Will Argentina be car-crash TV at the World Cup?

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"One less problem," wrote Olé yesterday, next to a photo of a frowning Maradona.

Brilliant! Let's guess:

The full-back situation has been fixed! Messi has publicly apologised for only giving his all when wearing the blue and white, but from now on in he’s 100 percent one of the boys! Pele has been handed a gagging order!

Defensive black holes, a misfiring World Player of the Year and a high-profile dissenting voice from Brazil are just some of the problems facing Diego Maradona, but amidst the hulabaloo of announcing another squad – will he add to the 102 call-ups so far? – there was some under-reported great news.

Maradona will avoid trial.

In 2006, someone was said to have ploughed his car into a telephone cabin in the small hours and, in doing so, supposedly injured a couple.

Suddenly imagining their names in the headlines, and fantasising about a life of luxury after selling their story – The Couple That Maradona Ran Over – they promptly took the matter further.

As hard as their lawyers tried, though, it never reached the courts.

Things were settled outside the law’s jurisdiction to the tune of £1,300 each, according to Olé.

So it is that the couple fail to get their 15 minutes, but more importantly on the scale of things, Maradona avoids a court appearance and the potential punitive ramifications that criminal proceedings involve.


Welcome to Argentina. Please drive carefully.

Of course, as Olé’s headline makes clear, there are still plenty of other problems to be dealt with.

After trying out 102 players, Maradona has to whittle it down to a paltry 23 in time for the World Cup.

So it is that the 20-man squad announced to face Germany at the beginning of March is widely seen as the best clue yet as to who will be making the trip to South Africa this summer.

Maradona says the squad is 50 percent decided, and that he has told those who are going – but for those in this latest squad, it’s essentially a place in the final 23 that’s there to be lost.

For Messrs Samuel, Burdisso, Diego Milito, Pastore and Dátolo, this is excellent news.

For Messrs Banega, Zanetti, Zabaleta, Aimar, Cambiasso and Lavezzi, this is not.

There’s a real chance that this squad, plus Martín Palermo, Maxi Rodriguez and Estudiantes defender Marcos Angeleri, is the group that Maradona will take with him to set up camp in Pretoria this summer.

This being Maradona, however, means anything is possible.

Quizzed as to whether having tried out 102 players was productive, he snapped "I’ll try out 150 players if I need to."

"How many goals would a player like Franco Jara need to score [against Jamaica in a recent friendly] to leapfrog Messi, Higuaín and Tevez?" asked one columnist.

"Three? Four? Five?"

"Why bother?" Franco Jara 'celebrates' a goal against Costa Rica

Perhaps the reason for the infamous 102 call-ups lies elsewhere.

"Jara was sold to Benfica for €7 million a week after playing [for Argentina] against Costa Rica," pointed out the local paper Crítica.

"How much did his goal in that game elevate his price tag?"

After the friendly with Panamá last May, eight players from that Argentina side earned transfers abroad.

"The moves were probably all going to go ahead anyway," continued Crítica, arguing that to be called up in the first place they must be amongst the best in the country anyway.

"But having played for the national team is a big plus when it comes to negotiating a move."

Maybe there's more that meets the eye with the 102 call-ups, maybe not.

Whatever the truth, Maradona has little time to decide on the 23 men who will defend the Albiceleste in South Africa.

"The national team is like a dirty Rolls Royce," said Maradona when he took over as coach.

If he can’t clean it up in time, will watching Argentina at the World Cup be car-crash TV?

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