‘Every Bolivia goal was a stab in my heart’.
On 1 April 2009 Argentina lined up in front of 30,000 fans to take on Bolivia.
What would follow over the next 90 minutes not only shocked Argentina, and Bolivia for that matter, but the entire footballing community.
Argentina’s starting XI wasn’t lacking in recognised stars.
Javier Zanetti, Gabriel Heinze and Martin Demichelis- who could still actually run at this point- lined up in defence.
Javier Mascherano was the steel in midfield allowing Fernando Gago to pull the strings and Maxi Rodriguez to career up and down the pitch.
Up front Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi dovetailed, with Angel Di Maria ready to come off the bench.
They say good players don’t necessarily make good managers.
Well, players don’t come much better than Diego Maradona, aka El Pibe de Oro.
Say what you want about Maradona’s managerial style, but you couldn’t argue with the fact he wore two watches.
One watch on each wrist. How’s that for efficiency?
The Estadio Hernando Siles is the most feared stadium in South America.
Not because of the mental supporters. In fact Bolivia didn’t come anywhere close to selling the game out.
But its location, 3,637 metres above sea level, meant playing at the stadium became the equivalent of smoking 20 Benson & Hedges then running the 400 metre hurdles.
Brazil would later fallen victim to Bolivia in the qualifying campaign, losing 2-1 in a game in which Adriano and Diego had to be substituted at half-time.
Before Argentina new it they were behind. But Marcelo Moreno’s 11th minute goal was equalised 13 minutes later by Lucho Gonazlez.
Panic over, right?
Wrong. Bolivia proceeded to stick another five goals on Argentina’s breathless side, equalling their worst ever defeat.
The World Cup
Despite the defeat, Argentina proceeded to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, much to the excitement of a nation.
But South Africa turned into a nightmare for Argentina once they got out of the group stage.
A 3-1 win against Mexico flattered Maradona’s side, but Germany in the next round wouldn’t be as kind.
Mesut Ozil and co ran riot to inflict a 4-0 win, with Bastian Schweinsteiger marking Messi out of the game, as he would do again in 2014.