Have Huddersfield swung the clasico?

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It’s the victors who get to write history, or so the saying goes. That certainly seems to be the case when it comes to internationals between Argentina and Brazil.

The clásico is just around the corner, and the underhand tactics to grab an early psychological advantage have started in earnest.

Historically, there’s nothing between the two powerhouses of South American football. That’s what the Argentines believe.

AFA offer proof on their website, pointing out that a quick perusal of the history books suggests a stalemate between the two footballing giants. 23 draws, and 33 wins each. All square.

Their opposite numbers in Brazil, meanwhile, have other ideas.

According to the CBF, Argentina have indeed fluked 33 wins, and been lucky to hold the Samba Boys to a draw in 23 encounters, but ultimately the southern neighbours are the losers: in total, say the Brazilian Federation, 36 clásicos have gone their way.

So where do these three games come from? Argentine stattos have been quick to denounce the three matches as disproportionate embellishments of quarter-truths.

One 1920s win the Brazilians are happy to count as a ‘full international’ was, say the Buenos Aires historians, against an Argentina ‘B’ team. The real Argentina national team was playing Uruguay in Montevideo on the same day.

Furthermore, two 1960s clashes in which the Samba Boys ran riot were indeed against the full national team from Argentina – but the victors were a Rio de Janeiro select XI, not the national team. They don’t count, say the Argentines.

We’ll leave the History Today argument to one side, because Maradona is less concerned with historical one-upmanship than other matters – namely that he is without one of his key men.

Ever since taking over as Argentina coach, Diego always stated that there was one player who would always be in his team. “Mascherano is my captain. My team will be always be Mascherano plus 10.”

A few months later, Diego decided on another player to join the Liverpool midfielder as one of his proverbial ‘first picks.’

“It’s Mascherano and Messi plus nine,” said El Diez, bowing to the undeniable fact that the Barcelona forward Leo Messi is light years ahead of any other player in the world right now.

So far so good: everything was running smoothly, mostly because the media had forgotten, or stopped talking about, the 6-1 loss in Bolivia and the 2-0 defeat to Ecuador.

Preparations were being made for the must-win game against Brazil, but then came a friendly in Russia that few wanted to play.

After a tough test against Guus Hiddink’s men, Diego penned in another name. One player had been simply brilliant.

“Jonás Gutiérrez was fantastic. My team is Masche, Messi and Jonás plus eight," confirmed Diego, fast filling in a teamsheet with an undisputed first XI.

Maradona watches a lot of international football, but with the clash against Brazil just around the corner, you could forgive Maradona for not remembering to set the DVD to record the Carling Cup second round ties.

A midweek clash between teams from the second and third tier in the second most important cup competition in England might not have topped his Tivo list.

That is, of course, until the 92nd minute of the 4-3 thriller between Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town.

The Geordies' lank-haired winger was on his back. The hamstring injury to Jonás Gutiérrez suddenly took on slightly wider implications.

Argentina are currently fourth in the CONMEBOL qualifiers, and have a tough run-in for their final four games.

For the visit of Brazil, Diego already has to do without one of his key centre-backs – the man who once had to deny having had botox operations, Martin Demichelis.

Now there’s no Jonás. The winger may not be the most high-profile absentee, but Maradona knows who and what to blame if Argentina don’t defeat Brazil at the weekend... Huddersfield Town, and the Carling Cup. 

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