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Angels With Dirty Faces: The Footballing History of Argentina

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It is the history of the founding of a country that was followed by the introduction of its footballing soul not long after. Some of the best parts of the book are about the extraordinary World Cup of 1978 in which Luis Mennotti’s flowing team, led by Mario Kempes and his hair, won the ultimate prize at home against a backdrop of military dictatorship and violence.

The story Wilson tells from that point onwards is broadly one of a conflict between those two tendencies within the Argentinian game.Although dense, certain sections of the book are compelling, namely the more contemporary chapters; the fury of Argentina‘s World Cup victory on home soil in 1978, the enigma and addiction of El Diego, the journey of Marcelo Bielsa, and of course, the rise of Leo Messi and his seismic impact on modern football from the mid-2000s. He came to any new club as a hero and leave like a president who just got toppled by yet another military coup in the country.

Although Wilson can be sometimes open to criticism that his columns in The Guardian are occasionally prone to over-thinking, they are always well-written and worth your time in reading them. What’s great is that, the physical books ends in 2016, this one goes all the way to to 2021 with material I’d never heard before.I started reading this book four days after watching Argentina beat Brazil in the Copa America final at the iconic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, ending a 28 year trophy drought as Messi finally captured his first international title. The World Cup triumph on home soil in 1978 is given careful treatment, as the recognition of the achievement of manager César Luis Menotti and his players is caveated with explanations of how the ruling junta may have tried to influence the tournament’s outcome, and the horrors perpetuated by the regime as thousands of citizens went missing, were imprisoned or killed. El panorama cultural es tan amplio que requiere recapitular la historia, hablar de literatura, de tácticas, de sociología, de globalización, de economía, de atletismo y de identidad. Books which per force make reference to lots of different players can be heavy going, but here the emphasis on contrasts in style and philosophy get over that, especially the eternal debate - in various forms between -pragmatism and romanticism.

From the first time Jose Alcosta shakes a football figure’s hand to mix politics and football, to campaigns being run on the strength of sporting accomplishments – Argentina traverses a philosophical landscape. There has always been a love/hate relationship for me when it comes to players from this region – coloured by my repulsion of Barcelona with the figurehead of Messi as they denied my club two Champions League titles in early 21st century. Everyone already knows the fact that Argentinians (weather we like it or not), have given us the greatest soccer players of all times with the likes of Maradona, Batistuta, Kempes, Pasarella, Gallego, Ortega, Riquelme, Crespo, Delgado, and of course d10s Messi the G. The three lives in this creative nonfiction account are united by the presence of actual harm—sometimes horrific violence.But the rich, volatile history of Argentinian football is made up of both the sublime and the ruthlessly pragmatic.

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