As the World Cup approaches, one name who will certainly not make the team for Argentina is Carlos TEVEZ. I'm by no means an expert on the matter, however, here is a little piece about his stance with Argentina which will hopefully give you a better understanding on the matter and ultimately help you decide whether you think he should be included on the Argentina team or not.
Carlos TEVEZ's situation is not his talent as it is undisputable. He is a winner and goalscorer at every club he has played with. It's not the talent but the baggage that comes with it which has been the problem in the past. His character makes him what he is, be it a good thing or a bad thing. I will first begin with a time line of TEVEZ's career with Argentina beginning with the 2010 World Cup until the present.
Post 2010 World Cup:
Following Argentina's humiliating 4-0 loss against Germany at the 2010 World Cup, news quickly began circulating about the future of not only Diego MARADONA as coach of the National Team but Carlos TEVEZ's future with the Argentina National Team. El apache as he is known admitted that the loss against Germany was very difficult and that retirement crossed his mind.
"There is only a little time remaining before I retire. I dreamt of returning to Argentina with the trophy. There were no fights in the World Cup, everything was positive, but it was the hardest thing that I've ever had to experience. Every day I have less will to continue playing in Europe and to carry on playing football. I will be there for two or three more years and then I will think about heading back to Argentina."
"For the last year, I haven't lived with my daughters. They are growing up and I'm getting worn down. After returning from South Africa, I thought about quitting football, but I have a large family and now I have to continue."
"Football doesn't make me as happy or as fulfilled as before. It becomes difficult to play like this."
Sergio BATISTA's first matches:
Despite those quotes, TEVEZ remained part of the team. Sergio BATISTA, team mate of Diego MARADONA when the country won its last World Cup in 1986, took charge of Argentina following the 2010 World Cup. His first match was against the team who had won that tournament, Spain. Carlos TEVEZ wasn't only on the team, but he was part of the starting XI and even scored in Argentina's 4-1 win in Buenos Aires. Following that victory, Carlos TEVEZ came out with some pretty interesting quotes about playing with Argentina.
"Every day, I feel further away from the National Team and I don't know if I'll go to the 2014 World Cup. I'm tired. Tired of always being here, of fighting to be in the team. There comes a time when your body starts to drag you down. The physical side doesn't help. I'm not here so I can get kicked and have to get up and continue for 90 minutes."
In October of that year, Argentina took part in a match against Japan. Once again, Carlos TEVEZ was on the team and played. On November 17, 2010, a match between Argentina and Brazil had been set, with it being taking place in Doha, Qatar. Many players for Argentina were pulling out of the match due to injuries. Some real, others possibly not as much. Carlos TEVEZ was one of the players who was called for the match but had to be left out due to an injury. The match took place, Argentina won 1-0 courtesy of a 90th minute goal from Lionel MESSI and all was well for Argentina. That is until Manchester City's match on November 21, four days after Argentina's match against Brazil, where Carlos TEVEZ scored twice in his team's 4-1 win against Fulham. Not bad for a player that was injured.
The match against Brazil was the last match for Argentina in the calendar year. The team opened up 2011 with a match against Portugal in February. When Sergio BATISTA announced the list of players for that match, one name was missing. Carlos TEVEZ. BATISTA stated that he didn't hold a grudge against the former Boca player but Julio GRONDONA, the president of the AFA, spoke differently on the matter.
"What Carlos TEVEZ did when he refused to go to Qatar with Argentina and play against Brazil but then played that same week for Manchester City, didn't bode well with our coaching staff. That is the real reason why BATISTA didn't call him up for the Portugal friendly".
What transpired was a chain of events involving Julio GRONDONA, Diego MARADONA (with whom GRONDONA has a feud with and who is good friends with TEVEZ), Carlos TEVEZ and Sergio BATISTA himself. GRONDONA starting with that quote, MARADONA defending TEVEZ and attacking GRONDONA in a way only Diego MARADONA can, BATISTA denying it and TEVEZ not really saying much about it.
The 2011 Copa America:
With the failure of 2010 still lingering in the shadows, the team, lead by two time World Player of the Year Lionel MESSI had a chance to lift Argentina's first trophy since 1993. Argentina was drawn into a relatively easy group alongside Bolivia, Colombia and Costa Rica's U23 team. The opening match in the tournament was Argentina against Bolivia, with it ending 1-1. The second match was another draw, this time against Colombia, with the match ending scoreless. Carlos TEVEZ started both matches. The opening two matches were extremely underwhelming with two poor performances from the host country. For the third and final group stage match against Costa Rica's U23 team, TEVEZ was dropped from the starting XI and against a much weaker opposition, Argentina shined and were eventual victors on the night, winning 3-0.
Argentina finished second in their group to Colombia and made it to the Quarter Finals. Uruguay was the opponent and Sergio BATISTA opted to go for the same players who started in the 3-0 demolition of Costa Rica. That meant TEVEZ would start on the bench. A match which saw 9 yellow cards and 2 red cards (one on each side), TEVEZ eventually came on as a substitute. With the score tied at 1-1, the match went to penalty kicks. With Javier MASCHERANO being the player red carded for Argentina, Lionel MESSI wore the captain's armband and was the first player in the penalty shootout. Out of the 10 players which took their penalty kicks, Carlos TEVEZ was the only one to miss his. Argentina were eliminated at home to the eventual champions. Little did anyone know that the match against Uruguay would be the last of Carlos TEVEZ's Argentina career.
The SABELLA era:
The Alejandro SABELLA era began in the summer of 2011, the same time as the South American qualifiers for the World Cup were starting. Among the changes which SABELLA made when he took over, appointing Lionel MESSI as team captain was one of them. This was a significant change as the armband went from Javier MASCHERANO to the three time World Player of the Year. If there was ever any doubt that Argentina was entering the Lionel MESSI era, this erased them all.
Argentina got off to a rocky start in the qualifiers but following a 2-1 comeback victory against Colombia in Baranquilla, Argentina's fortune changed. Top of the table in the South American standings included a stunning 3-0 victory against Uruguay, just over a year following their 2-1 penalty shootout loss. Lionel MESSI with a standout performance as he lead the team with two goals (one being a very cheeky free kick goal while rolling the ball under the wall) and an assist. Other victories included a 4-3 win against Brazil, three of those goals coming from Lionel MESSI, a 2-1 victory in Chile and a 3-0 victory against Paraguay. Amidst the victories, question marks were being raised as to why Carlos TEVEZ was not being included on the team. Rumors began circulating of problems between captain Lionel MESSI and TEVEZ himself. Speaking on a radio show in July of 2013, here's what TEVEZ had to say in terms of the National Team:
"I don't see myself as part of the national team for the next World Cup. I've never been considered by SABELLA. I don't miss playing for Argentina. The National Team went one way and I went the other. It's simple. What I don't want is to hear that it's me vs. MESSI."
About Lionel MESSI:
"It's been a while I haven't spoken to him. We've lost contact with each other. Concerning the fight, it's all a lie. With MESSI and I on the National Team, there's always been a comparison. That's bad. When we were together, there was none of that. But (with the National Team), you have MESSI fans and TEVEZ fans."
TEVEZ himself stated that he did not miss playing for the team. Yet, as was the case leading up to the 2011 Copa America, pressure from the media began mounting as they started asking current and previous players about the situation. In December 2013, TEVEZ was once again on a radio show in Argentina.
"SABELLA must not be asked to call me up... Let him work in peace because it's not easy for SABELLA not to call me. I know there's a lot of pressure especially from fans."
"I have no problems with the group and I get on great with MESSI. I don't lose sleep over the World Cup. I don't think I will watch it because it hurts me to see the National Team, it's bad for me."
In January 2014, Lionel MESSI finally spoke about the matter. When asked about TEVEZ's exclusion from the team, here was his response:
"It's the coach's decision if he decides to call him (TEVEZ) up. We have nothing to do with it. We have a great team and if TEVEZ gets called up, no problem."
Former Argentina captain Roberto AYALA spoke about the situation.
"TEVEZ should be on the Argentina National Team. For his quality, which is enormous. Unfortunately, the truth is that it doesn't look like he has a chance."
"I've always respected SABELLA's decisions, but with 3 months to go until the World Cup, if TEVEZ keeps playing like he has been playing with Juventus, he should be given a chance."
Angel DI MARIA even had something to say surrounding all the rumors.
"Alejandro SABELLA makes the decisions around here, not us. Not MESSI, not AGUERO, no one. There are always rumors. When things are going good, there always has to be problems."
"You just have to know that those things are lies and you can't care about them."
This brings us to the present. With those facts fully reported, there were some things that were not mentioned in that time line.
Rumors of rifts in the team during the 2011 Copa America surfaced at the time. Nicolas BURDISSO lashing out at MESSI for not defending enough in the team's second match at the tournament against Colombia. Javier ZANETTI, one of the leaders on the team, came out and attempted to cover the whole situation up with comments saying that what happened between BURDISSO and MESSI is something normal, and that even he got into an argument with Gabriel MILITO, but the two are friends. The locker room seemed to be divided, not for the first time in Argentina's history.
The Copa America came and went and along with it went Sergio BATISTA and part of the old guard (Gabriel MILITO, Javier ZANETTI. Martin DEMICHELIS and Nicolas BURDISSO would later be faded out of the team) and in came Alejandro SABELLA and fresh new faces. Ezequiel GARAY, Federico FERNANDEZ, Lucas BIGLIA and Ever BANEGA (who were in and out of the team under Sergio BATISTA have become regulars under Alejandro SABELLA).
With the old leaders out of the team, the veterans for Argentina suddenly became Javier MASCHERANO (captain at the time), Lionel MESSI and Carlos TEVEZ. Since the beginning of the SABELLA era, MESSI has been surrounded by friends. Players with whom he has played at since his U20 days. 11 of the 23 players currently on the team won gold at the 2008 Olympic games. Sergio ROMERO, Pablo ZABALETA, Ezequiel GARAY, Javier MASCHERANO, Jose SOSA, Angel DI MARIA, Sergio AGUERO, Ezequiel LAVEZZI, Fernando GAGO, Ever BANEGA and Lionel MESSI himself. Six of the 23 players currently on the team won gold at the 2005 U20 World Cup. Lucas BIGLIA, Pablo ZABALETA, Ezequiel GARAY, Fernando GAGO, Sergio AGUERO and Lionel MESSI. Four players of the 23 currently on the team won gold at the 2007 U20 World Cup. Sergio ROMERO, Ever BANEGA, Sergio AGUERO and Angel DI MARIA.
All those players have been together for years and the current feel from the outside is that Alejandro SABELLA wants to build a close knit group of not only players but of friends. Lionel along with MASCHERANO are two of the biggest leaders on the team (captain and second captain) and adding in a player who is extremely vocal like Carlos TEVEZ is something that is seen as a problem for many Argentina fans.
His situation and behavior leading up to and including the 2011 Copa America rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. TEVEZ showed up to the Copa a few kilos overweight and he didn't play too well when given the chance. He also happened to be the only player to miss his penalty in the shootout against Uruguay at the Copa America, a tournament which Argentina was hosting and expected to win. Be it a stroke of faith or him simply being unlucky, TEVEZ missed his penalty kick and Argentina were eliminated.
He has always had the backing of the media in Argentina. In the lead up to the 2010 World Cup, MESSI was getting destroyed by the public in his home land as well as those in charge of the newspapers. He was labeled a Catalan when he scored for Barcelona against Estudiantes de la Plata at the final of the 2010 Club World Cup. MESSI never played for a club in Argentina and didn't have the backing of Boca, River, Racing or Estudiantes fans. TEVEZ has the backing of one of the biggest clubs in Argentina, Boca Juniors.
When he was not on the team from January 2011 until the Copa America, Sergio BATISTA, who was the manager of Argentina at the time, was under constant pressure from the media and fans to call the people's player, TEVEZ to the team. He ultimately made the team for the 2011 Copa America. BATISTA later stated in an interview that pressure from the top got TEVEZ included. Pressure from the top being Julio GRONDONA and the AFA. When Sergio BATISTA submitted his list of 23 players who would be representing Argentina for the 2011 Copa America, Carlos TEVEZ's name was part of the 23 man squad.
I had mentioned how former Argentina coach Sergio BATISTA stated that pressure from the top got Carlos TEVEZ included in the team at the Copa America. This is what BATISTA had to say about it all in October 2013:
"There was pressure from the AFA and politics involved to get TEVEZ called-up to the team at the Copa America."
Many feel that the pressure from the AFA was due to the sponsors of the tournament. TEVEZ was and remains a very big name in South America and had he missed the tournament in Argentina, the feeling is that many of the sponsors would have been unhappy. With the World Cup being held in Brazil, the same rumors of sponsors getting involved have resurfaced. Whether or not SABELLA and the AFA crack and TEVEZ finds himself included on the team remains to be seen. However, it is unlikely.
Many get the impression that TEVEZ does not like to play in the World Cup qualifiers but has no problem participating at the World Cup. TEVEZ has stated throughout the qualifiers that he did not miss playing for Argentina. He said this more than once. As the World Cup approaches, he has changed his tune. He says that the reason he is not on the team is not because of him but due to the decision from Alejandro SABELLA. That ties in with the theory of him not wanting to do the dirty work of playing in the World Cup qualifiers (by saying that he does not miss playing for Argentina) and only wanting to play at the World Cup (by saying that it's not his decision if he plays or not, it's SABELLA's).
One thing which was not mentioned is that his goalscoring record for Argentina is atrocious. With a less than impressive 13 goals in 62 matches for Argentina, Maxi RODRIGUEZ, a midfielder, has 14 goals in 52 matches. Carlos TEVEZ also picked up two red cards in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. The first against Colombia and the second against Paraguay. He also missed a penalty kick against Ecuador. Statistically speaking, the numbers are not on his side.
That is not to say TEVEZ has never done well for Argentina. He was the standout player at the 2004 Olympic games where Argentina, lead by TEVEZ, won gold. He was also one of Argentina's better players at the 2010 World Cup. Not only for his goals (one of which was a beauty against Mexico) but for his work rate.
Another thing that has to be mentioned is the influence which Lionel MESSI has in the locker room. While this article might be read as something against TEVEZ, despite what many might believe, MESSI has a great influence on the team. If MESSI himself were to publicly state or even speak to SABELLA privately and tell him that he would like to have TEVEZ on the Argentina team, I would not be surprised one bit if his name would be included on the World Cup team.
As mentioned, SABELLA has surrounded MESSI with friends and people he feels comfortable with and while it may or may not be the reason, Lionel has excelled under SABELLA. He is constantly the focal point of every attack and more often than not the creator of most of the goals scored. Many will say that TEVEZ has mature since his fall out at Manchester City and that he is a different player at Juventus. It could very well be true, but unless TEVEZ gets called for Argentina, we will never know.
From one point of view, you can say that SABELLA has without a doubt the most lethal forwards on the planet and adding TEVEZ would make it that much more deadly. But from the other side of the coin, is it worth taking what is already the best attack in world futbol and risking the team chemistry both on and off the pitch by adding TEVEZ, who while is a fantastic player, is vocal and has failed more often than not while playing for Argentina.
Hopefully this has given you a better understanding of what has transpired in the Carlos TEVEZ saga. I tried to dig up as many quotes as possible and I tried not to miss anything when writing this.