Maradona's Argentina shape up nicely

POLOKWANE - Argentina's defenders needed an infantile error to get noticed during the group phase of the World Cup where their attack has hogged the limelight.

The attack, with Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez, plus Diego Milito and Sergio Aguero among the reserves, makes defending easy, said captain Javier Mascherano.

"Many (people) think we remain unbalanced but that's also a benefit for us because if you put four or five players in the top half of the field your rivals have to defend with more men and will attack you less," Mascherano told reporters.

Martin Demichelis, who scored Argentina's first goal in Tuesday's 2-0 win over Greece, allowed a South Korean forward to rob him and pull a goal back during the 4-1 victory last week.

"Blame it on the vuvuzelas," said Mascherano when he explained that Demichelis did not hear shouts telling him he had a Korean on his back above the constant, loud buzzing sound of the South African trumpets in the crowd.

Coach Diego Maradona has in fact achieved a balance in his team that owes much to the defensive work the forwards are prepared to do.

"The team is very solid, it's in good shape," he said after his virtual reserve side's win against the Greeks sent Argentina into a second round meeting with Mexico.

"Maybe we have lapses like with (Giorgios) Samaras in the second could have cost us a goal."

The Greece striker squeezed between centre backs Demichelis and Nicolas Burdisso but shot wide.


The linchpin is Mascherano, ably replaced by Mario Bolatti on Tuesday, whom Maradona described as doing the job of a windscreen wiper across the middle of the field.

"Everyone's prepared to defend among the forwards, which is very good because I think we recover the ball quickly up front, while we (defenders) try to do a job of providing security at the back," said central defender Walter Samuel.

Maradona, looking ahead to the meeting with Javier Aguirre's Mexicans, said: "They all did the job I asked of them.

"I'm going to field the best I've got because now it's do or die. The class of the so-called big teams comes into the reckoning.

"We'll attack them looking for their weak points with our best prepared players, hoping ... to get it right as we have done so far.

"That's why I rested 'Masche' (Mascherano) and the Gringo (Gabriel Heinze), and (Carlos) Tevez and (Gonzalo) Higuain."