Sunday, June 24, 2007

Breaking down the list: Time to think defense

We've already seen our goalkeepers and we know that, if nothing happens to ABBONDANZIERI -like in the World Cup against Germany-, he will play every minute.

Now it's time to take a look at our back line. Those who will try and control the opposing strikers while containing our midfield.

Let's have a look at our defenders' profiles and then start a debate as on who should start and who should wait in the bench.

Name : Roberto Fabián AYALA
Club : Valencia CF, Spain
Caps : 107 caps (7 goals)
The most capped player in Argentina’s history and the one that COCO has entrusted to take the captain arm-band. One of the best center back in the world, AYALA has the ability to score headers from set pieces. At the age of 34, the Copa America might just be his final swansong and he would want to go out on a high.

Name : Gabriel Alejandro MILITO
Club : Real Zaragoza, Spain
Caps : 16 (0)
MILITO is likely to be best option to partner AYALA in central defense. Will go to the Copa America with plenty of confidence after having a great season with Zaragoza. Once rejected by Real Madrid because they said he had a career-ending knee injury he went on to play for Zaragoza and have had excellent performances and results against Madrid. He is currently one of the most wanted defenders in Europe. A fine performance in the Copa America may just establish him in the international context.

Name : Javier Adelmar ZANETTI
Club : Internazionale, Italy
Caps : 104 (8)
Despite his age (33 years old), PUPI has never shown any sign of slowing down and still possess the strength, resilience and the ability to run past opposing player when joining the attack from right back. Was controversially left out in the last World Cup by José PEKERMAN and will be highly motivated to go to the Copa America after captaining Inter to the Scudetto glory.

Name : Gabriel Iván HEINZE
Club : Manchester United, England
Caps : 39 (2)
Confidence will soar high for HEINZE after winning the Premiership with Manchester United last season. COCO’s first choice at left-back, is a fan favourite among the Old Trafford faithful. With ruthless being his middle name, he is a no nonsense defender and a real fighter on the pitch. His ability to join in attack is somewhat improved as seen on numerous occasions in the Premiership last season.

Name : Nicolás Andrés BURDISSO
Club : Internazionale, Italy
Caps : 10 (0)
The debate will always be there about his inclusion in the last World Cup, but all that changed after he had a good tournament in Germany 2006 and a tremendous season with Inter winning the Scudetto and scoring many goals. Could be used either in every position of the back line.

Name : Hugo Benjamín IBARRA
Club : Boca Juniors, Argentina
Caps : 7 (0)
IBARRA is the most “Brazilianesque” right-back we have in Argentina. He’s great on the ball and he can become an extra forward at times. Pin-point crosses and feared long-distance shots are other weapons in his Arsenal. Also a COCO’s favourite from his Boca days.

Name : Daniel Alberto DIAZ
Club : Boca Juniors, Argentina
Caps : 3 (0)
Daniel Alberto was also the name of the first Argentine to ever touch the World Cup trophy! Like PASSARELLA, “Cata” DIAZ plays in defense and his power in the air and solid presence, makes him a tough bone to bite. COCO knows him well from his days as Boca manager and he looks like an interesting back-up as a central defender.
Honestly? I like our defense.
Brutally honest? I'm worried about the generational transition. There are no outstanding talents around that show signs of deserving a chance to play international football.
Not something that will hurt our chances at this Copa America, as we will probably have the most experienced defensive line in the competition. But what about the long run?
Will AYALA, ZANETTI, HEINZE, IBARRA and MILITO be "fresh" enough to travel to South Africa in 2010? I doubt it.
The Copa America represents the last chance for some of them (I think especially of Javier ZANETTI and Roberto AYALA) to win a major trophy with Argentina.
So what do you think?
Is COCO right in bringing to Venezuela the "Old Boys"?
Regardless of that:
Who should start?
Should we play with a line of 3 defenders? Or you prefer 4?


David N said...

Heinze had a pretty bad season for Man Utd, and he doesn't look the same player he was before his knee injury of last year. But he'll always give 100%, and I prefer him at full back to centre half.

The other positions seem obvious to me, so it should be :

Zanetti - Ayala - Milito - Heinze

Great blog, by the way.

John said...

Any coaches in the World would love to have a line up of defenders like ours. No doubt about that. Just look at them and you’ll know that you can find experience, resistance, resilience and tough nuts to crack.

My preference will a back four that consist of AYALA & MILITO in the center, ZANETTI on the right and HEINZE on the left. What a solid line up this could be.

But so far that is all on paper.

Based on our recent friendlies (Switzerland & Algeria) the result has not been convincing as we have been leaking goals as much as we have been scoring them. Not a good sign indeed. Maybe just maybe it wasn’t very much important game plus those matches was played during the on going season (especially in Spain)

Yes! Age is also concern factor. Replacing the likes of AYALA and ZANETTI will not be easy and the likes of HEINZE and MILITO will be 30 plus come 2010.

Seba, perhaps from the upcoming Under-20 World Cup, is there anyone we could identify as potential players to lead our back line in the future?

Other Sport….

2007 Men’s Champions Challenge Trophy

A disappointing result for the fields hockey team as they were stunned by the Belgium 3-2. All the goals came courtesy from penalty corners. The scorer for Argentina was Juan GILARDI and Jorge LOMBI

Next game will be against Japan on the 25th of June.

Seba said...

Thanks for your praise David!

I'm with both of you (David and John) as my favourite defensive line would be ZANETTI (RB), AYALA (CB), MILITO (CB) and HEINZE (LB).

BUT, I don't like HEINZE as left-back. I wish we had a proper left-back to use in that position.

John...that guy FAZIO (recently sold to Sevilla) sure has the tools to become a great player, but he is still a prospect. The funny thing would be that, just like Roberto AYALA, he is a product of Ferro Carril Oeste, a team that used to be a regular first division outfit (even winning a couple of league titles) and now ply their trade in the lower divisions.

Emiliano INSUA and Gabriel PALETTA are in Liverpool for something, but they still have to show they can earn a name there.

And the one player I thought was going to be a featured starter in the build up for the next World Cup, Gonzalo RODRIGUEZ, have just seriously injured his knee, making it 3 times in his brief career that he suffers a major injury like that.

Not many more games out there to replace our most experienced defenders...

John said...

Seba, the name INSUA and PALETTA did came across to my mind but then again as you’ve mentioned they need to play more regular first team football in Liverpool.

Regarding HEINZE playing at left back, yes I do agree with you because he is not in the mould of SORIN, good at both defensive and offensive. I believe Javier PINOLA could be long-term prospect for this position. I wonder if he has the “SORIN” factor?

Seba said...

Regarding PINOLA: No John, he doesn't have the SORIN factor.

As simple as that.

He is good in defense, non-existant in offense.

linda said...

I agree with Seba: our defense is fantastic but we do have to worry about age being an increasing factor.

Gonzalo Rodriguez's knee injury is a massive shame and it's very worrying that he's injured so often at such a young age. Knee injuries by their nature can come back to haunt a player as well. I hope he recovers, because he's a fine young defender.

Other young defenders...Garay of Racing Santander is quite good, and I really like Pablo Zabaleta of Espanyol as well.

Anonymous said...

Ibarra and Diaz... damn... they r old... and they r bench in NT... why basile picked them... Garay Zava etc youngstars... and they stay in bench watch a big game... and take more experience...

Anonymous said...

At the moment I'm not too concerned about the age issue in our line up for Copa America. Coco, as many of you have pointed out, is taking our strongest team. He wants to win Copa America which I think it totally fine. We want a trophy damn it!

Also there is some nice talent in the under 20 squad. Fazio, Insua and Matias Cahais are two that jump out at me (Cahais had some really good moments during the U20 South American qualifiers). Garay, Zabaleta, Paletta and Gonzalo Rodriguez are also prospects.

It will be interesting to watch both tournaments and seeing how the defenses work out (as well as the rest of the pitch).


johnny said...

Don't forget Jonathan Maidana as regards defense in the future. He was playing wonderfully for Boca this year until he got hurt. Young, big and smart for his few years.

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