Pekerman knows how to beat Brazil
In the quarterfinal stage of the Under-20 World Cup on June 29, 1997, the game wasn't between Brazil's Seleção and Colombia. It was Brazil vs. Jose Pekerman, the coach of Argentina.
On that day, Brazil were reminded of their defeat two years prior in the U20 World Cup final in Qatar. The Argentines, captained by Juan Pablo Sorín, with Ariel Ibagaza wearing the No. 10 shirt and goals from Francisco Gabriel Guerrero and Leonardo Biagini -- later of Atlético Madrid -- won 2-0. In the 1995 final, Brazil had Zé Elias in midfield and Caio Ribeiro up front.
The U20 world champion Argentines from 1995, once again coached by Pekerman, reached the quarterfinals two years later and met a Brazil full of confidence after hammering South Korea 10-3 and Belgium 10-0. The team had Athirson, Pedrinho, Fernandão and Alex at its disposal, while Argentina could call on Lionel Scaloni, Pablo Aimar, Diego Placente and Juan Roman Riquelme.
It was a tough game until the 79th minute, when Riquelme picked out a brilliant ball to the right for a Scaloni goal. Martin Perezlindo scored the second in stoppage time, and Argentina went on to win the title, beating Marcelo Zalayeta's Uruguay in the final.
Pekerman began his career as a midfielder for Argentinos Juniors and finished his journey playing in Colombia. Argentines have played a key role in shaping Colombian football ever since Adolfo Pedernera, Alfredo Di Stéfano and Nestor Rossi led the exodus of striking players in 1948 to go and play for Millonarios and the clubs of the pirate league formed in Bogotá in 1949.
This goes some way toward explaining the short and direct passing of the Colombians, a little Argentine in its style. With Pekerman now at the helm of Colombia's senior side, this is even more evident. And Pekerman know how to beat Brazil in World Cup events.
Paulo Vinicius Coelho ("PVC") is a veteran Brazilian sports journalist who has covered four World Cups and five Champions League finals. He is a football specialist, ESPN commentator in Brazil and columnist for Folha de S. Paulo, a popular Brazilian daily. He has written six books, including "Bola Fora," a history of the exodus of Brazilian players. Follow him on Twitter @pvcespn.