Reuters Soccer Blog
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Even before this week’s outburst and his decision to quit Argentina for the second time in three years, Juan Roman Riquelme’s future with the national team had looked uncertain.
Riquelme missed their first two matches under Diego Maradona because of club commitments and, without him in midfield, Argentina shook off the apparent lethargy which had marked their last few displays under Alfio Basile.
There is much to admire about Riquelme’s play. His elegant, languid style is a refreshing sight in the modern game, with its emphasis on speed and strength, and sadly he appears to belong to a dying breed.
But too often his temperament lets him down. Many feel he is over-sensitive to criticism and it took only a innocuous comment from Maradona in a television last week to dent his pride.
Take a look at the standings in the South American World Cup qualifying group and it seems that Argentina are making steady progress towards South Africa. After seven of the 18 games, Alfio Basile’s team are third with 12 points, two points behind the leaders, and only four goals conceded.
On paper, Argentina and their elegant playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme are a purist’s dream, weaving neat patterns around the field with their passing and refusing to resort to the long ball or the physical approach.