Argentina to thrill with no frills

PRETORIA, June 24 (Reuters) - Argentina are seen at the World Cup as playing the beautiful game normally associated with Brazil but according to winger Jonas Gutierrez they simply want to produce no-frills, winning soccer in South Africa.

Gutierrez told reporters late on Wednesday to expect simple, effective football from the new Cup favourites when they take on Mexico in the second round on Sunday in Johannesburg.

"The national team don't want to play with frills, they want to play well, use the ball well," said Gutierrez.

"I think that's what Diego (Maradona) wants from us, not with frills or showing off, which has nothing to do with football.

"Good ball circulation, looking for gaps, that's what makes you play good football and I think we're on the right track," added Gutierrez.

Argentina made the breakthrough in each of their three wins from a dead ball routine.

Maradona, speaking after Argentina's 2-0 win over Greece in the final group game on Tuesday, attacked the tournament's Jabulani ball, the target of widespread criticism at the finals.


"They say it's the same for both (teams). It's not, we are Argentine," Maradona said suggesting the rigid, seamless ball did not always obey the dictates of his players' skills.

"This ball doesn't bend. I've experienced it in training ... when you change the angle of contact (with a crossfield pass) the ball comes like this," he said moving his hand from right to left in a straight line to describe its flight.

Long balls, shots at goal from distance and free kicks have tended to lack weight, sailing over the touchline or crossbar.

Argentina have done well playing a short-passing, attacking game with Lionel Messi, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Thursday, in a free roaming role.

Many expected Maradona to flop at the World Cup after appearing clueless as a coach during the qualifiers which Argentina almost failed to get through successfully.

He said: "If we have the ball, the others don't and this team are capable of holding the ball much longer than any team. Because of their skills, they all play well."

Argentina came close to equalling former coach Daniel Passarella's record in 1998 of winning their three group games without conceding a goal. Maradona's team scored seven and conceded one.