsha, an American freelance journalist who has written about Latin America for McClatchy News, the Miami Herald, and the New York Times. BUENOS AIRES—The ups and downs of the past 24 hours here have been brutal, saddening, and well, very Argentine. The knives will likely come out now for Diego Maradona as quickly as the flurry of mea culpas came in during the days leading up to today's match with Germany.

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As the World Cup began, Diego Maradona was a figure of absurdity and fun—a perverse and lunatic figure, his ego as bloated as his abdomen. On the sidelines, bearded and animated as he was during his days of cocaine and Castro, he wore two huge wristwatches at once. He forced his hotel to rebuild his suite to include a bidet. He had lost, in qualifying, to Bolivia, and favored an absurd strategy that committed everything to attack, a sugared-up video game kind of football.

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Things are not looking good for England. Two draws against opponents many in the global football community had quickly written off. The passes aren’t coming through, the runs are being cut off, the set pieces are blasting over the cross-bar. Exasperation was clear and bright red on the faces of players during Friday’s match against unexpectedly impressive Algeria. They were snippy with each other, with the officials and with their coach. Their game could simply be described as frustrating.

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I am a big fan of the site Zonal Marking. The good folks over there have an excellent study of Chile. Now, I plan on rooting for Chile on feel-good humanitarian grounds. But I also intend to root for them because of their coach, Marcelo Bielsa. We’ve spent a fair amount of time already discussing the eccentricities of Diego Maradona. You might ask, how on earth did the Argentine football federation select such an obviously unstable man? Well, Maradona probably looked sane in comparison to Bielsa, one of his predecessors as the national coach.

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