Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Argentina vs. Bolivia WCQ Match Preview

Diego MILITO and Ezequiel LAVEZZI have both been sent back to Italy due to injuries. To read more about that, please click here.

Diego MARADONA is likely to play a 4-4-2 consisting of the following:


The position in italics is unknown. Italics bold is the favourite to start at that position.
The situation in midfield seems to be favouring the inclusion of Lucho GONZALEZ. In order to do that, MARADONA will use Maxi RODRIGUEZ on the left and put Lucho where he is more comfortable: on the right. If he chooses DI MARIA, then Maxi stays on the right and the Benfica youngster goes to the left.

Argentina vs. Bolivia, the statistics

Argentina's overall record vs. Bolivia
Out of 29 matches against Bolivia, Argentina has won 22 of them compared to Bolivia's 5. They also have 2 draws between them.

Argentina's World Cup Qualifiers record vs. Bolivia
Argentina and Bolivia have faced each other 15 times in Qualifiers. 11 of those matches have been won by the Albicelestes as opposed to Bolivia's 3 wins. Only 1 draw between them.

Goals scored in Qualifiers vs. Bolivia
Much like Venezuela, Argentina has outscored their opposition by a large margine. Argentina has scored an impressive 33 goals in Qualifiers(against Bolivia) which comes up to an impressive 2.2 goals per match ratio. Bolivia on the other hand has only scored 14 goals(against Argentina), which brings their goal scoring ratio to under 1.0 a game... 0.93 goals per game to be exact.

Matches at La Paz, Bolivia
Argentina has only played 7 games in Bolivia for World Cup Qualifiers. They're record is split even, with 3 wins, 3 losses and 1 game drawn.

Last match played at La Paz
The last time Argentina travelled to Bolivia to play a World Cup Qualifier was 3 years ago, on March 26, 2005. Bolivia took the initial lead in the 49th minute thanks to a Jose CASTILLO goal, Argentina then scored twice in a row. The first by Lucho FIGUEROA in the 57th minute and the second goal came shortly after by Luciano GALLETTI in the 63rd minute as Argentina defeated Bolivia 2-1.

The lone survivor
Only one player played at La Paz in 2005 who's still currently on the team... and surprisingly its not Javier ZANETTI! Maxi RODRIGUEZ is the lone survivor from that match against Bolivia having played 63 minutes before being substituted off for Leonardo PONZIO(but not before being show a yellow card in the 41st minute). Other notable names include: Roberto ABBONDANZIERI, Nicolas BURDISSO, Gabriel MILITO, Esteban CAMBIASSO and last but not least Daniel DIAZ. Though DIAZ is on the current team, he did not play in the match. He was left on the bench for the 90 minutes.

Diego MARADONA's record against Bolivia
As a player, Diego played 91 times for Argentina. A career spanning over 10 years, but he only played twice against Bolivia. The first match came at the 1979 Copa America(in Buenoes Aires) where Argentina defeated Bolivia 3-0. Diego also scored his third National Team goal in that match. The second match took place at Goiania(Brazil), where the match ended 0-0. Once again, it was a Copa America match, this time the 1989 edition.

A sneak peak for "The Curious Case of Javier ZANETTI"
If you haven't heard of the new movie hitting theatres near you, please click here The following is a sneak peak of "The Curious Case of Javier ZANETTI".

Chapter I: The Bolivia Chapter
July 8, 1995: Javier ZANETTI has played 6 matches against Bolivia. The first coming at the 1995 Copa America in Uruguay, where Argentina defeated Bolivia 2-1.
April 24, 1996: The second match took place nearly a year later, where once again Argentina came out on top. This time the Albicelestes won the match 3-1 in a 1998 World Cup Qualifier in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
June 4, 2000: They say all good things come in 3's and in this case its the truth as Argentina once again defeated Bolivia in yet another World Cup Qualifier, this time a 2002 World Cup Qualifier. Argentina came out on top 1-0 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Javier ZANETTI, Walter SAMUEL and Juan Sebastian VERON all played in that match and are on the current team.
April 25, 2001: Javier ZANETTI's perfect record against Bolivia was somewhat tarnished as Argentina eeked out a draw in La Paz, Bolivia. Hernan CRESPO scored twice for Argentina and former Albicelestes captain, Juan Pablo SORIN scored in the 89th minute to salvage a point for Argentina as the match ended 3-3. Like the previous match, this was a 2002 World Cup Qualifier. Along with ZANETTI, Walter SAMUEL and Juan Sebastian VERON all played in that match and are on the current team.
November 15, 2003: Remember when I said all good things come in 3's? Well, in a 2006 World Cup Qualifier in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the host country thrashed Bolivia 3-0. This time only Javier ZANETTI and Walter SAMUEL played in that match.
November 17, 2007: Yup, you guessed it... in 3's! Argentina, once again, thrashed Bolivia 3-0, this time in a 2010 World Cup Qualifier. And yes, once again, the match took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Chapter 2: Most played minutes
29 players(31 including goalkeepers) have played for Argentina so far in this edition of the World Cup Qualifiers. Javier ZANETTI has played the most minutes clocking in 990 minutes for Argentina. Lionel MESSI is in second place, behind by only 9 minutes, as he has played 981 minutes. And last but not least, captain Javier MASCHERANO has played 873 minutes.

Last meeting vs. Bolivia
The last time Argentina played versus Bolivia was on November 17, 2007. Argentina won the match 3-0, with Sergio AGÜERO scoring once and Juan Roman RIQUELME scoring twice.

Martín DEMICHELIS, Javier ZANETTI, Sergio AGÜERO, Carlos TEVEZ, Javier MASCHERANO, Lionel MESSI, Maxi RODRIGUEZ and Fernando GAGO all played in that match.

Random Information
As mentioned, 29 players(31 with goalkeepers) have played for Argentina so far in this edition of the World Cup Qualifiers. However, only 8 players have scored. Carlos TEVEZ, Esteban CAMBIASSO, Gabriel MILITO, Maxi RODRIGUEZ and Rodrigo PALACIO all scored 1 goal each. Juan Roman RIQUELME, Lionel MESSI and Sergio AGÜERO have all scored 4 goals each.

Yellow Cards
Jonas GUTIERREZ is suspended for this match due to accumulation of yellow cards. However, Martín DEMICHELIS(who missed the match against Venezuela due to an accumulation of yellow cards) will be back for Argentina.

Eight players are carrying yellow cards, meaning 1 more and they will miss the next match.

Javier ZANETTI (booked against Chile)
Gabriel HEINZE, Carlos TEVEZ, Lionel MESSI and Javier MASCHERANO (all booked against Uruguay)
Daniel DIAZ, Sebastián BATTAGLIA and Fernando GAGO (all booked against Peru)

Bolivia's record
Sitting in before last match with 9 points, Bolivia have made it difficult for themselves to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Out of 11 matches, they have only managed 2 wins, 3 draws and lost 6 times. In the process scoring 13 times and allowing 24 goals(the most allowed so far in the Qualifiers).



Don't forget to listen to the second edition of our show: download

Monday, March 30, 2009

Brief news while we wait for the match v. Bolivia

As expected in the build up for such an important match, there is plenty of information coming up every second.

Here are some of the most relevant stories:

DIEGO 2011?

In the wake of a successful start of his managerial career with Argentina, Diego MARADONA could be offered a contract extension by the AFA to keep him as the boss for the Copa America 2011 that will be played in Argentina. This is simply some speculation, but considering the increase in Argentina's profile and the improvement in tickets sales, the AFA would be keen on having Diego even after the World Cup in 2010.


Out of contention to face Bolivia because of injury, Ezequiel LAVEZZI and Diego MILITO (whom originally planned to travel with the team to La Paz), will be making the trip back to Italy to start the recovery process. Both are sidelined by minor muscular injuries.


Following his yellow card and the suspension that will also sideline him for the game against Bolivia, Jonás GUTIERREZ will not be traveling with the team to Bolivia on Tuesday. Instead, he'll return to Newcastle to re-join the Toon Army in their quest to avoid relegation from the English Premier League.


Juan Román RIQUELME didn't watch the match between Argentina and Venezuela. He went to Miami, USA, to take a break with his family. He had a dinner at the Bella Luna restaurant at Aventura Mall and was spotted by an Argentine fan who lives there.


After Juan Pablo CARRIZO's comments of willing to leave Lazio because he has not been playing as a starter, the President of the Roman side is considering the possibility of fining him when the goalkeeper returns from South America.


Don't forget to listen to the second edition of our show: download

Mundo Albiceleste Podcast 02

We at Mundo Albiceleste are firing on all cylinders like Diego's three little guys upfront lately!

This is the second edition of our podcast and instead of three forwards, we played with four up front!

This time we discuss Argentina's performance against Venezuela, we take a look at the other results from the South American WCQ Group and we preview our match against Bolivia in the feared altitude of La Paz.

In addition to yours truly and John in Malaysia, we've got two new voices joining in the debate and sharing their views with us. Want to know who they are?

Right-click on the following link and save it as an MP3 file or listen to it in your computer: download.

Enjoy! And don't forget to send us your views to argentina.correspondent@gmail.com or right here in the comments' box.

NBA News – Hornets Hold Off Manu’s Spurs

With the playoffs season just around the corner, two of the biggest franchise in the West over the last 5 years should have wrapped it up all by now. Instead one is still fighting to hold on to its precious while the other’s playoffs hopes seem to fading away.

Manu GINOBILI and the Spurs travel to play against the New Orleans Hornet to strengthen their position in the Western Conference. Instead it was another minor setback and a reminder that the fight in the West is still on.

Inspired by Chris PAUL the Hornets manage to hold them off to a 90-86 win. Manu came from the bench to deliver his best ever performance since returning from injury with 17 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists & 1 steal.

But still he was far from his usual self knocking out just 36% of his shots. Hopefully he will get better when it really matters in April. Fabricio OBERTO was still out with an irregular heart beat and we will keep a close eye on his situation.

Sacramento Kings may have the worst record in the NBA this season but it seems they were the playing as if they were fighting for a spot in the West. The dealt huge blows on the Phoenix Suns post season hopes with 126-118 win. It was another high spirit performance from Andres NOCIONI, posting 19 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist & 3 block shot to his credit. Perhaps maybe this could be a sign of good things to come from the SacTown next season.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

WCQ South American standings and stats

After 11 rounds of matches (with only seven to go), Argentina climbed to second place and shortened the gap with leaders Paraguay to four points.

Chile were the other big winners as they took all three points from bottom-placed Perú and now Marcelo BIELSA's men are sitting pretty with 19 points, together with Argentina and relegating Brazil to fourth place.

DUNGA's team looked even worse than his green-T-shirt-underneath-a-violet-shirt combination!

They went ahead against the run of play against an erratic Ecuadorian side that controlled the game from the start. Their consolation prize came in the dying minutes of the game with an equalizer that ended up tasting not as sweet as it may look.

On Saturday, Uruguay really kept their hopes alive by beating leaders Paraguay at the Centenario Stadium with goals from two Diegos (FORLÁN and LUGANO). If the WCQ finished today, they would be the ones facing the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF (El Salvador at the moment).

Colombia scored a goal after more than 500 minutes without finding the back of the net and then they added a second to see off Bolivia 2-0 at Bogotá. With that result, they leap-frogged Ecuador to reach the sixth spot while they keep their 2-point distance with Uruguay.

Here are the results from the matches played on Saturday and Sunday:

Uruguay 2-0 Paraguay

Argentina 4-0 Venezuela

Colombia 2-0 Bolivia

Ecuador 1-1 Brazil

Perú 1-3 Chile

Let's see how the standings look like:

Paraguay 23 pts. + 10 goal difference
Argentina 19 pts. +10 GD
Chile 19 pts. +3 GD
Brazil 18 pts. +11 GD
Uruguay 16 pts. +11 GD
Colombia 14 pts. - 2 GD
Ecuador 13 pts. - 5 GD
Venezuela 10 pts -10 GD
Bolivia 9 pts. - 11 GD
Perú 7 pts. - 17 GD

Next round of matches:

Venezuela v. Colombia

Bolivia v. Argentina (4:30 PM Buenos Aires; 3:30 PM New York; 8:30 PM London; Thursday 3:30 AM Beijing)
Ecuador v. Paraguay
Chile v. Uruguay
Brazil v. Perú


Sebastián ABREU, Diego FORLÁN (URU); Joaquín BOTERO, Marcelo MARTINS (BOL); David SUAZO (CHI): 5 goals each.

Argentina topscorers:

Sergio AGÜERO; Lionel MESSI and Juan Román RIQUELME: 4 goals each.
Esteban CAMBIASSO; Gabriel MILITO; Maxi RODRIGUEZ; Rodrigo PALACIO and Carlos TEVEZ: 1 goal each.

The second edition of Mundo Albiceleste's podcast will be coming soon. We will be covering the news about the South American World Cup Qualifying zone, with special attention on Argentina's win over Venezuela and the upcoming fixture in La Paz against Bolivia.

Stay tuned and send us your thoughts and comments to: argentina.correspondent@gmail.com

MESSI's amazing run v. Venezuela

No audio, but as Diego said: "If he scored that one, we all had to leave the stadium, pay another ticket and come back in".

Thanks to Messidona19 for the link!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Curious Case of Javier ZANETTI

This Mundo Albiceleste's production tells the story of Javier ZANETTI, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences, like running wild from deep in his own half to set up Argentina's first goal against Venezuela.

Coming soon to a movie theatre near you.

Players' ratings by Dave P.

Dave is an American follower of Mundo Albiceleste and he has a passion for rating players (and in my opinion, a great eye in doing that).

He has posted his players' ratings after our win over Venezuela in a comments' box, but I'm deciding, without even asking him permission, to post those ratings here.

They may not reflect my views or the ones from John and Roy, but we're all together in this and if we have some differences in our opinions, we'll discuss them in the comments' box. That's what we love doing, isn't it?

Without further intro, here are Dave's players' ratings. Please, I encourage you to share your opinions with us.

Dave starts by saying:

"Wow, great victory. So much talk and speculation with Maradona and the 3-4-3 line up and coming home to Argentina. Exceeded the expectations from the Albiceleste fans and then some. I’ll be it Venezuela is one of the more weak teams, which tweaks some of my ratings, but still pure domination by Argentina."

CARRIZO: 7- What can I say nothing really going on but when he was called upon to make a save did so with confidence. One sketchy clearance but made up for it in quick reactions to Heinze’s dumb chest back. Bad form at Lazio, but still Argentina’s #1

ZANETTI: 7.5- Not really tested in the defense all night, Venezuela was content with sitting back and rarely had possession to attack our defense. That being said Zanetti the 20 year old 30+ year old made great runs all night including the one Maradona like run from our box to over half that started our first gol. Very smooth, calm, typical performance from Zanetti; Let him play forever.

ANGELERI: 7- Good first start for the Estudiantes defender. Not really tested at all but when there was a push from Venezuela was always in good position, and again confidant and no hesitation.

HEINZE: 6.5+?- Like Angeleri good performance confident in everything that he did EXCEPT for that one trademark dumb casual defending move that we hate Heinze for. What was he thinking with that chest back to Carrizo from the PK spot with a man on his back??? Just boot it out. Glad that Demi will be back next game.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ: 7.5- Some good runs in the first half putting pressure on the wings and combining with Messi well. Unlike the France game where he did nothing, his head was in the game all the time, played well, and smart in possession. In the 2nd half had a very breath taking run off a Carrizo save which allowed him to score our 3rd GOL. Great work back on defense to help out the back 3. Happy to see Maxi in good form.

MASCHERANO: 8- Great hustle all game as usual, great tackles in the midfield, and was one of the main reasons why our back 3 was never under any immediate pressure. Truly taking on the role as captain very well. Also, smooth on the ball, what else is there to say a typical gritty performance by Masche.

GAGO: 6.5- Sort of a quiet game for Gago. Took a little bit of time to settle down in the first half, had a few arrant passes. Like Masche tracked back and helped the back 3, great defensive play with Masche, probably two of the most hard working defensive mids in the world right now. In the second half was a lot smarter on the ball and had a few cheeky touches that set up Messi and started some counter attacks.

Jonas GUTIERREZ: 8- Wow! impressed by this man’s ability to run at defenders and at the same time sprint back to play defense for the entire game each and every game. Great calmness on the ball, another reason why the back 3 had no pressure because of his incredible work rate. Him combined with Gago n Masche are incredible hard workers that deserve to start every game. Took on two defenders and had a nice pass to assist Kun in his GOL.

TEVEZ: 8-As usual the workhorse up front, pressuring defenders and making runs from the left side to the right and vice versa. Showed great skill on the ball and played well with Messi n Aguero. Especially with his pinpoint pass to Messi to grab our first gol. Then, great finish at the start of the 2nd half that put Venezuela way out of it, great body control to volley the ball home with power, a true scorer at heart. Should have had another gol but was called offside which was BS. Was apart of 2 of our gols, I have been saying that Tevez needs to be a permanent starter for our team and proved it tonight. CARLITOS.

AGÜERO: 6.5- Of the three up top played the worst. Quiet game with two blatant missed chances that definitely should have been gols. If you are the center forward for Argentina those must be finishes. Two positives from El Kun though. One, his cross to Maxi was immaculate, perfect placement to him on the top of the box, and the other, his gol, it was lucky that it deflected but it was a great run at the defender and a strong cut to the center. His replacement, Milito had no impact on the game at all.

MESSI: 9- Wow great game from the electric Messi. Scored the first goal with an excellent run and placed shot. In the first half was a threat every single time he touched the ball running at defenders looking for one two passes and combination. Always active. In the second half came right out and smoked past two defenders to place a ball into the box for Tevez to finish. Truly is a joy to watch, at times I thought the Venezuela defenders were hypnotized by him. Quieted down in the middle of the second half, but out of nowhere within the last 10 mins he deiced to treat the fans to his magical skill. Two runs in which he took on pretty much the entire Venezuelan team with ease. Unlucky to not have scored twice.


VERON: 7: Came on with around 20 mins left, played well, had a calming affect on the game which added more stability to Argentina. At times it felt like it was just him and Messi on the field, enjoyed passing it around and holding possession. Good work, did nothing wrong.

DI MARIA: 7: Came on a couple mins after Veron. Played well in the attack but lacked the defensive presence on the left that Jonas/Maxi had on the wings. More of the flash and flare than the workhorse mentality. That being said played well and beat defenders, had a couple of chances go wide.

Diego MILITO: N/A: came on with around 10 mins left. Did nothing bad or nothing tremendously good.

The dream is born again

No, I won't get too carried away. By no means I'll allow myself to do that. It was a home game against a team that had never even win a single point against Argentina in history. It was also very clear that the difference in quality between the players from both teams was abysmal.

That's why I'm not referring to this compelling 4-0 victory, with goals from MESSI, TEVEZ, Maxi RODRIGUEZ and AGÜERO. I'm talking about the things that surrounded this clear triumph.

This is not a match report. These are just a few lines from me to talk about the feelings I was left with after watching the match.

It's been an incredibly long time since I've seen a crowd so fired up for a match of this characteristics. It's also been a long time since I've seen eleven players clearly committed to the cause. Completely behind their manager.

That, to me, it's way more important than winning by 4, 6 or 11 goals.

That, to me, was the most crucial aspect that was lacking in recent times with our national team.

Plenty of positive signs to get from this match.

Let's make a list (I'll try to put the most important first):

1 - We got the three points.
2 - We won comfortably.
3 - Diego passed the test of his first official match as Argentina manager.
4 - No apparent injuries.
5 - The team showed patience when Venezuela were putting 9 men behind the ball.
6 - ZANETTI is timeless, eternal.
7 - MASCHERANO is everywhere. In fact...he is helping me type this text!!!
8 - MESSI finally had a breakthrough match at River Plate. He needed to show he could do it.
9 - TEVEZ played like a world class player that has the complete trust of his manager.
10 - The entire nation is behind the best number 10 in the history of the game.

I guess 10 items on this list should suffice.

Diego would like it that way.

Argentina needed to start dreaming again. There won't be any guarantees when it comes to results and attractive football in the future. The road to South Africa is still full of obstacles with trips to Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador and Uruguay. With Brazil coming to Buenos Aires too, but I'm looking on the bright side here and I'm confident it will take a lot of effort for any team to beat Argentina from now on.

We will discuss everything that this win over Venezuela left us on our next edition of our brand new podcast show.

Stay tuned for news about that. Until then, congratulations on your team's victory!


Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

Argentina 4-0 Venezuela - AGÜERO (4-0)

Argentina 4-0 Venezuela: Maxi RODRIGUEZ (3-0)

Argentina 4x0 Venezuela - TEVEZ goal (2-0)

Argentina 4-0 Venezuela: First goal - Full action

Press conference Diego: "I couldn't be happier"

Diego MARADONA's full press conference transcript:

"It was a perfect match for us. We scored when we had to. We kept the ball when we had to. We created a lot of chances with our little guys and I would like to hear from those who were asking us to come from the wings and send crosses in. Sometimes there's no need for that".

"The team loosened up after our first goal and we really had no problems".

"Things to improve? I didn't like the fact that they won our backs easily sometimes. If there were better with their long balls, it would have been tougher".

"The team knows what we have to do. Today we were faced by a team that has improved a lot over the last few years. We had to work really hard to break them".

"To those who whistled VERON everytime he was on the ball, I'd like to tell them that VERON, with his big toe really swollen, had to receive a shot there because I asked him to do it. Because I needed him. People didn't know about this and it's OK. But I'm telling them so they know better now and appreciate what VERON did".

"MESSI had a great game, but he wasn't the only one. I liked HEINZE, Jonas, GAGO, TEVEZ, Kun...all of them".

"What I said to MESSI? The number 10 shirt is yours. There's nobody better than you to wear it".

"It's a pleasure to see MESSI play. It'd be fantastic to see him playing like that everyday. Had he scored the last chance he had, we had to get out of the stadium, pay a new ticket and come back in!".

"I liked CARRIZO. I gave him all my trust and when goalkeepers are only asked to respond a couple of times, it can be tricky. He responded very well and I'm happy for him".

"I celebrated when Jonas GUTIERREZ fought for a ball he lost in midfield and I jumped like if he had just scored a goal. That's the kind of attitude that really motivates our team".

"I didn't see Benjamin (his grandson) on the pitch tonigh. I've seen him last night. He's so beautiful. It was a pleasure to have him around".

"I want speed with MESSI, TEVEZ and AGÜERO. I also like their attitude. They'll fire on goal as soon as they have a chance. They will take no prisoners in that regard".

"My midfield from tonight, is my ideal of a midfield. Jonas on the left, Maxi on the right and GAGO and MASCHERANO in the middle. I wish I could have them everyday".

"I'm just here to help the team with my experience, but the win tonight, belongs to them. They got out of a bad situation they were in. The merit is all theirs".

"We haven't conceded yet and that's a great thing. I wish that doesn't change anytime soon".

"I'm working as a national team manager because I need to do it and my players need me as well. I couldn't be happier".

"We'll miss Jonas in Bolivia. It was a silly play. I regret that. I have some thinking to do ahead of our next game".

"Carlitos won his battle against his anxiety. Everytime he came to play for Argentina in the past, something bad happened. He was too nervous. But tonight he had an excellent game and I'm thrilled with the ovation he got when I replaced him".

"MASCHERANO ended up with a cramp. Actually...it's not a surprise. Did you see how much he ran?".

Venezuela manager: "Congratulations to Diego"

César FARIAS (VEN) - manager

"Argentina were far superior. They showed their true quality. They made things difficult for us".

"When a result is as big as this, there are no arguments. We need to turn the page and think about our next match against Colombia".

"We were surprised in the action previous to Argentina's first goal. They made a mistake and all of a sudden we saw ZANETTI coming up with the ball and we didn't make the transition to defense quick enough".

"Congratulations to MARADONA".

"Not every team in the world can have players such as MESSI, AGÜERO, TEVEZ and company".



Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

Post match comments: Diego, TEVEZ, MASCHE


"The guys deserve this.They worked hard for this"

"We started slowly but we finished up looking very solid"

"There are always things to improve"

"I was angry at people reproving VERON, because he had to have an infiltration before the game".


"We HAD to win tonight. We are improving. Three matches, three wins, no goals conceded. We're happy."

"It was only a cramp. I'll be OK"

Carlos TEVEZ:

"It was the loudest ovation I got wearing this shirt"

Argentina vs. Venezuela WCQ Match Preview

It's all but confirmed that Diego will start with Carlos TEVEZ, Sergio AGÜERO and Lionel MESSI up front. Which means that Diego MILITO(who has 16 goals in 25 matches for Genoa in Serie A), Lisandro LOPEZ(6 goals in the UEFA Champions League this season) and Ezequiel LAVEZZI(Olympic Gold Medalist) will start the match on the bench. The following is the probable Argentina line-up that will start the match against Venezuela.





Martín DEMICHELIS is suspended for this match due to accumulation of yellow cards.

Nine players are carrying yellow cards, meaning 1 more and they will miss the next match.

Javier ZANETTI (booked against Chile)
Gabriel HEINZE, Carlos TEVEZ, Lionel MESSI and Javier MASCHERANO (all booked against Uruguay)
Daniel DIAZ, Sebastián BATTAGLIA and Fernando GAGO (all booked against Peru, where DEMICHELIS got his first yellow -he followed that with a yellow at Chile-)
Jonas GUTIERREZ (booked against Brazil)


Argentina/Venezuela History Facts
Argentina defeated Venezuela 2-0 in Maracaibo in November 2007, with goals from Gabriel MILITO and Lionel MESSI.

Argentina vs. Venezuela Head to Head Record
Argentina: 15 Wins, 0 Losses, 0 Draws - 62 Goals Scored.
Venezuela: 0 Wins, 15 Losses, 0 Draws - 8 Goals Scored.

In Qualifiers, Argentina has defeated Venezuela 9 times while scoring 30 goals which brings the Albicelestes to an impressive 3.3 goals per match ratio. Venezuela on the other hand has only scored 6 times against Argentina in Qualifiers with a not so impressive 0.6 goals per match ratio.

The last time Venezuela played in Buenos Aires was a 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifier on November 17, 2004. Argentina won the match 3-2 with goals coming from Juan RIQUELME, Javier SAVIOLA and an own goal by Jose Manuel REY. Only 3 players from that win remain with the Albicelestes; Javier ZANETTI, Javier MASCHERANO and Luis GONZALEZ.


Roy's Random Statistic!
Did you know that Hernan Crespo has scored 4 goals against Venezuela? The first came in a 1998 FIFA World Cup Qualifier(July 20, 1997), the second in a 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifier(April 26, 2000), the third in a 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifier(March 28, 2001) and the fourth in a 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifier(September 9, 2003).


Match Chat!
If you are unable to watch the match and/or need a place to chat with fellow Argentina fans, Mundo Albiceleste will be having a LIVE Chat during the match! The Chat is located on the right side of the blog. Waiting to see you there!


Podcast Reminder
Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't heard it yet, you can click on: download.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Roy of the Albicelestes!

Some of you might be familiar with the famous English comic called 'Roy of the Rovers', a cartoon character who is a footballer who plays for Melchester Rovers.

Well, we, at Mundo Albiceleste, are proud to announce that we've got our very own Roy playing for our team. From today, one of our loyal readers and one of the fastest to comment in almost every post we create, Roy, will be a contributor of Mundo Albiceleste.

He becomes 'Roy of the Albicelestes' and we're absolutely sure he will play a big part in taking Mundo Albiceleste another big step forward.

I'll leave it to him to introduce himself a little bit more and then we will all enjoy his contributions.

Welcome aboard, mate!

Help us get a win today against Venezuela!


Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

New Mundo Albiceleste's chat room

After an idea by Roy, we've added a chat room (on the right hand side of the screen) that we think it'll be really useful during Argentina matches.

We've experienced times in which more than 200 messages were written on the comments' box and sometimes it was very difficult to keep track on them.

Now, through the chat room, communication will be faster and will have the fluidity we are looking for.

I've been testing it and seems to be working fine. Feel free to try it yourself so by the time we face Venezuela (and everyone of our next rivals) we'll all have a place to share our views and shout when we score!


Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

MARADONA: "I want my players to be applauded"

Here's what Diego MARADONA said at a press conference on Thursday night:


On whether he has decided the starting lineup:
"I'm thinking of a few minor details, but I have my team in my head and I'll make a decision shortly".

"I won't tell if I'm playing with three or four at the back".

"CARRIZO is my choice for goalkeeper. ANDUJAR will be the substitute keeper and VILAR has to be ready for anything. I like VILAR. I know him for a while. I think with him we are sending a message. We watch EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY has a chance with us".

"MESSI and Maxi will be the set-piece takers".

On his expectations ahead of the match on Saturday:
"My dream is to have a packed Monumental stadium and for all my players to leave the field applauded by our fans".

"I'm not nervous. Euphoria is a good thing but it's up to my players to show it. They will be the ones that will transmit that to the fans and viceversa, but I have to keep a cool head".

"I only want to thank our supporters. The people want to see MESSI, TEVEZ, KUN, MASCHERANO. We have to think about the people but we don't need to get too carried away by their passion. We need to concentrate on playing our best football and the result will come".

"Coming back to the River Plate stadium, all I want is for MESSI to get a standing ovation the way I used to received it when I played there. I want all my team to receive the affection from the crowd".

"We will throw all our history on Venezuela's faces (in a good sense). We will attack them with all we have. We have to own the ball. Don't give it away to Venezuela. I insist to my players all the time that we have to play the ball with precission".

On whether Argentina will secure a ticket for South Africa if they win both matches against Venezuela and Bolivia.
"I don't think we'll be qualified if we win these next too matches. We need to take one step at a time and then we need to think of winning all of our remaining World Cup Qualifying matches".

On how he feels personaly ahead of his official debut as a manager:
"I'm living this dream with a lot of intensity. I'm in a place I never thought I was going to be able to be even a year ago".

"Don't talk to me about pressure. Pressure is only felt by that man that goes to the street every day and needs to earn 10 pesos or as much as he can so he can feed his family. That's pressure".

On how can he emulate an environment for MESSI to shine without his team-mates from Barcelona:
"Thierry HENRY and Samuel ETO'O are not Argentines, but we have AGÜERO and TEVEZ instead. And we've got Lisandro LOPEZ and Diego MILITO too. MESSI will have plenty of company and I'm asking him to find his place on the field and move wherever he feels comfortable to be able to play his best game. I think MESSI is the best player of the world whether he plays in Barcelona, Argentina, Cameroon, Nigeria...anywhere!"

On Venezuela bringing up several U20 players:
"I'm thinking FARIAS (Venezuela's manager) must know them very well. If he brings those kids along, it must be because of something. We have experienced players and we have to play our game".

On whether he will change tactics and formation according to the opposition:
"Yes. We'll always play our game, but we will also change according to the rival we are facing".

On whether he'll give MESSI some advice ahead of the Copa del Rey final -MARADONA had a fight with several Bilbao players when he played for Barcelona-:
"Times have changed. Players are respected much more than they were when I was playing. I had a very difficult time in that final against Athletic Bilbao and I hope nothing like that will happen to Lionel".

On the reactions from Boca Juniors fans whom called MARADONA a traitor:
"I can't control how people react. I have always conquered the crowd through my ability to play football, not for something I do outside the pitch. I'm at peace with myself because I know I did nothing wrong".

On how is his relationship with Carlos BILARDO coming along:
"My relationship with BILARDO is fine. We had a conversation over the last few days and it was a great one to leave some difference behind, but I won't say anything about what we have spoken".

On RIQUELME's absense:
"We don't have Roman. We need to adapt to a new situation. We have great players anyway and they need to take more responsibilities on the ball. We don't have the guy to give us that final pass or that precise assist, but I'm confident we'll be able to overcome that".

"I insist, my team is composed by Javier MASCHERANO + 10".

Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

Careful guys! The yellow list

To add to the suspension Martín DEMICHELIS is carrying, the following are the NINE players that arrive to the match against Venezuela with a yellow card on their shoulders.

Another yellow card for any of these footballers will mean that they'd miss next Wednesday's match in Bolivia.

Take a look:

Javier ZANETTI (booked against Chile)
Gabriel HEINZE, Carlos TEVEZ, Lionel MESSI and Javier MASCHERANO (all booked against Uruguay, when Juan Roman RIQUELME was also booked but he's not around anymore)
Daniel DIAZ, Sebastián BATTAGLIA and Fernando GAGO (all booked against Peru, where DEMICHELIS got his first yellow -he followed that with a yellow at Chile-)
Jonas GUTIERREZ (booked against Brazil)

An impressive nine players are all in danger and will need to be careful.

Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

News after the training session

While everything is set for Diego MARADONA to address the media at a press conference in Ezeiza, it's a good time to talk about what happened in training this week.

On Tuesday, the supposed starters were involved in a training match with a team from Tristán Suárez, a club in the Argentine lower divisions (currently playing in Primera B, the third tier of Argentine football).

Wednesday was the time for the supposed substitutes did the same and played against a Tristán Suárez XI with Federico VILAR playing as a goalkeeper for them. VILAR suffered the impressive scoring power of Diego's 'substitutes' as Argentina defeated Tristán Suárez 7-0.

Those who faced Tristán Suárez were:

ANDUJAR on goal;

A back line of three men, formed by Juan FORLIN, the youngster from Boca Juniors; Walter SAMUEL and Angel DI MARIA surprisingly giving a hand in defense (considering Martín DEMICHELIS didn't take part of the training session because he is suspended. However, DEMICHELIS replaced the Benfica star in the second half).

In midfield, four players that could start for most of the national teams in the world: Luis 'Lucho' GONZALEZ, Sebastián BATTAGLIA, Juan Sebastián VERON and Daniel MONTENEGRO.

Up front? Lisandro LOPEZ, Diego MILITO and Ezequiel LAVEZZI (look at that striking power! And they are currently second choice for Argentina! Not bad, isn't it?)

The scorers? Two of my favourites: Lisandro LOPEZ had a brace and...listen carefully...five goals from Diego MILITO (one of them coming from the penalty spot).

Not a bad training session and good to know there will be enough fire power on the bench against Venezuela.

The probable lineup so far (could be confirmed by MARADONA in this upcoming press conference) would be:

Juan Pablo CARRIZO;

Three at the back: Javier ZANETTI on the right, Gabriel HEINZE on the left and looking favourite to take on the role of sweeper: Marcos ANGELERI.

The Estudiantes defender said today in an interview that he played his entire youth career in that position for the team from La Plata and that's the role he is more comfortable with.

The wide midfielders will be Maxi RODRIGUEZ on the right and Jonas GUTIERREZ on the left, and they will be anchored by captain Javier MASCHERANO and Fernando GAGO in the middle of the park.

Up front, your favourite choice (according to our poll) of three little fellows:

Lionel MESSI coming from the right (just as he does in Barcelona), Carlos TEVEZ playing on the left and Sergio AGÜERO in the middle of those two.

Those are the favourites to start on Saturday. There are, however, as we mentioned on our podcast, different options and names that could change things slightly.

Daniel DIAZ could play to the right of ANGELERI and if that's the case, ZANETTI could occupy Maxi RODRIGUEZ's spot as a right midfielder. In my opinion, this is unlikely.

Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

MASCHERANO: "I can play in different areas"


On adapting his game if Argentina play with three or four men at the back:

"In general, by default, I'm a defensive midfielder and I have always played there, but I have played in other positions too and sometimes, during matches, you are forced to play in different areas. Sometimes I find myself in the middle of the two centre-backs or deep down the wings chasing somebody".

On playing with a yellow card and the risk of getting suspended if booked:

"We need to be careful and try to avoid committing silly fouls because we need to go to Bolivia in full strenght".

On being a captain:
"The fact of playing for Argentina is the best thing that can happen to a player. Being a captain was something completely unexpected for me. I'm young and I was surprised when MARADONA picked me. I'll try and do my best from now on. Like I always did".

"Diego came to Liverpool to visit me and he told me what he thought and the plans he had for me on the team. From that moment on, it was impossible not to accept that honour with pride".

On playing for MARADONA:

"He's special. All he represents is special. At the beginning we were all in a state of shock! Now we're getting used to his presence in the dressing room and he's getting his message across with the team."

On the season so far for Liverpool:

"We are doing our best. We've got a great team, but we don't have a squad that's deep enough. Chelsea and Manchester United are more powerful in that regard. Just as an example, when we were beating Manchester United 2-1 recently, FERGUSON had the luxury of replacing CARRICK, PARK and ANDERSON with fantastic players such as SCHOLES, GIGGS and BERBATOV in a multiple substitution. Fortunately we scored the third goal and we won 4-1 in the end. We don't have the luxury of having such as squad, but we're fighting really hard and we will continue to do that until the end."

On his team-mate Steven GERRARD:
"He is the emblem of Liverpool. I can't add anything to his talent as a player, but I can say that he is a quiet guy, easy-going and a great person, loved by everyone in Liverpool".

Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

TEVEZ: "I'd do anything for Diego"

Carlos TEVEZ:

On whether he will start against Venezuela:

"I'm confident, but we don't know who's going to play from the start. I'm ready to play my part".

"I'm hurt when I'm not amongst the starting players, but I understand. All I can do is to forget about being selfish and do my best whenever I have the chance to play. I have to be ready at all times".

On how the team is shaping up for the next World Cup:

"To win a World Cup, you need to have a great relationship with your team-mates. The only way to do it is to work as a team, as an entire squad. One can't do a thing without a squad around".

"Every one of us has the same dream: to win the World Cup with Argentina. It'll be the greatest thing and a great way to pay back all the people that support our national team through thick and thin".

"I think Argentina took another dimension when MARADONA took over. The expectation level is higher than ever before. That's a good thing. We have a huge support".

On being close to Diego when he was ill and living his worse time:

"It makes me even happier to see him so well like he is these days. I'd anything for Diego. Back then, all I could do was to support him. Now what I'll do is to give him my best efforts from now on".

Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

MESSI: "We can win the World Cup"

Lionel MESSI:

On Argentina's chances in the next World Cup:

"I have no doubts that, based on the quality of our players, we can win the World Cup in 2010"

On playing with a yellow card and risking suspension against Bolivia if he is booked on Saturday v. Venezuela:

"I'm not to worried about it. I'm a forward so I'm not that exposed to getting yellow cards. My team-mates who play in defensive midfield or in defense will have to be more careful".

On whether he would like to wear the number 10 shirt:

"I don't mind the number 10 shirt. I don't think about it. The important thing is to play and do my best for Argentina".

On how he sees MARADONA ahead of his official debut as Argentina manager:

"I see Diego is calmed. I think he's happy after the training we had yesterday. I see a man who trusts this group of players".

"We have a huge deal of respect for Diego and we try our best when he asks us to do something".

Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

Diego: "I haven't decided who'll wear number 10"

It's media day in Ezeiza, but I'm at home. So I'll be relying on what MARADONA and the players say on television.

Who was the first one to talk (even if it was for a brief moment)?

Diego Armando MARADONA.

Here's the most important things he said:

On the high expectations to see the team and the fast-selling tickets:

"This is something my players have generated. They changed their attitude in the friendlies against Scotland and France and people are responding to that. I expect a capacity crowd and I hope we can make them happy".

On who is going to wear the number 10 shirt:

"We haven't decided yet. We probably won't decide it in the short term. Players have their favourite numbers, so we will wait and see if in the future we make a decision regarding the number 10 shirt".

Please, don't forget to check out Mundo Albiceleste's first podcast.

If you haven't hear it yet, you can click on: download.

Mundo Albiceleste Podcast 01

Powered by Podbean.com

Another crazy idea by John, another feature on Mundo Albiceleste.

We're proud and excited to publish our first ever podcast. Something that we think will help Mundo Albiceleste's readers to engage in richer debates and conversation. Something that will become another source of information about Argentina.

In this first episode, we discuss the news ahead of Diego's official debut as manager against Venezuela on Saturday.

We speak with John about the three little guys up-front, how will our defense look and what will happen in our first competitive match without RIQUELME.

We analyze Venezuela's youngsters and we take a look at the rest of the fixtures in this round of South American World Cup qualifiers.

In order to listen to this podcast, you can either download it as an '.mp3' file and then upload it to your mp3 player.

Another way to do that, is to right-click on the headline of this entry and click on 'SAVE LINK AS'.

You can also open it in another window so you can either download it or listen to it from the resulting website while you're in front of the computer.

We apologize because I had a lot of troubles to upload this file and it doesn't look as good as we expected. We'll sort those problems out in the future.

This is our first approach to this kind of thing and I'm sure we will improve with time. We'll add some music to the podcast and in the future we will have guests and interviews with friends, readers and fans from all over the world.

Please, use the comments box to give us some feedback. You can also write at argentina.correspondent@gmail.com to send us your suggestions and to let us know if you want to participate in future editions of our podcast.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tickets to watch Argentina on high demand

The tickets sale for Argentina v. Venezuela started on Wednesday morning in Buenos Aires and the demand has been impressive, despite an increment in prices of about 35%.

The cheapest seats have already sold out and it only took one hour for the eager fans to do so.

The expectation is increasing and on Tuesday's training session, it was like a Argentinamania at the AFA headquarters in Ezeiza.

One girl fooled the security personnel and approached the players as if they were pop stars. Carlos TEVEZ was quick to react and he asked the security guards to treat her nice, he gave her a hug and a kiss and the girl started crying and got emotional. Then the security guard escorted her to the nearest exit and TEVEZ returned to his training session.

The match is approaching fast and here on Mundo Albiceleste, we're planning on treating you with a surprise that we hope you like.

If everything goes according to plan, you'll be able to enjoy a new feature in our blog, which we hope will be here to stay.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NBA News – Clutch Shooting From Scola, Rockets Leads Division

When San Antonio Spurs welcomed the Houston Rockets for their head to head encounter, they were given a hard lesson by a player whom they’ve let go to their rival Divisional rival. The Rockets overcome the out of form Spurs 87-85 to grab the second spot in the Western Conference, and the Southwest Division lead.

Spurs still without Manu GINOBILI have once struggle to make things happen and could be in of jeopardy of losing ground in their Conference with the Denver Nuggets closing in on them. However it was all about the Luis SCOLA show this time.

It was the Spurs who drafted SCOLA and then traded him to the Rockets in 2007. He finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds plus 4 assists, 3 steals and made a pair of key baskets in the final minute.

SCOLA took a nice pass from YAO Ming and sank a lay-up with 29.3 seconds left, to make it 84-83. Spurs were in front again, but the Rockets reclaimed the lead, after YAO faked a jumper and instead passed to SCOLA for a lay-up with 11.2 seconds remaining.

"He made the right play," Rockets head Coach Rick ADELMAN said of YAO. "He got the ball, saw Luis cutting and they all responded to the pass out to him in the last one and Luis made a good play. You got to give Luis credit for being open and cutting to the open area."

Tony PARKER's floater in the lane hit the front of the rim and bounced off to SCOLA, who was fouled with under a second to play. He sank 1-of-2 foul shots, as the Rockets escaped with the win

Another Brilliant Finishing For Lionel

Barcelona came out with a gun blazing performance against Malaga as they trounced their opponent 6-0 and took another step towards the La Liga title. It is impossible to think that Lionel MESSI would not have made his mark in this game.

Well he did, with another stunning goal. Messi controlled the ball with his chest on the wing, ghosted past Helder ROSARIO and into the area before beating Inaki GOITIA with an unstoppable right-footed drive. It was a moment of sheer class and the Nou Camp rose to acclaim their idol.

The other scorer from La Liga was Cristian MAIDANA as he was on target for Recreativo Huelva in their 1-2 loss to Getafe.

In the Italian Serie A, Inter Milan restored their seven points with 3-0 win over rock bottom Reggina. Esteban CAMBIASSO scored with a clinical finish after some delightful flick from Dejan STAKOVIC.

Diego MILITO scored his 15th goal of the season in stoppage time to help Genoa sealed a 2-0 win over Udinese, keeping their hopes alive for a Champions League spot.

There were plenty of goals from coming from the Greek Super League. Ismael BLANCO was on target for AEK Athens in their 3-1 win over Levadiakos. Javier CAMPORA had a goal for Aris Salonika in their 2-1 win over Panserraikos. Federico MARTORELL scored a consolation goal for Thrasivoulos in their 1-2 loss to PAOK.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

And here he does the unexpected...

Meet our (temporary) 3rd choice GK: Federico VILAR

Excuse the image quality, but the idea is to show you a selection of some of the best saves from our, somehow, surprise third keeper for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Venezuela and Bolivia: Federico VILAR.

He is a product of the Boca Juniors youth system and he is playing for Mexican side Atlante, but to be honest, I haven't seen much of him and I'm taking the opportunity to introduce him to you.

Due to injury to Sergio ROMERO (MARADONA's second choice for goalkeeper after Juan Pablo CARRIZO, Diego has called up the Lazio custodian and Estudiantes' Mariano ANDÚJAR as his back-up. Waiting in the background and surely thrilled to be in the squad even if he stands virtually no chance of playing, here's Federico VILAR doing what he is expected to do...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Venezuela with young squad to face Argentina

With 10 days to go before we see Argentina take the field again for the World Cup Qualifiers, Venezuela, our rivals on 28 March, have announced their squad, which includes 13 players from their local league, some who play in places like Spain, Italy, Germany or the MLS and one from the Argentine league as well.

But the main story behind the list is the fact that manager César FARÍAS is calling up 10 players from the U20 Venezuelan team that managed to qualify for the country's first ever FIFA World Cup in any category at the South American U20 tournament they played at home earlier this year.

Caracas FC will provide five players to the national side and Venezuela will be missing key midfielder Ronald VARGAS (injured playing for Bruges, Belgium, during the last weekend).

Here's the detailed information on our rivals with the U20 listed in bold.

Renny VEGA (Caracas FC, Venezuela)
Rafael ROMO (Llaneros de Guanare, Venezuela)

Francisco FAJARDO (Aragua, Venezuela)
Carlos SALAZAR (Aragua, Venezuela)
Franklin LUCENA (Caracas FC, Venezuela)
Gabriel CICHERO (Caracas FC, Venezuela)
Guillermo RAMIREZ (Caracas FC, Venezuela)
Jose Manuel REY (Caracas FC, Venezuela)
Jose Manuel VELASQUEZ (Deportivo Anzoategui, Venezuela)
Gerzon CHACON (Deportivo Tachira, Venezuela)
Juan FUENMAYOR (Valerenga, Norway)

Cesar GONZALEZ (Huracán, Argentina)
Rafael ACOSTA (Cagliari, Italy)
Anyelo PENA (Estudiantes de Merida, Venezuela)
Francisco FLORES (Guaros de Lara, Venezuela)
Tomas RINCON (Hamburg SV, Germany)
Roberto ROSALES (Ghent, Belgium)
Juan ARANGO (Real Mallorca, Spain)
Jorge ROJAS (Red Bull New York, USA)

Giancarlo MALDONADO (Atlante, Mexico)
Alejandro MORENO (Columbus Crew, USA)
Yonathan DEL VALLE (Deportivo Tachira, Venezuela)
José Salomón RONDON (Union Las Palmas, Spain)
Nicolas FEDOR (Salamanca, Spain)

After the match in Buenos Aires, Venezuela will play Colombia at home on 31 March.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NBA News – Oberto Shines As Duncan’s Deputy

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any news and latest updates from our tallest athletes in the NBA. Pretty much been busy lately.

Manu GINOBILI is expected to return to action for the San Antonio Spurs soon but in the meantime, his Alamo teammates have been keeping things pretty tight for the second spot in the Western Conference. Today against the Minnesota Timberwolves, they kept that momentum going with a 93-86 win.

Fabricio OBERTO was given extended minutes on the court in place of rested Tim DUNCAN, did not fail to make use of his opportunity. He was a sensation for the Spurs bench, posting 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists plus a steal and a block shot to his credit.

Life goes on for Andres NOCIONI in Sacramento as the Kings fell to the Atlanta Hawks 97-119. Chapu now a starter for his new team posted 11 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block shot.

Walter HERRMANN had about 8 minutes plus outing for the Detroit Pistons 101-103 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, posted 2 points and a steal only.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

MASCHE Redeemed, HEINZE, From Hero To Zero

First of all, I was very happy to see Javier MASCHERANO redeeming himself with another strong performance against Manchester United. After this, I’m sure people will see the best part of him (the part that we all knew a long time ago) and forget about what happened in the same correspondent fixture last season.

Real Madrid badly needed a good result so that they can recover from their European Champions League hangover. They did get exactly just that in a thrilling 5-2 win over nine men Athletic Bilbao.

Within a space of two minutes, Gabriel HEINZE showed everyone the bright and the dark side of him. I’m sure with a performance like this, many Albiceleste fan will have something to be concern about seeing him playing in our National Team. I know I am.

First in the 34th minute, he headed to put Real 2-0 up courtesy of a curling free kick from Wesley SNEIJDER. Then in the 36th minute, he ended putting the ball into his own net after he was trying to clear a cross. Gonzalo HIGUAIN completed Real rout after he scored from the penalty spot in the 85th minute.

Martin DEMICHELIS scored for Bayern Munich in their 3-0 win over VfL Bochum with an easy tap in in the last minute. In France, Mauro CETTO was in target for Toulouse in their 2-3 defeat to Monaco.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Squad list announced. VERON back. No DENIS

After a rather busy and hot week in Argentina and with RIQUELME withdrawing himself from the national team, Diego MARADONA has finally announced the list for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Venezuela (in Buenos Aires, 28 March) and Bolivia (in La Paz, 1 April).


Juan Pablo CARRIZO (Lazio – Italy)

Mariano ANDÚJAR (Estudiantes de La Plata – Argentina)

Federico VILAR (Atlante – Mexico)


Javier ZANETTI (Internazionale – Italy)

Emiliano PAPA (Vélez Sársfield – Argentina)

Gabriel HEINZE (Real Madrid – Spain)

Daniel DIAZ (Getafe – Spain)

Walter SAMUEL (Internazionale – Italy)

Juan FORLIN (Boca Juniors – Argentina)

Marcos ANGELERI (Estudiantes de La Plata – Argentina)

Martín DEMICHELIS (Bayern Munich – Germany)


Javier MASCHERANO (Liverpool – England)

Fernando GAGO (Real Madrid – Spain)

Maximiliano RODRIGUEZ (Atlético Madrid – Spain)

Jonás GUTIERREZ (Newcastle United – England)

Sebastián BATTAGLIA (Boca Juniors – Argentina)

Luis GONZALEZ (Porto – Portugal)

Juan Sebastián VERON (Estudiantes de La Plata – Argentina)

Ángel DI MARIA (Benfica – Portugal)

Daniel MONTENEGRO (Independiente – Argentina)


Lionel MESSI (Barcelona – Spain)

Sergio AGÜERO (Atlético Madrid – Spain)

Carlos TEVEZ (Manchester United – England)

Lisandro LOPEZ (Porto – Portugal)

Diego MILITO (Genoa – Italy)

Ezequiel LAVEZZI (Napoli – Italy)

In addition, it is believed (pretty much confirmed) that Daniel MONTENEGRO will wear the number 10 shirt and not Lionel MESSI, who prefers his traditional number 18.

So...from the 27-player we've been talking about here on Mundo Albiceleste during the last few days we only have to delete Germán DENIS' name.

It's getting REALLY silly now!

The consequences of RIQUELME's resignation are still coming in waves and Diego MARADONA himself has lost his patience with one character that had nothing to do with this matter but decided to open his big mouth.

The day after RIQUELME quit, it was reported on Olé, the sports newspaper, that almost 10 regular national team players have called Diego from Europe to give him their full support.

Asked about the RIQUELME v. MARADONA situation, Néstor GOROSITO, River Plate manager, said he understood the player and what concerns him the most is not the fact that a player resigns from the national team but: "Other players calling MARADONA to say they were pleased to see RIQUELME go. That is something only a snitch* can do".

* GOROSITO used the Spanish word: 'vigilante', which literally means 'watchman' or 'vigilant' or 'security guard', but the best word I could find to describe what it means in Argentine slang is: 'snitch'.

It came as no surprise how angry MARADONA got with GOROSITO. He said:

"I don't want to talk about GOROSITO, but he is giving me no choice. I want him to take back his sayings and I'll give him time until Saturday for him to clarify this before I start talking about him".

"I swear on my daughters and my grandson that not even one player has called me from Europe. Not one".

"I won't tolerate GOROSITO insulting my players. I'm the captain of the ship now and I won't stand for someone like him to disrespect my men".

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The other boss' opinion: GRONDONA speaks

"There are always some troubles in every family. We'll try to minimize the pain that this situation has caused".

"Football has this things. It's difficult. When there are situations like this. I'm hurt, but at the same time, I'm not surprised".

"I always speak with players and managers. It's one of my duties. I have no problems speaking with RIQUELME".

I would like to point out that he didn't say: "Yes, I'm going to call RIQUELME". He said he had no problems talking with RIQUELME but didn't imply he wants to call him or will call him.

"I think both Diego and RIQUELME haven't offended each other on television. They spoked publicly but without offending each other. I think it all got out of proportion".

"Diego MARADONA came to my mother's funeral (she died the same day RIQUELME made his announcement), but of course we haven't spoken because it wasn't the right time".

"MARADONA is the number one today for Argentina. He is the one in charge. We didn't bring BILARDO to use him as a Plan B in case MARADONA failed".

Then GRONDONA spoke about football-related issues:

"We have an advantage over most national teams with players the like of MESSI, TEVEZ, AGÜERO. They make a difference. They are in a league or their own."

"I think goalkeepers play a huge part in the success of a football team. If you revised our history, you'll find great goalkeepers behind every successful campaign. Take FILLOL as an example. Nowadays, we've got excellent prospects in that position. I think CARRIZO is a proven goalkeeper and he's been excellent every time he played for Argentina. Sergio ROMERO too. He was brilliant in Beijing and he went through almost the entire tournament (after USTARI got injured) without making any mistakes".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Another Brilliant Strike From Messi

What can you say about him? MESSI netting in the 40th minute after cutting in from the right to play a clever one-two with Samuel ETO'O and curl in a fine left-foot finish. Barcelona looks unstoppable against Lyon.

Diego: "It is all about the shirt. The rest doesn't matter"

As I saw MESSI scoring one for Barcelona against Lyon (5-2 win) and I spoke on Skype with John from Malaysia, I listened to Diego MARADONA talking to FOX Sports.

Here are a few things he said (I couldn't hear the whole interview, but here are the best bits I could gather):

"I would be happy to talk to RIQUELME. If he wants to come talk to me, I'd have no problems. My priority is our national team. It's not MARADONA or RIQUELME. It's about the shirt. The national team shirt is the most important thing. The national team shirt is the only one that starts every match for us".

"I want to make very clear that I did everything in my power to take the situation to the best possible solution".

Now they are announcing in the program I'm watching, that they will repeat the best parts of the interview. I'll come back with more Diego quotes as soon as I have them.

A preview of Diego's first official squad list

As announced on TyC Sports (a sports cable channel here in Argentina) the following will be the names included on Diego MARADONA's first squad list ahead of the WC Qualifiers against Venezuela and Bolivia.

Please, have in mind that this is a preliminary list and it remains to be seen whether there'll be additions or changes to these 27 names.

Let's take a look:

Juan Pablo CARRIZO (Lazio)
Mariano ANDUJAR (Estudiantes de La Plata)
Federico VILAR (Atlante -Mexico-)

Javier ZANETTI (Inter)
Martín DEMICHELIS (Bayern Munich)
Daniel DIAZ (Getafe)
Walter SAMUEL (Inter)
Gastón ANGELERI (Estudiantes de La Plata)
Gabriel HEINZE (Real Madrid)
Juan FORLIN (Boca Juniors)
Emiliano PAPA (Velez Sarsfield)

Javier MASCHERANO (Liverpool)
Maximiliano RODRIGUEZ (Atlético Madrid)
Jonás GUTIERREZ (Newcastle United)
Fernando GAGO (Real Madrid)
Luis GONZALEZ (Porto)
Angel DI MARIA (Benfica)
Sebastián BATTAGLIA (Boca Juniors)
Juan Sebastián VERON (Estudiantes de La Plata)
Daniel MONTENEGRO (Independiente)

Lionel MESSI (Barcelona)
Carlos TEVEZ (Manchester United)
Lisandro LOPEZ (Porto)
Sergio AGÜERO (Atlético Madrid)
Ezequiel LAVEZZI (Napoli)
Germán DENIS (Napoli)
Diego MILITO (Genoa)

The first official squad list without RIQUELME

The RIQUELME situation is dominating the headlines in Argentina, but at the same time MARADONA is working on a preliminary list thinking about the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers at home against Venezuela (28 March) and away to Bolivia (1 April).

With Sergio ROMERO injured, MARADONA has to call up new goalkeepers to become back-ups of out-of-favour Lazio's number 1, Juan Pablo CARRIZO, who is Diego's first choice in that position.

Estudiantes de La Plata's Mariano ANDUJAR and Atlante's (Mexico) Federico VILAR, will be the second and third choice keepers when Diego announces his 26-players list on Friday.

Inter's Nicolás BURDISSO will also be sidelined because of injury and his place in the squad will be covered by up and coming Boca Juniors youngster Juan FORLIN.

To the usual suspects from the domestic league (ANGELERI, PAPA, BATTAGLIA and MONTENEGRO), MARADONA will add the aforementioned ANDUJAR and his team-mate at Estudiantes and former Manchester United star: Juan Sebastián VERON.

From Europe, one of Serie A's topscorers, Diego MILITO (Genoa), should earn a place instead of out-of-form Napoli striker, Germán DENIS.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Man of the Match, Vill-Ariel Ibagaza!

Not surprise he was chosen as the man of the match considering he was the best Albiceleste performer of the night. El Caño scored a venomous strike and then setting up a crucial goal that ensured Villareal moves to the quarter-final. Now could we see the return of IBAGAZA to the national team now that the playmaker role is up for grabs?

MARADONA: "RIQUELME won't return while I'm boss"

Perhaps being in the know, MARADONA said, minutes before RIQUELME made his announcement: "A player that quits my national team, won't play again for me for as long as I'm the boss".

He then added that he was planning on using RIQUELME for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Venezuela and Bolivia.

"On Monday we worked on the 27-player squad we've got in our heads for the next two matches and Roman is included" added MARADONA.

Also, before RIQUELME's comments, Diego said: "I don't even think of RIQUELME quitting. I've spoken to him when he was in Tandil (with Boca Juniors in the offseason) and he wanted to play. I don't know what he would think now. He's got everything to win. A team to manage on the field and the chance for all of us who want RIQUELME as our national team leader, the guy to provide that perfect assist".

Then, just moments after RIQUELME's announcement, Diego said: "I won't cry over this. If he wants to quit, so be it. It's his decision".

"I'm really sad because of his decision. I'm sorry because he had the chance to prove everyone that he was able to play a key role for my team".

"In my opinion, he took a wrong decision".

"The player who doesn't want to be in my team, is out".

RIQUELME quits. Here are my thoughts

First of all, my feelings are a mix between anger and disappointment.

I'm angry because this is not the first time I have to write to inform you that Juan Roman RIQUELME has quit the national team. That is never a pleasant thing to inform, but one thing is when a player is forced by injury or a special situation and one very different thing is when a player is willingly deciding to abandon ship.

For much as I love RIQUELME as a player, I'm clearly taking sides with MARADONA.

After all, for me, it's the same as for Diego: the national team comes first. End of. Period.

First it was because his mother suffered for the criticism he received. Now it is because he doesn't see eye-to-eye with 'the national team manager' (as he says).

Well...there you go. He is on his way.

MARADONA have publicly said RIQUELME was on his plans for the coming fixtures against VENEZUELA and BOLIVIA, but he also was adamant in saying he'll never have a place back in the squad if he quits.

RIQUELME has decided and he is writing his own fate.

One more thing. I don't believe RIQUELME when he says he'll be suffering while being away from the national team because there's nothing he loves more that to playing for his country. Well, Roman, you're doing this to yourself.

You don't like your new boss? Why did you tell me (face to face in Beijing after you helped us winning the Olympic Gold medal), that you have such a special relationship with MARADONA? Were you lying to me?

You don't like your new boss? Mate...you're not the only one in the world suffering from such a situation in his job. Do you see all of those people quitting? Or they try to do their best and cope with the situation?

Some rumours I'm hearing?

It is believed that after Argentina defeated France in Marseille, the players were very happy and singing in the dressing room a song that (reportedly) went like this: "We don't need anybody else here", in clear reference to RIQUELME. This could also be a reason for him to want out.

I will miss your magic. I'm not lying to you here. But if your presence is going to create more problems than your absence, then I'm sorry but I'm putting the national team in front of any ego of any player.

Goodbye RIQUELME. Thank you for the memories. I just wish you were a little different.

RIQUELME steps down after fight with MARADONA

Another chapter in RIQUELME's troublesome personal and professional history.

Last Thursday I wrote about some of MARADONA's comments in a television show. He said he would like RIQUELME to play for him and he needs him to be able to dribble past one man and work together with his team-mates up front.

All the major newspapers, radio stations and television channels informed today that MARADONA called RIQUELME several times over the last few days and the Boca player never picked up the phone or called him back.

Apparently, RIQUELME, hurt after listening to Diego's comments has been maturing his decision and today he moved all his media contacts to ask for a live television appearance on Telenoche (the most popular news show).

Here are some of the quotes I could get from him. As you'll notice, he never mentions Diego MARADONA by his name. Instead, he says: "the national team manager".

"The national team manager doesn't have the same codes I have. We don't have the same way of thinking. We can't work together. It hurts me a lot. I love the national team and I love to play for them, but I have my ethics and I can't go against them".

"I'm being perfectly clear. I'm hurt because I'm going to miss out on the next World Cup. I'm hurt that I'm not going to represent my country anymore."

"I've heard on the radio that I was not going to France. Nobody called me to let me know".

"This is not about a missed call or something like that. This is about some things at work that I don't share with the national team manager".

In a future post, I'll share my thoughts on this subject with all of you.

Breaking news: RIQUELME says there's no future for him in the national team under MARADONA

Just read the headline. I'll update you with the whole situation in a future post.

RIQUELME won't play in the national team again. He's saying it NOW, live on national television.

UCL – First Knockout Round, Return Leg

The return leg of the first knock our round is less than a day away. Already there are some teams that are facing elimination even before kick off.

Real Madrid will look to overturn their 1-0 deficit when they travel to Anfield. Playing at home, Liverpool has always found a way to succumb the pressure. Will the likes of Gonzalo HIGUAIN, Fernando GAGO & Gabriel HEINZE help to salvage something for Real this season? Liverpool are unlikely to go on the offensive so don't expect Javier MASCHERANO to stop snapping at Madrid's heels all night long.

Atlético Madrid will travel to Portugal knowing that anything less than a win might see the end of their European conquest. Kun AGUERO, Maxi RODRIGUEZ & Co will need to bring everything they got onto the table. As it was in the first keg, Porto will rely on the goal scoring exploit of Lisandro LOPEZ and Lucho GONZALEZ brilliance to take them beyond this stage.

Despite of his amazing performance during the weekend, I doubt that Sir Alex will want to start Carlos TEVEZ against Inter Milan. Nevertheless expect at some point of the game, Carlitos coming in to wreck havoc on Inter’s defense. Can we expect something from Europe under achieving team this time? They will be without Nicolas BURDISSO but Walter SAMUEL could return to the line up. Off the field, a rumour has it that Inter will negotiate with Carlitos representative on bringing him to the San Siro next season.

After a dip of form in the last few matches, I do expect Lionel MESSI & Barcelona to come out full-fledged against Lyon. I’m confident that Lionel & Barca will progress as they look to be back to their best. A goal from him would really make our day here. By the way, could someone explain to me how long is Gabriel MILITO out?

Then there is Villareal’s trio (Gonzalo RODRIGUEZ, Ariel IBAGAZA and Fabricio FUENTES), on a tough proposition to Greece. Sporting Lisbon Leandro’s (ROMAGNOLI and GRIMI) and Martin DEMICHELIS of Bayern Munich will play for formality sake.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Aimar On Target For Benfica, Davis Cup & NBA

Pablo AIMAR scored to help Benfica beat Naval 2-1 and hold on to second place in the Portuguese league. AIMAR set Benfica on the way to its first away win for three months by firing home in the third minute after the Naval defense failed to clear a free kick by Jose Antonio REYES.Naval equalized in the 53rd minute through substitute MARCELINHO's angled shot, only for Kostas KATSOURANIS to head home following another REYES free kick in the 74th. Benfica, aiming to win the title for the first time since 2005, trails defending champion Porto by two points, with nine games of the season remaining.

In Greece, AEK Athens demolished Panserraikos 5-1 with goals from Ismael BLANCO (2) and Nacho SCOCCO. Mauro POY penalty was enough for Skoda Xanthi to earn a 1-0 win over Panthrakikos.

Davis Cup - Argentina Whitewash the Netherlands

Argentina completed a 5-0 rout over the Dutch in Day 3 after their first round meeting. Martin Vassallo ARGUELLO defeated Matwe MIDDELKOOP in straight sets 6-2 & 6-4. Juan Ignacio CHELA ensured that Argentina finished off with a perfect score after overcoming Thiemo DE BEKKER with ease, 7-5 & 6-2.

Tito VAZUEZ and his men will travel to the Czech Republic for their quarter-final clash in July. VAZQUEZ is aware that without the players that missed this first round, chances of victory are dramatically reduced.

He will probably keep MONACO perhaps doubles specialist Arnold-KER, but the return of DEL POTRO, NALBANDIAN and ACASUSO will be something to work on in order to ensure that the team spirit Argentina is currently building will not be harmed, as a new era dawns for one of the top contenders to the Davis Cup.

NBA News - Another Double-Double from Scola & King Chapu

Luis SCOLA, alongside YAO Ming lead the Houston Rockets to an easy win over Memphis Grizzlies before their embark on a tough road trip. SCOLA posted his 25th double-double of the season, 18 points, 14 rebounds, to extend their home court winning streak to 12 games with a 93-83 win.

“We need to get all those games you should win, against teams that have no chance to make the playoffs,” SCOLA said. “Those are games, especially at home, that you have to have.”

Andres NOCIONI produced his best ever performance in a Sacramento Kings jersey as he posted 23 points, 5 rebounds & 2 assists in their surprise 114-106 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Carlitos Steers United & Davis Cup Team Tops Netherlands

It’s great to hear good things about the Albiceleste, always. First the Davis Cup and followed by Carlos TEVEZ, the good news just kept coming.

You’ve got to have some high regards for him in terms of work ethics and attitude. Despite the many uncertainty that surrounds him about his future, all that means nothing to him when he is on the field.

TEVEZ was given the starting job against Fulham in the FA quarter-final, ahead of Dimitar BERBATOV. And just how did he respond?

By steering his team to the semi-final with two goals in the first half. His second goal was simply marvelous, picking the ball from the halfway line, cutting inside and finishing off with a fearsome strike in the 35th minute. And again, he was just unlucky to have his hat-trick. United went on to win the match 4-0.

Currently Barcelona looks to be back at their best as they are already 2-0 up with Lionel MESSI scoring from the spot against Athletic Bilbao.

Earlier in the Bundesliga, Martin DEMICHELIS capped off a terrific day for Bayern Munich with header one minute from time in their 5-1 win over Hannover.

Davis Cup - Ker/Arguello Takes Argentina To The Quarter-Finals

Argentina will play in the Davis Cup quarter-finals for the eight straight year after completing their win against the Netherlands. The double pair of Lucas Arnold KER and Martin Vassollo ARGUELLO cruised past with a 6-4, 7-5 & 6-3 win over the Dutch pair of Jesse Huta GALUNG/ Thiemo De BEKKER.

The victory will serve as a morale boost for our Davis Cup team after overcoming the absence of both David NALBANDIAN and Juan Martin DEL POTRO. But more importantly today’s results will also serve as an emotional triumph for KER, who is back after recovering from testicular cancer which forced the 34-year-old off the circuit in 2006.

"This is a gift for me and I was able to enjoy it to the full after coming through some tough times in the past few years," he said.
Well done to KER and the rest of the team. In the next round, Argentina will travel away to play the winner between the Czech Rep and France