by Gerard Houllier
After being lucky enough to watch the entertaining opening match between South Africa and Mexico, I really enjoyed going to Ellis Park in Johannesburg for Argentina-Nigeria. The atmosphere here is great, whether it’s in the city, outside the stadium or in the venue itself. People are so happy and proud to be welcoming the event that their joy is infectious. You can see that on the pitch too as all the teams have been playing in a very positive way. They’ve all looked to get forward and there hasn’t been any inappropriate behaviour.
Returning to the game, although it looked to me to be fairly open, it lacked goals. It took until the 70th minute for Nigeria to create any danger, while Argentina missed chances in the first half. Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain both had lots of opportunities and should have scored. [Lionel] Messi deserved to score too as he was exceptional. He is much more useful when he is accorded a free role than when he is tied to the right wing. He popped up on the right, the left, as a second striker and even as a centre-forward sometimes.
I also liked Angel di Maria, who contributed a lot out on the left wing. You can feel that Diego Maradona loves his players. He shows them a generosity that can only be beneficial when you’re managing a squad. I can’t wait to see Argentina play Korea Republic. My only surprise was to see the two teams end the game very tired, but I put that down to the fact that it was their first game.