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Changes, cabals and “that the plane falls: Bilardo post defeat against Cameroon in Italy 90




El Narigón made five changes, went to his cabal manual and ordered the three strips of the black pants to be erased and, in addition, he launched one of his most characteristic phrases: “If we do not classify, the plane better crash.”


Argentina Cameroon

As shocked as today, after the defeat against Saudi Arabia in the debut in Qatar 2022, Argentina was also shocked after the 0-1 against Cameroon in the opening match of Italia 1990. It was then that Carlos Bilardoin the five days that passed between the first game and the second, against the Soviet Union (as decisive then as this Saturday against Mexico), he showed the most extreme and billardistic version of his career: appealed to tactical issues (for the first time in his career he made five changes from one game to the next), he went to his manual of cabals (he had the three Adidas strips erased from the black pants) and He launched one of his most characteristic phrases (“if we don’t classify, it’s better that the plane I travel on crash, as long as I travel alone”). Also, in the middle of that match point against, there was a promise between the squad and the coaching staff. “We all swore an oath and we kept it, we had to win and we won,” Bilardo would reveal after the 2-0 defeat against the Soviets, the victory and recovery that, 32 years later, the team hopes to achieve against Mexico in Qatar.

The 0-1 against Cameroon, on Friday June 13, 1990, was a shock. In the following days, the Argentine concentration was filled with tears. “Checho Batista cried all Saturday,” published the magazine The graphic. The president of Boca, Antonio Alegre, stayed until 4 in the morning trying to raise the squad: “I encourage the boys but the ones who are dead are Bilardo and Grondona (Julio, the president of the AFA). I am afraid that, if they eliminate us, they will get sick, I am very worried ”. Grondona himself revealed an intimacy of the return by plane between Milan, the venue for the match against Cameroon, and Rome, the concentration of Argentina: “Do you know what Bilardo told me? “If they take us out, he’d like to fly alone on a plane and have him ball up in the air.” What happens is that this defeat is tremendous”.

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Bilardo brought the players together on Sunday the 15th. If after the match against Cameroon he had already told journalism “it’s the toughest defeat of my career”, he did not have any type of anesthesia in front of the footballers. “In football anything can happen, a win, a defeat, a tie, an injustice or a surprise, but there is something that cannot be accepted: losing like we lost. We delivered the game, we made all the possible mistakes”he told them before the first training session prior to the crossing that would mark luck in Italy.

Argentina Cameroon

The next act were the changes, five, half the team without counting the goalkeeper, only one of them due to injury –Oscar Ruggeri left and Pedro Monzón entered-. Bilardo opted for experience instead of the young people who had felt the responsibility of the debut: José Tiburcio Serrizuela would enter for Néstor Fabbri, Julio Olarticoechea for Néstor Lorenzo, Pedro Troglio for Néstor Sensini and Claudio Caniggia for Abel Balbo. Truly, Caniggia and Troglio were going to start against Cameroon but Bilardo had discovered them at 3 in the morning, a few days before the debut, playing Mario Bros in the room shared by the former River and Verona players. As punishment, he did not include them in the premiere.

After the 0-1 loss against Cameroon, against the ropes and at the risk of elimination, the coach underwent a major surgery that he had never performed in his career. He would confirm it somewhat more calmly, after the 2-0 against the Soviet Union: “One change was due to injury but yes, I think it’s the first time I’ve made four tactical changes from one game to another. Two or three I remember, but four… yes, it’s the first time. The changes must have been crude,” he replied to a journalist.

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But Bilardo, just Bilardo, was not going to stay only in the football aspects. The next step was to bet on the cabals and Bilardo also decided to change his outfit before the crossing against the Soviet Union. He did it in his own way, of course: as Argentina had won the 86 World Cup with plain black pants (those of Le Coq Sportif) and had lost against Cameroon with the straps on the side (in Adidas’ debut), He ordered the three strips of the German company’s black pants to be covered, considering them “muffas”, carriers of negative energy. The person in charge of painting them black, at the request of Bilardo, was Tito Benrós, the prop man – he would pass away in 2016-.

Those in charge of Adidas would only find out about the detail watching the game on television and, the next day, they would threaten Grondona with the possibility of a millionaire judgment. However, Argentina would continue to wear plain black shorts in two other World Cup matches, against Yugoslavia and Italy, while against Romania, Brazil and Germany they would wear white shorts with all three stripes. In other words, the blacks with three strips that he used against Cameroon were no longer repeated.

From Pumpido’s injury to the other Hand of God: the victory against the Soviet Union

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From Pumpido's injury to the other Hand of God: the victory against the Soviet Union


-And why did Argentina continue to wear black pants without straps for the rest of the World Cup? How did they get Adidas to accept it?Benros was asked in 2014.

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Because Bilardo always got what he wanted. And if it was a cabal, he would shit on everyone –answered the prop man.

Argentina beat the Soviet Union 2-0 in a game with a lot of suffering, which included a handball by Diego Maradona that should have been punished with a penalty for the Soviets and with the tremendous injury to Nery Pumpido that allowed Sergio Goycochea to enter, already on his way to his canonization in the rest of the season. World.

“What happened in Cameroon was terrible, we should never have played like this. But today it was an early final and you had to win it yes or yes. In four days we had to lift the spirits of the boys,” Bilardo said.

-Carlos, it was said that if you lost against Russia, you would not return to Argentina– a journalist told him.

-Nooo, please, they are crazy. He would justify himself if he thought I did something wrong, but I didn’t.

Maradona, meanwhile, acknowledged: “We arrived with great tension, we were forced to win. Today was a final and the team understood it very well, unfortunately in the first game we didn’t all feel it”.

Magazine The graphic Title: “Argentina returned from darkness”. Hopefully it will be next Saturday’s title, with or without changes by Lionel Scaloni, players or shirts, as well in Italy 1990 as in Qatar 2022.

Argentina USSR

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