Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What is the way forward for Argentina?

As you know, I'm on the road these days so I don't have much time online, but the interaction I've seen in our blog after my previous postings, really motivated me to stop by and start another discussion.

Another glory-less World Cup has come and go and Argentina are now 13 years without a major trophy in football (Copa America 93 in Ecuador).

We've enjoyed a few promising campaigns such as the USA 94 World Cup (before the Diego-gate) and the qualifying tournament for Korea/Japan 2002 with BIELSA when we were arguably one of the 2 or 3 best teams in the World.

But for one reason or another, we seem to be missing the killer instinct any team need to go all the way.

PEKERMAN is gone. BASILE is back at the helm and his fresh start couldn't have started worse.

The truth is he virtually had no time to work with the team (only 4 training sessions combined before losing to Brazil and Spain).

But is also true that most of the players he selected worked together in the build up for the World Cup and they know each other very well.

In several occassions BASILE said that he wants to form a group of players still competing in Argentina and train with them on a regular basis during the Apertura or Clausura tournaments. He said that we have to wait for him to be able to pick the local league's stars for us to see his real Argentina.

Now there is a public debate in Argentina because historically, our best players are bought by European teams and that kind of gives them a different status. Like if they belong to another category, while those who remain (for being too young to emigrate or for not being suitable for the European market) are looked with other eyes, like if they were not good enough to be picked for Argentina.

So the big question is: Are the Argentine playing in Europe better than those who still compete in our local league?

Wouldn't the local stars eventually emigrate to Europe lured by millionaire contracts and the prospect of securing a better life for them and their families?

Which side of the debate are you?

Do you prefer to see the big guns from Europe getting together for a couple of days before a friendly or a WC Qualifier? Or would you like to see a less experienced group working weekly and very closely with BASILE?

The answer to these questions will surely represent our chances of success or failure in the next few years. I hope COCO gets it right this time.


John said...


I'll be lying if I said that the local based players are better than the European based players. But what I would like from Coco to form the best team consisting of players with intelligent and individual skills, regardless where they play their club football

From what I see, the Apertura and Clausura are in a very unique position. While most of the best players will eventually sign a contract with top European teams, this allows clubs from the local league to focus on youth development.

Some of the top leagues in Europe are finding themselves in tough position as their club signs players from abroad, the young talent are having a tough time breaking through the first team.

At the same time, Argentine club have been successful in international competition (Copa Libetedores, Copa Sundamerica etc.). In Europe on other hand, top clubs success is heavily based on foreign talent. There maybe a lot of talented youth in the Arsenal team, but how many of them are English?

I feel personally that it is best that Coco prepares the Copa America team next year based on the young talent from the local league. The core players from that team could form the nucleus for the 2010 World Cup team. Lets face it; it is unlikely that some of these players will remain in Argentina by 2010. At least the team will have a very much better understanding and Coco’s messages will be heard loud and clear.

As a conclusion we need to have a long-term process in order to be successful in 2010. Remember, that Bielsa squad in 2002 consists of players he in herald from Pasarella in 1998 and most of them played together throughout those period (1998-2002). Pekerman team was heavily based on the players that he has worked from his stint with the youth team.

Therefore, I ask all Albicelestes supporters to be patient and give Coco the time and the chance that he deserves. Afterall he was the last coach to win us a trophy.


alwin said...

Hi Seba and All,

What Basile is trying to do is to mould a team of local based players because of their availibity and thus far they have more time to prepare. It's a good idea, but the question you posted here was "Are the Argentine playing in Europe better than those who still compete in our local league?"

There is no definite answer to that as i believe there are fantastic players coming from the Local league but there also is an abundant of talent from Europe. Most of the local leagues star will jump the european bandwagon when the opportunities knocks. To me what Basile should do is to have a good mix of local and European Based players.

Going to the Copa America with the local boys might work as it's a continental tournament and the teams competing know each others style more or less. But can the local based players sustain with the much more physical game of the European teams.
Whether we like it or not, football nowdays is more physical than before and with the proper food intake and a strict workout regime at the Gym supervised by experienced coaches and staffs, the game is coming more physical and demanding.

There were many local based player who went to Europe and became a success, but then there were some excellent players in the local league that went to europe and never realy fulfilled their potential too. Lets take Martin Palermo for example. He was a monster of a striker, a Power Forward, then he introduced himself to the 1999 Copa America in Paraguay.To me had an excellent tournament (putting aside the 3 penalty misses), a big move was on the cards for him. He then moved to Villareal,Betis, Alaves and now he is back in Boca. I am still wondering why he could not capture that form he had for Boca in Europe.

To me, the local guys are great, but im still abit skeptical if an entire team made of of them would be able to handle teams from europe in particular. I would still prefer a good mix and match.

Preparation time should not be a factor here as other nations are also facing this challenge and what makes us any different from others.

Argentina is well known for it's conveyor belt of talent. Talent is unquestionable, its a mater of mental strenght. I believe that Argentina players can be very emotional at times and tend to loose their cool more often, maybe they should focus on keeping the cool and a steady mind,and what a better way of learning to control oneself mentally then to move to a much more physically demanding league where you are taunted and shoved around, but it will only bring out the best in you.


Seba said...

I must say I agree with you Alwin. Especially when it comes to the mix we need to find.

I would hate to see COCO get fanatical over having only local players selected like what happened with BIELSA who only selected Europe-based footballers. Almost as if he was obsessed with them and he thought they were faster.

Well...some were, but we proved we couldn't out-run the English or the Swedes and what we needed was to play a more skilled kind of game. With footballers, not sprinters!

I think John is spot on regarding the Copa America and presenting a team with a majority of players competing in Argentina. It will be an excellent platform for them to start gaining international experience in a tournament without the pressures you have in a WC Qualy. If we win the Copa America, then great. If we lose it, it's no big deal, just as long as the experience gained proves to be important for the future of these group of players.

But as I mentioned, the danger lies on COCO getting obsessed by picking only local boys and failing to see that experienced Europe-based guys like Roberto AYALA or Hernan CRESPO (to name just a couple) could teach the young lads a lot and that it'll be good to have them in the mix.

Bottomline, and to repeat what John said, we need to be patient. We need to stand behind the team whatever happens and trust them.

ArgToWin said...

I don't think the issue is between local or foreign based players.

At this point, COCO should take a very strategic view. That is, his target is to produce the optimum team in June/July 2010.

So perhaps with that in mind, he can start off with a group of 40 players in 2007, reducing it to 35 in 2008 and by beginning of 2009, he should further reduce the desired team to between 25 to 30 players. This final team would then have 18 months to play together whenever the opportunity arises. Between now to 2010, COCO should not be easily distracted but stick closely to a well structured plan. Of course, if there is any new superkid that comes along, we can always accomodate and try him out but this should be the exception rather than the rule.

I don't think talent is the issue, there has always been an abundance of talent in the Argentine team. It is really the MENTAL STRENGTH of the team. If COCO can fix that, then winning will be the norm.

So the conclusion is, COCO to get a strategic plan in place for now to June/July 2010. Follow the plan closely, change it only when absolutely necessary. Fix the MENTAL STRENGTH issue.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what most are saying about having a combination of players from both the local leagues and the european leagues. While I see what Basile means by having more time to train with the local boys I don't think using all local players necessarily works. For example, take England, the USA, and even Spain. All are teams that employ mostly 'local' players and while I don't know how the US is doing both England and Spain haven't had the smoothest campaigns so far (after the WC, though England had a pretty poor WC campaign as well). I mean yes Spain beat us this past friendly but they had lost their two previous qualifiers against Ireland(?) and Sweden, the latter which had a pretty poor WC performance. Therefore I agree with everyone else that it's unwise to exclude the European players. I think they add a level of international experience which many local players don't have (the younger ones). There are so many talented players (hence the reason why they moved to Europe, money) and I'm concerned that players like Diego Milito, as well as some of the 'new' European signings like Palleta (to name one) will be excluded. Of course the youngsters playing in the Argentinian leagues are probably going to be the backbone of the 2010 team so I want them to get experience, and we have A LOT of talent there too. Hopefully he doesn't get too fanatical although part of me wonders if his current attitude indicates that he is just getting through these games until he can pick the team he wants. If that is the case then this Russian contract is hurting us more than we think.
Is there some stipulation that indicates how much practice time we can get? Why didn't Basile and the players meet earlier in preparation for this last friendly (I know that it wasn't possible against Brazil)?
Anyway, I don't have anything more to add that you guys haven't covered more eloquently than me. I do like the idea of starting with a group of players and narrowing it down but it should be more flexible to allow for growth.
Ok, it's getting late, maybe I'll think of something else to add tomorrow.


alwin said...

Hi Seba and All,

FC Porto beat Hamburg 4-1 with Lisandro Lopez (2 goals) and a Lucho Gonzalez penalty among the goals. I dont know much about Lisandro but do you think he could be our answer to an out and out striker? or is he a long shot...

Seba, maybe you should know more about him as he played for Racing Club 2003-2005, any comments on him?


linda said...

I agree with all the comments about having a mix of local and European talent. It makes sense to have a local-based team challenging for the Copa because they could actually train together for longer periods of time, but to ignore the talent and experience of the Argentinean players in Europe would be criminal.

That said, European clubs don't release their players very easily, and that is one big part of the problem. I remember when Ayala got into trouble with his club because he had played Copa America and the Olympics and therefore missed a lot of games for Valencia. That's an issue that local talent don't have to deal with nearly as much.

I think what Basile needs to do now is to get a firm idea of the system he wants to use and the players central to that system. He can then experiment with different players surrounding those few key ones, who would preferably be young enough to at least play some World Cup qualifiers. The Copa America campaign is a great chance to do just that.

Saurabh Bhattacharjee said...

I would agree with most of the comments expressed that Basile should have a pragmatic blend of both Europe-based players and home-based players.

Selecting just home-based players may make sense for the forthcoming Copa America. However, it would be a sad reflection on Basile's coaching abilities if he cannot work with players and build a coherent system over the course of next couple of years through the numerous friendlies and the WCQ.

After all, lack of time to work with players is what makes coaching an international team such a challenging task. And, all teams are grappling with this challenge. As already pointed out, the teams playing mainly with home based players have not had any particular success either.

So, Basile would do well not to get dogmatic about either of the options.

andaman said...

Agree with everyone's comment and mostly about the mental strength of the players. They are very passionate and emotional (which make argie footsies exciting to watch) but that can backfire sometimes if they can't control it in certain situations.

-Is there some stipulation that indicates how much practice time we can get? Why didn't Basile and the players meet earlier in preparation for this last friendly (I know that it wasn't possible against Brazil)?- argentinafan

There shouldn't be, should there? I may be paranoid but in the blog seba wrote about that Russian thingy. Some aspect in the contract stated the Russians pay for hotel and meal in duration before each friendly games. Well, longer preparation time means more money they have to pay? Why didn't Coco assemble the team longer than 2 days in the last match since no league games due to Euro qualify and all players in this team are European base and they have 8-9 days before the game (maybe clubs practice). Anyway just a thought.

alwin said...

Yes Andaman, im also abit concern here about the Russian thingy. I hope the business part of the game does not intefere with the performance on the field, because there is no use of playing against top level opposition if the team cant prepare on time and gel as a unit.

Seba, if you could please clear the air on this matter, does any of this got to do with the Russians? Is there a direct interference with team affairs?....Just wondering.


SoydeRiver said...

Just remember that all of our "European talent" was once local talent. I have no problem with making a team full of local talent. It will probably be full of ethusisiam and hungry to prove themselves.

Anonymous said...

I hate to change the topic so suddenly since it looks like we have a healthy discussion going on about the whole local vs european based players issue, but after watching the Barcelona vs Chelsea game I started thinking a little.
First of all I was observing Messi and noticed how truly dangerous he is. No one can deny that this kid is going to be one of our greatest weapons but at the moment I haven't seen him shine for the senior national team as he has for Barca. I was curious as to why that was? I mean granted he didn't score today but everything he did seem to help the team and he basically outran/played his marker thoughtout the game. Are the national team coaches missusing him (wrong position) or is just a matter of communication (this issue I noticed during the Spain game, when on at least one instance it looked like he was taking the ball away from Insua)? What do you think? I'm kind of on the fence on this issue.
The other thing I started thinking about, related to Messi because I started thinking about Messi possibly being played in the wrong position for Argentina, was whether it would be better to start adopting a 4-3-3 system as opposed to the 4-4-2 (or 4-3-1-2) system that we currently employ. I almost wonder if this might be better, at least until we find a playmaker. I noticed that Barcelona does this and it removes pressure from Ronaldihno (in case he has an off performance which happened today) and eliminates the need for a traditional #9 which is another problem that Argentina might face if we lose Crespo or Basile sticks to the shorties. A possible lineup could be (I can't put a lot of variations because this text box isn't wide enough so feel free to add or change players as you see fit):

Zabaletta Ayala G. Milito Heinze
Maxi Mascherano/Gago Bilos
and then in front any combination (3 players) of Tevez, Messi, Aguero, Aimar, Insua, Palacio, D'Alessandro, Belluschi, Saviola etc...

What do you think? Remember that I left out a lot of possible defensive options so feel free to adjust. I was thinking this because many thing that Insua and Aimar play better going foward (with Riquelme, he used to drop back more and Aimar would push to the front and it worked). Messi can also go in the middle of the foward three (I've seen him do that for Barca). D'Alessandro could also fit in that formation.
It was an idea although not that I think about it I'm wondering if we adopted that formation with Bielsa? I've have some temporary amnesia and can't remember. The reason why I ask is that I don't want to make the same mistake we did in 2002 where we tried to adopt too european a style of play.

Going back to the earlier topic, yes the 'European talent' was once local talent and our future WC team is most likely going to be made up of players currently playing in Argentina. However, what I think most of us are saying is that there are also a lot of young Argentinian players playing abroad (Aguero, Messi, Tevez, Masherano, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Gabriel Paletta, Zabaletta to name some) that shouldn't be ignored either. Not only that, if I remember correctly (I was pretty young so I'm going on what I read) last time Basile coached we started out with mostly Argentinian based players but then ended up with a mixed team.

Ok the post is long enough ;) Have a lovely night


SoydeRiver said...

Another to consider is that where the "home talent" may not be as good as our "European talent", football like basketball is a team sport. More often that not, a decent team that has had the chance to work together for a long while beats a team of superstars assembled a few months before the tourney. As the USA Basketball team found out. :)

john said...

Spot on soydriver!!!

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