Thursday, July 06, 2006

A look into the future - Goalkeepers and Defenders for 2010 (July 6th)

Some might say it’s too early to think about this. The majority of you who have been writing me e-mails don’t agree with this. There seem to be a desperate thirst for revenge and even if we are four years away from having that chance, every Argentina fan wants to start to imagine our team for South Africa 2010.

Well, here is my first approach to the players that could (in my humble opinion) make it to the next World Cup.

It is such a hard work and it’ll be impossible to talk about all the names I’ll mention below. Because of that, in this first article about our future National Team, I’ll concentrate only on goalkeepers and defenders.


Roberto ABBONDANZIERI was one of the highest points for Argentina in 2006, but he might be too old for the next World Cup. He is almost 34 and even though Jens LEHMANN is 36 now and he had a great World Cup, ABBONDANZIERI will have almost 38 and will be almost impossible for him to be included. That said, he is poised to get a contract in Spain and start a brand new international career at his age. So you never know.

There is nothing to be worried about. Argentina has other options between the three posts. Oscar USTARI was our only player in the squad not to play a single minute in this World Cup, but he gained experience by being with the team in such circumstances.

Leo FRANCO will be 33 and if he keeps up his performances in Spain he could become our first choice.

Running behind these two there is German LUX (who very narrowly missed the trip to Germany). He is very young and he is established in River Plate (and may be going to play in Europe very soon).

Other candidates?

Mariano BARBOSA made a move to Spain to play for Villarreal and will continue to gain experience and improve in this coming four seasons.

Franco COSTANZO is another product of River Plate’s youth system and has incredible reflexes. He got relegated with Deportivo Alavés in Spain but no doubt he has the qualities. He has four years to establish himself once again.


Out of the current squad, there might be some defenders still in contention to play in 2010.

Instead of going case by case, I’ll name those who I think will have to stay and try and explain why.

Gabriel MILITO: Solid. Played a great game against Holland and has the best years of his career still to come. He’ll be 30.

Nicolas BURDISSO: Adaptability. He can play in every defensive position. Had a great World Cup before his injury against Holland. If he keeps up his performances for Inter Milan, he should be heading for South Africa. He’ll be 29.

Gabriel HEINZE: Experience. He’ll be 32 and he better use his experience to avoid silly mistakes like those he made in Germany. Playing at a high level for Manchester United could help his case.

Of those I like from our defensive core these three are the only ones who have a chance to make it to the next World Cup in terms of age. Captain Juan Pablo SORIN (34 in 2010) and former skipper Roberto AYALA (37) will miss out. And guys like Fabricio COLOCCINI, Lionel SCALONI and Leandro CUFRE should not play unless they improve dramatically in the next few seasons.

New faces?

Gonzalo RODRIGUEZ should have played in this World Cup if it wasn’t for his nasty injury sustained in a Champions League encounter last season. He will be one of the top central defenders for the next years to come. I’m thinking of a couple of central defenders formed by him and Gabriel MILITO. We have a future there! By the way, if you want to follow GONZALO, he plays for Villarreal and he’ll be 26 in 2010. He has 5 caps with Argentina and scored 1 goal (against Mexico in a friendly match).

Walter SAMUEL did not make it to Germany. He never got to be the same he was when he won the Scudetto with AC Roma (2000/2001). But he can make a comeback and be an experienced 32-year old central defender in our next World Cup squad.

So we’ve got 5 already. No room for surprises so far! We might take 6 or 7 defenders to the next World Cup and the last two spots could be filled up by new-comers. Four years is a lot of time in football and lots of careers are build up in less than that.

But here are a couple of bets to the future:

Gustavo CABRAL. He plays for Racing Club and is familiar with Argentina Youth Teams. He is already established in the first division and if he manages to secure a move to Europe, he’ll be better regarded by everybody. Has speed. Knows how to head the ball and will be 24 at the time of the World Cup.

Daniel DIAZ. While this is not exactly a bet to the future, he’s a player who can become a power house in the next couple of years. With experience in Mexico and being a key to Boca’s recent success, there might be a spot available for him. Some defenders seem to hit their best form in their late-20’s so a move to Europe would not be something crazy to think. He’ll be almost 31 in the next World Cup.

Nicolas PAREJA. He comes from Argentinos Juniors (just like MARADONA, REDONDO, CAMBIASSO, SORIN and RIQUELME to name a few) and he have just secured a move to Anderletch (Belgium). Watch out for him in the coming seasons. He’ll be 26 and he can present a good battle for a starting position come 2010.

We’ll continue to follow all our worthy contenders to get a place in our next World Cup team and in the meantime, you’re welcome to suggest your favourite players and send me your comments about my picks for the future.

Crystal balls anyone?


Anonymous said...

Hi there John here,

I wonder why German Lux wasn't included in your goalkeeper list. Remember he was our 1st choice keeper at the Olympics and has a few caps already for the senior team as well.

On the other hand, there was young defender who was just sign by Liverpool. Can't remember his name...

keep the mails coming in at

Anonymous said...

Considering that most of us are more excited about our future midfielders and forwards, we must not forget about having a solid defense. Discluding El Raton, I was quite unimpressed with our defense in this WC. As you mentioned, we need a defender who can head the ball on those tiros de esquina.

As for our future midfield and offense, we know that Apache Fuerte, La Pulga and Aimar will be the center-pieces, but who else? Kun gets alot of well-deserved attention, but who else is going to step up? I think we should be most concerned with our midfield.

And for coaching, can we all agree that Maradona would be a horrible choice. We should hope that Pekerman stays on for another cycle, and if not him, then someone with his patience and vision (not a hot-head like Diego).

Anonymous said...

Asian fan here.

Thanks Seba for the updates on goalkeepers and defenders, will give me a chance to look out for them in the near future.

John, defender signed at Liverpool is Gabriel Paletta.

Seba said...

Good pick-up John!

I guess we're gonna have to wait and see if Gabriel PALETTA will establish himself at Liverpool. It's probably very early to say he is going to become something special for Argentina before we can see if he can adapt his game to the European standards.

He did great in the Netherlands for the Youth World Cup along Lionel MESSI and Kun AGÜERO amongst others. But it's going to be interesting to see how can he perform with the big boys in such a prestigious club like Liverpool.

Hope RAFA will give him some quality minutes this season!

As I don't know him that much, I went to Liverpool FC's website and this is his brief profile:


Gabriel Paletta is only the second player from Argentina to play for Liverpool and the young centre half arrives in England as a blossoming talent for the future.

Signed from Banfield, the transfer was sealed in July 2006 in time for Paletta to join in pre-season training at Melwood.

He is highly rated, so much so River Plate manager Daniel Passarella, who was captain of the Argentina side that won the 1978 World Cup, and a former central defender himself, rates Paletta as one of the best of his type in Argentina.

Paletta first came to prominence in 2005. At the start of the year he was still yet to make his first team debut with Banfield, but when he finally got his chance he impressed.

When Banfield qualified for the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores they changed their 25 man squad for the event to include Paletta and immediately threw him into action against the Colombian team Independiente Medellín. Paletta played well and Banfield progressed, but Paletta was to play no further part in the tournament after being called up to the Argentinian under-20 team to contest the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship.

Paletta started all seven games playing in the heart of the Argentine defence. Argentina, inspired by Barcelona ace Lionel Messi went on to win the tournament and Paletta's performances brought him to the attention of Liverpool.

Paletta had a good 2005/06 season for the Buenos Aires based team, making 30 appearances and scoring two goals.

Anonymous said...


Asian fan here. I recall Paletta during the Youth Championship. As we get broadcast here of EPL quite frequently, I have been following Liverpool's chase for Paletta.

During the Youth Championship last year, most of the other argentine players were (unfortuately or fortuately) overshadowed by Messi. Of course Messi performed superbly during the tournament.

Anonymous said...

Hi John here,

From the looks of it i guess Paletta has been sign by RAFA as along term replacement for Sami Hyppia. I hope RAFA can do for Paletta just like what he did for Ayala and Aimar. Both players as these players blossomed under his management

Joey said...

Seba, reading your article brings back memories of 98.

I am not talking about Arg 98 here, I am talking about French team 98.

Before the tourment, the French manager Jacquet insisted on dropping world class strikers Cantona and Ginoa. And French struggled to score in every single elimination match.

Paraguay hold a 0-0 tie until the 114th minute, just 6 minutes before the panalty shootout.

The Blues struggled again in quaterfinal against Italy. The game ended 0-0 and French won a penalty shootout.

On both occation, French could have been easily eliminated.

If that happened, Jacquet will be the villain.

Instead, the French got lucky. Goals from Turam and Zidane won them their first world cup. Hi, it seems they could win the world cup without any forwards at all!

I am not a big French fan but I still like them a lot because of Platini. I felt very painful when I watched their mediocre forwards like Dugarry and Djorkaff play, when I know what Cantona and Ginoa could have done in the same position.

Anyway, victory speaks for itself. Once they won the championship this French team is hailed as a perfect model of modern soccer. Jacquet is a great coach and a national hero.

Jacquet gambled and he won. He is a hero.

Now let's look at Arg 06.

By dropping world class defenders Zanetti and Samuel, Pekerman gambled the same way as Jacquet did eight years ago.

Unfortunately, he didn't have Jacquet's luck.

Watching Heinz and Scaloni play in the Arg-Mex game is a pain. Especially when you know what Zanetti and Samuel should have done in the same position.

Arg actually got a little lucky here. Heinz should have beend red-carded off in that game. The way Mexico played that night, chances are Arg wouldn't even pass Mexico.

Arg finally got punished for the shaky defense line in the German match.

I still believe it is the defense line that failed Arg. The seed of defeat was buried when Pekerman dropped Zanetti and Samuel.

Pekerman gambled and he failed. He is now a villain.

Unfortunately, none of the great Arg defenders I am familiar with, Sorin, Ayala, Zanetti, Samuel, will see another world cup. It is simply heartbroken experience for Ayala to exit the world cup and national team this way - missing the final penalty shootout.

I will always remember Zanetti for his great goal during Arg-Eng match in 98.

Saurabh Bhattacharjee said...

I would agree with Sebastian on the bright future for Central Defence for Argentina.

But we need good full backs as well. This World Cup and especially his absence in the Holland match showed how critical Sorin is for the team and Zannetti's contribution to the team cannot be ignored by anyone. While Burdisso showed great promise and even Coloccini had a improved showing against the Germans, Zannetti could have given them an attacking impetus after Burdisso's injury.

I would like to know from fans in Argentina about young promising full backs.

Joey said...

If you took a hard look at the result in recent world cups, Argentian cut a very sorry figure.

Hugely talented and considered a favorite every time, Argentina failed to deliver.

Here is the result for Argentina for the last four world cups:

1994: second round
1998: quarter final
2002: group phase
2006: quarter final

We all know Spain is called world cup under-achiever. If Argentian failed to deliver again in 2010, I am afaird Argentina will join Spain as an all-time under-achiever.

Anonymous said...

I dont think so we will ever fall into the "all-time" underacheiver club. We have won 2 World Cups as compared to Spain's NONE. History only teaches us to learn from the mistakes that we did previously, the 2006 world cup squad gave it their sure if it was not germany in the way, we could have gone further without a doubt, just that we ended up on the wrong end of some bad decisions from the match officials and from our coach.

But then Pekerman is a fantastic coach with youngsters and by 2010, these young group of players will be more matured and there is just good things to come.

I know we have not won the world cup in 20 years already, but as the current tournament suggest...there are 32 teams and one winner, but that doesnt mean the other 31 teams were losers, its just that there were so many factors that determine the course of a football match. Obviously the main course of events will be from the team itself but im speaking of other "external factors" that swing the flow of a game.

Anyway, im proud to be an argentinian supporter for life and i will be behind the albiceleste forever.

I do have a course for concern though, i know we have many attacking talents, but as of now, im yet to see a striker in the mould of Batistuta and i hope Seba or someone can shed some light on this issue. Crespo was a good player but he didn't have that extra bit that Batigol had...i hope down the line on our conveyor of talent there will emerge an out and out striker to finish off the chances created by our other creative minds.

Vamos Argentina.

alwin (malaysia)

Mohamed Somali said...

I'm Happy to see here the Future Defenders Of Argentina, that is good news for the National Team in 2010. What About Our Future Midfielders?, and i can see One them is up now, Fernando Gago. Did you Guys see Gago Playing? He is Absolutely One Hell of a Player, that is my Real Madrid, Barcelona And Chelsea are mad about him. i have a feelings that he would be added in the squad for Copa America in 2007.

My Friend Seba, what do think About that,

Seba said...

As for the full-backs...I think HEINZE could play left back (just like he does for Man U) and BURDISSO can play right back (as he did in this World Cup).

I think the emergence of new faces will be crucial in this aspect.

So far, I can't see a clear choice in those positions, but I won't be worried in excess if HEINZE and BURDISSO have to cover in those positions.

That said, we still have to wait and see who'll be our next manager and which system will he play. Because if he plays with three at the back, then we don't need full-backs.

Argentina underachiever?

Nobody called Brazil underachiever in those 24 years that passed between Mexico 70 and USA 94. They were suffering from Pele's retirement just as much as we are suffering from Diego's.

Even though I agree our recent World Cup performances were not of our highest standards, you can't compare us to Spain.

A new striker like BATIGOL?

Well...I'm yet to write about midfielders and attackers. And when I do, I'll talk about our strikers of the future. But just to give you a taste of what's coming in my next articles...let me tell you that there is no new-Batigol around. I'm sorry but that's the truth. We will, however, have some fire-power for 2010. Don't worry about that.


No doubt he should be included in our next fixtures. Hope he moves to Europe soon...specially to avoid Boca winning everything!

Joey said...

Seba, don't take me wrong. You know I am a fanatical Argentina fan. It is just my beloved team broke my heart every four years and I feel a little bitter about this.

Argentina is usually listed along side with Brazil, German, Italy and France as a powerhouse. In the last four world cups, Brazil reached 3 finals and won twice. German reached 1 final and 1 semifinal. Italy reached 2 finals and could win 1 tomorrow. France reached 2 finals and won 1 (could be 2).

Argentina didn't even make one appearance is semifinal.

When you are a powerhouse, you need to make regular appearances in semifinals, and reach final now and then.

And I do believe Brazil was underachiever during 74-90, even though noboday called them that way. What other words could you use to describe a team with Zico, Falco, Socrate but didn't even make it to the semifinals?

If Argentina fail to reach semifinal in 2010, that's 20 years without a semifinal show. Let's all pray that it won't happen.

Joey said...

How to win a world cup?

I don't know. (Whoever knows should be the next Argentina coach)

But I do know one thing: you do NOT need a Pele or Maradona to win world cups.

Arg won its first title with Kempus, Italy won its third title with Rossi, Brzail won its fourth title with Romario and Bebeto.

They are all good players but nowhere near the all-time-greats.

On the other hands, some all-time-greats, like Platini, Zico and Cruyff, never won world cups.

A all-star team won't guarantee success, either. Just look at Brazil 06!

Brazil 82 is a lot better than Brazil 94. But Zico, Falco, Socrat never won world cup, Romario and Bebeto did.

Yes, Maradona won the world cup almost singlehandedly. This never happened before (Pele never won a world cup singlehandedly), and I am afraid it won't happen again.

If Argentina is still waiting for the next Maradona to lead you to glory, I am afraid you, and Argentina fans all over the world, have to wait a long, long time.

Let's assume everything is going great and 23-year-old Messi is really as good as Maradona four years later. So what? We all know what happened to 22-year-old Maradona in Spain 82.

Actually, if Argentina and the whole world keeps on telling Messi that the whole country (and the world) expect him to be the next Maradona and lead Arg to glory, I am afraid the wonder boy will be crushed under this enormous pressure.

Joey said...

Seba, when you talked about Batigol, that brings back a lot of memories.

Beside Maradona, Batigol is the most popular Argentina player in China. Chinese fans loved him very much.

I watched many of his games and I am a huge fan of him. I was still in China when he played so I could see him play in Italy Seria A.

You are talking about defense line here so perhaps it is too early to ask about forwards. But I am really sad to hear there will be no Batigol around. Messi, Terez, and Aimar are great. But they are all so small. Who is going to win all the high balls in the air?

IanM said...

I agree with Alwin, Argentina need a real goalscorer like Batistuta. They have skilful attackers like Messi, Tevez, Saviola and Aguero, but none of them are prolific scorers - they are more creative players rather than finishers.

To win a World Cup I think a team normally needs to have a true striker: someone who maybe doesn't get so involved in the build-up play, but if he gets one chance he scores it, e.g. Ronaldo or Henry. Otherwise the danger is you end up like Portugal - plenty of possession but no one to take the chances that are created. Maybe Argentina can get round this problem by using the more mobile, pacy and tricky players mentioned - but I think it's always important to have a out-and-out goalscorer in the squad.

Seba said...

Little busy here and still trying to find the time to write the follow up to that first article looking into the future.

I'm thinking of a lot of midfielders and will sit down to write a thing or two about them soon.

And soon after, there'll be the time to talk about forwards with a special focus on strikers.

I've got a couple of names in my mind.

Joey said...

What happened to Zinadine Zidane???????????!!!!!!!!!!

France dominated that final match, right until that moment!!!

How could he, a veteran of 34-year-old, lost his head like that???

I can think of 22-year-old Maradona lost his head in 82, 24-year-old Beckham lost his head in 98, and 20-year-old Rooney lost his head in 2006, but NOT 34-year-old Zinadine Zidane!

What a shame! He is the best soccer player in the last decade. And he is the very reason why France is in the final tonight.

The way France played tonight, I felt sure they are going to win. Right until that horrible moment!

Seba, this is what I say. You can NOT depend on a single player to win world cup. Tonight, the side with the super star lost.

What on hell went wrong with Zinadine Zidane!!!

Joey said...

Nobody wanting to talk about the final match?

Italy took a total negative approach in the second half and extra time, just sat back and waited for the penalty shoot-out. That's a surprise, considering the bad history they have in penalty shoot-outs.

But, as it turned out, Italy actually won this penalty shoot-out.

France was the better team who kept on attacking...until Zidane was red-carded off. And they lost.

I am afraid after this world cup the soccer world is going to be even more conservative. Italy won the title basically because of their defensive play. They are sending a loud message to the whole soccer world: defensive play is more important than anything else.

Saurabh said...

I dont agree with you Joey. I was very impressed with the Italian approach in the semi finals where they had 4 strikers in extra time. This aggressive approach won them the game.

To be fair to the Italians, they played the world cup without one of their best defenders Nesta.

France was the better team today no doubt, but the better team always doesnt win, we know that from Germany Vs Argentina.

subh said...

1stly.. malouda never gets a penalty for that dive or no dive. it tilted the balance of the game. Italy was the best team in the 1st 45 mins no doubts of that. France were no where in the game. In the 2nd half, France played better but they never really threatened enough to have clear cut chances, kudos to the Italian Defence.
Zidane shamed himself. I felt he was totally bottled up by Italians and which frustrated him so much leading to that headbutt.
Brathez was a joke in the goal again, and Domenech was out of his mind to replace henry with wiltord. Henry wasnt tired much as he didnt do a lot of running in the game and he was probably the 2nd beswt penalty taker in the team after zizou.
In the penalties, the concentration of the italians and professionalism won them the game. I feel strongly, Ragetina needs to learn from the iTalians the mental strength and the concentration required for the penalties and treat it just as a part of the game.
Anywayz, France was overall not a exciting team at all, boring football from them too apart from 1 or 2 glimpses of brilliance from zizou or henry.
For me Pirlo, gattuso Cannavaro and Grosso were really awesome on the pitch.

Anonymous said...

We the Argentina's Fans , as we said before that we will the final of the world. now our Argentinian referee Horacio Elizondo Reached there, that is true we foretold that we will reach the final in any case.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, this time with 1 Argentine participant in WC2006 final.

In WC2010 final, we will have 11 participants !

Vamos Argentina !

Joey said...

Italy only played one great game throughout the elimination phase - the semifinal against German.

In the second round they struggled against a minor Australia, and only won the match on a controversial penalty kick.

In quaterfinal they faced the weakest team in final eight the Ukrane, and the match was a replay of Brazil - Ghana. Ukrane created numerous chances but couldn't finish, Italy sat back and punished Ukraines for their horrible defense on quick counter-attacks.

And, then, yes, they played a great game against German. This is the only game they went out and played.

In the final, they again sat back and virtually waited for the penalty kick for the whole second half and extra time.

Who are the heroes in the Italy team? Buffon, Cannavaro, Gatusso (perhaps Pirlo as well). In other word, the whole defense line. That says a lot.

Anonymous said...

Seba, this is Asian Fan.

I have a short question for you.

In your article on defenders, I notice Gabriel Paletta was not mentioned. He just signed for Liverpool and only 20 yrs old.

Any chance of him playing for Argentina in the near future ?

Thank you.

Seba said...

Yes, he has chances to do it. But I think he needs to settle in a big club like Liverpool.

I didn't include him but I've made comments on him up here (just take a look at the fourth comment from up to down).

Midfielders coming soon!

Anonymous said...

Seba, this is Asian Fan.

Thanks for answering my question.

Sunil said...

Hi Sebastian,

After a disappointing world cup, it is good to move forward and look ahead. Thanks for posting the player analysis. The world has become smaller, with the internet and advancement in technology. This site will be in my favorites and I think I will visit the site religiously every weekend. Once again thanks for the blogs and articles you posted for the last on month. Keep up the Good work.


RM said...

Great, you name a bunch of central zaguerros, what about attacking outside 'laterales?' Pekerman only named one (Sorin). One name for comment: Clemente Rodriguez. He fell off the map like Cavanaghi. Bring him back. Is Ibarra too old? And what about heighth---Schiavi. He's in Europe.

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