Mascherano shows shades of Rattin with petulant display

March 24, 2008

Mascherano protestsJavier Mascherano is in a long tradition of strong-charactered Argentine central midfielders going back to Antonio Rattin, and further.

Sadly, his petulance at Old Trafford in Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat by Manchester United on Sunday┬árecalls Rattin’s dismissal against England in the 1966 World Cup quarter-final at Wembley.

Both dismissals were for dissent rather than foul play, although Mascherano had already been booked and so might not have been shown the red card if he had not seen an earlier yellow for a late tackle.

Rattin’s sending-off was the incident that sparked the introduction of yellow and red cards.

He was sent off for repeatedly protesting to referee Rudolf Kreitlein over the German’s decisions for team mates’ misdemeanours, not unlike what happened to Mascherano.

Rattin was not seen in England again and it was, in fact, the only sending-off in the career of an influential and clean player.

Mascherano now risks being a marked man in the eyes of English referees and will need to be doubly careful about his behaviour if he is not to leave Liverpool a man short again.

As a player, he most closely resembles Americo Gallego, the thicker-built number 5 in Argentina’s 1978 World Cup-winning side, absorbing attacks and distributing play.

Sergio Batista, the tall, bearded incumbent in the 1986 World Cup team, was more like Rattin in his quiet, middle-of-the-park dominance, providing the steady holding role and launchpad for the actions of Diego Maradona and his fellow forwards.

Fernando Redondo was the elegant linchpin of the 1993 Copa America-winning side and 1994 World Cup team, a player not out of place making skilled incursions up front.

They all descend from a centre half tradition embodied by Nestor Rossi, a member of the great Argentina side that won the Copa America in 1957 but was badly weakened for the World Cup in Sweden the following year by the loss to Italy’s Serie A of a gifted inside-forward trio that included Omar Sivori, later a European Footballer of the Year.

PHOTO: Javier Mascherano is sent off by referee Steve Bennett during Liverpool’s Premier League defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford, March 23, 2008. REUTERS/Phil Noble

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