As distance grows from the end of the World Cup, the teams that truly stirred the soul are becoming more apparent. While France were probably worthy champions, chances are that most won't remember them as fondly as they do Croatia, or the litany of other outsiders who snaffled the better part of our affections.
While Argentina don't slip into the latter category, their World Cup was very memorable, what with it essentially being a 360-minute long psychodrama. After the feeble 3-0 defeat to Croatia, it was widely reported that manager Jorge Sampaoli had been subject to a dressing room coup and his powers assumed by Leo Messi, Javier Mascherano and the rest of the squad.
Extracts from a new book (ready to publish already!) detail how that all went down.
According to journalist Ariel Senosiain of Olé, the squad called a meeting with Sampaoli and his assistants Sebastián Beccacece and Lionel Scaloni. AFA president Claudio Tapia was present too. In 15 minutes, the players listed all of their complaints ranging from the team selection and training to Sampaoli's conspicuous nervousness.
"If you're nervous, the player perceives it. If the player does not believe you it is impossible that later you can achieve something as important as a collective organization", is quoted in the piece but not attributed to anyone. The rebellion was led by Mascherano and Messi, however, and they are reported to have told Sampaoli that "We no longer trust you. We want to have a say".
Most interesting in the report is the revelation that Sampaoli had consulted Messi on team selection before the rebellion, and that Messi claimed that he had refused to say which players should be picked.
You asked me ten times which players you wanted me to put in and which ones I did not, and I never gave you a name. Tell me in front of everyone if I ever gave you a name.
This time, however, the entire squad wanted to take control.
Sampaoli was told by Tapia that he had to give in, and it seems that's what happened.