Ranking the 5 Craziest World Cup Decisions Involving Argentina
Everybody likes to think they can predict what happens in a World Cup. Unfortunately for those individuals, and to the delight of bookmakers, the outcome of a football game rarely coincides with expectations.
One can analyse the sport for hours before the first kick-off, but more often than not, the action on the field will be decided by a handful of key decisions—correct or otherwise.
Whether it is the referee, the players involved or the coach on the sidelines, every nation can point to a handful of key decisions in their World Cup history. Argentina are no different, and these five instances in particular have marked the nation's football conscience.
5. Riquelme Substituted Against Germany
Jose Pekerman's 2006 Argentina side played some of the most attractive, electrifying football of the entire World Cup. However, that tournament came to a familiar end for the nation.
Defeat against Germany—this time in the quarter-finals.
For the most part, the current Colombia coach is remembered fondly for his time with the Albiceleste. However, one decision in particular from that match against Germany has gone down in infamy.
Taking off Juan Roman Riquelme in the heat of the action.
The red-hot Villarreal star was withdrawn for Esteban Cambiasso with 72 minutes gone and had to watch his team toil through extra time before going out on penalties.
A 19-year-old Lionel Messi, meanwhile, was left clicking his heels on the bench for the entire match.
4. Diego's Doping Expulsion
"They cut my legs off."
Out of the hundreds of memorable catchphrases Diego Maradona has given us through the years, his reaction to being expelled from the 1994 World Cup is perhaps the most gut-wrenchingly honest to have ever come out of his mouth.
Diego's devastation was a result of testing positive for Ephedrine in a routine drugs test following victory over Nigeria.
The substances were believed to have come from a cocktail of diet supplements that Maradona had been taking to get back into shape after receiving the call to save his nation in 1993 following a 5-0 humiliation against Colombia.
With their playmaker on the plane home, Argentina fell to Romania in the second round.
3. The Kaiser's Long-Hair Policy
Former Argentine national team coach Daniel Passarella is not known for his liberal attitude to discipline, which probably explains why he carries the regal nickname "Kaiser."
During his time with the Seleccion, the trainer's attention to detail scaled new heights.
"Long hair makes players lose concentration. It is not a military attitude. And earrings are dangerous."
This was how Passarella explained, per El Pais, his policy of banning flowing locks and jewelry from the Argentina dressing room in 1995.
Fernando Redondo was one victim of the draconian standards, which were carried into the World Cup three years later. Even Gabriel Batistuta, the nation's top scorer in history, who is remembered by all for his long hair, had to abide by the Kaiser's rules.
2. Rattin's Sending Off
Despite having a strong, entertaining team that battled unbeaten to the quarter-finals in 1966, Argentina have gone down in English football folklore as the villains of that tournament.
In Buenos Aires, meanwhile, the side's 1-0 defeat to the hosts and eventual champions is remembered as a sporting robbery of epic proportions.
The controversy began, as The Guardian recalls, when Albiceleste captain Antonio Rattin was sent off for apparent "violence of the tongue" by German referee Rudolf Kreitlein.
Kreitlein spoke no Spanish.
The Argentine team was incensed and even asked for a translator to be brought onto the pitch, while Rattin initially refused to leave before sitting down on the Queen's red carpet.
That debacle in the long run revolutionised football, prompting FIFA to introduce yellow and red cards in a bid to regularise disciplinary issues and avoid a repeat of the scandal.
Without their leader, Argentina battled for the remaining 70 minutes, but they were eventually downed by a single Geoff Hurst goal.
1. The Hand of God
How Diego Maradona got away with a seemingly blatant handball, maybe only he knows.
"It was a little Diego's and a little the hand of God," the brilliant No. 10 explained after the 1986 quarter-final against England.
El Pibe de Oro's decision to lift the ball over the head of oncoming goalkeeper Peter Shilton, and the referee deeming the goal legal despite the outraged protests of the England team, put the Albiceleste 1-0 up in that tie.
A Maradona wonder goal stretched the lead, and Argentina were on the way to a second World Cup.