Celebrating glory, looking ahead
True to the script, an outstanding Argentina team brushed aside all opposition in Beijing as it successfully defended its Olympic gold medal.
And while Argentina's tight 1-0 win over Nigeria in the final was highly satisfying, its solid 3-0 thrashing of Brazil in the semifinals was perhaps the team's biggest achievement on the road to gold. In finally knocking off its South American archrivals, Argentina succeeded after so many failures against the Brazilians, who were considered equally strong to Batista's men after a great start to the competition.
The next quest for Argentina starts now: springboarding its Olympic experience into more success down the road, culminating in a real charge for the 2010 World Cup.
In Beijing, Argentina proved that its teamwork-based approach had its rewards:
Ironically, despite the excellent teamwork, what distinguished Argentina from the rest of the field was the quality of its collection of stars and the efforts they put in. No team came close to matching the clutch performances of
Once again the standout was Messi. The menacing 21-year-old striker has proven that he is currently the most complete player in the world, and is the future of the Argentine senior national team.
After a relatively slow start to the Olympics (at least for his usual high standards)
Meanwhile, the experienced Riquelme led by example and returned to his top form with the national team. Not only did the highly motivated captain control Argentina's midfield with his brilliant leadership skills and positioning, but he also orchestrated most of its best attacking moves with his radar-like vision.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament was Di María. After breaking into the starting XI (replacing
Other players with little national-team experience who made an impact at the Olympics were the defensive trio of
If this Olympic team is any indicator, Argentina's future is getting brighter. Last week, senior national-team head coach
Argentina seems to have it all figured out. With the World Cup approaching, a large part of Argentina's Olympic team will be put to the test in the qualifiers. Basile, who now has even more options to choose from, will be working closely with Olympic coach Batista in order to find the ideal blend heading into the World Cup.
Transmitting this experience into its World Cup campaign in two years time could go a long way in securing Argentina the most sought-after title.