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Argentina’s romantic commitment facing a test


Basile watches as Tevez walks offTake 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.

Basile himself, who with his slicked-back hair and gravel voice appears to have shot straight out of a classic tango film, is an old romantic, who believes that winning must be achieved with style. Their forwards Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero need little introduction.

When it all goes right, Argentina can be breathtaking to watch — the 26-pass goal they scored against Serbia at the last World Cup and the three goals in 20 minutes they fired past Mexico in a friendly in June give a good idea of the heights they can reach.