Roberto Ayala and the memory of the 1998 duel with the Netherlands: why he missed Bergkamp’s great goal

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There are many images that our memory returns to us before the imminence of a new one Argentina – Hollandor Holland as it is now correctly said. appears unstoppable Johan Cruyff in black and white, then a Mario Alberto Kempes matador and there our retinas add a color that home televisions didn’t have yet. The color of major events.

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More here in time, Mascherano’s miraculous cross against Robben and Chiquito Romero’s penalty… But before that ranking in the 2014 final there was another match of those you never forget, because you don’t understand each other until bottom. A comedy star who defined the ranking of those in orange and the return home of those in blue and white is here in Qatar and is part of the Argentine squad, as a collaborator of Lionel Scaloni.

It concerns Robert Ayala, record of the Argentina national team with 116 games played with that shirt, the fifth with the most appearances. A great defender who doesn’t even forget that play. Not long ago the Rat made a strong self-criticism. “The mistake isn’t in the area, the mistake is in not reading a 40-metre ball“, he said. And he explained it: “I was poorly outlined in that play, and as a free throw I could have pushed it back with my head or with my foot and thrown it to the side, yet it surprised me. He was stopped badly, badly profiled.

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That memory takes us to Marseilles. The Selection directed by Daniel Passarella at the World Cup in France 98 was also exciting, with Gabriel Batistuta, Juan Sebastián Verón and Ariel Ortega as figures. Also with Diego Simeone, Matías Almeyda, Javier Zanetti… They had come through the first stage comfortably: 1-0 to Japan, 5-0 to Jamaica and 1-0 to Croatia.

He had just beaten England on penalties in the round of 16 thanks to two saves from Carlos Roa, after a memorable duel Ortega-Michael Owen. The planets seemed aligned on that sunny afternoon, despite the goal by Patrick Kluivert at 12 minutesWhy Piojo Claudio López quickly equalised, at 17.

It was back and forth, Batistuta hit a ball on the post, also unforgettable.

In the 31st minute, the expulsion of defender Arthur Numan for a second booking put the national team one step away from victory and qualification. But it all went off the rails in 120 hectic seconds. First Burrito Ortega called for a penalty and then struck back with a header over goalkeeper Edwin van de Sar. Red card. A serious pity, because Argentina had a numerical advantage and everything led to at least one overtime. But left-footed Frank de Boer shot immediately from the defense. Dennis Bergkamp dominated the ball against Ayala and defined in front of Roa. All in the same masterful movement. The then English Arsenal striker was a crack.

Ayala’s self-criticism does not include the fact that Roberto Sensini and José Chamot were also in defence. Responsibilities have been shared.

Mouse Ayala participated in three World Cups as a player: in 1998 (he played in all five games), in 2002 (he was injured in the warm-up before his debut with Nigeria and was unable to play in any game) and in 2006 (he started all five matches and converted a header against Germany).

Here in Qatar he is one of Lionel Scaloni’s field assistants, together with Walter Samuel and Pablo Aimar, who are also World Cup players. Nothing will change the past, but for Ayala even the challenge with the Netherlands has a particular flavor and perhaps a possible sweet revenge.

Source: Clarin

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