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Soccer Group A Roundup: Argentina storm in Elephants' wild waltz
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09:03, August 14, 2008

The Argentina storm is certainly the most impressive thing of Group A at the Beijing Olympic men's soccer tournament, but that is far from the whole story, as the small Elephants' wild waltz caught the eyes of the fans tightly.

Defending champions Argentina cruised ruthlessly and artistically through the group stage with three straight wins over Cote d'Ivoire, Australia and Serbia. The Albiceleste is undoubted the dominating force in this group. Star players Lionel Messi, Juan Riquelme, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Gago forged a glistening midfield and functioned well with frontman Ezquiel Lavezzi and Sergio Aguero.

However, the Argentines were tested greatly in their first two outings with two sharply contrasting styles. Cote d'Ivoire had a brave and attacking 90 minutes with the reigning champions, spoiling their short passing play with well-read interceptions and strong individual ability.

The Ivorians always rounded the Argentine defenders single- handedly. Chelsea's Salomon Kalou, captain Gervinho and other players troubled the Argentines from time to time.

Argentina could have lost the game if Messi and Riquelme didn't exert their magics. Messi's goal and assist killed the Elephants in ruthless way, but the Ivorians' brilliant techniques have greatly impressed the fans.

After the open game, Argentina met a defensive Australia side, who were well-positioned and very cautious even in the counter- attacks. Argentina was bad in the finishing touch, and they should thank Messi again for the prodigy initiated a cunning move to indirectly set up for a late goal.

Sergio Batista sent his second-choiced starting eleven to beat Serbia 2-0 in the final game, and will meet the Netherlands in the quarter-final.

The Ivorians were obviously boosted after the narrow game against Argentina, and their individual gift was too strong for the Serbians and the Olyroos. They eased past Serbia 4-2 and Australia 1-0 to reach the last eight, where they will meet Nigeria.

Graham Arnold's lads have tried their best to deal with the tough rivals, but a 1-1 draw against Serbia was not enough for them to advance. The Olyroos were too conservative in the game against Serbia, which cost their slim chance to make surprise.

Serbia has some awkward performance at the group stage. The European Youth Championship finalists disappointed their supporters after notching one point from three games.

Source:Xinhua

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