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Stuart Dalgleish 13th Oct 2009 - 13:53

Maradona set for more misery in Montevideo

Diego Maradona takes his beleaguered troops to the Estadio Centenario on Wednesday night for a winner-takes-all clash in Argentina's biggest game in nearly twenty years.

Should the Argies lose, and Ecuador beat already qualified Chile, it will be only the second time that they've failed to qualify for the World Cup since missing out in 1970 (the Albicelestes didn't enter in 1938, 1950 or 1954).

It's unbelievable that a country that can call upon Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero (with the latter both unused subs for Argentina's last match) for their forward line should be in this predicament, but it goes to show that being a legend during your playing career does not guarantee you'll be a legend in your managerial career.

It was a bold move by the Argentine FA to put Maradona in charge in the first place considering he has next to no managerial experience apart from a couple of jobs in the mid 90s, (he won three matches out of 23) and even if Argentina do qualify he just doesn't look like the man to lead them to World Cup glory, better teams would take advantage of his lack of ideas when the going gets tough in games.

This was perhaps highlighted against Peru, ultimately it ended up looking like a brilliant change when Martin Palermo came on to score the injury time winner, but the shape of the team was lopsided and the midfield was getting overrun; thankfully for Maradona his sub got the decisive goal, but the quality of the opposition was poor - Peru had lost all eight of their away games prior to the weekend and are the kind of team that should be getting beat by three or four, not 2-1 with a player who hasn't played internationally in 10 years scoring in added time.

The good thing for the Argies is that qualification is in their hands, the bad thing is they're playing away at 7/5 shots Uruguay who have only lost once (against table-toppers Brazil), the draw is 12/5 - which would pretty much gain Argentina qualification, barring a five goal win for Ecuador away to already qualified Chile. If Argentina win they are through no matter what happens in the Chile/Ecuador game, that's a 9/5 chance.

Obviously everyone knows about Uruguay's Diego Forlan (5/1 to strike first) and how well he has done since his move to Spain, but he's not their only threat - Luis Suarez has been on unbelievable form for Ajax this season, scoring 12 goals in just eight league games, at 11/2 for the first goal he could prove a cracking bet.

Lionel Messi (11/2 to grab the first goal) is undoubtedly the man that Argentina will be relying on to get them out of this mess they find themselves in, but he's wasted as part of a front two - should Maradona play him in more of a free role like he does for Barca and have Sergio Aguero (7/1) and Carlos Tevez (7/1) through the middle he should have more chance to weave his magic.

Sadly, and it really is a massive shame for the football world, Maradona's lack of tactical nous will probably see Messi and his colleagues sat at home when the World Cup kicks off in June, I expect Uruguay the match but Argentina could be thrown a lifeline if Chile want to finish their campaign with a bang as they will get a play-off spot should Ecuador not pick up the points in that game.

Make sure you join us live when this massive game kicks off, because not only will our In-Play service bring you a wealth of in-running markets for you to bet on, we'll also let you watch the match for free through William Hill TV, along with FOURTEEN other matches! You don't have any reason to look elsewhere.



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