The Jersey Gallery is back! Episode number 5 is a special one, as it is the first international shirt to be covered! The inaugural honour will belong to Argentina, and their home strip used between late 2009 and early 2011; most famously worn at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa!
THE STORY OF THE SEASON(S):
This era of the ‘Aliceleste’ will be remembered more infamously, than famously despite the embarrassment of riches at the disposal of the national side. They would just barely reach the finals in South Africa, needing a victory over Uruguay in their final qualification bout to avoid the play-off route. This era would be something of an intersection of era’s for the national side; the likes of: Walter Samuel, Javier Zanetti, Juan Sebastian Veron and Martin Palermo still featuring, while Gabriel Heinze, Martin Demichelis, Esteban Cambiasso, Maxi Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Diego Milito and Carlos Tevez were all in their prime, and behind them was the next generation of mainstays, men in the mould of: Nicholas Otamendi, Marcos Rojo, Fernando Gago, Ever Banega, Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Pastore, Sergio Aguero and of course, the one and only: Lionel Messi. If that wasn’t enough to compel, then throw into the mix that the man leading them was none other than Diego Maradona! As the national coach, his tenure was just as chaotic as one would expect! He had already overseen the stunning 6-1 humbling at the hands of Bolivia, yet masterminded a victory over France in Marseille, just 2 months earlier. His nation’s victory over Peru required the veteran Martin Palermo to score a 90th minute winner on October 10th 2009, and even their 1-0 win over Uruguay 4 days later, required a late intervention also.
This then brings us to November 14th 2009, this would be the final contest of 2009 for the national sides, and in their final recognised bout of the noughties; Argentina would meet Spain at the Vicente Calderon for a friendly. This battle against the reigning European Champions, would mark the debut of the 2009-11 Argentina home shirt (and Spain home shirt for that matter), and also a litmus test against one of the bookies favourites to win the World Cup in 2010. Late intervention would work against Diego and his men in the Spanish capital, as Spain prevailed 2-1 thanks to Xabi Alonso’s brace. Just before Christmas, Argentina would be back in Spain, or should I say Catalonia, as Diego Maradona’s Argentina met Johann Cruyff’s Catalunya at the Camp Nou for the inaugural edition of the Catalonia International Trophy. Argentina would be humbled 4-2 in front of 53,000 spectators, as they ended the decade with back to back defeats.
2010 began with two low-key friendlies against Costa Rica and Jamaica respectively, where what would be considered ‘B-Team’s earnt Diego Maradona’s side two wins out of two ahead of a crucial March 3rd friendly against another one of the World Cup favourites’: Germany. In Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena; Gonzalo Higuain continued his fine 2009-10 season by scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win in Munich. The national side would get together again a month out before the World Cup kicked off in South America, firstly, against Haiti on May 6th, where Maradona fielded a side comprised entirely of players from the Argentine Primera Division. The 4-0 hammering of the Caribbean nation would be notable for the final appearance in an Argentina shirt for one Ariel Ortega. Less than 3 weeks later, a side that looked a lot closer to what was to be expected in South Africa took on Canada at El Monumental. Argentina would make it 5 wins in a row in 2010, as they beat Canada 5-0, thanks to a brace from Maxi Rodriguez, along with strikes from: Angel Di Maria, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero.
The 23 man squad that was chosen to win the World Cup brought few surprises, however, eyebrows were certainly raised when Inter Milan captain: Javier Zanetti, and his Inter team-mate: Esteban Cambiasso failed to make the cut, despite both men figuring so influentially in Inter’s fantastic treble winning campaign. The key was going to be balance for Diego Maradona’s side, with no less than 6 strikers selected! When the talent pool features: Gonzalo Higuain who ended the season with 29 goals, Sergio Aguero with 20, Carlos Tevez with 29 himself, Diego Milito with 30, even Martin Palermo was turning back the clock in Argentina, and of course, the 47 goal scoring Lionel Messi, whom the nation rested their hopes on; how could you neglect this array of talent? Youth was also a prominent feature of the team, with Nicolas Otamendi, Angel Di Maria, Messi, Aguero and Higuain just 22 years of age, while Javier Pastore was at the tender age of 20. Drawn with: Nigeria, Greece and South Korea in Group B, Argentina began their quest for glory against Nigeria in Johannesburg. Gabriel Heinze would score the only goal of the game in a comfortable 1-0 win for Argentina, as they joined South Korea in the winning column after game 1. The two nations would meet in the next outing, where the winner would likely be on their way to the round of 16. Chu-Young Park would score an unfortunate own goal to get the ‘Albiceleste’ off the mark, before Gonzalo Higuain made it 2-0. Chung-Yong Lee would pull a goal back for the Asian nation before half time, however Higuain would score a second half brace, to complete a fine hat-trick, and seal a brilliant 4-0 win for Argentina. In their final outing of the group stages, Argentina would leave it late to defeat Greece 2-0 with goals coming from Martin’s: Demichelis and Palermo; to complete the clean sweep of victories in the group stages and set up a rematch of their 2006 Last 16 encounter against Mexico.
Mexico qualified from Group A at the expense of tournament hosts South Africa, however, unlike the tense affair that needed extra time in 2006; Argentina would make light work of ‘El Tri; defeating them 3-1 at Soccer City. Carlos Tevez would score either side of a Gonzalo Higuain strike to set up another rematch from the 2006 World Cup: a quarter final against Germany. Germany would break Argentine hearts that summer in a penalty shoot-out, and they would break the Maradona bubble too; albeit in spectacular fashion, a 4-0 win kind of spectacular fashion. The spineless performance where the 5 goal scoring Higuain was anonymous, as was Lionel Messi, who departed the competition having failed to score in 5 games. The fallout from the defeat saw Diego Maradona left his post as the Argentina coach, and he would be replaced by Sergio Batista ahead of the 2011 Copa America which was to take place in Argentina.
The Batista-era began with a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on August 11th 2010, and with a clash with Spain to come on September 7th; the likes of: Gabriel Milito, Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, Ever Banega and Andres D’Alessandro were all recalled to the national team set up. The clash with the newly minted World Champions would take place in front of over 65,000 fans at El Monumental, and it would be the type of performance they only wish they summoned against Germany, as they blew Spain away 4-1! Lionel Messi would score his first goal for Argentina in 2010 to open the scoring, before Gonzalo Higuain quickly doubled the advantage. Carlos Tevez would make it 3-0 before half time, before Kun Aguero added the 4th late on. Less than a month later, their inconsistent head would rear itself once again as they stumbled to an upset 1-0 defeat at the hands of Japan, before ending 2010 with a fine 1-0 win over Brazil on November 17th in Qatar, with Lionel Messi scoring a 90th minute winner to end 2010 with a record of 12 wins and just 2 losses. This glorious shirt would make its final appearance on February 9th 2011, in a glamour friendly In Switzerland that saw the world’s two best footballers cross paths: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, as Argentina took on Portugal. Both men would shine on the night, however it was Messi who got the last laugh, as his 90th minute penalty won the game 2-1 for the ‘Albiceleste’, after Ronaldo had equalised for Portugal, following Angel Di Maria’s opener.
MY MEMORIES OF THE SHIRT:
I cast my mind back to the summer of 2010; the World Cup in South Africa was on the horizon, and the Diego Maradona Argentina experiment was just one of many story lines heading into the greatest competition in all of sports. To make their journey even more ‘must-see’, was this fine home shirt that Adidas equipped them with. I was personally disappointed with the two Adidas Argentina shirts made after 2004, however, this ensemble was up there with the best of them in my opinion. Lionel Messi had just scored what was then a seldom ever seen 47 goal haul for Barcelona, and was rightfully considered the best player in the world, so to see ‘La Pulga’ do his best work in South Africa was also a mouth watering prospect. For the old time fans, the sight of Juan Sebastian Veron and Martin Palermo in the national team set up was also a joy to behold, while the prospect of: Higuain, Aguero, Tevez and Milito all somehow being balanced was also fascinating prospect. While the tournament saw 4 wins from 4 until the Germany catastrophe, the cracks were baring themselves, and the notion rang true that as soon as Maradona’s men met a side of equal quality and superior balance; they would be exposed. Still, it was a fun experience watching the South American nation take the field in South Africa, and much like the 2006 iteration of the tournament, it lost just a tad of its lusture once the ‘Albiceleste’ were eliminated.
I remember in August 2010, I would use my student overdraft to buy this shirt with Tevez #11 on the back from a dodgy Chinese website! To their (or my?) credit, the shirt arrived and in great condition, and to the naked eye, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between this one and an official replica! I appreciated the duskier shade of blue that was used for this shirt, while the white collar, and mish-mash of conventionally striped main body, and the unique sleeves made for an artistically superb shirt. The fit is typical of Adidas’ fits of the era, in other words, if you’re looking for a tighter fitting shirt, this would not be wise, however, if a more general and relaxed fit is what you prefer, then this shirt would be perfect. Also, pay mind to the texture and material of the shirt, which is abit thicker than the usual football shirt of this era.
You can get the 2009-11 Argentina Home Shirt in Size Small with Messi #10 on the back for just £49.99!
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