Friday, October 31, 2008
Diego MARADONA wanted to go to England this weekend to watch MASCHERANO and TEVEZ in action and to have a chat with them and then be back in Buenos Aires in time for his official presentation as Argentina boss on Tuesday.
That very same day, Diego is expected to announce the list of players that will play against Scotland at Hampden Park (19 November).
So the trip to the UK got canceled and Diego will follow the action on TV and through the internet.
In other news...
It's confirmed that Sergio BATISTA and José Luis BROWN will join MARADONA's coaching staff.
According to the sports newspaper Olé, Diego will play with 3 at the back.
The names this newspaper is mentioning are:
CARRIZO as goalkeeper
BURDISSO, HEINZE and DEMICHELIS at the back.
His preferred midfield will be composed by Maxi RODRIGUEZ and Angel DI MARIA on the flanks with Javier MASCHERANO and Fernando GAGO in the middle.
Juan Roman RIQUELME will remain in the radar but if Diego plays a 3-4-3 formation, he'll probably not start against Scotland.
Up front, at least for this friendly match against Scotland (which Lionel MESSI will have to skip due to the arrangement between AFA and Barcelona that allowed him to play in the Olympics), MARADONA will be using trio of Sergio AGUERO, Ezequiel LAVEZZI and Carlos TEVEZ.
Olé also says Diego will be contacting Gonzalo HIGUAIN to have him ready to be called up in any minute.
Players from Argentine sides like Marcos ANGELERI (Estudiantes de La Plata) and Emiliano PAPA (Velez) will be joining the squad, together with Olympic champions Fabián MONZON and Pablo ZABALETA.
While BASILE's captain and all-time leader in caps, Javier ZANETTI and Esteban CAMBIASSO, will most likely be ignored from now on.
This is not definite and it's a version Olé is working with. I thought I'd share it with you to start thinking of how the team could look from now on.
Happy with the 3-4-3 formation?
Would you drop RIQUELME?
What about that midfield?
Will a trio of small but fast forwards work?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
On whether he'll try to bring MESSI to Scotland for the friendly match in November:
"We will honour the deal the AFA has with Barcelona and if MESSI is not allowed to play in my first friendly, then so be it. Barcelona's president was a gentleman when he allowed MESSI to play in Beijing and if there's an agreement between him and GRONDONA, we will respect it."
"The important thing everyone needs to think about is that MESSI is doing and has always done everything in his power to play for Argentina and everybody should have that in mind. It's very very important."
On his debut being set for the friendly against Scotland at Hampdem Park:
"I'm happy because I'm going to make my debut as an international manager in the place where I scored my first international goal (2 June, 1979 in a friendly against Scotland) and also because I know I'm adored in Scotland. I know they have a rivalry with England and they celebrated when we beat them in 1986. I hope the fans and everyone there in Scotland will treat us well and receive us with open arms."
On his plans for the next few days:
"We had some meeting planned for today but the death of Pedro POMPILIO (Boca Juniors' president) has changed the agenda and we will have those meetings tomorrow. We will do some fine-tuning with GRONDONA and then I want to go to England on Saturday and have meetings with MASCHERANO and TEVEZ because I want to start talking to all my players as soon as possible."
On his 48th birthday:
"I didn't expect my 48th birthday to find me in such a great moment. I'm very happy and I'm in peace with myself and my family. I'm waiting for my first grandson to arrive and I'm the manager of Argentina. What more could I've ever dreamed of? I want to thank all my fans and everyone in general for all their support and their wishes."
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
So, if you're not happy with his appointment, just leave aside that fact and think of the man that gave us, Argentina fans, so many victories and tears of joy (and a few of the other tears).
I think we should just take one moment to think about what Diego means to our national team and to the world of football and wish him a happy birthday from wherever we are.
No matter what he does from now on as our manager or what he did with his personal life and his off-the-pitch antics, he will forever be my childhood hero and no player will ever replace him in my heart.
For that reason alone, I wish Diego the best of days ahead and a life full of happiness and peace.
And, Diego, I guess we all know that just before you blow the candles your wishes will be pretty much the same as ours!
For the soon-to-be grandfather of Diego Lionel AGUERO (that will be the name of Kun and Gianinna's son), Mundo Albiceleste wishes you a very Feliz cumpleaños, maestro!
Sergio BATISTA has said that he won't be joining Diego's coaching staff as he has other priorities and he wants to respect his own staff (the team he worked with in Beijing with José Luis BROWN as assistant coach).
BATISTA said: "Don't get me wrong. I'm happy for Diego and I love him as a friend, but I have my own staff and I want to respect them. I'm very happy working with Argentina's youth teams and you have to understand that I have other priorities. I don't want this to sound like I have problems with Diego or with Carlos BILARDO."
"I'm going to meet with Julio GRONDONA and see what is his proposal".
Meetings and phone calls and conversations will continue to take place before AFA announces officially the appointment of Diego MARADONA as Argentina coach. That appointment is believed to be scheduled for next Tuesday but it could come as early as on Thursday, 30 October (MARADONA's birthday).
Other names that sound for Diego's coaching staff?
Pedro TROGLIO (played in Italy 90 with MARADONA and is now the manager of Cerro Porteño of Paraguay); Fernando GAMBOA (current Newell's Old Boys manager and Diego's team-mate in Showbol), Héctor ENRIQUE (the player that passed the ball to MARADONA before he scored the best goal in the history of the World Cup against England in Mexico 1986) and Nery PUMPIDO (Argentina World Cup winning goalkeeper in Mexico 1986 and first-choice keeper in Italy 90 -before he broke his leg against the USSR-).
Who will join the coaching staff? Not even Diego knows!
It seems like the new MARADONA era has hit the heights in the Southern side of Italy. This was the same place that had its greatest moment when Diego was playing there during the 1980’s.
Napoli defeated Reggina 3-0 to remain on top of Serie A alongside Udinese with 20 points. The man of the moment this time is not Ezequiel LAVEZZI, instead he is German DENIS.
DENIS started the game up front alongside LAVEZZI and Marek HAMSIK, scored a hat-trick to ensure an emphatic win against the rock bottom side.
As always big thanks to our dearest friend Jack! for sharing this link with the rest of us.
In France, Lyon defeated ten men Sochaux 2-0 with Cesar DELGADO scoring their second goal in the last minute.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Earlier this week, GRONDONA said there were a lot of manager with chances of getting the job.
Carlos BIANCHI was the winner of every possible poll there was in the media since BASILE quit. Miguel Angel RUSSO was another firm candidate (and I apologise for trusting one source I had and publishing here that he was getting the job, as well as for trusting the newspaper Clarin -which published on their website that RUSSO had already been offered (and accepted) the position-) and Olympic Gold medal winner Sergio BATISTA had a shot too.
However, this afternoon, GRONDONA met MARADONA and they reached an agreement.
World Cup winning manager in 1986, Carlos Salvador BILARDO, was also present in that meeting and he'll join Diego's staff, which gives MARADONA a strong and experienced professional to rely on.
BILARDO said in a TV program that he will not sit on the bench and that Diego MARADONA will clearly be the Number 1. He'll help Diego in everything he needs but the team selection and tactical decisions will fall on MARADONA's shoulders.
Sergio BATISTA and José Luis BROWN will also join Diego's staff and I can see this team working very closely together. Don't forget the three of them were key members of the World Cup winning team in Mexico 1986.
It remains to be seen whether MARADONA will be on the bench for the friendly against Scotland (19 November) or whether he'll make his debut against France in Marseille in a friendly match to be played on February 11, 2009 at the Velodrome.
Those are some details that need to be finalised, but the important thing and the story of the day (and probably the entire year) is that Diego Armando MARADONA is the new Argentina boss.
BILARDO will be in his team and so will be BATISTA. They need to figure out who's going to take care of the youth teams now that BATISTA will join Diego's staff.
MARADONA said: "I'll be the one picking the players and setting up the team, make no mistake about that."
More to follow...
He'll have Sergio BATISTA as his assistant manager, with José Luis BROWN also as part of his staff, while Carlos Salvador BILARDO will have a role as a coordinator (or something like that).
I'll confirm this news as soon as I can and then I'll make some comments.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Upon arrival, GRONDONA said: "All of them have the same chances".
Those names are (in no particular order):
Miguel Angel RUSSO
I'll keep you posted on this as I read more news.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Real were cruising, first through Wesley SNEIJDER’s blistering shot after being put clear by Gabriel HEINZE in the 13th minute. Real kept up the pressure on Athletic and were rewarded when Pipita doubled their lead in the 29th minute.
In what that had the potential to turned out into a one sided affair, Bilbao stunned the Santiago Bernabau with two goals (from Joseba ETXEBERRIA and Andoni IRAOLA) to level the score just before half time.
In the second half, Madrid hit the bar twice through HIGUAIN’s 25 yard pile driver and HEINZE’s close range volley. Then in the 58th minute, Fernando GAGO threaded a nice pass for HIGUAIN, who coolly slotted in Madrid’s third.
It was another thrilling encounter in La Liga, after the earlier match between Villareal and Atletico Madrid.
Other goals from Sunday’s fixture…
Cata DIAZ winning header for Getafe
Gonzalo’s goal for Villareal against Atletico
Franco CANGELE’s goal in Turkey
Thriller in Greece from SCOCCO and BLANCO
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Down in English League One, one player seems to be making plenty noise is Luciano BECCHIO. He scored in Leeds United 3-0 win over Walsall.
In La Liga, Mariano PAVONE 86th minute goal help to seal Real Betis win over Osasuna 2-0.
Fernando CAVENAGHI was on target from the spot in Bordeaux 2-2 draw with Nice.
Surprise in Portugal, as Porto crashed at home to Leixoes 2-3 with goals from Lucho GONZALEZ(pen) and Lisandro LOPEZ.
In the Russian Premier League, Cristian ANSALDI scored for Rubin Kazan in their 3-0 win over PFK Samara.
While in the Swiss Super League, Julio Hernan ROSSI scored from the spot in Neuchatel Xamax 1-0 win over Lucerne.
Nicolas FRUTOS was the Albiceleste night as he was the hat-trick in Anderletch 7-1 win over KV Mechelen in the Belgian Jupiter League.
More action coming on Sunday, the BIG one being Chelsea v Liverpool.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Perhaps it's a move by the AFA to keep the pressures off RUSSO, or maybe Julio GRONDONA (AFA President) is changing his mind to listen to the majority of the people who want Carlos BIANCHI installed as Argentina manager.
Winner of every club title there is to win, BIANCHI couldn't stand GRONDONA and he said "no" a few times when he was the favourite to take the hot seat. He even said he didn't want to talk to GRONDONA and that he would never be the national team manager as long as GRONDONA was around.
All that seems to be changing. Versions on the media indicate that the AFA made contact with BIANCHI and that the former Velez and Boca Juniors manager would be ready to forget about the fights of the past and sign a contract that will at least tie him up until the end of the next World Cup.
Apart from RUSSO, Diego MARADONA and Sergio BATISTA are still in the mix and I wouldn't want to be anywhere near Diego if the AFA decides to ignore him. He could become a very critical figure and could start firing his famous dialectic darts in every direction.
GRONDONA will be in Zurich, Switzerland to attend a FIFA Congress or something and he would announce his decision (reportedly) on Monday.
I can't wait to hear it.
Barcelona produced a stunning performance to make it three wins out of three as they brushed aside FC Basel 5-0. In the middle of this there was that young man, Lionel MESSI.
He kicked off Barca’s night with a simple looking first time shot off his left foot as early in the 4th minute. He later became for provider for Bojan KRKIC and XAVI in Barca’s third and fifth goal.
On the opposite side, Basel’s goalkeeper Franco COSTANZO was a busy man throughout night. Among the most notable attendee was non-other than Basel’s very own, Roger FEDERER.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
In Day 1, two big fixtures with it’s own significant history will take place. The Battle of Britain between Manchester United and Glasgow Celtic will be an interesting one. Will Carlos TEVEZ be given the deserve chance to prove his worth to the Red Devils.
Then there is Juventus playing host to Real Madrid. Juve are having a bad patch and Real is on fire at the moment. Gonzalo HIGUAIN is on a hot streak and it must be interesting to see him having another big night.
The biggest match from Day 2 will see Atletico Madrid playing host to Liverpool. There won’t be any reunion return for Fernando TORRES at the Vicente Calderon. However Javier MASCHERANO will have plenty of company in the form Kun AGUERO, Ever BANEGA and Leo FRANCO.
Here are the rest of the fixtures in the next two days
Day 1 - 21/10/2008
Villareal vs. AaB
Bayern vs. Fiorentina
Steaua vs. Lyon
Fenerbahce vs. Arsenal
Porto vs. Dynamo Kyiv
Zenit vs. BATE
Day 2 - 22/10/2008
Bordeaux vs. CFR Cluj
Chelsea vs. Roma
Internazionale vs. Anorthosis
Panathinaikos vs. Bremen
Shaktar vs. Sporting
Basel vs. Barcelona
PSV vs. Marseille
Monday, October 20, 2008
Now rumours has it that Carlos TEVEZ might be on his way out of Old Trafford as his two year loan deal comes to an end next summer. United however do have the option to buy him but apparently Sir Alex FERGUSON is not willing to meet the asking price of ₤34 million, set by his owner Kia JOORABCHIAN.
Forget about the asking price, but TEVEZ is not all to blame with his lack contribution on the field. His playing time has being reduced upon the arrival of BERBATOV and ROONEY currently on a hot scoring streak. While with the national team, TEVEZ has been suspended twice during the past two months.
I don’t want to be critical here as I have always have respected Sir Alex but looks like Fergie has done it again, just as he did to VERON and HEINZE in the past.
So what does the future holds for Carlitos? Another uncertain chapter in his career.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Other goals from Sunday’s fixtures around Europe.
Mariano PAVONE’s goal for Real Betis against Mallorca
Luciano GALLETTI’s double for Olympiakos
Goals from BLANCO and SARMIENTO in Greece
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I'm saying "LAVEZZI does a MARADONA" because playing for Napoli, he scored against Juventus and gave the passionated side from the poor South, a massive 2-1 win over the successful giant from the rich North.
It started badly for Napoli as AMAURI put Juventus ahead at the noisy San Paolo stadium in the second half.
Then LAVEZZI broke free from the right and sent a perfect cross for Czech Marek HAMSIK to equalise on 64 minutes, but POCHO saved the best for the final moments.
With only 10 minutes to go, HAMSIK played the ball long to try to find Argentine German DENIS. The Croatian Juventus defender, Dario KNEZEVIC clearance fell right to LAVEZZI who faced the goalkeeper and sent him the wrong way to score the winner and take Napoli to the top of Serie A standings for the first time in the last 16 years.
Just like Diego did in the 80s, LAVEZZI helps Napoli to defeat Juventus and continues to raise his hero status at the San Paolo.
On Saturday's big Madrid Clásico between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, the Argentine gave his team the three points and eclipsed a tired Kun AGUERO to make the headlines of every Sunday paper in Spain.
The 6 minutes of injury time seemed to give Atletico Madrid great hopes of scoring a winner after Simao SABROSA scored a lovely free-kick just before the 90th minute to equalise Rudd VAN NISTELROOY's first-minute strike.
As Atletico pushed for their second goal very late in the game, Royston DRENTHE got inside the box and was incredibly and stupidly fouled by HEITINGA and Real Madrid got a penalty kick to seal their win on the 96th minute.
Two Argentines were the main characters in this late and heated drama. Leo FRANCO had in his hands the chance to become the hero and secure at least one point for the Colchoneros. Gonzalo HIGUAIN, on the other hand, had the difficult task of controlling his nerves and score the crucial winner for la Casa Blanca.
And Pipita did it. FRANCO guessed where HIGUAIN would place his kick but couldn't stop it and Real Madrid gave their title push more strength by getting all three points from the Vicente Calderón stadium.
Apart from Leo FRANCO, two other Argentines, Kun AGUERO and Ever BANEGA also played for Atletico from the start. Kun had a chance to equalise with 10 minutes to go but he shot wide.
Fernando GAGO came back from injury to start for Real Madrid together with Gonzalo HIGUAIN, while Gabriel HEINZE sat on the bench.
A very reliable source has informed me that Miguel Angel RUSSO has been contacted by the AFA and all it's need now is for the manager to arrange the terms to finish his contract with San Lorenzo to free himself for international duty.
This move will not happen until December, though, as RUSSO is committed to San Lorenzo and he will be asked to continue at the helm for them until the end of the Apertura tournament, which they are leading after 9 of the 19 weeks.
There is a very small margin of error with this information and until it becomes official, many things can happen, but I've decided to share it with you and keep you up to date with the behind-the-scenes of this managerial succession we are so keen of knowing about.
Diego MARADONA has publicly declared he likes RUSSO as a manager and as a person and he added that he will have no problems in joining his staff in any role that he is given.
Olympic Gold medal winner, Sergio BATISTA, fan-favourite, Carlos BIANCHI, and World Cup champion in 1986, Carlos Salvador BILARDO, have all said they would love to get the job while RUSSO himself is yet to talk to the media and I don't know if he'll do it.
It's not only my source that has RUSSO ticked as Argentina manager. Clarin (www.clarin.com), the best-selling newspaper in Argentina, has publish a story confirming this unofficial news as early as yesterday.
Again, handle this information with care and please don't come out pointing your fingers at me if RUSSO doesn't get the job. Football is unpredictable, isn't it?
Friday, October 17, 2008
What's most important, he made some statements about his personal life and the present he is enjoying and he sounded like someone who is in peace with himself and has achieved a certain level of maturity.
Regardless of what happens next, I'm absolutely happy to hear MARADONA in such a clear state of mind and with so much passion and desire.
I doubt he can become a great manager but I'm sure he can join any technical staff and contribute from a different angle. Motivate the players, raise their spirits, take some of the pressure out of their shoulders.
I love this new version of Diego.
Here are some of the things he said during that interview.
On his present:
"I've got everything in order in my life right now. My girls are fine, my parents are fine. I'm living a great moment."
"If this opportunity comes along, it'll be the most perfect birthday present of my life."
On his will to commit to a role with the national team:
"I'm willing to dedicate my whole life to work as our national team manager. I'm willing to get to work everyday at 8 AM and stay until late if necessary."
"Sergio BATISTA and his assistant Jorge BROWN have more experience than me and I wouldn't mind teaming-up with them and take a secondary role."
"I'm willing to take a back seat and join whoever takes charge of the Albiceleste. The important thing is that we need to recover our winning mentality, our desire, our style. I want to help us achieve that."
"My expectations surpass the risks that can come with the job. I'm not scared of the critics. If some people are not happy with my decisions and they start to hate me...I wouldn't mind. I can live with that. My expectations and my desire to work as Argentina manager are greater than those possible problems."
On BASILE's resignation:
"I was surprised by BASILE's resignation. I don't know which were the reasons behind his decision, but I think we've got a lot of potential to get out of this difficult situation we are in."
On MESSI comments about Argentina needing a change:
"I think MESSI is growing up. He doesn't speak a lot, but when he speaks he does it with composure. I think if MESSI said something is because he feels it. I think it's a valuable thing from him to speak up his mind."
On the team for the future:
"We need to form a team without thinking of depending too much on RIQUELME or MESSI. MESSI has more freedom at Barcelona because if he has a bad game, he can have a revenge the following Sunday. That doesn't happen when he plays for Argentina and that adds up to the pressures some people put on him. We should go easy on him. He's only 20-years old."
On other candidates for the job:
"RUSSO is a model professional and I wouldn't have a problem if he is appointed as national team manager. He is a great guy and I know him for a number of years now. He is a man of great quality. I think BATISTA and BROWN should have the priority. It's about time we, the champions of 86, finally get our chance."
"I may be last in the polls (of fans voting for their preferred manager to take over), but I'm the first in every Argentine heart".
BIANCHI remains the people's choice, BATISTA the favourite to take over but only as interim, SIMEONE was probably the safest bet to replace BASILE, but only after the 2010 World Cup and finally, there's a very important Argentine newspaper (Clarin -www.clarin.com-) even reporting that Miguel Angel RUSSO has already been contacted by the AFA and that the current league-leading San Lorenzo's manager will take over as Argentina's boss only after the end of the Apertura 2008, in December.
Friend of BASILE, RUSSO belongs to a younger generation and comes from a very different school.
A hard-working midfielder in his playing days, RUSSO learned a lot of tricks at Estudiantes de La Plata with no other than Carlos Salvador BILARDO, a manager that led the team to win the domestic league in 1982.
Soon after his retirement, RUSSO started his coaching career at Lanús, a club he got promoted to the first division in 1992 when he went back to Estudiantes and he also got them promoted to the elite of Argentine football (1995) with a young Juan Sebastián VERON as one of the most important players.
Spells in Chile (with Universidad in 1996 where he made the Copa Libertadores semifinals), Spain (Salamanca in 1998-1999) and Mexico (Morelia in 1999) gave him some international experience before returning to Argentina to continue with a successful career.
His first top-flight title came in 2005 with Velez Sarsfield. Players like Leandro SOMOZA, Jonas GUTIERREZ and Mauro ZARATE were key parts of that excellent side that finished 6 points ahead of the second-placed team (Banfield).
RUSSO took over at Boca Juniors after controversial big-mustache Ricardo LAVOLPE alienated players, directors, media and fans by losing on the Clausura 2006 by wasting an enormous points advantage and losing the final match against SIMEONE's Estudiantes.
His Apertura 2007 campaign was acceptable with 11 wins, 6 draws and 2 losses, but it wasn't enough to edge Ramon DIAZ's San Lorenzo, a comfortable champion with 14 wins out of 19 matches, but Boca had a big distraction and were playing in two fronts.
With a mercurial Juan Roman RIQUELME, RUSSO took Boca Juniors to the Copa Libertadores' title. Martin PALERMO and Rodrigo PALACIO were also big parts of that team that eventually lost the FIFA Club World Cup final 4-2 against AC Milan.
RUSSO didn't renew his contract with Boca after refusing to accept the request made by the club of letting go some members of his staff and use the professional suggested by Boca.
He took over at San Lorenzo after Ramon DIAZ resigned and these days his team is leading the Apertura 2008 with 22 points after 9 matches (7 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss), five points ahead of Newell's Old Boys and Tigre.
Some of his San Lorenzo players, like goalkeeper Agustín ORION, Gonzalo BERGESSIO, Christian LEDESMA and Pablo BARRIENTOS, were called up by BASILE in the latest round of WC Qualifiers.
If those reports from Clarin are true (that BATISTA will take over as interim and manage the team in Scotland for that November friendly match and RUSSO will sign his contract in December), then I have to say I'm quite happy with the decision and that RUSSO has my full and complete support.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Only 2 minutes after we posted an unofficial announcement, we can now confirm it.
All the major newspapers and sports websites are announcing it.
BASILE is gone.
Mundo Albiceleste readership's prayers have been answered and now it'll be time to pick a successor for Coco.
I apologise for the flooding of posts, rumours, versions, confirmations, denials and reconfirmations. I've been following this matter very closely and I decided to update the blog everytime I heard something new.
Do take your time to read and analyze the probable replacements for BASILE as I'm very interested in knowing what you have in mind and who is your pick to become the new Argentina manager.
Luis SEGURA, national team director -whatever that job title means-, is heading to BASILE's home to clear the air and see whether Coco stays or goes.
I insist, the word is that tomorrow will be Day 1 of the After BASILE era.
Go back to my previous post and play Mundo Albiceleste's little game. It will matter now, won't it?
I know it is early. I know we still don't know if BASILE will actually leave, but what do we have to lose?
The worst that will come from this little exercise is a good exchange of opinions between us and to discover who is Mundo Albiceleste's fans favourite.
Let's throw some candidates on the table:
(in no particular order but here are some managers I think have a chance to take command of the Albiceleste, the reasons why they could be considered for the job and also some of the things that could play against them)
- Won the Olympic Gold. His team sometimes played brilliantly. Managed to have RIQUELME to co-exist with MESSI and both played key roles in Beijing.
- Knows the players and they like him.
- Has the backing of Diego MARADONA himself, who said in a recent interview that he would eventually join BATISTA's staff playing a unique role in which he'll be in constant touch with the players to advice them on things and to be some sort of link between the manager and the players.
- GRONDONA said he is inclined to give the World Champions of 86 a chance to manage the national team in the future. Has the time arrived? Is BATISTA the chosen one from that group of players?
- Not a lot of experience as a manager.
- Never been tested at the senior level (apart from some not-very-successful spells in the domestic league with Argentinos Juniors, Talleres and Nueva Chicago).
Américo Rubén "Tolo" GALLEGO
- Has won the domestic league 4 times and did it with three different teams. Two with River Plate, one with Independiente and one with Newell's Old Boys.
- Likes his team to play offensive and attractive football while he keeps a balanced midfield and a tight defense.
- Has also won the Mexican domestic title with Toluca in 2005.
- Has played in our national team and has also been PASSARELLA's assistant in France 1998 (Argentina lost to Netherlands in the Quarterfinals).
He is liked by the players, the media and the public in general.
- Has not played in 86 and GRONDONA is believed to be inclined for the manager that played in the World Cup in Mexico.
- I'm not sure whether MARADONA will be so keen on having him on board and we all know how powerful Diego's opinion can be.
- He is a living icon of the Albiceleste with more than 100 caps.
- Started his career as a manager only 2 years ago and he has already won domestic titles with Estudiantes (Apertura 2006) and with River (Clausura 2008).
- Will know how to deal with egos in the dressing room.
- Leaves and breaths football. He is obsessed about football, has a great knowledge and can be on top of things.
- He is probably too young (38) to manage the national team (only 3 years older than Javier ZANETTI, to put an example).
- Can have an approach a little too defensive for our national team.
- Will not have the consensus of the players, public opinion and the media.
- Won 5 league titles with River and 1 with San Lorenzo, plus the Copa Libertadores and the Supercopa Sudamericana with River Plate.
- Offensive style.
- Great reader of the game. His substitutions are often the key for his teams to change the fate of the game.
- Plays the media game to perfection (a little bit like MOURINHO) and takes the pressure away from his players by absorbing it.
- Has not played in 86.
- He is MARADONA's old foe.
- Can be controversial and a lot of people don't like him.
- Is known to have feuds with players and his disciplinary measures can be harsh and put him in a bad position in front of the team.
- The great contemporary Argentine manager. Have won everything at Velez Sarsfield and Boca. 7 domestic leagues (3 with Velez, 4 with Boca), 4 Copa Libertadores (1 with Velez, 3 with Boca), 3 Intercontinental Cups (the current FIFA Club World Cup) (1 with Velez, 2 with Boca).
- Defense is his strength. Will make it difficult for any team to score on his side.
- Will have the backing of the public opinion and a huge part of the media.
- He once said he'll never manage Argentina while GRONDONA is still head of the AFA. Thing can change, but after a statement like that...
- He had some terrible experiences in Europe. Failures at Roma and Atletico Madrid raise the question whether he can be good at the international stage with Argentina.
- Can come across as arrogant.
- Sometimes his teams are boring as hell. He gets the job done, but not in a very "Argentine way", if there is such a thing.
Miguel Angel RUSSO (top of the league with San Lorenzo and winner of the Clausura 2005 with Velez and the Libertadores 2007 with Boca). I can't think of many other suitable candidates for the job.
Who gets your vote and why?
Do you have another manager you think that could do the job?
Luis SEGURA, one of AFA executives and Ernesto CHERQUIS BIALO, AFA's press attache, have denied the rumours about the AFA meeting Alfio BASILE to discuss the future of the national team manager.
Both men have said AFA backs Alfio BASILE and that there has been no contact between the parts in the last few hours.
They say they don't know where those rumours came from.
What do I think?
I think the night is still young and that something might happen in the next few hours.
There's been a lot of signs lately and the pressure from the public opinion is still out there.
"We will find the only way out" said MESSI, "with hard work. We need to work really hard from now on."
I won't read between the lines. I'll leave that to you, but I'm sure there are a lot of things hidden behind MESSI's comment.
We are going to have to wait and see.
Apparently he is there with his legal representatives talking to AFA executives (arguably Julio GRONDONA is not taking part of the meeting but I only saw those reports on the TV).
There's been a number of times in which BASILE has been questioned by a lot of people but this is clearly the first time in which the entire public opinion is calling for his head.
Yesterday's result was not a fluke and it didn't come because of bad luck or against the run of play. Everybody, except a few journalists that sit down with BASILE to have some coffee every second day, agree in that the Selección is not playing the way it should and that we risk crashing out of the World Cup and waste an enormous talent in a generation that boasts a number of world-class players that will be the delight of the fans of any national team if they had the chance to have them for at least one day.
Our players look alienated by the manager. A lot of them don't appear to be happy to play for him and, as Johnny was pointing out in one of his comments, that's the worst thing that can happen to a manager.
I'm not a fan of changing horses in the middle of the river, but BASILE clearly doesn't have the answers he needs to change the course his team is heading to and there is a reasonable 5-month gap before the next set of World Cup Qualifiers (Venezuela (home) and Bolivia (away)) in March 2009 for a new manager to work before his debut and we have almost 2 years to go before South Africa 2010.
Plenty of time to go.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
He was one of the best players in the glorious 60s for Racing, when we won the Intercontinental Cup (1967) and became one of the best teams in the history of football in Argentina. I wasn't around at that time, but my father and my grandpa told me.
When I started going to the football, Racing went through some hard times. Relegation, a run of more than 20 years without a league title and then he came along.
He won promotion back to the first division (1985) and then he won the Supercopa Sudamericana (our first title since the 60s). Not only that...his Racing team was a pleasure to watch. Offensive style everywhere we played. Beautiful passing. Everybody loved him. So did I.
That man was no other than Alfio BASILE.
His first spell at our national team saw a run of undefeated matches (more than 30. I think it was 36) and some beautiful football, but ended with MARADONA's USA 94 doping scandal.
I felt destiny was unfair with him and I was more than happy when he got a second chance. After all, he won everything he could with Boca Juniors.
Perhaps that's why it hurts so much to see him losing his grip with reality. Getting out-coached more than he out-coaches his colleagues and especially falling out of love with the media and most importantly with us, the fans.
He seems to have changed through the years and I don't like this new version of BASILE. In fact, I hate it!
I was prepare, when he was hire this time around, to play as BASILE's advocate. Here at Mundo Albiceleste or talking with friends. Anywhere. Because I still had those sweet memories very fresh in my mind. Well...not anymore.
I don't want to be extremely critical of him either. I'll try and state some facts and to express my points of view in a fair manner.
Here we go...
1. We played with blue shirts tonight. Was it because it was a similar colour to Chile's like what happened on Saturday with Uruguay? The answer is: "NO". It was because BASILE wanted to use those shirts (and the one he was wearing) because he believed it was a good luck charm. What next? Will he pick his players based on tarot? What about I-Ching? The more I grow up, the less I admit those kind of superstition when it comes to football or sports in general or in any aspect of life.
What now? Should we never play in dark blue again? Should we not play with our traditional albiceleste kit? After all...we went 5 games without a win before beating Uruguay on Saturday. What about a green one? Or a Brazilian yellow?
I'm out of words here...
2. Why don't you give some confidence to your chosen striker tonight? Why did you play Diego MILITO only 45 minutes? (one of the best men during that first half. Always trying to find an opening. Always playing the ball to his teammates. Always holding up to the ball like a striker should). Why do you do that after you did the same to him last time you played him? (Peru in Copa America). After all...near the end you had to use Jose SAND, a great striker but far, very far from MILITO's talent or resume. I just don't get it.
AGUERO played far worse than MILITO and he was coming back from an injury and yet you kept him until the end.
3. Why do you play MASCHERANO out of position? Don't you see he is not as effective playing on the right? Don't you see you're killing him if you move him from the centre of the pitch?
4. When you were down 1-0, why did you replace MILITO with BERGESSIO (a very talented and powerful player but with less than half the scoring power MILITO has)? You did none of them a favour. Why not using DI MARIA? Why not taking one from the back four? Oh! I'm sorry...I forgot Don Corleone...(you can call him Julio GRONDONA) have asked you not to play with three at the back anymore.
I'm not putting BASILE off the hook, but I must talk about the players too. They were responsible in a way. MESSI and AGUERO. Why do you only pass the ball to one of you and only one of you two? It's OK that you are friends, but you are not playing alone and you are not the owners of the national team.
CAMBIASSO: What's going on with your passing? Why didn't you connect a single pass to a teammate in the entire second half?
HEINZE: Well...you played as you always do. I can't ask anything from you. I still don't know why you are our first choice at left back. Unbelievable.
Despite this being an awful performance as a team, I think a few players did OK.
CARRIZO was not at fault in Chile's goal, DEMICHELIS was solid at the back (except for one mistake when he couldn't make a clearance) and LEDESMA showed some composure and some interesting things.
Chile played a great game. That's true. In fact they were excellent, but with the kind of players we have at our disposal, the fact that the opposition had a good game just doesn't come as a relief for me and it doesn't work as a valid excuse.
If we are to qualify to the World Cup like we should, then I think we are going to have to change more than the colour of our shirt. Do you agree, BASILE?
On the team report; As Seba has already mentioned in the previous post, Kun AGUERO has recovered and looks set to partner MESSI and MILITO in a three man attack. Both Javier MASCHERANO and Martin DEMICHELIS should also be available. I will post the starting eleven as soon as I have the info.
Now back to the game. A familiar name will be at the Chilean dugout. Many players in the current squad have worked under him. The highlight of his career as the Albiceleste coach must be winning the gold medal in Athens and the lowest has to be the 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan. I’m sure you all know who I am referring to.
In our first encounter back in October last year, a double free kick from Roman ensured that we got off to a winning start in our qualifying campaign.
The match will be played at the Estadio Nacional and I’ve got some good news. For the first time I will be watching and posting comments together with you guys during the game. Hopefully I’ll have some company throughout the game.
The promising Juan Pablo CARRIZO will be on goal.
Javier ZANETTI at right back, Nicolás BURDISSO and Martín DEMICHELIS in the centre of defense while Gabriel HEINZE will play on the left.
Javier MASCHERANO, Cristian LEDESMA and Esteban CAMBIASSO will form a midfield with a very defensive tendency while Lionel MESSI will play a little bit behind the striking partnership of Sergio AGUERO and Diego MILITO.
MESSI could be handed the playmaking duties while it remains to be seen how those ball-robbing monsters from midfield will cooperate with each other.
To have ZANETTI playing as a right midfielder, with COLOCCINI playing at the back (moving BURDISSO to the right back position) and to introduce Angel DI MARIA as a wide left midfielder (keeping LEDESMA on the bench and forming a partnership between MASCHERANO and CAMBIASSO in the centre of midfield. There'll be no place for Diego MILITO if BASILE prefers this option as MESSI and KUN will play up front.
Apparently, Don Corleone...oops...I mean...Julio Grondona (AFA president) have told BASILE to never play with 3 at the back again. Knowing this, I will be (pleasantly) surprised if we play with three at the back.
So...a 4-4-2 formation will leave MILITO (or any big striker) out of the starting lineup as long as MESSI, AGUERO and TEVEZ are around.
I'm voting for Option 1 (even though my favourite would be Option 3, with 3 at the back, two wide midfielders, one playmaker and two up front -whatever the players' names are-).
With RIQUELME and TEVEZ not available: What would be your favourite formation or lineup for this particular match against Chile away?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Hi everyone! After I came back from China, I've been incredibly lazy and all I did with Mundo Albiceleste was to read and watch what John wrote and the comments you all left.
I guess it's normal after two months of really intense work in a place in which everything you see is new to your eyes.
Slowly, very slowly, I'm getting back into the normal rhythm.
Ahead of a crucial game like the one Argentina have against Chile (without suspended RIQUELME and TEVEZ), I want to share with you the news about the probable attacking lineup and my views on that.
I've always been a big fan of Diego MILITO. He came through the youth ranks at Racing Club (my team) and I've noticed some great qualities in him right from the start.
Of course he didn't stay for long at Avellaneda and he started a great career in Europe. He's not one of those high-profile players and he never gets all the credit he deserves, but go and ask Genoa and Zaragoza fans what they think about Diego MILITO.
He almost went to Tottenham Spurs in the offseason and I'm sure they wouldn't be rock bottom of the Premier League had they signed Diego to replace the scoring power of Robbie KEANE and Dimitar BERBATOV.
Instead, he went to Genoa and he started where he stopped after he got them promoted to Serie A before he moved to Real Zaragoza. He is scoring at will.
He's got a lot of tools and I'm sure he can produce at an international level. It's just that he never got the minutes any striker needs to grow in confidence and find the back of the net.
He played some minutes against Colombia in the last Copa America and he scored. Then he didn't have a good 45 minutes against Peru and he never played again for Argentina.
Until now. He'll cross the Andes and will play alongside Lionel MESSI and Sergio AGUERO. The three of them combined have scored 22 goals in 31 matches this season.
I'm really looking forward to see him play give BASILE a valid option so Argentina can play again with a big target man inside the box. Someone that will force opposing defenses to leave at least one central defender to cover him, allowing our speed demons on the flanks (MESSI, AGUERO, TEVEZ and even DI MARIA) to create havoc on one-on-ones. Someone that can really be at the end of the many crosses those little ones can send to the box.
BASILE may be doing this because he has no choice (RIQUELME is suspended and he needs to change the complete strategy because he thinks there is nobody who can play RIQUELME's role like RIQUELME -and I agree-), but for whatever reason, I welcome this change and I look forward to see how MESSI and KUN combine with Diego MILITO (I'd be happy if it was CAVENAGHI, Gonzalo HIGUAIN, Lisandro LOPEZ or any big physical striker but Julio CRUZ).
Let's hope I'm not wrong and MILITO plays on Wednesday and let's hope we get all 6 points from these two matches (Uruguay and Chile) to move closer to South Africa 2010.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Coco BASILE has finally got it right this time though the overall performance may leave some question mark. Goals from Lionel MESSI and Kun AGUERO ensured that Argentina ended their five match winless streak with a narrow 2-1 win over Uruguay.
Juan Roman RIQUELME sublime long ball pass found MESSI, who headed the ball past Juan CASTILLO in the 6th minute. The Albiceleste kept piling on the pressure and their reward was paid off with a second goal in the 13th minute. Kun AGUERO slammed in the ball in after the initial shot by Esteban CAMBIASSO hit the post.
The visitors pulled back through Diego LUGANO in the 39th minute courtesy of a good cross from Luis SUAREZ.
In the second half, Argentina played the better football but the Uruguayans defense stood firm and did not allow any breakthrough. Carlos TEVEZ and AGUERO had the best opportunities but neither could convert their chances.
In a typical River Plate derby, a total of 10 players received yellow cards by the time the referee blew the final whistle.
As Johnny did highlight in our match thread's comment box, several players will not be available for the trip to Santiago to face Chile. There will be plenty questions on how Coco will react to this.
In the meantime, some other news…
FIFA 2008 Futsal World Cup
After drawing 3-3 in their first match in the second round group stage against Paraguay, Argentina went down to Spain 2-1. This means that Argentina must beat Russia in their last group game to progress to the semi-finals.
Nalbandian Wins Stockholm Open
Top-seeded David NALBANDIAN capped a near perfect week with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 win over local favorite Robin SODERLING in the Stockholm Open final on Sunday.
"It was great," NALBANDIAN said. "The conditions are perfect to play indoors. It could be faster or slower. I adapt my game to play here and I really like it."
This was his first title since winning in Buenos Aires since February and he will now go to Madrid to defend his Madrid Masters title.
Mar del Plata To Host Davis Cup Final
The Davis Cup final between Argentina and Spain will be held at the Islas Malvinas Stadium in Mar del Plata. The Argentine team hoped to play on a fast indoor court in Cordoba to bolster the strengths of David NALBANDIAN and Juan Martin DEL POTRO.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Firstly, let’s look at the table standings; we have 3 wins, 4 draws and one defeat. We have not won our last five matches. We’ve only manage just four points from a possible fifteen. By any means, this is not good at all for Argentina.
I don’t know whether another bad result could lead Coco towards the exit door. All I can say is that this is a critical time for him to do something. We have seen the list of his provisional squad plus the additional local based players. Man to man, with a squad like that there is NO way that we can’t beat Uruguay (and Chile a few days later).
My message on behalf of everyone here to Coco and the team; We Want a Win!!! We Want a Win!!!
Keep those comments coming as we kick off the countdown to Saturday’s game. The match will be played at the El Monumental at 1810 hours local time.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Coco BASILE has named the remainder six players that will join the rest of the squad for Argentina's upcoming World Cup qualifier. There was some surprise inclusion and one notable returnee.
The six players are Agustin ORION, Christian LEDESMA, Gonzalo BERGESSIO, Pablo BARRIENTOS (all from San Larenzo), Juan Roman RIQUELME (Boca Juniors) and Leandro SOMOZA (Velez Sarsfield).
The most notable highlight of this inclusion has to be the four players from San Larenzo, which I'm not surprise as they are the current leaders in the Torneo Apertura. Perhaps, I would like to hear from those who has more knowledge on the domestic scene to give us their though about this inclusions.
However there is a bad news for now as Maxi RODRIGUEZ might be doubtful for the qualifiers after limping off in the Barca/Atletico match last Saturday.
Now to some European football from Sunday's fixture, starting with Italy's Serie A.
Ezequiel LAVEZZI scored in the first minute to put Napoli ahead of Genoa. But the home side rallied back to score three goals including one from Diego MILITO. German DENIS pulled one back in the 75th minute. Genoa won the game 3-2 despite finishing with only nine men on the field.
Lisandro LOPEZ was on target for FC Porto in their 2-1 win over arch rival Sporting Lisbon in the Portuguese Liga.
In the Russian Premier League, UEFA Cup holders Zenit St Petersburg trashed Luch-Energiya Vladivostok 8-1 with Alejandro DOMNINGUEZ among the scorer. While Hector BRACAMONTE was on target for FC Moscow in their 2-1 win over YFK Shinnik Yaroslav.
Julio Hernan ROSSI scored from the spot for Neuchatel Xamax in their 3-3 draw with Bellinzona in the Swiss Super League.
While in the English Premiership, Javier ZABALETA was sent off in the match against Liverpool for a mistimed tackle on Xabi ALONSO.
Tennis – Del Potro Lost In the Japan Open Final
Juan Martin DEL POTRO was defeated by Czech Tomas BERDYCH in straight set 1-6 & 4-6 in the Japan Open final. This was his first loss since losing to Andy MURRAY in the US Open. DEL POTRO had won all four of his previous championship matches on the tour.
FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008
Honours were even in Brasilia as Argentina and Ukraine both settled for 2-2 draw in their Group C encounter. It was a thrilling finale as the goals were scored in the last eight minutes of the game.
Leandro PLANAS broke the deadlock first but Dmytro IVANOV equalized with two minutes left to play. A minute later, Sergiy CHEPORNIUK put the Ukrainian in the lead and may have won the game for them. But Argentina went on to equalized with 15 seconds left to play through Diego GIUSTOZZI.
Argentina final group game will be against Guatemala on the 9th of October.
Barcelona were already three goals up within the first 10 minutes including one from MESSI. Maxi RODRIGUEZ pulled one back in the 13th minute but soon was limped off. Three more goals later would sealed in what was a real nightmare for the Madrid side.
Another RODRIGUEZ, Gonzalo was on target for Villareal in their 2-1 win over Real Betis.
In Turkey, Christian ZURITA was on traget for Gaziantepspor in their 4-1 win over Antalyaspor.
In the Greek Super League, Larissa defeated OFI Crete 4-3 with Matias IGLESIAS (own goal) and Facundo PARRA on target.
While Brazil, Dario CONCA scored for Fluminense in their 1-1 draw with Goias in the Futebol Brasileiro.
FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008
Argentina strengthened their position at the top of Group C with a hard fought 4-2 win over Egypt. Marcelo GIMENEZ struck first in the 17th minute but a minute later the African side equalized through Ahmed EL AGOUZ.
Ramadan SAMASRY put the Egyptian in the lead with after slotting the ball home in the 22nd minute but a few seconds later Diego GUISTOZZI equalized for Argentina. Goals from Matias LUCUIX and another from GUISTOZZI ensured us comfortable finish in the game.
Argentina next match will be against the Ukraine.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Wow! Another impressive night around Europe biggest club competition.
In Transylvania, CFR Cluj made history once again by holding on to a goalless draw against Chelsea in front of their own fans. Despite being dominated for most of the game, both Sebastian DUBARBIER and Juan CULIO were proven to be a bit handful in unsettling the Londoners on several occasions. With lack of firepower upfront (injury to Didier DROGBA), Big Phil SCOLARI has decided to hand Franco DI SANTO his Champions League debut, coming from the bench in 74th minute.
Bordeaux suffered a 3-1 loss at home to Roma. Once again they have decided to leave Fernando CAVENAGHI on the bench.
Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at home against Werder Bremen with Javier ZANETTI and Esteban CAMBIASSO both in the starting line up. Julio CRUZ came in the 78th minute as a replacement for ADRIANO.
Rafa BENITEZ did not rush Javier MASCHERANO into the starting line up in Liverpool's 3-1 win over PSV, despite recovering from a calf injury.
Sporting LISBON defeated FC Basel 2-0 at home. Leandro ROMAGNOLI was denied to be credited the first goal, instead it was named as an own goal by Reto ZANNI. Leandro GRIMI was also a starter on the Sporting line up. FC Basel had both Franco COSTANZA and David ABRAHAM in their first eleven.
Which means we are left down to two of biggest performer of the week; Kun AGUERO and Lionel MESSI.
Atletico Madrid took another step forward in their Champions League after defeating Marseille 2-1 at home. An over the top chipped from Maxi RODRIGUEZ to Kun AGUERO, from which the little wizard drilled in a low shot gave Atletico the lead. Four minutes later, Kun had another attempt but this time his shot was saved by the goalkeeper. Mamadou NIANG got the equalizer for the French side in the 16th minute but six minutes later, Raul GARCIA scored the wining goal. Lea FRANCO was in the starting line up while Ever BANEGA came in as a replacement for Maxi towards the end of the game.
Has Barca coach Pep GUARDIOLA lost his mind when he decided to name Lionel MESSI on the bench? I hope he takes plenty of lesson from this game before deciding such things for future matches.
Just as when the whole world would have probably give up on them from getting anything from Shaktar, the Atomic Flea unleashes some moment of magic to give them an unthinkable 2-1 win. MESSI was brought in the 60th minute in place of misfiring Thiery HENRY.
Okay the first goal was a simple tap in plus the little help he got from the keeper. The second goal from he chipped in past the keeper was pure Lionel's brand of magic movement. Once again, the young lad is coming into a man of his own in Barcelona.
It only gets better when both Lionel and Kun head to head in this weekend La Liga encounter.
Futsal World Cup 2008
Argentina opened their FIFA Futsal World Cup Brazil 2008 campaign with a 5-0 win over China PR in Brasilia. A first-period hat-trick from Marcelo GIMENEZ put the Albiceleste firmly in command, before Martin AMAS and Sebastian CORAZZA put the seal on a convincing victory.