Wednesday, February 28, 2007

RIQUELME: Is he a Prima-Donna?

It´s well-known that Juan Román RIQUELME is not exactly an easy-going guy. He has always been impossible to talk with for the local press when he first came to the scene playing for Boca.

He would score a hat-trick and yet refuse to talk with the journalist after the match.

Some think he is special and once you get to know him and become his friend he is a great guy. Some think he always have the same face, the same look in his eyes. It doesn´t matter if he scores a crucial goal or he miss an all-important penalty kick. He´ll always have the same expression.

But the most controversial side of RIQUELME seem to take place in the kitchen of football: the dressing room.

The Chilean newspaper “La Tercera” have published an article about the rift between RIQUELME and Villarreal manager Manuel PELLEGRINI who have decided to exclude ROMÁN from his squad and sent him on loan to Boca Juniors.

Now the details that La Tercera have unveiled are shocking (to say the least).

Arguably, RIQUELME was guilty of the following acts of misconduct while at Villarreal:

• Complained about the weight of the ball

• Refused to participate in some volunteer team training

• Include family members on the team´s travelling buses

• Arrange a press conference to announce his retirement from international football at Villarreal without the consent of the club´s authorities

• Listen to music on his MP4 player while PELLEGRINI was giving the pre-match talk to the team.

Granted these are rumours or versions published in Chile, but knowing RIQUELME I have little doubts they are true.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Here´s the list with VERON confirmed and some (more) surprises

Alfio BASILE made public his first list formed by Argentine footballers from our local league.

They will start training next Monday.

Here´s the list:

Juan Pablo CARRIZO (River Plate)
Oscar USTARI (Independiente)

Paulo FERRARI (River Plate)
Daniel DÍAZ (Boca Juniors)
Eduardo TUZZIO (River Plate)
Hugo IBARRA (Boca Juniors)
Hernán PELLERANO (Vélez Sársfield)
Germán RÉ (Newell´s Old Boys)
Jonathan BOTTINELLI (San Lorenzo)

Leonardo PONZIO (River Plate)
Fernando BELLUSCHI (River Plate)
Juan Sebastián VERÓN (Estudiantes)
Neri CARDOZO (Boca Juniors)
Agustín PELLETIERI (Lanús)
Sebastián LETO (Lanús)
Daniel MONTENEGRO (Independiente)
Cristian LEDESMA (San Lorenzo)
José SOSA (Estudiantes)

Mariano PAVONE (Estudiantes)
Ezequiel LAVEZZI (San Lorenzo)
Rodrigo PALACIO (Boca Juniors)
Mauro ZÁRATE (Vélez Sársfield)

Instead of 20 or 21 players that were mentioned, the list contains 22.

The difference from the list I´ve published the day before the official announcement are:

The inclussion of José SOSA (Estudiantes) and the San Lorenzo pair of: Jonathan BOTTINELLI and Cristian LEDESMA.

Also Mario BOLATTI (Belgrano) was in my list but now he wasn´t called up by COCO.

VERON wants to come back

I´ve been doing the math and the numbers are not lying. Juan Sebastián VERÓN will be 34 years-old come South Africa 2010.

Is he as old as we tend to think? Or will he be able to get to the next World Cup as an impact player?

We are moments away from the moment in which COCO will name his first 20-21 players from the local league to start building up a team with the focus on the Copa America Venezuela 2007 (starting in June).

When all the main newspapers and websites from Argentina start to talk about a name, it´s almost certain that some piece of info have leaked out from the AFA and it´s just a matter of time until we can confirm the rumours.

Now Juan Sebastián VERÓN talked with the media (Olé and he´s saying he is anxiously waiting for the list to be officialised and is dreaming of seeing his name on it.

He said: “The desire I´ve got, leads me to feel that I could be on the list, but nothing is official yet, there are rumours, but so far they´re only that: just rumours.”

“I would love to be in the next World Cup. The only thing standing in my way (to South Africa 2010) could be my age, but I still feel plenty of will to play and to be in our national team. Even though I consider that I had a good career, it´ll be like closing something very important.”

In that very last sentence, I don´t think it´s clear if he means he wants to finish his career playing “something very important” as a World Cup or if he means that it´ll be “closing something very important” referring to the very hard period he had after the 2002 World Cup in which he was blame by the entire public opinion for Argentina´s quick elimination.

He added: “I went through different phases, anger, frustration and I was asking my self “why?”. Then I calmed down and started to live with it (being away from the National Team). Even if football is very important for me, it never stops being just a sport and sometimes we create a big drama around it. It was not a nice sporting moment for me, because when you play football you always have a number of goals and to be a part of our national team is always one of them.”

Monday, February 26, 2007

A star coming back amongst 20 local names

It has been rumoured that Coco BASILE will name a list of players from the Argentine league as early as this week.

The return of Juan Sebastián VERÓN is something that should not surprise anybody.

COCO wants to work with this group of players for the Copa America (Venezuela 2007 in June) but for that tournament, he will also call-up some big names from Europe.

In the meantime, he´ll have the time to work more time with his players than any regular big country national team and he can only benefit from that. Especially knowing that very soon, most of the players in the list will eventually move to Europe as well.

Now, before he makes that list public, here are the names that has been sounding strongly:

Juan Pablo CARRIZO (River Plate)
Oscar USTARI (Independiente)

Paulo FERRARI (River Plate)
Daniel DÍAZ (Boca Juniors)
Eduardo TUZZIO (River Plate)
Hugo IBARRA (Boca Juniors)
Hernán PELLERANO (Vélez Sársfield)
Germán RÉ (Newell´s Old Boys)

Mario BOLATTI (Belgrano)
Leonardo PONZIO (River Plate)
Fernando BELLUSCHI (River Plate)
Juan Sebastián VERÓN (Estudiantes)
Neri CARDOZO (Boca Juniors)
Agustín PELLETIERI (Lanús)
Sebastián LETO (Lanús)
Daniel MONTENEGRO (Independiente)

Mariano PAVONE (Estudiantes)
Ezequiel LAVEZZI (San Lorenzo)
Rodrigo PALACIO (Boca Juniors)
Mauro ZÁRATE (Vélez Sársfield)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Rafa BENITEZ comments on Javier MASCHERANO

Rafael BENITEZ he can give Javier MASCHERANO a platform to prove to a doubting English public that he is a great player.

Liverpool received Premier League permission to complete the deal to sign the Argentina midfielder while they were in Barcelona this week.

He was an unused substitute in the Nou Camp and there is every chance the midfielder will be involved in some capacity against Sheffield United.

BENITEZ is certain the 24 year-old's move to Anfield will be a success.

He said: "He plays for one of the best national teams in the 542 world and he needs to play, which he wasn't at West Ham.

"Maybe the first six months in England was difficult because of the language. But he has spent six months learning English and he is with us, with Spanish staff and players. I feel we will see the best of him now.

"He now knows more about the Premier League and he can progress here."


CHAPU out injured again

Source AP:

Nocioni out again after aggravating foot injury

Chicago forward Andres NOCIONI missed his eighth game in the last nine Friday night when the Bulls faced the Washington Wizards.

Nocioni aggravated a foot injury Thursday night against Cleveland, his first appearance after sitting out seven straight games. He played nearly 15 minutes, scoring five points against the Cavs but was very sore after the game.

Bulls coach Scott SKILES said NOCIONI would be examined by a team doctor and they would map out a strategy for dealing with the injury over the final two months.

Skiles acknowledged it was a "real possibilty" that NOCIONI could be out for extended period of time. "It's very painful and it takes time to heal," he said of the injury.

NOCIONI, a standout in international play for Argentina, is in his third season with the Bulls and is averaging 14.8 points and nearly six rebounds.

POLL: Who is the best Argentine player RIGHT NOW?

I´ve been thinking after the World Cup and with a new process starting at the helm of our national team and it is a good idea to invite you to vote for who you think is the best Argentine player these days.

You may have your favourites, you can vote with your heart, but what I´m looking for is for an unbiased opinion and what I would like you to consider who is playing the best football right now.

Here´s my Top10 players (not in order) but you can also vote for others:

Roberto ABBONDANZIERI (GETAFE): It´s hard to put keepers to compete against field players. Sometimes it´s unfair for the keeper, because his job doesn´t stand out as much, but in this case, I think he is worth a nomination here. In his first season at Getafe, he is La Liga´s top goalkeeper and currently leading the Zamora prize standings (the prize awarded to the keeper who received less goals during the season in Spain). He is ahead of Iker CASILLAS (Real Madrid), Víctor VALDEZ (FC Barcelona) and PALOP (Valencia) and playing for a small club like Getafe, makes this an even more important achievement.

Roberto AYALA (VALENCIA): After a brilliant World Cup, he is keeping up a good level of performances and have secured a move from Valencia to Villarreal for next season. Yesterday, unfortunately, some Valencia supporters have painted some walls in the city with death threats and insults for our national team most capped player.

Gabriel MILITO (REAL ZARAGOZA): A fine season from “The Marshal”. Commanding Zaragoza´s defense and playing a great game in Paris against France.

Nicolás BURDISSO (INTERNAZIONALE): 16 straight wins for Inter with Nico scoring some goals and playing very well. He is also Inter´s top scorer in the Coppa Italia this season with four.

Esteban CAMBIASSO (INTERNAZIONALE): Another great reason why Inter is running away with the title in Serie A. CUCHU is a key member of the black & blue midfield and he is also contributing with a number of goals, like the one he scored this week against Valencia for the Champions League.

Javier ZANETTI (INTERNAZIONALE): After unfairly missing out of the World Cup squad, PUPI have comeback to our national team and played a part in Argentina´s goal against France. He is also standing out for Inter where he plays in defense or midfield depending on where MANCINI needs him.

Luis “LUCHO” GONZALEZ (FC PORTO): Scored what probably is the best goal of the Champions League´s current season and it is an established figure in our national team. Is helping Porto in their quest to repeat the Portuguese title obtained last year while they are still alive in the Champions League.

Sergio AGÜERO (ATLÉTICO MADRID): KUN is playing more minutes now and he is proving his worth with crucial goals for “ALETI”. He managed to make the press talk about an Atlético player other than Fernando TORRES and now it´s rumoured that a lot of European clubs are after his signing.

Diego MILITO (ZARAGOZA): A scoring monster, Diego is really fighting for the Pichichi prize (award given to La Liga´s top goalscorer). He has hard competition with KANOUTÉ and RONALDINHO, but he is hanging in there and he doesn´t seem to be willing to stop.

Javier SAVIOLA (FC BARCELONA): He is always there and he scores at every chance he has (like in Paris against France). He started the year with 8 goals between La Liga, Copa del Rey and that friendly against France.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Argentina to play Colombia, Paraguay and USA in the Copa America

It´s been really busy yesterday. Lots of news regarding our national team and our football in the future.

Here´s a brief list of the most important news from yesterday:


Argentina will play in Group C against United States, Colombia and Paraguay (in that order).

Our debut will be against United States on 28 June at Maracaibo.

Group A will see the host Venezuela playing against Bolivia, Uruguay and Peru.

Group B contains Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador and Chile.


This is something I didn´t expect and I had no idea about, but it has been confirmed that the Copa America 2011 will be played in Argentina!

I remember I was 10 when the Copa America was last played in my country (1987) and Uruguay were the winners (while Argentina and Brazil didn´t even make it to the final match and didn´t even finish in the top three -which were Uruguay, Chile and Colombia-).


It´s been confirmed that the fixtures will again be the same as in the last two editions of the South American World Cup Qualifiers. Argentina will then start playing against Chile and will close the campaign aiming to secure a ticket for South Africa 2010 with a game against Uruguay.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Will this be the year.....again????

Every year we ask the same question: Will Argentina win the Davis Cup this time?

Today the moment to start giving some answers has come for our team.

Without our best player of the moment, David NALBANDIAN, Argentina will look for a difficult first round away tie against Austria.

José ACASUSO and Guillermo CAÑAS will face Stefan KOUBEK and Jurgen MELTZER respectively on Friday.

It´s going to be very tough playing on a fast surface that clearly gives the advantage to the Austrians, but we´ll see if the team steps up to the challenge.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Allez Argentina!

As I said before the game, I´ll take it easy with the result.

There were other things I was focusing on and I´ve got some answers from the manager and the players that left me satisfied.

It was clear that this game meant a lot for BASILE and for most of the players on the field.

Usually, friendly matches are used to test formations, players, movements and stuff like that. But last night for COCO the result was crucial. That´s the way I saw it. He wanted to win at all costs and he only made substitutions to give the team a breath of fresh air to keep on looking for the win.

At the same time, most of the players were still hurt for what happened at the last World Cup and for the rough start they had under BASILE (losing to Brazil and Spain).

That translated into a very eager team, playing the game and fighting for each and every ball like if victory was worth 3 points or meant qualification to an hypothetical next round at a major tournament.

You gotta love that attitude. I want to see my team with that attitude all the time.

Back to the game and our performance, the first thing I would like to say is that I believe Javier SAVIOLA is the most underrated player in the World!

How come nobody seems to appreciate the way he plays. How he scores goals everywhere he plays. I´m out of words when it comes to this subject.

I don´t want him to play fancy, beautiful football. He is there to score goals and work for the team and he does both things ALL THE TIME.

The back-heel pass he sent to Javier ZANETTI, before PUPI crossed towards CRESPO was pure class. It mesmerised the French defense (no matter how weak it was for missing THURAM or other key defenders) and then he kept his head up to finish that play sending the ball home after COUPET´s save.

I think our defense looked great.

ABBONDANZIERI reacted very quickly in the game´s most dangerous situation for France when he stopped point-blank that shot by David TREZEGUET.

Gabriel MILITO stopped everything in the air and on the floor. Roberto AYALA was his solid self in a way that he put an end to many French attemps and also because he could have been send off as well!

HEINZE and BURDISSO were OK and I really liked the way we play in midfield.

It´s not easy to make your international debut for Argentina (or for any national side), let alone facing the World Cup runner-up at their own backyard!

So I think Fernando GAGO did exceptionally well considering all this and his footwork passing through Thierry HENRY and Patrick VIEIRA was a classic image to treasure. Nice passing, good on marking the opposition and composed all throughout the match. Well done, PINTITA!

CAMBIASSO looked like a man with a thousand games under his belt. Worked very well alongside GAGO.

LUCHO didn´t contribute much on offense. I think he suffered because COCO had to use a formation he is not very keen on using and he did have a lot of work marking the opposing midfielders.

PUPI really send a statement as he is clearly a great option for Argentina. An experienced, influential player who can be used in defense or midfield. He could have had an assist if COUPET didn´t stop CRESPO´s shot before SAVIOLA´s goal.

CRESPO didn´t score. He is there to do that. But he was active and trying his best all the time. The movement without the ball, to receive ZANETTI´s pass was sensational. A shame he couldn´t capitalise on that.

Diego MILITO, Jonás GUTIERREZ and Sergio AGÜERO did not play enough minutes to allow me to judge their performances and I would like to see them involved a little bit more in the future.

A very positive outcome after this friendly match and a good result for COCO to stop the pressure from growing.

I´m looking forward to watching the next couple of friendly matches and I think the team should be ready for the Copa America.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Argentina will start with:


Gabriel MILITO



So it´s PUPI in midfield (I suppose he´ll play on the right hand side). GAGO and CAMBIASSO will share the centre of midfield and LUCHO will play on the left.

These are just my speculations.

I´ll take it as a friendly

I want to win, of course. But my priority this time is completely different. I want to see some good football and enjoy the game.

It´s too early to push that panic button we Argentine are so keen to press at the slightest sign of things not working out the way we want them to.

Yes, we´ve lost to Brazil (3-0) in BASILE´s first friendly and then we fell again (Spain, 1-2) and now it´s World Cup finalists, France, in their own back yard and with a team that´s been working together with their manager for a long time now.

It´s not that I´m opening my umbrella before it rains. But the way I see it, things have not changed since the moment in which COCO took charge of the team again.

The team is yet to have 4 consecutive training sessions! Too little for a team to gel and for a manager to work wonders.

In any case, this friendly serves for our need to watch our national team and to see the Albiceleste facing yet another top-class team (a thing that doesn´t happen often enough, in my opinion).

For example, after a quick search on, I found that Argentina only face France twice in their whole history!!!

One was a friendly match and the other was for the World Cup Argentina 1978 and we´ve got a win and a loss against them.

France 2-0 Argentina
Friendly 1986 - Paris, FRANCE - 26.03.1986

Argentina 2-1 France
FIFA World Cup Argentina 1978 - Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA - 06.06.1978

This game also serves for new players to get their international debuts so we can see if they have what it takes to wear the Albiceleste.

I have little doubts about Fernando GAGO. He is such an exceptional player and he knows COCO very well. I think the only thing that could play against him having a good game tomorrow are the rival and his nerves. But I´m confident he´ll keep his cool and I hope he works well with his team-mates.

Personally, I would like to see Diego MILITO starting (or at least playing 45 minutes) as I believe he is the form striker we have right now (and he has scored EVERYWHERE he played in the past, Racing, Genoa and now Real Zaragoza).

And I´d like to see Javier “PUPI” ZANETTI to play a big game and keep his place in the team for the future.

But if any of you are interested in the result, I must say that the game is already Argentina 1 - France 0 after Gonzalo HIGUAIN has obtained his Argentine passport!

Will you be watching the game? Will you get live broadcasting in your country? I hope you do so we can comment on here and share our views after the game.