Argentina, Brazil are Mundial's champions of disappointment
JOHANNESBURG - However much Israelis might adore Argentina and Brazil, no one in South Africa appears to be mourning those teams' ousting from the World Cup. The two are Mundial marketing fixtures, counted on to last as long as possible. How long? Well, the quarterfinals are actually good enough. The stadiums will still be packed for the semifinals and final.
The interesting thing is that both were beaten by teams that passed under the media's radar. The Netherlands, which took out five-time world champion Brazil, is a team that more often than not leaves its supporters heartbroken. No matter how talented, the Orange have never raised the World Cup aloft - although 2010 might change that.
What added to the incredulity of Friday's match was Brazil's highly unusual disintegration. The team scored an own goal - its first ever in a World Cup tournament - and seemed completely unable to show anything of its traditional spark. Now Brazil must rebuild for the World Cup it will host in 2014.
Argentina went for a more interesting experiment. While Israelis weren't moved by Eyal Berkovic's desire to coach the Israeli national team despite his lack of experience, Argentina surrendered to the whims of one Diego Maradona.
Joachim Loew, the German coach, was certainly never a footballer like Maradona, but as a coach, he outdid him spectacularly. Maradona and Brazil's Dunga had a dream choice of players. They needed to position them right, give them the proper orders and hope for the best. But when everything is built on a prayer every five minutes and sucking up to Lionel Messi, as demonstrated by Maradona throughout the tournament, things can only end in tears. And tears, incidentally, are something the Argentines and Brazilians are the definite champions of in the 2010 World Cup.