Though many people recall Martin Palermo’s late winner against Peru as the most decisive strike in Argentina’s topsy-turvy qualification campaign, the goal that actually clinched their place at South Africa 2010 was scored by Mario Bolatti. The blond central midfielder, who currently plies his trade with Fiorentina, was in the right place at the right time in the final qualifier against Uruguay at the Estadio Centenario, scoring the only goal of the game a mere four minutes after coming on for his international debut.
An elegant and astute performer who is always aware of the options available to him, Bolatti caught Diego Maradona’s eye thanks to his displays with unheralded Huracan, playing a starring role in the side that finished runners-up in the 2009 Clausura. Prior to that the former Belgrano youth product enjoyed a brief stint with Porto in Portugal, but returned home in search of more regular first-team opportunities.
Although stationed in a position more associated with defensive than creative duties, Bolatti stands out due to his distribution skills and also poses a goal threat from long range. It is qualities such as those that make him an ideal partner for Javier Mascherano in the Albiceleste midfield.