Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

World Cup Banter

by

Two splendid goals by Lionel Messi against Nigeria (which Argentina beat 3-2) prompts this question among many soccer fans. Who is a better player, Messi now or Maradona then? To answer that question it might be useful to seek help from a Greek oracle, since both are, or were, in Maradona’s case, exquisite players.

Maradona came from the humblest of homes to become the most talked about soccer player of his generation. His two goals against the British team in the World Cup in Mexico City are now legendary. The first, the famous (or, more properly infamous since it was scored with the help of his hand) became the now iconic “Hand of God” goal.

For Maradona, it was revenge after Argentina’s defeat by the British in the Malvinas/Falklands war. Talking later about that goal he declared, “Not even the photographers managed to capture what really happened. And Shilton, [the British goalkeeper] jumping with his eyes shut, was outraged! I like this goal. I felt I was pick- pocketing the English.”

His second goal, however, after he dribbled several opponents –including the goalkeeper- was considered by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) the best goal of the century.

In my native Argentina Maradona was revered, at least until he became the coach of the Argentine team in the last World Cup where Argentina lost to Germany in a dreadful performance. Maradona, who even has a religious movement named after him, The Church of Maradona, lost some of the prestige he had had until then.

Both Messi and Maradona share similar ways of playing. A great speed, a wonderful dribbling ability as well as the capacity to send the ball to the best placed team mate. What is evident in Maradona, however, is his street urchin savvy. An Italian friend told me that when Maradona was playing for Napoli, during a game, while holding the ball he feigned that he was going to fall forwards.

On seeing this, those from the opposing team that were closing on him moved slightly aside. What Maradona was doing, instead, was trying to see who was the best placed among his companions, sent him the ball and it was easy for his team mate to score. According to my friend, the Napoli fans went crazy with enthusiasm and for two solid minutes applauded and cheered Maradona.

In Napoli, Maradona is as revered as in Argentina and portraits of him are placed in many places in the city as if he were a saint, even placing candles under his figure. The Napoli soccer team never won as many championships as when Maradona was playing for it.

Cesar Luis Menotti, who managed the Argentine team that won the 1978 World Cup thus defined Maradona’s talent, “I am always cautious about using the word ‘genius’…The beauty of Diego’s game has a hereditary element –his natural ease with the ball- but it also owes a lot to his ability to learn: a lot of those brushstrokes, those strokes of ‘genius’, are in fact a product of his hard work. Diego worked hard to be the best.”

The physical characteristics of both players are similar; they are both short, sturdy, and have a demoniacal speed which allows them to easily overcome their opponents. Actually, Maradona’s goal of the century against the British team was rivaled, even in its minor details, by a wonderful goal Messi scored against the Spanish team Getafe in 2007.

But it is perhaps in their personal characteristics where one can find the real differences between them. While Messi is quiet, Maradona is boastful. While Maradona was a fighter against the world, Messi seems to be naturally timid, even modest.

They are both strategists and team players, and they are both highly technical with the ball, which seems attached with Velcro to their feet, only to be shot with devastating force when circumstances are favorable. Who is the best, Messi or Maradona? To make a comparison is perhaps not fair. They are both equally talented, each one a great player and both of them a glory to the game.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant and a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]