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Argentina have been a great adornment to world futbol. This was the
birth place of creole futbol – a new form of attacking futbol, the
dribble, rabona & the one touch . Not to mention the home of many
great footballers. Eduardo Galeana famously said “Argentines play futbol
like strumming the guitar”. Argentinians themselves took great pride in
their style – which they called La Neustra or our style Its
ironic that Argentina was also the birth place of antifutbol – avery
destructive style of futbol in 1960s. In 1958 Argentina was knocked out
of World Cup. Managers and pundits blamed the early exit due to focus on
style over efficacy and this led to emergence of a new thought process
emphasizing efficacy over style. This led to evolution of new style of
futbol – antifutbol – very physical, violent and marked with excessive
gamesmanship with focus on results than style. Pioneered by Estudiantes
managed by Osvaldo Zubeilda, antifutbol spread all across Argentina
often with terrifying violence & brutality. Futbol which as once a
source of joy and beauty to the argentine public now became a ugly
spectacle So much so international teams even started avoiding
Argentine teams. When Alf Ramsay infamously called Argentina team
“animals” at the 1966 World Cup he was merely echoing the thoughs of
many Antifutbol reached its nadir in 1969 Intercontinental cup
between Estudiantes & AC Milan. In a brutal final , Estudiantes
players kicked , punched and hacked Milan players non stop leaving
several player injured and bloodied. It was so horrific a spectacle that
even the Argentine public & media were aghast. In an unprecedented
step, the Argentine govt got the entire team arrested and many were
banned for life. Futbol – a game that brought so much joy and pride to
Argentines were now a matter of shame. Argentine futbol needed a
saviour. In stepped the Caesar Caesar Luis Menotti was one of
the great romantics of futbol. A tall skinny man with a cigarette
perpetually lodged in his lips , he looked more a brooding south
american intellectual than a futbol manager. However beneath that face
stood an idealist, a thinker an artist and a philosopher. Even in his
presser he regularly quoted from contemporary writers, poets, singers
and cultural icons. Shocked and appalled by the widespread popularity
of antifutbol in 1960, he set out to be the proverbial rebel with the
cause. To prove that football can deliver results without having to
compromise on style & aesthetics ” Efficacy is not divorced
from beauty”. Menotti always believed that both can be combined to
produce results. The results actuallly came through. In 1973 his team
Hurucan won the championship against the big boys like Boca & River
Plate. But they did not just win. They did it with style. Against a
backdrop of violent physical futbol, Hurucan played with dribbles, one
touch passing, nutmegs, rabonas and sombreros. No wonder the Argentines
loved them. FOr them it was the rebirth of La Neustra. In one game they
beat Rosario 5-0 away and the wholle stadium stood up and applauded
In 1974 Argentina was beaten 4-0 by Holland marking the final nail in
the coffin for antifutbol. Argentina needed a change and who better to
herald it than the Caesar. A diehard fan of 1970 Brasil , Menotti set
out to get Argentina back on track. He shaped his team in the
4-3-3 like the dutch with brilliant attacker like Mario Kempes and Ossie
Ardiles in midfield. He exhorted his team to plsy flamboyant attacking
football like the 1970s Brasil with a formation similar to 1974 Holland.
While Argentina was not entirely bereft of gamemanship at the 1978 –
they diid play futbol in exhilarating style with Ardiles creating from
midfield and Kempes scoring the goals. Argentina won the 1978 WC with
brilliant attacking futbol – buryng the ghosts of 1958 and with it the
spirit of antifutbol Caesar Luis Menotti will always be a
inspiration for futbol lovers across the world . He was a true
revolutionary of the game – a man who restored joy and happiness back
to his futbol crazy nation who lost all faith in the dark days of 1960s.
A man who had the courage and moral strength to stand up for his
beliefs when few other seems to echo his thoughts. Next time
you see an Argentine maestro on a futbol pitch – a Messi or Dybala –
remember the name. The Caesar who rebelled for a cause

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