Thursday, May 31, 2007
In a training game, he named the following eleven men to take the field against the remaining 9 that compose the 20-man squad.
ABBONDANZIERI; ZANETTI, AYALA, Gabriel MILITO y HEINZE; Lucho GONZALEZ, GAGO, CAMBIASSO y MESSI; CRESPO and...surprise surpise...Carlos TEVEZ.
Despite SAVIOLA scoring a hat-trick previously in training sessions this week, COCO might opt to use TEVEZ from the start and see what he can do alongside CRESPO in attack with MESSI pulling the strings from behind.
Will you be happy if this is the team that will play from the start on Saturday?
Do you think this team is good enough to play at the Copa America?
What changes or additions will you make to this starting-eleven?
But one things is for sure is that Manu GINOBILI (3rd time) and Fabricio OBERTO (1st time) are now Western Conference Champion and will play against either of the two teams that I’ve mentioned above in the finals, for the third time in 5 years.
Enough has been said the “How dirty the SPURS play” or “The referee is making some bad calls in favour for the SPURS”. The only thing that matters is that the SPURS are not an EXCUSE team and when the BIG THREE (or should I say BIG FOUR) put their talent and skills together, it is one HELL of a cohesive strike force.
If anyone needs an example for this, no need to look further, as all that was displayed in their 109-84 Game 5 win against the Utah JAZZ (SPURS win the series by 4-1). Now we all know what a great game it was captain marvelous Tim DUNCAN and the ever sensational Tony PARKER but I would like to concentrate on the names that I’ve mentioned earlier
For MANU, it wasn’t one of the best performances from him but still in just matter of 21 minutes he did manage to post 12 points, 5 rebounds & 1 assist. But most importantly in era where many International stars are making headway to the NBA, how many of them are privilege enough to be in his shoes of having won the Championship twice before and now on the verge for a third. Well the answer is only two and they are non-other than his own teammates, DUNCAN (US Virgin Island) and PARKER (France).
As for OBERTO, this has just been another great Albicelestes journey in the NBA (remember HERRMANN???), after having enjoyed a great career in Europe and with the National team. Like HERRMANN, he too had to spend most of the time on the bench and did not get much time play as he always used too. Just like the last 7 matches, he was STARTER once again and tonight he posted 7 points, team high 10 rebounds and 2 assists. In this series alone he manage to score 70% from the field and 65% from free throws, not a bad at all for someone who used to play an average of 15 minutes a few moths ago.
Before I end this, I must say thank you MR.POPOVITCH for having with our two heroes. Let’s hope for another great series in the Finals.
VAMOS MANU!!! VAMOS OBERTO!!! VAMOS SA SPURS!!!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tough luck to Juan Ignacio CHELA (victim of local boy Gael MONFILS), Martín VASSALLO ARGÜELLO and Carlos BERLOCQ (both lost to Italian rivals VOLANDRI and STARACE respectively) as they are all out of the French Open.
Diego HARTFIELD completed his first-round match against Robby GINEPRI and won in a five-set thriller.
Tomorrow at 11:00 AM local time, Gastón GAUDIO will take on Lleyton HEWITT in the highlight of the day for the Albiceleste Army.
Diego HARTFIELD faces Spaniard David FERRER (12th seeded). Also at 11:00 a rejuvenated Mariano ZABALETA will take on crowd favourite Olivier PATIENCE. And to close the activity for our tennis representatives, Juan Pablo BRZEZICKI takes on Guillermo GARCIA-LOPEZ from Spain
Here's a list of our boys' matches of the day:
Men's Singles - 2nd Round
Juan Ignacio Chela ARG (18) 6 3 3 1
Gael Monfils FRA 3 6 6 6
Men's Singles - 2nd Round
Simone Bolelli ITA 4 3 3
Guillermo Canas ARG (19) 6 6 6
Men's Singles - 2nd Round
Jurgen Melzer AUT (27) 2 3 2
Juan Monaco ARG 6 6 6
Men's Singles - 2nd Round
Filippo Volandri ITA (29) 7(7) 7 6
Martin Vassallo Arguello ARG 6(2) 5 2
Men's Singles - 2nd Round
Ivan Navarro Pastor ESP 5 4 4
David Nalbandian ARG (15) 7 6 6
Men's Singles - 1st Round
Robby Ginepri USA 2 4 6 7 4
Diego Hartfield ARG 6 6 1 5 6
Men's Singles - 1st Round
Juan-Pablo Guzman ARG 6(4) 0 2
Oscar Hernandez ESP 7(7) 6 6
Men's Singles - 2nd Round
Potito Starace ITA 6 6 6
Carlos Berlocq ARG 2 4 2
BASILE have always played with play-makers (ENGANCHE is the Argentine word for that) and, so far, he didn’t find a successor, someone who can handle that burden and the responsibility that comes with that. Some one with shoulders wide enough to wear that mythical number 10 shirt.
With Switzerland and Algeria on the horizon, the tiny little silhouette of a boy that feels he is up for it. The kid that Diego himself has named as the next big thing coming from Argentina: Lionel MESSI.
In an interview with OLE, “The Flea” said: “I used to play in that position when I was a part of the youth teams in Barcelona. I felt comfortable but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to play on the right.”
“I always said that if I had to choose I would prefer playing in the middle rather than on the right, the position I play in for Barcelona.”
Asked if he could play supporting SAVIOLA and CRESPO in attack he said: “Any of the forwards that we have can work together. We are all going through good times and that is very important for our National Team”.
He adds a little spice to this whole conversation of him taking on the play-maker role: “It is always good to score goals and I would like to keep on scoring. But I’m not a natural forward, I said that in the past.”
“I played as a support to the main striker, I did it in the Youth World Cup (The Netherlands 2005) and for Barça’s youth teams. If I have to choose, that’s the position I’d like to play in.”
MESSI had time to talk about the difference between Brazilian and Argentine players approaches to their National Team and why the Albicelestes are desperate to play in the Copa America whereas their neighbours’ top players are pulling out the tournament: “I understand RONALDINHO’s case. I know him very well and I know he’s played a lot of matches. But I think is each person’s decision. It is true, however, that Argentine players will do everything they can to play for our National Team”.
Asked if it could be a case of Brazil winning a lot of trophies and Argentina being under pressure to win something after a long time (Copa America 1993 was the last major trophy –not including the Olympic Gold in Athens 2004), MESSI said: “It could be the case. RONALDINHO already played the Copa America, the World Cup. He surely doesn’t give as much relevance to the Copa America than I do, because this is the first one I’d have the chance to play. This is our National Team and I always said I want to play everything: friendlies, whatever. This could be my first Copa America. This is why I’m so excited about it”.
“We are still hurt after the last World Cup. Every Argentine is. We proved to the World that we played the best football in Germany 2006. Now I feel like we are starting a new era but we are still looking to win the Copa America so we can celebrate and we can forget once and for all the bad things that happened in the World Cup.”
There’s been a huge controversy after Getafe’s player treated MESSI rather harshly (committed 7 fouls on him, some of them very brutal), but LIO plays it down and doesn’t give it a lot of relevance: “I don’t think there is a campaign to play foul on me. I don’t even think about it. I always play the same way. I’m not scared of hard tackles. When there are matches like those, I like to take the ball and play them.”
I’m sure Diego is a proud man after reading this last sentence from MESSI.
That was what he did. I remember when Diego played Perú in the 1986 World Cup Qualifiers. There was a certain player called REYNA and he played as MARADONA’s shadow. He used all the dirty tricks in the book to try and stop him. And he almost got away with his mission accomplished. But Diego had just one spark of brilliance and Argentina won 1-0.
Same thing happened with Italian defender GENTILE in that World Cup and Diego still scored. Before that match, Argentina played against South Korea and I still remember those brutal tackles he suffered through 90 minutes.
So I think MESSI is spot on by saying that when he is a victim of foul play the best thing to do is to put the ball on the ground and keep going for it.
That’s what I’d like to see in our “enganche”.
I think he is still far from being ready for that, as a great play-maker peaks after the mid-20’s and MESSI in particular has a tendency to dribble first, pass later which could be harmful if he wants to be an organizer.
Here’s my vote of confidence for Lionel MESSI and I hope he can become a great play-maker before too long.
This boy always has a new trick in his magic hat. Will he pull it in the next Copa America?
Fernando HIDALGO, CRESPO’s agent, have announced to the Italian newspaper, Gazzetta Dello Sport, that the Argentine striker will renew his loan and stay with the Italian champions.
Chelsea, who own CRESPO, and Jose MOURINHO, reportedly wanted CRESPO back at Stamford Bridge, but Hernan wanted to stay in Italy and his wish has been granted.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
David NALBANDIAN, Gastón GAUDIO, Juan Ignacio CHELA, Martín VASSALLO ARGÜELLO, Carlos BERLOCQ, Guillermo CAÑAS, Juan MÓNACO, Mariano ZABALETA and Juan Pablo BRZEZICKI (who I must admit I didn't know before I wrote this article) are all through to the next round.
Agustín CALLERI (victim of compatriot Mariano ZABALETA), José ACASUSO, Sergio ROITMAN and Juan Martín DEL POTRO (who had to "dance with the ugliest lady" Rafael NADAL) are all out of the French Open.
Juan Pablo GUZMÁN and Diego HARTFIELD had their matches postponed due to lack of natural light when the former was 1-1 in sets against Spaniard Oscar HERNANDEZ and the latter was 0-2 down against American Robert GINEPRI.
The highlight of the second round for the Albiceleste Army will be the clash between 2004 Roland Garros champion, Gastón GAUDIO and former World number 1, Lleyton HEWITT.
We'll watch closely the activity of the Albiceleste Army in a tournament that already saw the early departures of Americans Andy RODDICK, James BLAKE and clay-specialist Chilean Fernando GONZALEZ.
The game consisted in just 45 minutes and the winning team was composed by: FRANCO; COLOCCINI; AYALA, Gabriel MILITO; Lucho GONZALEZ, GAGO, CAMBIASSO, SAVIOLA, CRESPO and MESSI.
The losing side included: ABBONDANZIERI; BURDISSO, HEINZE, PINOLA, ZANETTI; MASCHERANO, GUTIERREZ, AIMAR; Diego MILITO and TEVEZ.
Lionel MESSI will be the crowd favourite and I can imagine a huge support for ex-Barça forward Javier SAVIOLA.
I wonder what will be the reaction towards Fernando GAGO as he will be the only Real Madrid player on the pitch (provided he plays).
My opinion? I think it is one of the best venues in the World and I'm happy that we are going to play there. I'm not sure when was the last time we played there. I'm sure don't have a happy memory as we lost against Belgium in the 1982 Spain World Cup's opening match (0-1).
I'm disappointed with the opponent (with all due respect and affection to Algeria, a place where I'm sure there are plenty of Argentina supporters). I wanted to play a top team. See who Brazil are playing against: England at Wembley.
Instead we get Switzerland (not that bad but not that attractive rival) and then Algeria.
Anyway...I'm really looking forward to watching both games and see what our boys are up to.
According to Sport newspaper, the Argentine defender will sign a three-year contract with the Spanish power house. English newspaper, The Sun, already published a version linking HEINZE with Real Madrid.
HEINZE, who already played in La Liga (for Valladolid) in the past, will go to Madrid to fill up the position Roberto CARLOS will left vacant at left back.
Good luck to HEINZE if this deal becomes official. No doubt Argentina will benefit if he keeps on playing for big European clubs.
After taking control in the fourth quarter, the SPURS cruised to a 91-79 win against the JAZZ to lead the series 3-1 and are now just one win away from clinching the Western Conference title and to play in their third final in 5 years.
For Manu GINOBILI, whenever the ball was in his hands, he was booed but with each drive to the basket, they seem to get angrier and angrier. In the end there seems to be nothing can stop him from playing another great game as he posted a game high 22 points, 1 assist, 6 rebounds & 3 steals.
"I'm very proud of what we did in the fourth quarter because it was looking ugly for us,'' GINOBILI said.” We stepped up and did a really good job.''
With these two in great form , together with Tim DUNCAN (19 points) and Tony PARKER (17 points), who would dare to bet against the SPURS?
Game 5 will move back to San Antonio on Wednesday, 31st of May
Monday, May 28, 2007
No DIDA. No Roberto CARLOS. No KAKÁ nor RONALDINHO (not so shocking as we all know they asked for vacations instead of playing for Brazil). No ADRIANO. No RONALDO.
It sure will look like a very different Brazil from what we are used to see.
I have to admit that, after what happened in the last Copa America, where Argentina had the game under control (2-1 up) and suffered a last-minute Adriano goal before losing eventually in the penalty shoot-out, I won't say that we have the upper hand because they are not bringing the best they have.
They are Brazil, people! They are stronger than many, even if they field their "B Team". That was what happened in 2004. A lot of "reserves" played that tournament and they still got away with the trophy.
DUNGA surprises in a move that could be comparable to what Alfio BASILE is doing with Argentina, as he called up a lot of players still competing in the Brazilian league. The difference is that COCO is training week in, week out with the local players, whether DUNGA didn't do that work.
The list is as follows (with the name of the club where they play).
DONI - Roma
HELTON - Porto
DIEGO - Atlético Mineiro
MAICON - Internazionale
CICINHO - Real Madrid
Daniel ALVES - Sevilla
KLEBER - Santos
MARCELO - Real Madrid
GILBERTO - Hertha Berim
Alex SILVA - São Paulo
ALEX - PSV
NALDO - Werder Bremen
Thiago SILVA - Fluminense
Edu DRACENA - Fenerbahçe
JUAN - Bayer Leverkusen
EDMILSON - Barcelona
Julio BAPTISTA - Arsenal
LINCOLN - Schalke 04
MINEIRO - Hertha Berlim
ZE ROBERTO - Santos
JOSUÉ - São Paulo
MORAIS - Vasco da Gama
ANDERSON - Porto
DIEGO - Werder Bremen
ELANO - Shakhtar Donetsk
FERNANDO - Bordeaux
Gilberto SILVA - Arsenal
FRED - Lyon
AFONSO - Heerenveen
ROBINHO - Real Madrid
Carlos EDUARDO - Grêmio
JÔ - CSKA Moscow
Rafael SOBIS - Betis
Vagner LOVE - CSKA Moscow
So...what do you say?
Are you scared of Brazil?
Staying at the Hilton Hotel, ten players were present for the Albicelestes' first training session in Swiss soil.
Roberto ABBONDANZIERI, Gabriel HEINZE, Javier PINOLA, Fabricio COLOCCINI, Fernando GAGO, Javier MASCHERANO, Lucho GONZALEZ, Carlos TEVEZ, Lionel MESSI and Javier SAVIOLA.
The rest of the "gang" will arrive later today and won't make it in time to participate in this training activity. They are: Leo FRANCO, Gabriel and Diego MILITO, Roberto AYALA, Pablo AIMAR, Jonás GUTIERREZ, Nicolás BURDISSO, Javier ZANETTI, Esteban CAMBIASSO and Hernán CRESPO.
It is confirmed that we will also face Algeria. The possible venue for this game (to be played on 6 June) is Barcelona.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
As for San Antonio SPURS, their performance (especially in the 3rd & 4th quarter) was nothing like compared to the previous two games, as they were beaten by 83-109. The result means that the JAZZ have pull one back to trail the series by 2-1 and with their superiority on home court could prove to be a tough proposition for the SPURS in game 4.
Manu GINOBILI had a pretty good performance, coming from the bench to post 14 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound & 1 steal. While Fabricio OBERTO, who once again was a starter, only managed 5 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds & 1 steal. While two of the other "BIG THREE", Tim DUNCAN (16 points and with foul trouble) and Tony PARKER (25 points & 7 assists) could not provide the necessity inspiration in the 2nd half as the night belongs to the JAZZ's Deron WILLIAMS and Carlos BOOZER.
Game 4 will be played at the venue on Monday, 28th of May.
It is where football first division outfit Colón de Santa Fé play their home games and the stadium got that nickname because of how difficult it was for the likes of Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing Club, Independiente and San Lorenzo to get a result there.
For the first time in their history, Los Pumas, our rugby national team played at Colón stadium. Against them were the tough men in green from Ireland. And Los Pumas won 22-20 thanks to a last-minute drop goal from Felipe CONTEPOMI.
Let's hope this is a preview of what the result will be as these two teams share Pool D in the Rugby World Cup to be played later this year (September-October).
Unlucky in the ever-elusive Davis Cup, a strong Argentina team formed by Juan Ignacio CHELA, Agustín CALLERI and José ACASUSO secured our third title in this World Team Cup (1980 and 2002).
For MONACO, a young an talented upcoming star, this title in Austria follows the one he obtained in Buenos Aires in February.
After a tough first set, won in tie-break (7-3), MONACO simply dominated MONFILS and took the second set with a comprehensive 6-0.
These great news come just in time for the start of Roland Garros where there will be a lot of Argentine in action.
Tough luck for Juan Martín DEL POTRO who will have to face non-other than defending-champion Rafael NADAL.
Good luck to our representatives in the French Open! VAMOS ARGENTINOS!
Friday, May 25, 2007
Am I happy about this? Not at all, though despite the fact CARLITOS and his team are moving in the right direction, I believe if given more time play, I’m sure he will deliver more as he has done several time during the regular season.
I guess it might be quite hard for coach Flip SAUNDERS to bring him in when main shooting guard is non other PISTONS star player, Richard HAMILTON, whom I must admit is great player to watch as well.
From the way its looks like this trend might just continue, as Le Bron’s CAV have pushed the PISTONS very hard in their own backyard, now with the series heads to Cleveland. But take CARILOTS contribution away, than the CAVALIERS would have just even the series.
SAUNDERS – Maybe you should take your opposite number, Mike BROWN as an example and see what has done with Anderson VAREJAO, maybe it just might work wonders for you.
Game 3 will resume on Sunday, the 27th of May.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
We wish Ezequiel a speedy recovery and we hope he has another chance in the future.
A shame that this injury comes just a few days after he got called up to play for our national team for the first time in his career.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
He did keep KAKÁ at bay in which appear to have been his mission.
He ran 8,935 metres in 78 minutes.
And to prove my point, read this:
KAKÁ, the most dangerous AC Milan player (and one of my favourites in the World), had a real quiet first half and the only action in which he had some influence was in the 44th minute when he suffered a foul (was it foul??) from Xabi ALONSO.
That free-kick by PIRLO took a deflection on INZAGHI's arm but it was close to his body so I don't think there is an infraction in that action. AC Milan 1, Liverpool 0.
Against the run of play, because in my opinion, Liverpool were the better team during that first half.
During the second half, AC Milan improved and Liverpool showed no ideas up front. A lot of energy from Steven GERRARD and Dirk KUYT but not enough danger created to scare DIDA.
Javier saw a yellow card after a couple of sliding tackles (one on KAKÁ which was not signalled as a foul and one over PIRLO which was a clear yellow card).
He controlled that part of the field and really supported Xabi ALONSO to keep Liverpool's balance.
But tragedy stroke for Liverpool!
Rafa BENITEZ had no choice but to send another attacker to the field. He decided to replace MASCHERANO with Peter CROUCH. And that move, the way I saw it, costed the Reds the trophy.
Only three minutes after that substitution, KAKÁ appeared free on the ball with A LOT OF SPACE to work.
Nobody to close him down. To chase him. To tackle him.
And in a blink of an eye, boom! A perfect assist to INZAGHI and 2-0 for AC Milan.
There was none of that Istambul magic floating around, even though Dirk KUYT scored (in offside position) to add a little drama in the final 2 or 3 minutes.
But it wasn't meant to be for Rafa's Red Army.
And overall, the best team have won it.
Even though I hated to see that horrible man, Silvio BERLUSCONI, with a perfect smile surrounding the AC Milan players as they lifted the club's 7th European Cup trophy.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
For Manu GINOBILI, it was another awesome performance from him, despite starting from the bench, as he posted 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals & 1 block shot. Fabricio OBERTO, once again a starter, meanwhile is continuing his superb display by posting 14 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal & 1 block shot.
From the way it looks like, SPURS are making things look easy (after the elimination of Dallas MAVERICK & Phoenix SUNS) and almost certain to clinch the Western Conference Title & play in the third final in 5 years. Unless, Carlos BOOZER & Co. have something else up their sleeve when series return to Utah.
As of now, I’m just happy to see that not just one but two Tall Albicelestes are in great form. The only sad part for me when I was writing this article is that how much we are going to miss their service in the upcoming FIBA Americas.
Once again boys…
Monday, May 21, 2007
With the Euroleague Final Four has just been concluded, it's time to focus our attention in (probably the one that we've been looking forward to every year) the UEFA Champions League Final. It’s been a while since we have seen Albicelestes lifting the trophy. The last that I could remember was Fernando REDONDO (2000) and Santiago SOLARI (2002) with Real Madrid. We had some other players who were runners-up such as Roberto AYALA and Pablo AIMAR (Valencia), Hugo IBARRA (Monaco) and Hernán CRESPO (AC Milan).
Now despite the fact that there is a huge historic significance in this final, I'm not going to waste my time in giving you details pertaining to the teams that will be playing on the 23rd of May, as I believe that you may be able to obtain most of those details from your local daily. Instead, just like most of our blog's loyal readers, I'll focus on one particular character that will play in this final.
Even though the title of this article says it is Part - II, I'm really praying that this will not be a sequel to Part - I. Please not this time.
Life Can Be Tricky
Ever wonder what is it like going to bed at night without even knowing what does the future holds for you. Well it happened to me before. 7 years ago I was jobless for 8 months just after I finished high school. At the beginning it was fun (I did watch the entire Euro 2000 without even missing a single match!!!) but as times goes by you began to worry a lot. Well I guess Jefecito (Little chief), would've had the same experience before. Over the last 12 months he was jumping from Buenos Aires (in between Germany) to Sao Paolo to London to Merseyside.
I was first introduce to JAVIER during the 2004 Copa America but never realized how great he was until a few months later during the 2004 Olympics. He was part of an army battalion lead by General El Loco BIELSA, with a mission to go to Athens and win Argentina’s first gold medal in almost a half-century. Upon their arrival until the very end, they swept everything the came along their way without even receiving a single blow. This achievement allows JAVIER and his class of 2004 to be immortalized as Olympian Gods, a legacy that will live forever. The critics will have their say, stating that we were too strong for our opponent but so was Mark SPITZ, Nadia COMANECI or even Sergei BUBKA for that matter. The most important factor of his arrival was that finally we have a natural successor to El Cholo (Diego SIMEONE) in our national team.
With big clubs such as Real Madrid and Arsenal standing in line to get his signature, a local football pundit by the name of Shebby SINGH was asked at that time on who did he thought was the best between Patrick VIEIRA, Roy KEANE and Claude MAKELELE on ESPN Football Focus, and to my surprise he answered, "In my opinion, the best defensive midfielder in the world right now, he is aggressive, he is strong and he is Argentinean and his name is Javier MASCHERANO".
Well that was all back in 2004, since then big things did happen both on and off the pitch. If I had the chance to play Michael J. Fox’s character as Marty McFly from Back To The Future and given the opportunity to go further into time and come back to tell all of you what was going to take place in JAVIER’s career and life, NO ONE is ever going to believe me. In case you’ve forgotten, let me summarized it for you: -
- Big move to play for Corinthians in Brazil alongside with fellow Olympic gold medallist Carlos TEVEZ
- Never had the chance to shine in the land of our great rival as he was on a long term injury. Nearly missed the World Cup
- Returned just in time and played amazingly in the World Cup
- After the World Cup, returns to Brazil. Nightmare begins with the arrival of new Corinthians manager Emerson LEAO.
- After months of speculation, together with national team colleague and Corinthians team mate Carlos TEVEZ, joins West Ham on a controversial deal, just before the transfer window closed.
- From one nightmare to another. He is often left on the bench while a half talented player like Hayden MULLINS was running like a clown on the field.
- And when the opportunity came, got bitten off by an opponent (Jermain DEFOE).
- Rumours about a transfer to play in Serie B with Juventus (which didn’t go down well with some of us here)
- Interference from FIFA due to some pathetic rule, to allow him to play for a third team in a single season (Corinthians, West Ham and Liverpool).
- Did not receive call up for the National Team in recent friendly matches.
If there’s anything else, please feel free to add
Ok, big things? Well, they were big things but not the way that we would have wanted to hear. As a matter a fact I even came to the point to tell myself that it looked like we needed to wait until next season and hope JAVIER finds a new club to rediscover his old form before he can return to the National Team. JAVIER is not likely to be the darling of the media or any forum or discussion among Albicelestes supporters unlike MESSI, RIQUELME or VERON. But his importance to the National Team is always indispensable. Lets go back to 8th of June 2005, when Argentina hosted Brazil in the World Qualifying match and see how he dismantled RONALDINHO in that 3-1 victory.
At this point, anyone in JAVIER’s shoes would have needed an archangel to come and rescue him and guide him towards the right path. And it came in the form of Rafa BENITEZ. But still I had my fair share of doubt on how was RAFA going to fit him in, since there were GERRARD, ALONSO & SISSOKO fighting for the central midfielder position.
Most football critics (especially Ex-Liverpool Steve McMAHON, another pundit on ESPN Football Focus) weren’t that keen on watching JAVIER arriving to Anfield Road, as they felt it would have meant that RAFA would have pushed GERRARD to the right, rather than play him in central midfield. And why change a winning formula when SISSOKO is doing a fantastic job (as we’ve seen in the Champions League encounter against Barcelona) in the center of the field. Well the same football pundit, on the same show, who a few years ago mentioned that JAVIER was the best defensive midfielder in the world argued that his arrival would allow both GERRARD and ALONSO to help in attack and “It is a DISGRACE to compare Javier MASCHERANO to someone like Mohamed SISSOKO”
Yes! I do agree on why should they change a winning formula but there is no harm in enhancing it. Which is exactly what RAFA did. In return JAVIER has given a 120% committed performances (as witnessed in the Champions League semi-final clash against Chelsea) and perhaps, I my opinion, it was the main reason why Liverpool is now about to play another Champions League Final. AND THIS IS ALL HAPPENING IN 2007.
Having seen the way JAVIER played during the last few months, has given me some hope and inspiration that life is like a journey, walking in a dark tunnel on which at the end of it, there will be light shinning upon you.
But that journey is not complete yet. JAVIER will make a full cycle back to the same city that got his talent noticed three year ago by the whole world. Only this time the stage and the stakes are much more different.
The most ironic thing for me about this Champions League final is that two years ago, myself, Alwin and a few other crazy Albicelestes supporters were watching the game at a local coffee house (it was 2.30 AM here in Malaysia!!!) and we were chanting all the way for AC Milan (because an Albiceleste scored 2 goals, you know who!). And just when we were on our way home after the game, we just couldn’t believe the fact that someone like Djimi TRAORE, JOSEMI, Antonio NUÑEZ, Florent SINAMA-PONGOLLE were now lifting a Champions League trophy!!!
Now you’ll learn to understand what that sub-title for this article is all about. Tricky indeed.
Now, before I end this article, I would like to dedicate a simple memo to some good people out there. Here it goes…
To all Rossoneri supporters,
Please don’t get me wrong here, as 2 years ago, just like you, I was a happy man by half time, shocked after 90 minutes, depressed after extra time and just lost for words after the last penalty shoot-out.
Call me whatever you like but for most of us who read this blog, on the surface we might be red, black, brown or whatever colour it may be but our heart is always BLUE & WHITE and that’s all that matters.
Come 23rd May, there will be one man with a blue & white heart who I personally feel he deserves the medal the most as he completes his journey and see that light at the end of that tunnel. And when he walks into that pitch, HE WILL NEVER WALK ALONE, as behind him there are millions of BLUE & WHITE DIE HARD like me that will be cheering for him. And he is JAVIER ALEJANDRO MASCHERANO
I can truly understand what are you’re feelings right now and from the bottom of my heart I sincerely wish you all the best of luck my friends…but not in this final
Sunday, May 20, 2007
For MANU it was another sensational night where he produced a brilliant display and proved to be Gregg POPOVICH most reliable asset, as he posted 23 points, 4 rebounds, a game high 10 assists, 1 steal & 1 block shot. But that was not the only great news of the night from our Tall Albicelestes.
OBERTO must be in cloud nine after his performance. For the fourth straight game he was given the starting role ahead of Francisco ELSON and in return he posted a play off career high of 14 points, 7 rebounds & 1 block shot.
Altogether, our tall heroes posted a total of 37 points, 10 assists & 11 rebounds. Game 2 will be played on Tuesday the 22nd of May.
VAMOS MANU!!! VAMOS OBERTO!!!
FC Porto needed a win to secure their second Portuguese league title in a row (22nd of their history) and after a 1-1 first half against Aves, Lisandro LOPEZ scored Porto's second from outside the box and, with one minute to go, he added another one to wrap up the score 4-1 and secure the title for his club (where Lucho GONZALEZ is also a key player).
Vamos Lisandro! Vamos Lucho! Well done on winning the Portuguese league for two years in a row.
Just like Lisandro, another former Racing Club player, Diego MILITO, opened the scoresheet as Zaragoza increased the relegation fears for Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league.
MILITO scored with a great strike from the right and showed his team the way to a 4-3 victory. It looked easy in the first half (4-1), but Zaragoza, where Gabriel MILITO, Pablo AIMAR (players that are also in the squad for Argentina's June friendlies) and Andrés D'ALESSANDRO took part, ended the game under pressure.
Zaragoza now are in great position to secure a UEFA Cup berth for the next season and they still dream of reaching Champions League places.
After a couple of very difficult weeks and with Real Madrid winning two consecutive matches in the 90th minute, it was a real test for FC Barcelona to visit Atletico de Madrid and being forced to get a win to stay alive in the race for La Liga title.
Well...it was hardly a test as the Blaugranas destroyed Atletico 6-0 at the Vicente Calderón Stadium. Lionel MESSI drew first blood and then added another (5-0) to confirm he is in great shape and will be ready to push for a starting place in COCO's team in time to face Switzerland.
Another Argie goal in Spain came from former National Team player Gustavo LOPEZ. But his team, Celta de Vigo, lost 3-1 at San Sebastián against Real Sociedad and are still in the relegation red zone.
Congratulations to Lisandro, Diego and Lionel!
Friday, May 18, 2007
He is looking for his third NBA ring and he is really being serious about it. He's done it in 2003, 2005 and now he wants to make it 3 titles in 5 years. Not bad. Not bad at all.
After a couple of very quiet games in the first two chapters of this series (in which he scored 14 points in total) Manu GINOBILI was unstoppable again for San Antonio Spurs as they edged the Phoenix Suns, 114 to 106 in Game 6, to win the Western Conference Semifinals series 4-2. The Argentine was Spurs' top-scorer with 33 points (4-7 from 3-point range). But he also contributed with 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals.
These are the average stats for Manu GINOBILI during the series against Phoenix:
17,8 points, 6,8 rebounds, 4,3 assists, 2,5 steals.
It was a pleasure to see so many Argentine flags and shirts amongst the San Antonio supporters, but it comes as no surprise as MANU is one of their favourite player.
Fabricio OBERTO played only 10 minutes as he was troubled after committing early personal fouls. He scored 2 points, grabbed 3 rebounds and gave 1 assist.
San Antonio Spurs will take on the Utah Jazz in the Conference Finals, while the East will be decided between DELFINO's Pistons and LeBron's Cavs.
I'm in shock! A player that was considered as not good enough at my team (Racing Club) and now playing at Nurnberg in Germany is the biggest surprise in a list that sees the anticipated return of Lionel MESSI, Carlos TEVEZ, Pablo AIMAR and Javier MASCHERANO.
Here's a video of Javier PINOLA (there is another one of him taking a penalty kick for Nurnberg but the quality is poor).
You won't see much of his playing skills, but you'll see he is a cheeky guy! Funny stuff after he gets booked (wait until the last bit of the video).
Here's the full list:
Roberto Abbondanzieri (Getafe, Spain), Leonardo Franco (Atlético Madrid, Spain), Roberto Ayala (Valencia, Spain), Gabriel y Diego Milito y Pablo Aimar (Zaragoza, Spain), Nicolás Burdisso, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti y Hernán Crespo (Internazionale, Italy), Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United, England), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid, Spain), Luis González (Porto, Portugal), Jonás Gutiérrez (Mallorca, Spain), Javier Saviola y Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain), Ezequiel Garay (Racing de Santander, Spain), Carlos Tevez (West Ham, England), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool, England) y Javier Pinola (Nuremberg, Germany).
Pablo AIMAR is the only natural play-maker and so I expect he'll get to play in that position.
Diego MILITO and Hernan CRESPO give COCO great options up front, while SAVIOLA, MESSI and TEVEZ are all contending for the starting role as the other attacking player.
Ezequiel GARAY is the other big surprise of the list as he and PINOLA get their first ever call-up to our National Team.
Watching this video, really makes me want the Copa America to start. But before that big continental show-down there are a couple of friendlies to be played by Argentina and today is the day in which Alfio BASILE will announce a squad of 21 players that will travel to Europe and face Switzerland (2 June) and a rival to be confirmed (6 June). The latest name thrown to the table for that second friendly is Algeria. I’ve got nothing against Algeria but I honestly expected to face an opponent of a higher calibre.
It’s almost and open secret and we are a few hours away from finding out if the rumours are true that Carlos TEVEZ, Lionel MESSI and Javier MASCHERANO will all return to the Albiceleste. And this is nothing but GREAT news for our team.
There could be a couple of surprises (I don’t think they’ll be as surprising as DUNGA calling up AFONSO and JÔ, though!) and another come back or two.
So let’s take a look at what the squad could look like:
No changes there, as the European based Albicelestes will play with: Roberto ABBONDANZIERI and Leo FRANCO as his back up.
Put your money on the defensive line that played against France in Paris (Argentina won 1-0): Nicolás BURDISSO, Roberto AYALA, Gabriel MILITO and Gabriel HEINZE. The back-ups will most likely be: Pablo ZABALETA, Rodolfo ARRUABARRENA, Fabricio FUENTES, Gonzalo RODRIGUEZ and Ezequiel GARAY.
Will Maxi RODRIGUEZ be considered fit to play? If so, he will be included in the list. If not, there are no reasons to think he is not in COCO’s plans as he likes MAXI very much. Javier MASCHERANO is expected to be back in the team as well as Javier ZANETTI, who really convinced BASILE in that friendly against France. Fernando GAGO is another name that sounds pretty much confirmed and we’ll have to wait to see who complete the midfield line: Lucho GONZALEZ? Pablo AIMAR? Nothing but rumours. No word on who could be the playmaker yet.
Impossible to leave Lionel MESSI and Carlos TEVEZ out of this. There are doubts about the inclussion of Javier SAVIOLA as the lack of competitive matches might have affected his form and played against his chances of making it for these couple of friendlies. Sergio AGÜERO will be included in the U20 team so he might be left out this time.
Hernán CRESPO? Diego MILITO? Another mistery to be solved later today, when COCO gives us his 21 names.
Do you like the players that are being named?
What about Algeria? Are you happy with the possibility of facing them?
Is there a player you would like to see wearing the Albiceleste and you didn't see him in this probable list?
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The San Antonio Spurs won a massive game at Phoenix by a score of 88-85 to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference Semifinal.
The Manu of God had another impressive outing with 26 points (including 3 3-pointers and at least 5 clutch free throws late in the fourth quarter), 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot.
The Spurs looked really awful during the first half, but they improved dramatically to close in style as they took the lead late in the game after trailing the entire match following an early 11-10 lead.
Fabricio OBERTO was again included in the starting lineup and he contributed with 6 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.
Game 6 will be played on Friday in San Antonio, with the Spurs needing only one win to set up a Western Conference finals with the Utah Jazz.
VAMOS FABRICIO! VAMOS MANU!
The game was played at Rochester, New York and it marked the end of a short but successful tour of North America with two wins in as many matches. The other victory came a few days ago when Argentina defeated the U20 World Cup host Canada 2-1.
After the game, Argentina manager Hugo TOCALLI, said: "I'm pleased with the boys' attitude. We had moments of great football and I would like to underline the great determination our players showed. This tour really helped us and the victories show us that we are on the right track. We have to keep working hard".
His counterpark, Thomas RONGEN said: “In the end we didn't convert our chances and they converted the one they had. I can't be prouder of the mentality of the team though. We put the reigning world champions on their heels. It's a great lesson to be learned at this point, that the little things make a difference. I'm not happy about the loss, don't get me wrong, but at the same time there are a lot of building blocks and positive things we can work on.”
It is good to have in mind, though, that this Argentina team looks not even close to what it will look like with the addition of key players like Sergio AGÜERO, Gonzalo HIGUAIN and Mauro ZARATE.
But I have to agree with TOCALLI and say that this tour will only benefit our team, as the players who will remain in the squad are getting some games under the belt and another international experience.
Teenage sensation Freddy ADU played for the Americans but was kept at bay.
Click here for an extensive match report from US Soccer.com
As a bonus feature (and something that was totally unexpected!) there is a video with preparations for the match and then the highlights!
Here are the lineups and match details:
1-Chris Seitz; 3-Amaechi Igwe, 5-Nathan Sturgis, 14-Julian Valentin (15-Jalil Anibaba, 76), 2-Tim Ward; 11-Freddy Adu (capt.), 7-Danny Szetela, 4-Bryan Arguez (10-Rodrigo Lopez, 46); 8-Robbie Rogers (13-Sal Zizzo, 62), 12-Josmer Altidore, 9-Johann Smith Subs not used: 19-Michael Stephens, 24-Alec Dufty
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen
1-Emiliano Centeno; 2-Gabriel Mercado, 3-Marcelo Cardozo, 4-Santiago Villafane, 5-Matias Sanchez, 6-Diego Braghieri (20-Jorge Sotomayor, 88), 11-Leonel Vangioni (16-Nicolas Dul, 64), 13-Fernando Meza, 17-Facundo Coria (15-Frederico Scoppa, 85), 18-Santiago Malano (9-Milton Joel Caraglio, 69); 19-Alejandro Gomez (21-Jonotan Chavez, 79) Subs not used: 7-Diego Perotti,, 12-Agustin Marchesin
Head Coach: Hugo Tocalli
Location: PAETEC Park; Rochester, N.Y.
Date: May 15, 2007
For the neutrals, it could look like I have an obsession with Carlos TEVEZ. It is logical to come to that conclussion: I keep posting videos and writing stuff about him everyday. But I swear that (despite my admiration for him) this TEVEZ flood you see here is nothing else than the reflection of what is dominating the international press these days.
You want to hear a sensational bit of news?
CARLITOS is ready to make a film about his life!
There were reports about a press conference that will be held in 10 days in which the project will be presented.
His agent, Adrián RUOCCO, said to Olé: “It won’t be a compilation of goals or images of Carlitos on the field. Our idea is to tell the story of his life. Something similar to what Eminem did with the movie “8 MILES”. That means that Carlitos will act as himself”.
What about that???? Sensational stuff.
We know that TEVEZ loves the cammeras but now he’ll step up a notch and go for the big screen!
You might know Gastón PAULS, the leader of the project. But maybe you don’t know him by name. I’ll give you a hint…he is the good guy in the great movie “Nueve Reinas” (or “Nine Queens” as it was known World-wide). PAULS is an ardent Boca Juniors supporter and a keen TEVEZ admirer. He came up with the idea and they are already working in the script for “CARLITOS, THE MOVIE” (which of course won’t be the title as it is still in the makings).
PAULS said: “I can’t think of another Argentine loved in Brazil and in England! There are very few people with CARLITOS’ charisma”.
After shooting a commercial for a TV channel dedicated to the younger viewers, he said “I love to act like a clown”. Today’s video shows us TEVEZ dancing and acting and having a good time while he was at it. BE AWARE THE SONG COULD BE VERY VERY STICKY! Lovely stuff! What about that hair style? Pure class!
This news come the same week in which half of Europe want to buy him, with Real Madrid reportedly ready to pay 60 million dollars to have him dressed in white for next season. While Inter Milan are also keen on signing him for an amount that was said to reach 49,5 million dollars.
In other news, Argentina have lost the 2nd place in the FIFA Rankings and now sit third after World Champions Italy and Brazil.
On Friday, Coco BASILE will announce the squad for the friendlies against Switzerland (2 June) and another team to be confirmed (6 June against an African team or an European not involved in the Euro 2008 Qualifiers). It is believed that this list will include the names of Carlos TEVEZ and Javier MASCHERANO. Lionel MESSI should also be included.
I’ll keep you posted if there are other news about this.
After some rumours saying the BASILE called CRESPO to tell him to go on vacations because he knows what he can bring to the table and he doesn’t need him to prove it in the next Copa America, the Inter Milan striker publicly said that he doesn’t need vacations and that the Copa America “is my last chance at winning something big with Argentina”. So he clearly wants to take part of the team too.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
He seems to be in the eye of the storm as every single newspaper in England talk about legal actions being started by a number of Premier League teams that consider to have suffered from an ilegal inclussion of Carlos TEVEZ in the West Ham team.
As a personal thought, I would like to say that I didn’t hear Sheffield United manager, Neill WARNOCK, complaining about TEVEZ or West Ham or anything else after they defeated the Hammers 3-0 a few weeks ago. Let me tell you, Mr. WARNOCK, that you didn’t get relegated because of TEVEZ. You got relegated because your team was not up to the task and failed to get something out of Wigan in the last game of the season AT HOME and with everything looking to go your way.
But Carlitos seems to keep himself out of those controversies as he arrived in Buenos Aires today with clearly another kind of priorities in his mind.
“If COCO calls me, I won’t doubt it for a second and I’ll join Argentina. I always want to play for Argentina. I want to be part of the team. I’m waiting to see what happens, because I have to be prepared if I have to go on vacations with my family, but I’m waiting. I’ll wait for a few days and if I don’t get the call, they I’ll go on vacations.”
Speaking of West Ham and their supporters, he said: “West Ham supporters were always behind me. From the start. They were the people who gave me more strenght and I knew I had to show them what I could do when I get the chance.”
Today’s video really symbolizes what he is saying about the bond that he has with West Ham supporters. It is a tribute by one Hammer to his team and especially to that “little fellow”.
Monday, May 14, 2007
How many goals he needs to score for him to get some praise?
He was “born” in Gabriel BATISTUTA’s shadow and even after the great Bati retired, he is still not given all the credit he deserves.
I’m talking about the media in Argentina and the Albiceleste supporters in general.
He is Argentina’s all-time leading scorer in World Cup qualifications matches. He scored more than 200 goals in Europa and he won the last 2 league titles he played in: English Premiership last season with Chelsea, Italian Scudetto this year with Inter.
He scored twice in the Copa Libertadores final of 1996 to give River Plate their second title in what it is known as the South American Champions League. But then he also scored 2 goals in a Champions League final. Despite his efforts and those 2 goals coming in the first half, AC Milan ended up losing on penalties to Liverpool.
Now he is wanted back by José MOURINHO at Chelsea, but he wants to stay at Inter, where he scored his team’s last 5 goals (a brace midweek, when they lost 6-2 to AS Roma in the first leg of the Coppa Italia final and a hat-trick on Sunday, to help Inter defeat Lazio 4-3).
Have a look at the video above and forgive me for the music it has as a background! It really sucks! Hahaha!
Oh…and by the way, take a look at Lazio’s third goal. It is a beauty of a shot by Argentine Cristian LEDESMA.
And if you’re reading this, it means that I have found a way around the system and I’m writing and posting this from work! Which means I’ll only be able to open new posts with videos (through YouTube). If I have to…I will!
Sunday, May 13, 2007
We've been following TEVEZ and his adventures at Upton Park and we've been getting more and more frustrated during most of the season. But every Premier League follower in the World now knows about CARLITOS class, determination and perserverance. HE SIMPLY WON'T GIVE UP! And he will add to that never-say-die attitude some of football's greatest skills.
Everything looked very hard for West Ham today. They had to travel to Manchester to face United at Old Trafford. It was CARLITOS first ever appearence at the Theatre of Dreams and Alex FERGUSON decided to go for it and try and end the championship season in style.
He rested Cristiano RONALDO, Ryan GIGGS and Paul SCHOLES in the first half, but they all jumped onto the field during the second.
But they didn't expect what came in the 44th minute. A clever combination between Bobby ZAMORA and Carlos TEVEZ saw the little argie get into the box and, after challenging Wes BROWN, he won the ball and with a sweet touch he sent it between Edwin VAN DER SAR's legs to secure West Ham's premiership status.
He has become an Upton Park legend and the fact of seeing an Albiceleste shirt with the number 11 and the name TEVEZ in the back, flying high amongst West Ham supporters really made my day. As it is not everyday that you see an Englishman honouring our colours.
But you couldn't be surprised. After all, TEVEZ honoured the claret and blue like no other West Ham player did this season.
So...wherever you go next season, I thank you for your performance and I salute you on becoming the main star in an incredible escape act.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Uruguayan Walter PANDIANI scored a hat-trick in 36 minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium and Espanyol went to half time with a comfortable 3-1 score.
But legend RAUL scored the second very early in the second half. José REYES benefited from a silly mistake by Espanyol's keeper, levelled the scoring finishing in front of an empty net.
And with only one minute to go, Gonzalo HIGUAIN won a great ball down the right with a mighty sliding tackle before he played a one-two combination with REYES to face the keeper and finish with a sweet touch towards the first post.
4-3 and crazy celebration at the Bernabeu as Real Madrid are temporarely top of La Liga and now wait for a Barcelona defeat against Betis.
This was PIPITA's second goal in La Liga this season (the other one came against local rivals Atletico de Madrid) and it helped Real Madrid keep their push for the league title alive.
It was mentioned during the week that PIPITA will be called up to play the Youth World Cup for Argentina and it remains to become official, but I sure am happy with the prospect of having him in our U20 Team.
By the way, in a friendly match, Argentina U20 defeated Canada (Youth World Cup hosts) 2-1 in Toronto. GOMEZ and MERCADO scored for Argentina in a match that was played on artificial turf.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Sheffield United, West Ham and Wigan are all uncertain of their status come Sunday, 4:45 PM (after the 3 PM matches finish).
In Argentina, all the attention will concentrate on West Ham because Carlos TEVEZ could be the catalyst of a memorable escape act.
Only a draw against champions Manchester United from the mighty Theatre Of The Dreams, such is the nickname of the Old Trafford Stadium, will be enough for the Claret & Blue Army to keep their Premiership status and maybe, just maybe, CARLITOS, the little fellow from Buenos Aires' toughest neighbourhood: Fuerte Apache, could secure a place amongst the Upton Park legends.
A draw between Sheffield United and Wigan, or a Blades win, will keep the Hammers up, regardless of the outcome of their game against Manchester United.
But don't lose our focus here. Let's concentrate on TEVEZ as I would love to share with you an interview I've really enjoyed. It was made by Gabriele MARCOTTI and Guillem BALAGUE and published by TimesOnline.co.uk.
I know you'll like it...so enough of my writing. I'll leave you with TEVEZ, the man.
No fears for little man from Fort Apache
Carlos Tevez may be at the centre of a storm, but the striker’s childhood in Buenos Aires ensures he can cope
Florencia sits on her father’s lap as comfortably and as lovingly as he might cradle a ball with his left foot. She is 2 and has found a new game. Her father lights the candle in front of her, she leans forward and, “ Uno, dos, tres,” she blows it out. Repetition only adds to the fun. Flame goes out. Flame comes on. Flame goes out. Flame comes on. There is always someone ready to light her candle after she blows out the flame.
Whatever Carlos Tévez’s future may bring – and, as yet, it is undecided, regardless of what transpires in West Ham United’s final match of the season, against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, and in the dispute over his registration – he is grateful for one thing: should the flame go out for his daughter, someone will be there to light it. She will be raised in a different world from the one Tévez knew as a boy growing up in the aptly named Fort Apache – or El Fuerte, as the locals call it – neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.
“I felt fear [when growing up], real fear, very often,” he says. “I remember lying in bed at night with my brothers and parents and hearing gunshots and screams right outside our window. That’s the way it was. You didn’t even think of leaving the house after dark. Eventually you get used to it, just enough to be able to fall asleep. But you know it’s not normal, you know it’s not right.
“I wouldn’t wish that kind of of childhood on anyone. What is wonderful now is that my daughter can learn English, be educated in Europe. Regardless of whether it will be in England or elsewhere, all the doors will be open for her. She will be able to pursue the things that make her happy. And she will continue to have opportunities.”
Tévez had his opportunity, too, and took it. The difference is that, unlike his daughter, he knew that, if his flame went out, there would be no one to light it again. It was up to him to protect and preserve it.
“I only realised I was going to become a professional footballer when I was 17, on the day I made my debut [for Boca Juniors],” he says. “Before that, it didn’t seem real. I went to training, I played with my friends, but it was all about having a good time. I had no idea whether I would make it or what would happen to me if I didn’t. But the day I became a professional, I told myself that this is my life now and I have to do things properly.”
Thus was born a single-mindedness that is shared by many of the greats. Tévez does not smoke or drink (“I just don’t like the taste of alcohol”) and his diet borders on the ascetic. His life revolves around the home – spending time with his young family, a round of golf (“I’m not competitive, I don’t have a handicap”), a few DVDs. Plus, every night, like clockwork, a few hours in the gym doing extra training.
Three summers ago, Tévez led Argentina to gold at the Athens Olympic Games. Living cheek by jowl in the Olympic village with swimmers, cyclists, gymnasts and athletes who trained six to eight hours a day for a fraction of a footballers’ wage was an eye-opener.
“A footballer isn’t used to living with athletes from other sports and seeing what their life is like,” Tévez, 23, says. “It was an amazing experience, one which kind of brings you back to earth. It taught me a lot. I am convinced that a footballer can work, if not six hours a day, certainly four – maybe two in the morning and two in the afternoon. It’s easily done, it shouldn’t be a problem.
“Each one of us has a different physique. We should be doing individualised work-outs based on our body types and where we play. For example, I am not built or physically prepared to be a midfielder, running all around the pitch. I know exactly what my body needs and I know that my preparation has to be different from that of a defender or a midfielder.”
In Tévez’s world, there is no “one size fits all”. A footballer needs to be, above all, an athlete and it is his responsibility to take care of his talents. “I think that, if one is born with quality and gifts, that is down to God and it means you are privileged,” he says. “I can’t stop thinking how lucky I am every time I step on the pitch. And I know I have to protect that gift.” Otherwise the flame might go out.
It is striking to hear Tévez talk about his lifestyle when one thinks about the man to whom he was most often compared as a youngster: Diego Maradona. The pair remain close and last week Claudia, Maradona’s former wife, phoned with an update on his condition, as well as to finalise details of Florencia’s birthday, which she is arranging.
“There are many things you can learn from seeing what happened to him,” Tévez says. “He started with nothing and then he had it all. It’s difficult to go through the things he went through, to be known everywhere in the world, to be unable to walk out of your front door. I don’t want to live like that. I am aware of what I do and what it brings, but I don’t love the attention I get.”
And yet that attention has followed him everywhere. It could not be otherwise. Not when he guided Boca Juniors to a league, Libertadores Cup and Club World Championship treble before his 20th birthday. Not when his move to Corinthians in 2004, for a reported fee of $20 million (about £10 million), was the biggest transfer in the history of the sport outside of Europe. Not when he became the first Argentinian to conquer Brazilian football, leading Corinthians to the title and making even the usually navel-gazing Brazilians grudgingly choose him as their player of the year in 2005.
“To succeed in Brazil as an Argentine is a feeling you cannot explain,” Tévez says. “The first two or three months were not great, but then I started earning the respect of those around me, above all the players. And that’s the most important thing. Whenever you arrive at a club, you have to earn the respect of your teammates. If you can do that, they will be there for you, they will protect you.
“But it is something which must be earned, it can’t be given. You don’t do it by trying to impress in training or trying to make friends. I did it humbly – head down, training normally. Little by little, I started showing who I was. I knew, even in the difficult times, that eventually people would see me for who I am.
“I guess I am lucky that way. I have faith in the fact that if I continue being myself, things will turn around. That’s why I don’t care what people say or write about me. I don’t read the papers, I am not interested in what they say. What matters is how they feel about me in the long run, after they’ve had a chance to know me.”
Tévez makes no secret of the fact that adjusting to life at West Ham and playing in the Premiership was not easy, particularly with the club’s difficult season. He does not complain about the times he was left out or some of the suspicion that greeted his arrival. And he does not hide behind excuses. “I am a foreigner here, but I never felt it was a problem,” he says. “I never felt treated differently because of it.
“I have stopped learning English as I don’t know where I am going to end up next season. But yes, it was hard to settle. The language is an issue – and I will learn English if I stay in this league – and, of course, the football here is different compared to Brazil or Argentina. In my opinion, it’s the most difficult competition in the world. That may be why so few people make it over here.
“Every Saturday you get kicked and you end up going home with marks all over your body. They hit you hard, they hit you everywhere – Premiership defenders are very strong individuals. And the referees allow a lot. They don’t interrupt the game as much as they do elsewhere. But you know what? I don’t mind all that, it makes me a better player, a stronger player.”
On Monday, 24 hours after West Ham’s immediate future is decided, he will go home to Buenos Aires. He has plenty of relatives living in Fort Apache, although he moved his immediate family to a safer neighbourhood. Still, their new home, far from being tucked away in a gated community or a highrise penthouse, is less than a mile from where he was born. He knows where his roots lie.
“Everything I am comes from where I am from,” Tévez says. “I left to pursue football, but I go back whenever I can. I’ll hang out with my mates, throw some steaks on the grill and maybe even play a little football on the streets if anybody is kicking a ball around. It’s who I am.”
That is what makes him proud. While he has had the talents and strength of character to preserve and nourish his flame, he remains the boy from Fort Apache. The two are not mutually exclusive. And maybe there are some children in El Fuerte who, even as the screams and gunfire provide a harrowing soundtrack, can draw inspiration from what Tévez has become.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Argentinians Libertad from Sunchales defeated Brazil's Franca 77-68 in the fifth and decisive match of the finals to win their second Liga Sudamericana's title.
Vaccaro: Delfino part of Argentina plans
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
On May 10, 1987, the Societá Sportiva Calcio Napoli celebrated its first Italian league title (Scudetto) in 61 years of history.
And it was all due to that little giant of a genius called Diego Armando MARADONA.
After a couple of not-so-relevant seasons at FC Barcelona, MARADONA arrived in Napoli in July, 1984 in a move that changed the life of the club and the city forever.
DIEGO’s first season at Napoli was not an easy ride. The team had a horrible start but they managed to change their fortunes in the second half of the season to finally end up in the 8th position.
A few new players came to face the new season and the team started to perform better. But still, the league title escaped them as they finished in 3rd place.
With newly promoted youngter Ciro FERRARA, a product of the Napoli youth teams and the arrival of forward Andrea CARNEVALE, the 1986-87 season started with some signs that showed the team could only improve.
The signings made the previous season (with players like Bruno GIORDANO, Salvatore BAGNI, Claudio GARELLA and Alessandro RENICA) started to gel perfectly to finally give MARADONA a decent core of players to help him fight for the Scudetto.
DIEGO played 29 of the 30 league matches and was Napoli’s top-scorer with 10 goals (Brescia, Sampdoria (2. One at home. One away.), Atalanta, Roma, Empoli, Fiorentina, Udinese (2) and AC Milan.
At the end of a brilliant season, Napoli had to play against Fiorentina, needing only a draw to secure their first ever league title. And that was the result they got. A goal from Andrea CARNEVALE and another from Roberto BAGGIO for Fiorentina declared a 1-1 draw that sent the Stadio San Paolo and the whole city into delirium.
Later that year, Napoli won the Coppa Italia (defeating Atalanta in the final) to achieve the Double.
Napoli were to win the UEFA Cup in 1988-89, the Scudetto again in 1989-90, and the Italian Super Cup the same season.
These days they are fighting their way up to Serie A again. They trail Juventus and they are fighting head to head against Genoa for the second place in Serie B which means automatic promotion. If both Napoli and Genoa can separate themselves 10 points from the fourth-placed team, then they will both get automatic promotion since the rules say there won’t be playoffs if such a thing happens. With five matches to be played, Genoa sit second with 70 points. Napoli are third with 68 and Mantova are fourth with 60. So, there’s everything to be played in the next five matches and we might have Napoli back in the top-flight again.
On a curious note, Napoli and Genoa will face each other in the last game of the season!
There’s an Argentine player there: striker Roberto SOSA, who scored 5 goals this season.
DIEGO is out of hospital (again!) and he attended a TV show this week and went to the stadium to watch a third division game in Buenos Aires.
FORZA DIEGO! I hope you have a good recovery, once and for all.
But we were talking about the glory days.
It was May 10, 1987.
It was twenty years ago today, MARADONA taught the band to play!
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Before May 28th, COCO will announce a list of 40 players that will be pre-selected thinking of the Copa America that will begin on June 26th.
COCO has until June 21st to decide who are going to be the chosen 22 to play in Venezuela. But before that, Argentina will have a busy schedule with a confirmed friendly in Basel against Switzerland (June 2).
For that friendly against the Swiss, COCO will use Europe-based players, so it'll be great to see who of them gets a chance.
In the final list of 22, COCO has said that he will include 3 goalkeepers.
BASILE will travel to Europe next weekend and he will interview some players. He'll take Argentina's physician to run some test on them, similar to those test ran with the local group of players that have been training for several weeks now.
Argentina will play another friendly in June (the 6th) but apparentely, it won't be against Australia as BASILE thought it was a very long trip to go there. Instead, they are looking for another opponent to have a friendly match in Europe. There is a list of 5 candidates of which 3 are Africans (Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon). Expect some news in the next few days.
So let's start a discussion here. I'll throw some questions to the air and I want to hear your opinion. Here we go:
1. Should TEVEZ have another chance to play for Argentina against Switzerland?
2. Who, in your opinion, should be the three goalkeepers Argentina will take to the Copa America?
3. Who would you like to have as a rival on that friendly match to be played in June 6th?
4. Do you want RIQUELME and/or VERON back with the Albiceleste for the Copa America?
Saturday, May 05, 2007
That’s what every single supporter of every team he ever played for will tell you. And for the record, I’m not a Boca Juniors, Corinthians or West Ham supporter. I have the pleasure and the enormous privilege of having him playing for my national team and I have already enjoyed an Olympic gold medal thanks to his world-class efforts in Athens.
Carlos TEVEZ, at this rate soon to be named Sir Carlitos of Upton Park, was given the West Ham’s Player of the Season Award and then celebrated with a brace and created a third goal for Mark NOBLE in a 3-1 victory over Bolton.
This performance by TEVEZ could prove decisive in the Hammers’ fight for survival, as they are now 3 points clear from the relegation zone coming into the last match of the season.
West Ham’s quest for survival is far from over and they have quite a tricky fixture: Manchester United at Old Trafford. But only a point will keep them afloat and United could very well be champions before they play that game so they could be thinking of celebrations instead of 90 minutes of football.
But first, let’s focus on what Carlitos did today. Here’s a brief match report from SkySports.com:
West Ham's sixth win in eight games, a 3-1 victory over Bolton in Sammy Lee's first game in charge, means that Alan Curbishley's side are three points clear of danger ahead of their game against Manchester United on the final day of the season.
The Hammers' relegation rivals are threatening legal action after the Premier League's failure to impose a points deduction on the Londoners, but the on-going debate surrounding Carlos Tevez's transfer did not affect the Argentinian as he curled home a beautiful free-kick after 10 minutes at Upton Park.
Tevez has been West Ham's controversial catalyst in recent weeks and duly added a second on 21 minutes when Luis Boa Morte played him in after a quick break.
Javier MASCHERANO, harshly criticised when he arrived to Upton Park and hardly given a chance to prove his worth is now on his way to Athens to play the UEFA Champions League final with Liverpool and he is an established first team player in Rafa BENITEZ’s team.
Time is slowing telling us a story. A story that those of us who knew what MASCHERANO and TEVEZ could give to a team, already knew from the start.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
For some of us, it is a return to the city on which three years ago gave us not just one but two of the greatest sporting moment in Argentina’s history.
To kick off first, it's the Euroleague Final Four (basketball equivalent to the Champions League); as four of the best teams in Europe (CSKA Moscow, Panathinaikos, TAU Ceramica and Unicaja Malaga) will compete on who will have the rights to take home the Holy Grail of European Basketball.
Just as I've done a preview on the NBA play offs before this, I will do the same here, as three Tall Albicelestes will go into action on the 4th of May, also to re-live arguably the greatest moment in their career, only this time it is for their respective clubs.
Luis SCOLA and Pablo PRIGIONI of TAU Ceramica
There are occasions when despite having the best resources, you still need a little a bit of lady luck smiling on you. Well that's the case for TAU after having seen disappointment of not winning the Euroleague for the past two seasons, adding to the two consecutive painful defeats in the Asociación de Clubs de Baloncesto (ACB) play offs finals.
Could it be the same again? Only time will tell but not really if you have a team that boost the likes of Tiago SPLITTER, Serkan ERDOGAN, Igor RAKOCEVIC and Luis SCOLA, probably the best player in the world outside the NBA. Or should I say the best player in the world not playing in the NBA yet?
In the past, there have been numerous occasions and even transfer rumours that SCOLA is finally fulfilling his prophecy of playing in the NBA but from my point of view, he is already an NBA material. SCOLA will not have a much better time than now as he is currently in the form of his life, with a large number of NBA scout are expected to make the journey, huge attention are going to be placed upon him. This season he has got himself into the record books for being the highest point scorer (2,000 points) in Euroleague history. Part of those points came in the demolishing of Olympiacos in the play offs when he posted 20 points including 10 rebounds.
Furthermore with his team currently the favourites and leading the ACB, SCOLA is also heading the Regular Season MVP award (previous winners includes Arvydas SABONIS and also his national team colleagues Andrés NOCIONI and Walter HERRMANN). He is also in the running for the Euroleague MVP award as well.
What about Pablo PRIGIONI? Though most of time he might be living in the shadows of his superstar Argentinean colleague but there are many ways that SCOLA should compliment him for allowing to score those points, as together they form one of the Euroleague's signature duos.
His pick & roll and plus quality range of passing aces is as crucial as SCOLA sharp shooting skills. Furthermore his defensive quality is also recognize as steady as rock. He is regarded as one of the most unselfish point guard in Europe and if you want evidence, the stats will tell you why. Currently he has the most steels (52) and second highest assists in the Euroleague.
Should both SCOLA and PRIGIONI performed at their very best; TAU may able to lay the ghost of the past two seasons to rest. But most important of all, winning the Euroleague could be probably signal the time that SCOLA must move to the NBA, as San Antonio SPURS must be itching for his present on their roster come next season.
Pepe SANCHEZ of Unicaja MALAGA
Reaching the Final Four for the first time in their history, must be consider a great achievement for Unicaja MALAGA considering the fact that they lost two key players to the NBA in Walter HERRMANN and Jorge GARBAJOSA.
But in return they brought Jiri WELSCH vice versa add together with the present of Berni RODRIGUEZ, Carlos JIMENEZ plus an elegant playmaker in Juan "Pepe" SANCHEZ; they do look as a formidable side.
For the record PEPE is the first Albiceleste player to play in the NBA. However the NBA may have overlooked his great potential as it is so often all about points scoring rather than team effort. But in return his decision to move to the ACB has richly rewarded him. Throughout his time there he became one of the best point-guard in the league and was instrumental in helping Unicaja winning its first ACB title in 2006.
A true point-guard indeed, SANCHEZ's present on the court is a key factor for Unicaja as he knows how to run a team, adjust to every moment of the game and always focusing on helping others to shine. Simply put the stats aside and that is when you will learn to appreciate the type of player he is.
However if the stats are that important then the following could serve as a great example on how PEPE’s inspiration works best, when it really matters. In the play off decider against Winterthur BARCELONA, PEPE became the match hero for scoring 11 points including a 3 pointer with 7.7 seconds, as in the process he also collected 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
Rest assured, should PEPE provide the inspiration that Unicaja needs, the city of Malaga could be in for a big fiesta, come the 6th of May. And just who knows, a return to the NBA could be on the cards.
The final four fixtures are as follows: -
Semi-Finals (4th May 2006)
CSKA Moscow vs. Unicaja Malaga
Panathinaikos vs. TAU Ceramica
The final and the 3rd/4th placing match will be on Sunday, 6th of May. All matches will be played at the OAKA Olympic Stadium.
A further note to this article on why I wish to see all three players performed at their very best as their form could be crucial to Sergio HERNANDEZ's plan for the FIBA Americas. Good luck boys