Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't call me Lucho...call me Monsier Lucheaux!

I'm sorry. I know it was a terrible headline. I couldn't come up with a better one for this news.

As we anticipated last week here on Mundo Albiceleste, Lucho GONZALEZ. has left Porto and has joined Olympique Marseille where he'll play for the next four seasons after the French club paid 18 million Euro for his transfer.

SAVIOLA is unveiled by Benfica

The Little Rabbit becomes official O Pequeno Coelho as he is unveiled by Benfica at their mythical Estadio da Luz (Stadium of Light).

In a day in which KAKA got his impressive presentation at the Bernabeu in Madrid, where he inherited the number 8 shirt from Fernando GAGO (because Pintita wanted to use the vacant number 5 shirt), SAVIOLA had a humble showing in comparison...but I saw no giant bird at KAKA's party!

So there you go! Ha!

Rosario again?

By the way...I know this news probably deserves an entry of its own, but I thought I'd add it up here in a nice long post.

I've heard the AFA elevated a petition to FIFA to host the match between Argentina and Brazil for the World Cup Qualifiers in the city of Rosario.

We are going to have to wait and see whether FIFA accepts this petition and whether the inspection that should be taking place, is successful or not.

Podcast reminder

Don't forget to listen to the latest edition of Mundo Albiceleste's podcast, where we discuss the local league of Argentina.

If you want, you can simply click the audio player above or 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.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mundo Albiceleste's podcast - Going local

It's our pleasure to present you with another edition of Mundo Albiceleste's podcast show!

We are taking this one step beyond and we decided to discuss something we don't always talk about on Mundo Albiceleste: the domestic Argentine league.

For that, I'm joined in this edition of the pod by our very good friend from Hasta El Gol Siempre. Sam KELLY. Who is also a regular writer at Soccernet.

The timing couldn't have been better as we enter the week of the final week of the Clausura tournament, where league-leaders Huracán take on the second-placed team in the standings, Velez Sarsfield, in the championship decider.

Sam tells us all about it and we also discuss Estudiantes' campaign in the Copa Libertadores and he tries to explain the difficult system used to calculate relegations in Argentina.

If you want, you can simply click the audio player above or 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.

HEGS/Mundo Albiceleste awards last call

Argentina has recently had its own elections, but this week sees the culmination of a far more important one. You’ve got only six days left to vote, if you haven’t already, for your winner in the HEGS / Mundo Albiceleste Award for Best Argentine Abroad.

Pick Lionel MESSI, Christian GIMÉNEZ, Diego MILITO or Pablo ZABALETA, and send your vote to awards@hastaelgolsiempre.com before midnight Argentine time on Sunday night.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Mundo's podcast - Is it Mundo Yellowgreen?

"Better late than never", goes the old saying.

Well...here you have it. Another edition of Mundo Albiceleste's podcast!

Some technical problems kept us from uploading it sooner, but the topics discussed in this latest conversation, are pretty much still fresh.

Without any matches for our beloved Argentina, we decided to pay a visit to our Brazilian friend Rafael, who gives us his views on his national team's fortunes at the Confederation Cups (we recorded this before Brazil defeated South Africa -very luckily, I might add- and I'm writing this before the final match between the yellow and green and the USA).

Brazil seem to be hitting form lately, and Rafael helps us examine our next WCQ rival from the inside.

John, Rafael and yours truly, took some time to recall our favourite (and our worst) memories from previous matches between Argentina and Brazil and we would love to hear from you.

If you want, you can simply click the audio player above or 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.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More FAN-actic Photo

Canada seems to be a great breeding ground for the Albiceleste followers. We have Roy from Montreal. And there is Hamdi from Toronto. We’ve got to know Mike who is also from Toronto.

Now here is a picture of his brother’s tattoo. Unbelievable!!!
Thanks buddy! Keep the VAMOS alive in Canada.

SAVIOLA clinches deal to Benfica

He is finally out of the living hell that was Madrid for him.

Javier SAVIOLA has sealed a deal to join Lisbon giants Benfica, where he'll play for the next three years and he'll join his former River Plate and Argentina team-mate, Pablo AIMAR.

The permanent move costed Benfica 5 million Euros

Apart from SAVIOLA and AIMAR there are other Argentines there, such as Angel DI MARIA and another of their recent signings, José SCHAFFER (a left-back coming from Racing Club de Avellaneda).

Will the Little Rabbit get back on the radar for our national team with a guaranteed place in Benfica's first team?

We can only wish a player that has scored at every club where he played in the past (including Real Madrid), the best of lucks.

MARADONA finally signs his contract with AFA

As reported by our readers on the comments' box, MARADONA has finally put pen to paper to a contract that serves to officially appoint him as Argentina manager until after the World Cup 2010.

According to reports, MARADONA will earn 1,2 million US dollars (860k Euros), roughly 100k USD per month.

Some people are saying that it is too much money and they compared it with the salaries earned by PASSARELLA, BIELSA, PEKERMAN and BASILE, who were all paid between 40 and 50k a month.

Other people say it's ludicrous to justify his salary on the basis that he raises the profile of the team and that now there is an interest for Argentina matches. Well...if you're Julio GRONDONA and you're getting money to have your team play friendlies all over the world and you generate a lot of income because of the constant exposure your team is getting, then it doesn't sound like that's too much money.

Especially if you compare it with the 3 million Euros (that's Euros), Sven-Goran ERIKSSON earned when he managed Mexico (to pathetic results and performances). Or the 1,4 million Euros per year that Giovanni TRAPATTONI is earning as the Republic of Ireland manager (yes, he's getting the results, but he's earning twice as much as Diego).

Guus HIDDINK, the wizard, gets 2,5 million Euros a year in Russia and Marcelo LIPPI (Italy) earns 2 million Euros per year to lose to Egypt and get knocked out of the Confed Cup in the first round.

Let's just dont bring Diego these figures or he may start a war with the world and ask for a raise!

Argentina - N. Zealand postponed until September

Originally schedule to be played on 9 July in Córdoba, the friendly match between Argentina and New Zealand has been postponed and it will be played in September (date to be confirmed).

Let me remind you that the game would have been another opportunity for MARADONA to see the players from the domestic league in action.

More news to follow as we find out.

Another Albiceleste FAN-atic From Canada

Football fans have many ways to show their devotion and allegiance of their favourite team.

For instance, some do decorate their room, car or even their office cubicle with flag or banners that represent their team. Some even named their children after their favourite players. And to a certain extent, some might even get a tattoo that symbolizes their team.


Though it can be a very subjective and taboo in some part of the world, I think they look very cool in many ways. As a matter of fact, I would like to confess that I have a black Puma crawling on my left arm!

Well here we have Mike from Toronto, Canada who wants to share with us a picture of his tattoo. It is the official logo of the Asociación del Fútbol Argentino. I must say that I like the texture of the colour and it looks very amazing.
Thanks for sharing with us, Mike. You’re certainly one crazy (in a nice way) and loyal Albiceleste supporter.

Now are they any other crazy Albiceleste fanatics out there who would like to share with us something? Please do write to us at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

MARADONA vs. Riquelme. MARADONA vs. River

The most feared aspect of having Diego as a manager didn't take too long before it started to dominate the scene: he'll never be afraid of saying whatever is on his mind. It doesn't matter how many cameras are on him or how many microphones are working in front of him.

Right or wrong, Diego is never afraid of saying it as he feels it, but this characteristic that Diego has (and has always had), is now creating a funny air around our national team.

On Wednesday night, a microphone was approached to his mouth and the result were quotes like these:

"RIQUELME could make a comeback to my team. But first he'll have to apologise to me and to his team-mates for not being there for us when we needed him in the previous matches I was in charge".

"I'd have no problems sitting down with GRONDONA and RIQUELME. And I'd have no problems giving RIQUELME instructions, because that would be my job. But my commitment today is to those players who were there for me when RIQUELME wasn't".

RIQUELME refused to speak about the national team when asked at a Boca Juniors press conference. This was before MARADONA spoke on the radio on Wednesday night.

Diego didn't stop there.

He had a few more bullets to fire in River Plate's direction.

"The River Plate authorities spoke too much and were out of order. They are going to have to talk with my lawyers".

"I'd be happy to play at the Monumental if the pitch was in perfect conditions and my players were able to dribble with the ball".

"I want to say that the faucets/taps in the Monumental's dressing rooms are the same I've seen in 1978. Players like MESSI and TEVEZ cannot be changing in a room like that".

It looks like the internal battles keep piling up for Diego.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Argentina to face New Zealand in a July friendly

Diego MARADONA will continue to experiment with the players that are still competing in the Argentine league and will also continue to tour the country with the team.

Although it wasn't announced officially, it is believed that Argentina will play a friendly match against New Zealand in the city of Cordoba on 9 July (Independence Day in Argentina).

In other news, Julio GRONDONA (President of the AFA) announced that the main venue for the Copa America Argentina 2011 will be the Estadio Unico de La Plata (where Estudiantes and Gimnasia play their most important matches). The stadium will have a roof by 2011.

Other venues will be in Santa Fe, Córdoba, San Juan, Mendoza, Salta and Jujuy.

There is still no confirmation about what will be the venue for Argentina to host Brazil. To the option to move it to Rosario (not as strong as it was last week), it was added an interest from Boca Juniors to play it at La Bombonera.

The favourite remains the Estadio Monumental where Argentina's been playing all the big and official matches for as long as I can remember.

Monday, June 22, 2009

2009 Wimbledon – Some Actions from Day 1

We’ve seen plenty of crazy things from the world of tennis during the last few months. World No.1 Rafael NADAL in a not so good situation and finally Roger FEDERER winning the only Grand Slam that have eluded him in the past. I’m sure that trend might just continue to the Grand Slam of Grass in Wimbledon.

Just to let you all know, that Rafa has withdrew from this year’s edition. Apparently the defending champion is still recovering from his knee injury. Could this be the best chance for FEDEX to surpass Pete SAMPRASS 14 Grand Slam titles? We will find out as the tournament progress as we do have plenty of supporters for the Swiss superstar here.

As for the Albiceleste camp, Day 1 didn’t look to be very promising as only one player from a possible six that manage to make it through to the next round.

Guillermo CANAS didn’t have much trouble seeing off compatriot Diego JUNQUEIRA in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 & 6-2. Where else Sergio ROITMAN has to retired in the third set in his match against 28th seed Mardy FISH.

Juan MONACO blew away a two sets lead against Spaniard Nicolas ALMAGRO, losing 6-7, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 & 8-6. Another Argentine-Spanish encounter was between Agustin CALLERI and Guillermo Garcia LOPEZ in which, El Gordo went down in straight sets (6-2, 6-3 & 6-2). Lastly Maximo GONZALEZ was defeated by Ivo MINAR from the Czech Republic, 4-6, 6-3, 5-7 & 0-6.

With that, I’m sure everyone must be wondering where our biggest hope, Juan Martin DEL POTRO is. Well he will be action later in Day 2 against Frenchmen Arnaud CLEMENT.

Here are other actions that will take place on the same day.

Brian DABUL vs. Viktor TROICKI (SRB)
Eduardo SCHWANK vs. Stanislas WAWRINKA (SWI)
Martin Vassallo ARGUELLO vs. Pablo ANDUJAR (ESP)
Leonardo MAYER vs. Oscar HERNANDEZ (ESP)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's official: TEVEZ leaves Manchester United

When Carlos TEVEZ got in the box and scored a dramatic goal against Manchester United to keep West Ham in the Premier League, little did we know that it was the last time he would play at Old Trafford for the visiting team.

TEVEZ secured a move to the Red Devils and since then, he won two Premier League titles and reached consecutive Champions League finals (winning the first one and losing to Barcelona last month).

When he left the field to a standing ovation with 66 minutes gone in Manchester United's title-clinching 0-0 draw at home with Arsenal, we knew there was every chance for that moment to become the last time he was to play at Old Trafford, but for the home team.

That feeling we had back then, was confirmed on Saturday as Manchester United announced on their website that Carlos TEVEZ will leave the club after they failed to sign him permanently.

Here's the club's statement:

Following contact received from Carlos Tevez’s advisors last night, in advance of the deadline the Club set for concluding negotiations, Manchester United announces that Carlos will not be signing a new contract with the Club.

The Club agreed to pay the option price of £25.5m and offered Carlos a five-year contract which would have made him one of its highest paid players.

Disappointingly however, his advisors informed the Club that, despite the success he has enjoyed during one of the Club’s most successful periods, he does not wish to continue playing for Manchester United.

The Club would like to thank Carlos for his services over the last two seasons and wishes him good luck for the future.

This puts an end to one part of the soap opera surrounding his future, but at the same time it kicks-off a new chapter: Where will Carlitos play next season?

Manchester City continue to be favourites to sign him, but also Liverpool and Chelsea have shown interest in the player.

Is this contract rejection from TEVEZ a good move from him?

TEVEZ is clearly after more playing minutes or after a more important role in the team he plays for. We'll have to wait and see if he can manage those things in his next destination.

One thing is for sure now. It'll take some time for fans at Old Trafford to sign: "Argentina! Argentina!" again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


This transfer rumour has been going on for like forever now.

A few days ago, Liverpool manager, Rafael BENITEZ, said that "clubs should forget about signing Javier MASCHERANO. He's happy at Liverpool and he is not for sale".

It seemed to work for some time, but now Barcelona are coming back strong again in their quest to sign the captain of Argentina.

According to some reports in the media (in the UK, in Argentina and in Spain), Barcelona spoke to MASCHERANO's agent and there could be an agreement already in place to secure the services of the former River Plate midfielder.

Spanish newspaper, Marca, is even saying his move from Liverpool to Barcelona would cost the Catalan giants 52,8 million Euros.

It seems Barcelona have arranged the terms with the player's agent and what they need to do now is to agree a deal with Liverpool (which would be the toughest part of the deal, given Rafa's comments). Rafa said he wouldn't even sell MASCHERANO for 60 million Euros.

Other rumours involving Argentina players:

Gabriel HEINZE could be poised for a return to the English Premier League after his experience with Manchester United a few seasons ago. The Real Madrid player could be on his way out of the Casa Blanca, but if the deal comes through, he'll keep wearing white as he could become a Tottenham Hotspur player. His deal could be part of a three-player move from Madrid to Tottenham as HEINZE could be joined by Dutchmen Arjen ROBBEN and Klaas-Jan HUNTELAAR.

Olympique Lyonnais didn't win the French league this time around. Bordeaux interrupted an impressive series of seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles Lyon were boasting. In order to reclaim the title next season, they could pay 20 million Euros to secure the services of Argentine forward Lisandro LOPEZ. Such is the release fee for the player to leave Porto FC. Some sources in Spain indicate 'Licha' could also be on his way to Real Madrid. Here at Mundo Albiceleste we think it'd be better for him to move to Lyon and avoid having too much competition for places at Real Madrid, a club nobody knows whether they'll be an instant success with KAKA and Cristiano RONALDO or a complete and utter flop like the first 'Galácticos' era turned out to finish.

According to French newspaper L'Equipe, Licha's long-time team-mate, Lucho GONZALEZ, could also make the switch from Portugal to France. Only Lucho could be heading to a different Olympique, the one in Marseille. The popular French club would offer 14 million Euros, but Porto FC would only sell him for 20.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

MARADONA vs. River Plate. Will we play in Rosario?

We all know when Diego MARADONA speaks, you never get a dull press conference.

The week before the match between Argentina and Colombia, MARADONA said the pitch at the River Plate stadium was terrible. He said the pitch where he learned to play football in the shanty town of Villa Fiorito was in better shape than that of the Estadio Monumental.

The match is history now, but the debate and the controversy are only just beginning.

Why? Because River Plate's President, José María AGUILAR, wrote a couple of letters to the AFA.

One in which he express his disappointment after MARADONA's comment about River Plate and their stadium and the other one, surely the most controversial, asks the President of the AFA, Julio GRONDONA, whether MARADONA passed the medical examination before taking over as a national team manager. AGUILAR also asks whether MARADONA signed his contract with the AFA or not. It is of public knowledge that Diego is still to sign his contract.

Under the current state of things, the rumours of Argentina playing at home against Brazil in Rosario, are gaining a lot of steam.

The Rosario Central stadium was mentioned by MARADONA as one of his favourite grounds in the country in which the opposition can feel the pressure of the home fans because they are closer to the pitch than at River Plate.

The fact that the match could be played away from Buenos Aires is also something Diego would like to see, in order to make our national team more of a federal team. People from the inner Argentina will have more chances to attend the match.

Regarding the controversy between MARADONA and River Plate, Julio GRONDONA said: "I think this is a big misunderstanding. These things happen".

"The truth is the Monumental Stadium's pitch was in bad conditions when Diego said what he said".

"I think we, the AFA, will have to look for alternatives in order to have the clearance to use other stadiums as alternatives. We would have to count with FIFA's permits to do that, but we'll have to work towards finding the best solution".

"I know they have made a lot of work in Rosario Central's stadium and we will see if FIFA clears us to use that stadium in case we decide to change and move from River Plate".

So don't be surprised if Argentina host Brazil in Rosario, just as we did in the World Cup 1978 (0-0). Argentina played three matches in that World Cup winning campaign (beating Poland 2-0 and the famous win over Perú 6-0).

Friday, June 12, 2009

A little bit of self-publicity here...

I don't often do this, but I'm very happy to tell you that Global Times from China, a newspaper written in English, has published an article I wrote after Ecuador defeated Argentina.

It's a basic match report and you can find it on Global Times online version.

Please, feel free to write your thoughts on the comments' box you'll see next to the headline.

Self-publicity is over now. Thank you all!

Mundo Albiceleste Podcast 06 - All quiet in Quito

Here's another edition of Mundo Albiceleste's podcast!


NOTE: We are still experiencing some technical problems. The embedded audio player and the downloadable link don't seem to be working. That's why I'm just copying the URL to where you can listen to the podcast. That seems to be working fine and I have listened to it several times, without any troubles. Let us know if there are still problems and we'll try and sort them out.

Back to the podcast itself:

Diego couldn't play the three little guys up front against Ecuador but Mundo Albiceleste made up for it by giving you a show with John in Malaysia, Dave in New York and Seba in Buenos Aires.

We pick up the pieces after another crash from Diego's team in the altitude. We analyse the game, we discuss some of our players' performances, we talk about the other matches in our region.

We also get the ball rolling as we try to silence the samba drums and stop those capoeira fellows from dancing as we do our first of many previews of the big clash between Argentina and Brazil in September.

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dave's player ratings - ECU 2-0 ARG

By Dave P.

A very lack luster performance by us tonight that gave us the loss.

Compared to the game against Colombia, although we did not play well then either, there was not as much passion put forth by the players.

They did not seem as if they wanted to win. Everyone except for MESSI and surprisingly HEINZE seemed content with just hanging back behind our half and playing defense. It seemed like we were playing with eight defenders on our own half, and then MESSI and TEVEZ were the only two players ever to go into the attacking third. This may have been MARADONA’s tactic to deal with the altitude and avoid another Bolivia incident, however that is still not an excuse to attack with two players and not attempt to hold possession of the ball.

We were very unlucky as well, for TEVEZ, an usual above average finisher not to convert his
PK, and for MESSI and GAGO to miss their chances. In the end small lapses of concentration by our defensive mindset let us down and allowed for Ecuador to punish us.

Mariano ANDUJAR, (7): Second game as the #1 keeper and he played very well. In the first half he had pretty much nothing to do. A few touches here and there. He showed good reflexes on a free kick that bounced on the wet surface right in front of him. In the second half was more
involved in the game because of Ecuador’s increase of intensity and our lack of endurance in the altitude which caused some defensive errors. Still ANDUJAR made some confident stops on the ball especially in aerial crosses. He was confident in every ball he went up for. The two goals that he did allow were pretty much unstoppable. The wonder strike in the 72nd minute was hit with tremendous pace and was upper right and he still got a tip on it. The second goal took some lucky
bounces off our confused defense and landed perfectly for PALACIOS to shoot into the roof of the net from around 12 yards. Overall a good game unlucky to have goals scored on him tonight. I would continue starting him.

Gabriel HEINZE, (7): Seemed to play a lot better while wearing the captain's arm band in tonight’s match. From the get go our team had a defensive mind set and HEINZE made confident plays all game. I did not see one hesitant, or out-of-control move/tackle made by him tonight, which is extremely rare. Instead he was running all the way down into the attacking end and played some of our most dangerous balls of the evening. Still he would get back in time to make some key challenges and keep the Ecuadorians from having open looks at net. Unlucky that MESSI or GAGO could not score on the great balls he threw into the box. Great game by HEINZE proved to be one of our best players on the night.

Nicolás OTAMENDI, (6): In the beginning of the game the youngster did not seem to understand much of what was going on. He was caught out of position every once in a while and within the first couple minutes a mistake he made caused an great chance for Ecuador to go ahead. As the match progressed he adapted to the pace of the match extremely well. I was
impressed with some of his timely tackles and especially some one-on-one, all-or-nothing tackles which were key on keeping us in the game.

Martín DEMICHELIS, (5): You would have thought that DEMICHELIS was the youngest defender tonight because of his sloppy play. I was expecting a typical solid performance from 'Micho' but early on he made a few casual passes out of the back as well as being caught out of position. Other then that he had no impact on the game. The first wonderstrike that was scored can not really be blamed on him, but he did turned out of the balls path at the last second. If he had stayed there it may have deflected off his face. Also, the second goal, as the ball bounced into the box he was out of position and forced to scramble around to attempt to stop the attack. Not a good confident display by DEMICHELIS tonight.

Javier ZANETTI, (4): Oy, another sub par performance by an experienced defender. Very quiet game in the beginning of the match. He was caught out of position like DEMICHELIS, and showed his age in not being able to keep up with the quick Ecuadorians. When he was on the ball his runs were slow, predictable, and clumsy. ZANETTI’s age along with the altitude were truly affecting his play tremendously. He made the blind pass to Maxi’s back side which resulted in the first goal being scored. I am usually all for ZANETTI being a part of the team but a performance like this is making me strongly reconsider that.

Jonas GUTIERREZ, (5.5): The usual high energy high work-rate Jonas was not as evident tonight. He played well but strayed from attacking the entire match. He was helping out the back for pretty much all game. You could tell after playing in both matches that the altitude really took a toll on his lungs. He was beat very easily down the wing and contributed nothing to the attack. Really nothing more to say about Jonas, he tried but did not contribute much of the lack of passion to win from the rest of the team was also evident with his performance.

Sebastián BATTAGLIA, (4.5): Attempted to fill in for MASCHERANO in the DM role and
did a decent enough job, but never truly got involved with the game. I think I could count on my hands how many time he touched the ball. He made a few tackles but his passes were off the mark and did not help the possession that we so badly needed in order to break down the
Ecuadorians. Pretty much played in line with the back four and became a fifth defender. At some points of the game I didn’t even know if he was on the field he would just float around did not even make any key tackles. I feel that he is not NT quality.

Fernando GAGO, (5): Much like BATTAGLIA, he was sort of irrelevant in tonight’s match
because he played defense pretty much the entire game. He rarely went forward and when he did he missed a great opportunity to score, great reaction by the goal keeper however. GAGO seemed to be a little lost without Mascherano out there with him. He was clumsy on the ball and
could not link up with MESSI or TEVEZ all game until he was subbed out for VERON. Again it seemed like there was no passion in GAGO today, usually he has a fierce warrior attitude like MASCHERANO. Seemed like the altitude sucked it out of him.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ, (3.5): Again the lowest ratings are in the midfield because this is where we lost the game. Maxi contributed nothing in this game, he rarely touched the ball and rarely made any defensive plays. He would always be around the ball but would never make anything happen. He seemed lost out there on the pitch. Also, on the TEVEZ’s PK if Maxi would have scored that open netter, which TEVEZ some how got the ball into his path, the game would have been completely different. Very poor attempt to finish that ball, there were no defenders around him.
Other than missing the open net, and not being aware that ZANETTI passed the ball to him, which caused us to concede, Maxi was useless in tonight’s game. Poor performance.

Carlos TEVEZ, (6): Played well with MESSI and created/received some good passes which looked threatening in the first half. His ball, which got HEINZE in, was a delicate one-touch pass and he had a few one-twos with MESSI. However other then that, and because of the lack of midfield, TEVEZ was all by himself in the attacking third. Every time he was on the ball there
would be two defenders on him and when he would look up there would only be MESSI; with three other defenders on him. Other than that there would be no other Argentine players within 20 yards. He would create strong runs at the defenders but in the end no one was there to
help him. His PK shot was extremely poor, the ball was hit weakly and dribbled along the grass, very predictable.

Lionel MESSI, (7): As usual MESSI was THE attacking presence on our team tonight. Much like TEVEZ he was all alone up top with the ball, he made great runs all night at the defenders and would always beat at least 2 or 3. He played well with TEVEZ but an attacking midfielder was missing in support to help MESSI when he was caught up. Some great touches on the ball, but very bad attempt to finish HEINZE's cross in the first half. You would expect the best player in the world to finish that even if it is on his right foot. MESSI played well but it’s hard for him to have a superb game when he is the only one that had passion to attack and score.


Gonzalo BERGESSIO, (N/A): I would rate him but with no midfield he was pretty much useless up top with an altitude-winded MESSI. Showed some pace but could do nothing against five defenders.

Juan Sebastian VERON, (N/A): In for GAGO in the 75th. Tried to force balls into the attack but in the end did nothing to the game.

Diego MILITO, (N/A).

After looking back at the game, a very poor and disappointing loss for us. No passion was shown by anybody to advance the ball or even hold on to it and pass it around. Many things will be discussed and many things may be brought up as to what needs to change before our next
big match.

But I don’t know how much of it will happen because we do not know if MARADONA will want to make tremendous changes to the squad and throw together some new faces for such a big game against Brazil.

Maybe that is what needs to be done to shake things up. Another sad altitude loss for us, but we are still in a qualification spot at the moment and in the end that’s all that matters. As long as we get to South Africa.

The standings and what's next for Argentina

It's what everybody wants to know, so let's go straight to the standings and see how the run-in for the contenders is shaping up.

First, the results:

Ecuador 2-0 Argentina
Colombia 1-0 Peru
Chile 4-0 Bolivia
Brazil 2-1 Paraguay
Venezuela 2-2 Uruguay

The standings with four matches to go:

WC - Brazil 27 points (+19 goal difference).
WC - Chile 26 (+9)
WC - Paraguay 24 (+7)
WC - Argentina 22 (+4)
Playoffs with 4th from CONCACAF - Ecuador 20 (-2)
OUT - Uruguay 18 (+7)
OUT - Colombia 17 (-4)
OUT - Venezuela 17 (-7)
OUT - Bolivia 12 (-11)
OUT - Peru 7 (-22) -Peru are already eliminated. They can't reach the fifth spot even if they win all their remaining matches.

Next round (5-6 September)



-Brazil can clinch their berth in the next World Cup if they win in Buenos Aires and both Ecuador and Uruguay fail to win their matches.

-Chile can clinch their berth in the next World Cup if they beat Venezuela and both Ecuador and Uruguay fail to win their matches.

-Bolivia will be out of contention if they fail to win in Paraguay and Ecuador win in Colombia.

-Provided Argentina get all three points against Brazil and Uruguay, Colombia and Venezuela lose, the Albicelestes will only need two points from the last 9 to secure at least fifth place.

The double round will be completed with the following fixtures:

8 September, 2009:


Ecuador 2-0 Argentina - What now?

My short answer would be: I still support the team and MARADONA.

For a longer answer and analysis, I will say a few things and I'll try not to fall into the "what ifs".

Some "what ifs" are inevitable and that penalty-kick miss by TEVEZ is certainly one of them.

In my opinion, Argentina played a very intelligent first half. We were the better team and apart from that penalty-kick miss by TEVEZ, we also enjoyed a few other chances.

MESSI one-on-one with the keeper, missed with his right foot and I think it was down to a miscalculation from Lio.

Argentina enjoyed some possession and managed to put some pressure on Ecuador. Especially on the break and sometimes making the most out of Ecuador's sloppy use of the off-side trap.

We lost 2-0 today, and ironically, and all things considered (the altitude, the wet pitch) I think overall, we played better than on Saturday against Colombia. Granted, it was difficult to play as badly as we did against Colombia, but I think the team reacted quite well and played much better. At least in the first half.

I don't know what happened in the second half. Ecuador obviously made some adjustments and we struggled to repeat what we did so well in the first half.

Again Argentina had a terrific chance to go ahead in the score, but ELIZAGA (playing for free after he should have been red-carded when he fouled TEVEZ in the first half), stopped an effort from GAGO from close range. It was another "what if" moment. But after that, it all went wrong for us.

Surely oxygen was at a prime for our players in that last segment of the game and we failed to have possession or even launching a single deadly counter-attack.

Ecuador were not creating too many chances. They were crossing the ball into our box a lot, but they weren't creating too many dangerous clear chances, until that ball bounced off Maxi RODRIGUEZ's back and then AYOVI fired that missile towards ANDÚJAR's far post and it went in.

From that moment on, it was game over.

Now what? I ask again.

Now is not the time to change our manager again. Now is the time to think with a cool head and to also consider that he lost two WCQ matches and won two. The ones he lost, were played in unusual conditions. In conditions in which Argentina rarely won in previous campaigns. Yes, he also defeated beatable teams at home, but he did get the win.

To change right now, like some people are already asking, would be nothing short of suicidal.

There are four matches to be played. Brazil at home and Paraguay away, will be very very difficult, but they are not impossible to beat. Brazil rarely win in Buenos Aires. We can beat Paraguay in Asunción.

I know some of you would think I'm being naively positive and optimistic, but I want to consider every aspect and avoid the dangerous exercise of start calling names and asking for the manager's head to roll.

Dave's players' rating will come with a little delay from what we're used to, but they will arrive. And a new edition of our podcast will also come soon.

Until then, let's hear what's on your heart/mind right now.

Ecuador v. Argentina - The big match preview

Oh how times change! On 15 August, 2001, Argentina went to Quito, won 2-0 (goals from VERON and CRESPO -PK-) and clinched the ticket to Korea/Japan 2002 with four matches to go.

Argentina got to 35 points in 14 rounds with that win in Quito.

Here's the audio commentary for that match (I can't find the video of the goals on YouTube):

Today, even winning, Argentina would only reach 25 points and qualification to the World Cup would still be on the line and far from decided with four matches still ahead.

Memories from Quito are not always that sweet. In fact, that was the only match in which Argentina managed to score against Ecuador. The other two World Cup Qualy matches played in that altitude ended up in 2-0 home wins (in the campaigns to qualify for France 1998 and Germany 2006).

In total, Argentina and Ecuador have faced each other 26 times. Argentina won 16 (73 goals scored), Ecuador 3 (24) and there were 7 draws.

In World Cup Qualifiers, they played only 9 times. Argentina won 6 (19 goals), Ecuador 2 (9 goals) and they draw one (the last one, a 1-1 match played in Buenos Aires almost a year ago - 15 June, 2008 -, with Rodrigo PALACIO scoring a late equalizer for Argentina after Patricio URRUTIA sent Ecuador ahead).

Read the post below to know about our lineup and the formation Argentina will use later today in Quito.


First of all, you need to check your local time.

The match will start at 6 PM Buenos Aires. To check your time and to make sure you don't miss it. Click here.

To watch it, there'll be plenty of options.

Here's one great option that won't require you to download or install any software.

Here you have a couple of links that will also help you (you may need to download some free software in order to access to the content):

Roja Directa


I'm sure as the match gets closer, our readers and friends will be posting other links and options to follow the match live.

In the meantime, feel free to discuss all about Ecuador vs. Argentina on the comments' box or in our chat room.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

MESSI and TEVEZ to start up front v. Ecuador

That's not the only breaking news. While we wait for the official confirmation from MARADONA, reports in the main sports TV channels in Argentina are suggesting that the starting XI will look like the one in the picture we're offering you at Mundo Albiceleste:
Now it's the time to discuss it.

Here are the outstanding aspects I see in this probable lineup:

1. Nicolás OTAMENDI will make his full international debut. He played against Panamá in a friendly match, but on Wednesday it'll be a whole different matter and the youngster from Velez Sarsfield will have a tough task of making his debut in the altitude of Quito. OTAMENDI has surprised me during the current Clausura tournament in Argentina. He's fast, he's strong, he's got perfect timing and he's good in the air. He's the whole package and on Wednesday he'll have the chance to show what he is capable of doing.

2. Mariano ANDÚJAR remains Diego's keeper, as he confirmed it at a press conference after the match against Colombia.

3. Gabriel HEINZE. Two ways of looking at this:
a) Being negative: He'll be a liability on the left as MARADONA will move him from the centre-back position to a left-back slot.
b) Being positive: He could get a yellow card and miss the match against Brazil!
Seriously speaking, Diego has chosen HEINZE instead of PAPA because he'll rely on HEINZE's aerial game and experience. He'll surely be the captain too.

4. GAGO and BATTAGLIA will share the centre of the midfield like they did when they played together for Boca and became the most exciting pair of defensive midfielders in Argentine domestic football. GAGO will do a lot more chasing than he does when he partners MASCHERANO (suspended).

5. Jonas and Maxi on the flanks. GUTIERREZ and RODRIGUEZ will be two keys for our game in Ecuador. Their box-to-box play will be tested again by the altitute. Jonas' runs from the left and Maxi's long and mid-range efforts could be the weapons we need from our outside midfielders.

6. MESSI will be risked. He'll play carrying a yellow card and I applaud MARADONA's decision. It's not like he's the kind of player that's always on the verge of being booked. It's very rare that he sees a yellow card and all he needs to do is not to dive (he's not a diver by any means), avoid talking to the ref or his rivals. I think he can do it. I think this match against Ecuador is probably the most important of our next three games (the following two are Brazil at home and Paraguay away). Why am I saying this? Because if we win on Wednesday we'll separate ourselves from Ecuador and from all the teams that are below us in the standings. The game against Brazil will be huge in terms of the mental aspect. You win that game and the confidence you get will be second to none. You lose it and you risk to fall into a never-ending crisis. But in terms of points, the three at Quito are worth the same as those against Brazil or Paraguay.

To travel to Ecuador without our best player would have been a mistake and I'm happy that MESSI will get to play.

7. TEVEZ will form a striking partnership with Lio. Two Champions League winners (TEVEZ 2007/2008; MESSI 2008/2009). Not an easy task for the Ecuadorian defense and the chance for the two of them to show if they can play together. Also, TEVEZ will be happy to play in a role that will be more suited to his game, instead of having to run up and down the field on the left. TEVEZ will play near to the box and he'll have room to move up front and create havoc.

In my opinion, those are the main points we can make by looking at this lineup.

What is everybody's opinion on this?

Also...if you still didn't do it, you can listen to Mundo Albiceleste's podcast.

If you want, you can simply click the audio player above or right-click on the following link and save it as an MP3 file or listen to it in your computer: download.

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

Monday, June 08, 2009

Mundo Albiceleste Podcast 05

Here's the latest edition of Mundo Albiceleste's podcast!

This time around, John and I discuss the importance of the three points Argentina won against Colombia and we also talk about what is wrong with our tactics, formations and performances.

A look at the other matches in South America's WCQ and a preview of what to expect from Argentina on Wednesday against Ecuador in Quito's altitude.

If you want, you can simply click the audio player above or 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.

Argentina Settle For A Draw Against UAE

Argentina finished unbeaten and confirmed themselves at the top of the table after playing out to a 1-1 draw against the United Arabs Emirates (UAE).

Having already assured of a place in the last four, the onus was certainly on the UAE to attack, and push forward they did in the early stages. Theyab Awana AL-MUSARI had the first noteworthy effort on goal from a free kick, but his effort was off target.

Argentina had displayed a great deal of attacking verve in their opening two games but were not quite so vivacious in attack against their committed opponents. Alejandro GOMEZ and Mauro DIAZ, making his first start of the competition, were the main threats.

The UAE would start the second half in the ascendancy, making their dominance count as a jinking run from AL-MUSARI of the kind more associated with South American football, setup Sultan AL-MENHALI to open the scoring.

Lucas TRECARICHI, another man to make his bow in the tournament, showcased the class of Checho BATISTA side moments later, beating four opponents before nailing a shot against the UAE goalkeeper.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Dave's player ratings - ARG 1-0 COL

By Dave P.

It's been a long long wait to watch the NT play after the massacre/fluke/whatever you want to call it that happened in Bolivia.

The main goal going into this match was to win of course and get the three points.

We succeeded in doing so, and although it may not have been the most convincing performance we got the job done. The defense was a little disorganized in the first half, however the changes made to the back line of four in the second settled us down. OK here are the ratings.

Mariano ANDUJAR, (8):
Great debut for ANDUJAR. A little hesitant in holding
onto the ball on his first two touches, but settled in extremely well. He covered up for all of Cata DIAZ's mistakes in the first half with great reactions and good saves, which kept us in the game when we were unsettled in the first half. In the second half he had only 1 or 2 touches; nothing to do with the stronger back line of four. Still very safe hands. I trust in him as the #1 at the moment, a very good
display of confidence between the pipes.

Daniel "Cata" DIAZ, (6.5): This rating was going to be a lot lower but he scored the goal. In the beginning he was playing as one of the outside defenders in the line of three. He seemed clueless. Was out of position all the time and late with all his challenges. This is what gave Colombia their best chances to score. I was hoping he was going to get subbed out when I saw ZANETTI at the start of the second half, but in the end it was good that he wasn't. In the right spot at the right time for our goal and great concentration and power to hit that volley as a CB. Good work, after he scored that goal. He settled down completely and made some timely challenges towards the end of the game.

Martín DEMICHELIS, (7.5): A quiet but solid game for Demi. Was not called upon much to make many big stops however he was always in the right position. He did have a big block on a shot attempt towards the end of the second half. Very good play. I am confident whenever he is back there helping clear the ball and pushing players off the ball. Great enforcer.

Gabriel HEINZE, (7): Much like Demi, quiet performance, but overall surprisingly
great game. He always shows his great hustle and passion, which is probably the main reason MARADONA keeps calling him up. He had a strong work-rate for the whole 90 mins. There were a couple of times when he was out of position but there were no trademark “Blunders” by HEINZE today and cleared a dangerous ball across the middle when everyone else was out of position.

Javier MASCHERANO, (7.5): In the beginning of the game was a little too aggressive for the ref's liking, making some clumsy fouls and getting a yellow card that will keep him out of our visit to Ecuador. However, as the second half came around, the Colombians had 1 or 2 attacking chances. This was due to MASCHERANO’s typical gritty hustle. And what a great run he made in the second half exploding past two players
after picking off a pass and almost hammering it in near post. Quiet, but solid performance by the captain who finished with a cramp and refused to get replaced.

Fernando GAGO, (7): GAGO only played the first half and was subbed out for ZANETTI to make a back line of four. However, in the first half I thought GAGO was one of our best players. He was hustling more than MASCHERANO and was making both good passes and tackles. He maybe a little sloppy/unsettled when the ball is at his feet but his hustle is never-ending. Probably was taken out so that he can be around for the Ecuador game because MASCHERANO got a yellow. So at least GAGO will be around for the Ecuador game. Good 45 minutes for GAGO.

Jonas GUTIERREZ, (8): Wow! Every time I right the rating for Jonas it is always
among the highest. Some people don’t understand why he starts, but he has never done anything wrong. He played today with great pace, hustle, determination, and passion all game. In the first half he was running up and down the entire pitch helping out making key tackles in the defense as well as playing crosses into the opponents box. In the second half he made some clever runs beating players down the wing and again made key tracking defensive runs. In the 89th min when we were trying to keep the ball to kill the clock, Jonas made a 40 yard run with the ball while fighting off two Colombians. A play like that so late in the game shows his amazing endurance and fight. Great game.

Juan Sebastián VERON, (6.5): First time VERON has started in a long time for the NT. He helped control the pace of the game in the first half. He attempted to play some clever balls to the three up top. However none of them made any big impact. VERON is so strong on the ball, but he kind of disappeared as the game went on. The game settled down for us defensively in the second half but still did not craft the creative attacking balls that we needed to break down the Colombian defense and score
more than one goal. Towards the end of the game he showed his experience and helped slow the game down and made some crunching tackles showing his hard nose attitude. Expected a little more but played good enough to get the three points.

Carlos TEVEZ, (8.5): Amazing display of what each and every NT player's passion level should be at. TEVEZ ran and ran and hustled and hustled for 84 minutes until he was subbed out. He would track down the Colombian defenders applying pressure to them in the first half. He mad a few long runs in the first half. What was great to see was that in the first half he knew that our back line of three was having trouble and there were a couple of times when TEVEZ was all the way back stealing
the ball and starting attacks. This continued into the second half. The problem with TEVEZ and most of our attackers in this game was that when any of them got the ball there was no one near them to combine with. This made TEVEZ just improvise and make runs at players, and they were great. The one run which ended in the corner in which we scored on was excellent. Overall a feisty performance by TEVEZ.

Sergio AGÜERO, (6) (only 40 mins): Only played 40 minutes until he picked up a
knock. In the limited time he was in he played well, was working hard but was unable to combine with others. He tried to do things alone, the instance where he got injured could have quite possibly been called a PK. Some great runs by AGÜERO. Hopefully he will be ready for Ecuador because his sub MILITO was not so impressive.

Lionel MESSI, (8): Sort of a quiet game much like many of our other players for the soon to be FIFA World Player of the Year. In the first half he played very well, every time he touched the ball he made an attacking move, this is what our team needs to be more aware off. MESSI would go forward but no one would be around him to help make a pass or a little 1-2. Every time he touched the ball the Colombians would send two defenders at him. MESSI would make runs around the two but the third defender would win the ball or foul him. Some electrifying touches and balls across the middle. In the second half he seemed to be no where until around the 70th minute. He did have an excellent free kick that went off the cross bar. Again, amazing runs but to no avail, the free kick off the bar pretty much summed up his performance today. Great form, amazing runs, but when it really mattered could not finalize anything with a goal or assist. There was one moment where he did a silky
smooth 360 around a player at the last second, which is always special to see.


Diego MILITO, (5): Came in for the injured AGÜERO in the 40th minute. I was excited
to see how he would do with MESSI and TEVEZ. However, he did not really have any impact on the game at all. He rarely touched the ball, when he did he attempted to hold it up and look for the pass, but would lose possession. Also, there were a few times where he was slow on making a pass, which ended some of our counter-attacks.

Javier ZANETTI, (6.5): Came in for GAGO at half. Helped solidify the team with a back line of four which stopped the Colombians from having any chance at scoring in the second half. His second or third touch on the ball was a typical ZANETTI run where he ran past three players showing he still got it. However, the one time where Colombia could have scored in the second half when a ball trickled past our goal line was partially ZANETTI’s fault. He got beat on the wing, which allowed a player to cross it. Other than that, good effect on the game which helped us get the vital three points we needed.

Nicolás BURDISSO didn't play enough for me to give him a rating.

Argentina win three vital points against Colombia

A very difficult match to play that is even harder to analyse.

I heard that great teams are those who manage to win even when they don't play a great game.

There are many examples of this through history. Teams that are intelligent. Effective. Teams that will destroy you when they play against you in a good day for them, but most importantly, teams that will manage to find a way to still beat you when they don't play a good game.

Now I'm not saying Argentina has a great team. We do have a lot of great players, but we are still not performing well as a team.

The demolition we took in La Paz is proof of that. So is tonight's performance. In Bolivia we were punished because the home team happened to play a great game and we struggled under those conditions in the altitude.

Tonight it was different. We had the edge. We have better players than Colombia, but still, through a good tactical approach, impressive determination and a lot of running, they made us look average.

They never let us control the ball at will. They forced us to do a lot of tracking back to defend and cover their wide midfielders and under those circumstances, plus the obvious tension that everyone of our players had to make us forget about the La Paz incident, we looked pretty poor at times.

So I believe these three points are much more important than if they had come as a product of a comfortable 5-0 win.

It took a lot of character and guts to win tonight. It wasn't easy, but we knew it would be that way, because for Colombia it was like a cup final.

The fact that the goal-scoring hero was as unfashionable as Daniel "Cata" DIAZ, tells a story, but as I said in our chat room, Italy won a World Cup with Marco MATERAZZI scoring their only goal in regulation. And I add examples: Barcelona won the Champions League in 2006 with BELETTI scoring their winning goal (and KOEMAN did in in 1992 for them). Anyway...there are a lot of examples. In the meantime, let's enjoy Cata's goal and the three points it gave us:

Dave P. will come up with the player ratings later and I honestly feel bad about the job he has right now. It was a very tough match to read, but I'm sure he'll get his ratings right, as he always does.

There'll be time to talk about who was man of the match, where was this game won and what were the things that went completely wrong.

In the meantime, I think we should all embrace these three points as if they were a can of water in the middle of the Sahara.

With these three points, we guarantee ourselves that we will stay in the Top 4 after the Wednesday fixtures and falling from that position was what we all feared before tonight.

Argentina v. Colombia - The big match preview

Last time we saw Argentina in action, we witnessed history in the making when MARADONA's team got thrashed 6-1 in the altitude of La Paz against Bolivia. On Saturday in Buenos Aires, Diego and his players will have an opportunity to start re-writing their personal history and defeat Colombia to take an important step towards South Africa 2010.

I remember one particular match in 1993 like if it was yesterday. A talented Colombian side, powered by Carlos VALDERRAMA, Freddy RINCON and Faustino ASPRILLA amongst others, came to Buenos Aires and played Argentina off the park in a 5-0 historical win.

Diego MARADONA was watching the game from his seat at the Estadio Monumental and that heavy result was perhaps the one that prompted his return to competitive football with Argentina. He was called upon for the vital playoff matches against Australia, we got to USA 94 and we all know what happened there.

Things look different now. Colombia are sitting 6th place, 5 points below Argentina.

A win from them will launch them straight into contention for a place in South Africa 2010, but most importantly, it'll dent Argentina's chances and most definitely create a horrible scenario for Diego and our players for the rest of the WC Qualifiers.

A win from Argentina will widen the gap between the two teams to 8 big points (with 5 matches to go -15 points-) and will help the Albiceleste Army to travel to Ecuador with a lot of fresh oxygen to breath in the altitude of Quito (even more so if Ecuador fails to win all three points in Perú on Sunday -which will mean that Argentina with a win can separate 7 or 8 points from Ecuador as well-).

You can read team news from Argentina in previous posts here at Mundo Albiceleste or you can also listen to the podcast in which the tactics and the formations are discussed.

Here's a quick reminder of our formation and our lineup:

Mariano ANDÚJAR;
Daniel DIAZ, Martín DEMICHELIS, Gabriel HEINZE;
Javier MASCHERANO, Fernando GAGO, Jonás GUTIERREZ, Juan Sebastián VERON;
Lionel MESSI, Carlos TEVEZ and Sergio AGÜERO.

A humble and brief scouting report on Colombia

This is Colombia's probable lineup (4-4-2 formation):

David OSPINA (a 20-year-old goalkeeper who plays in Nice, France);

Luis Amaranto PEREA (Atl. Madrid and former Boca Juniors player)
Cristian ZAPATA (currently at Udinese, Italy. Wanted by Arsenal?)
Mario YEPES (knows the Monumental as he played for a few seasons at River Plate)
Pablo ARMERO (the only Colombian in the current squad who plays in Brazil -Palmeiras-)

Juan Camilo ZÚÑIGA (Siena, Italy, where he plays as a defender)
Fabián VARGAS (defensive midfielder who plays for Boca Juniors and always risk getting a red card by making hard tackles)
Freddy GUARÍN (used to play for Boca Juniors youth teams -2 appearances for the senior side-. Now he is with Lucho, Licha and the rest of the Argentines at FC Porto in Portugal)
Vladimir MARÍN (currently at Libertad, Paraguay. He used to play in Argentina for Independiente. I've seen him always play left back for Independiente, although he can be used as a midfielder on the left);

Wason RENTERÍA (scored 6 goals in 28 matches for SC Braga in Portugal)
Radamel FALCAO (currently playing for River Plate. He'll be the only player out of the 22 who will star the match that will actually play at the stadium where he plays every day!)

This formation, but especially the names, suggest to me that it will be a very combative Colombia and by the looks of it, it seems RENTERÍA and FALCAO will be pretty isolated. It goes without saying that we will need to be careful and watch out for their counter-attacks.

A little bit of history...

Argentina and Colombia have played a total of 11 times in World Cup Qualifying matches.

Argentina won 6 (16 goals scored), Colombia 3 (13 goals) and they drew 2 times.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina won 3 (scoring 6 goals in total), Colombia won one in that famous 5-0 trashing and they drew the other.

Last time these two teams played in Argentina, it ended 1-0 for Argentina with Hernán CRESPO scoring (30 March, 2005).

Here's a YouTube clip but it only has the audio commentary from the great Víctor Hugo MORALES -the same from that historical commentary on Diego's second goal against England-. There are no footage from that game, but the audio sure gets me going!

The only players from that match that are still playing for Argentina are: Javier ZANETTI, Javier MASCHERANO and Gabriel HEINZE.

In the current WCQ campaign, Argentina lost in Colombia after getting ahead on a superb strike by Lionel MESSI. The Albicelestes got reduced to 10 men after Carlos TEVEZ saw the red card and Colombia turned the game around to win it 2-1. BASILE was our manager back then. Rubén BUSTOS and Daylor MORENO (none of them starting today) scored Colombia's goals.

Watch those goals with Colombian commentary:

And it was all yellow?

We've discussed this in previous editions of our podcast. With the ridiculous rule that automatically suspends a player for one game after he gets his second yellow (in different matches, of course!), a lot of our footballers will be facing a dilemma: should they get the yellow card today and skip the trip to Ecuador in order to be clean again to face Brazil and Paraguay in the next two rounds?

Here's what I'm thinking right now. If Argentina are winning the match with ease today, I wouldn't be surprised and I wouldn't be angry if I see some of our players getting a yellow on purpose (wasting time, not keeping distance in an opposing free-kick, etc.).

MARADONA has been testing a whole different starting XI that could very well be the one we'll see at Quito and I don't think it'll be a good idea to risk losing through a second yellow some players that will be irreplaceable against Brazil or even Paraguay.

Here's the list of Argentines that'll play with one yellow and will start today against Colombia: Lionel MESSI; Daniel DIAZ; Gabriel HEINZE (I wouldn't mind if he gets 4 straight red cards in one game!); Javier MASCHERANO and Fernando GAGO.

There's more. Waiting on the bench, these players will also risk suspension if they see some action today: Javier ZANETTI; Emiliano PAPA; Maxi RODRIGUEZ and Sebastián BATTAGLIA (all of the included in the potential starting XI for Ecuador).

Pay attention to those names (especially the starters) and don't be surprised if they see yellow today (also...don't get angry if they do. It will mean that they'll be clean to play against Brazil and Paraguay, where there are chances for us to clinch our berth in the next World Cup).

How can I watch it?

First of all, you need to check your local time.

The match will start at 6 PM Buenos Aires. To check your time and to make sure you don't miss it. Click here.

To watch it, there'll be plenty of options.

Here's one great option that won't require you to download or install any software.

I'm sure as the match gets closer, our readers and friends will be posting other links and options to follow the match live.

As we always finish this kind of posts here on Mundo Albiceleste, we've got to say: VAMOS ARGENTINA!

Friday, June 05, 2009

2009 Rolland Garros - No Luck For Del Potro

Well I guess it was Roger FEDERER destiny to complete his sweep at the Grand Slam. I have no argument as he was the better player of the day. But I’m proud by the fact that Juan Martin DEL POTRO made it no easier for him in the first place.

DEL POTRO came out gun blazing in the first set and was the first to break first, winning 6-3. The second set when all the way to a tie breaker from costly mistake from him allow Fedex to take the game 7-5. Not to be outdone, he was back cruising in the third winning 6-2.

But Roger answered back in the fourth when he took his game to another level to win 6-1. The final set looks to be in Roger’s control. As the chills started to set in on Centre Court, FEDERER turned the heat on DEL POTRO and left the Argentine flat-footed. He streaked through seven games en route to taking a 3-1 lead in the fifth.

But just when it seemed DEL POTRO was fading into the twilight zone, he summoned enough energy to level at 3-3. From there the 20-year-old’s challenge faded. FEDERER went on to win the final set 6-4.

“If it had been in the best of three sets, I would have won …that match just escaped me,” said a dejected DEL POTRO.

As for the final, I’m going to go with the majority in hoping FEDERER finally winning the only Grand Slam title missing in his cabinet.

Don't forget to listen to the latest edition of Mundo Albiceleste's own podcast show, download here

MESSI gets motion-captured for video game

After spending most of his childhood days competing on PlayStation games against brothers and friends (even having a big rivalry with Sergio AGUERO on Pro Evolution Soccer), Lionel MESSI must be realising one of those unreal dreams of youth. He is now getting paid to do all the motion-capture process for the next edition of the successful Pro Evolution Soccer saga, the Pro Evo 2010.

This motion-capture session took place exactly one day after a drunk MESSI spoke at the Camp Nou during Barcelona's triple-crown celebrations (and the short interview included in this video starts with him talking about it in Spanish).

What he said in that interview is not really that relevant otherwise. What I wanted to show you is this curious images of MESSI wearing that special black suit full of plastic balls hanging from his shoulders, elbows, knees, etc.

Here's how the Pro Evo 2010 trailer looks like, with another of our favourite heroes, chasing Lio from behind!

Don't forget to listen to the latest edition of Mundo Albiceleste's own podcast show:

You can also right-click here to download

Argentina stay perfect and defeat Egypt in Toulon

The following are the highlights of Argentina 3-2 win over Egypt (thanks Jack for the link).

Ever BANEGA (from the penalty spot like against Holland) and Diego BUONANOTTE were on target again, while Alejandro "Papu" GOMEZ scored the other goal.

Argentina will now face United Arab Emirates on Sunday looking to finish the first round with a perfect record and move on in the competition.

Don't forget to listen to the latest edition of Mundo Albiceleste's own podcast show:

You can also right-click here to download

Mundo Albiceleste Podcast 04

Mundo Albiceleste's podcast is back!

In this edition we discuss about the upcoming match against Colombia, some news about Juan Román RIQUELME, DEL POTRO's Roland Garros campaign, the Youth team at the Toulon Tournament and we have the pleasure to bring you a short interview with one of the greatest ambassadors for Argentine sports in the whole world.

If you want to know who he is or join the debate around our football national team, simply click the audio player above or 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.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A recap after a busy day at Ezeiza

I spent the last two days going to the Ezeiza AFA Headquarters. On Wednesday, the training session in which the starting XI for Saturday took the field to play against a youth team from local club Tristán Suárez (Argentina won 9-0 with HEINZE even scoring a couple!), was not open to the media. So I watched just a few movements from the other side of the fence. Then Nicolás OTAMENDI, Fernando GAGO and Juan Sebastián VERÓN were the players designated to address the media at a press conference.

They all said everyone in the squad is looking forward for a chance to leave the La Paz massacre behind and win all three points against Colombia on Saturday. It wasn't a very attractive or interesting press conference, to be honest.

Thursday was a different matter. The training session was open. I had the chance to watch the entire match between a second-string Argentina side against another team from Tristán Suárez (those lucky boys! I was thinking: "To play for the Tristán Suárez youth teams must be better than to play at Boca or River these days! You get to face all your idols and kiss MARADONA after the training session is over!").

The result (not the most important thing) was 7-0. Nicolás BURDISSO and Maxi RODRIGUEZ scored twice each. Lisandro LOPEZ, Emiliano PAPA and Gonzalo BERGESSIO added one each.

After the training session, MARADONA gave a very interesting press conference and he said the players who took part of the game against Tristán Suárez Youth on Thursday are very very likely to play in Quito (depending on how the match against Colombia ends and how many players will be suspended because of a second yellow).

I'm sure you all want to know what was the formation and the names of that team:

Juan Pablo CARRIZO;
Javier ZANETTI, Nicolás BURDISSO, Nicolás OTAMENDI and Emiliano PAPA (in a defensive unit that was half-Internazionale, half-Velez Sarsfield);
Sebastián BATTAGLIA doing the MASCHERANO job, Christian GIMENEZ and Maxi RODRIGUEZ playing on the flanks, Daniel "Rolfi" MONTENEGRO as the play-maker and Diego MILITO and Lisandro LOPEZ up front.

The scary moment of the afternoon came when Diego MILITO shot the ball and one of the young Tristán Suárez defenders tried to block that shot with his leg. MILITO was unlucky and hit both the ball and the defender's right boot's studs. I was already thinking of a bunch of Inter Milan lawyers making phone calls to Tristán Suárez and asking for explanations on how could a young unknown guy break their new signing's leg! But Diego returned to the pitch and kept playing.

As usual MARADONA threw some darts in every direction!

Earlier this week, Sergio BATISTA (currently working with the U21 in Toulon) said he was sad because there was no dialogue between him and MARADONA. When asked about Checho's comments, Diego said: "What is wrong with Checho? Is he having his period? What should I do to make him happy? Kiss him?"

The biggest of his complaints, however, came when he was asked about the pitch at the Estadio Monumental, where The Jonas Brothers (not related to Jonás GUTIERREZ as far as I know!) and the Argentine cult band "Los Piojos" (a band that funnily enough had a song called "Maradó" -in honour of Diego MARADONA-) played there in the last 15 days. Diego said he sent some people to check how the field was and the reports said the pitch is a mess.

"I can assure you the field where I learn to play football at Villa Fiorito when I was a boy in the shanty town, was better than the pitch at River Plate today"

"We're bringing players like MESSI, TEVEZ, AGÜERO, GAGO, MASCHERANO...and we are risking them by playing them in a pitch in these conditions. I have no problems with River Plate making their bit of business with concerts and events, but I think they should check with the AFA and think about our national team before they book a concert with a big band. I think GRONDONA let the turtle escape" (an expression that is one of Diego's trade-mark phrases. He means someone was really slow to react).

Finally, he said that some time ago he told a very frustrated MESSI -who had lost in the Champions League semifinals last season- that for him to win big and important trophies was "just a matter of time". And that's exactly what he reminded Lio of when they met again this week.

MESSI confirmed this when it was his time to give a press conference after his boss. He was joined by Christian GIMENEZ and Jonás GUTIERREZ.

MESSI said the players came up with the idea of staying at the Ezeiza head-quarters from Wednesday until it is time to face Colombia (usually the retreats start on Thursdays) and they are very aware that there are a lot of things at stake in these next two matches. He added: "If the pitch at El Monumental is not OK, it'll surely play against us".

In other news, tickets are selling really fast and the next edition of our podcast should be up sometime during Friday (after suffering with some unexpected technical difficulties).

Finally...a rumour:

FC Barcelona would try to secure the signing of Javier MASCHERANO from Liverpool for next season.

Will MESSI and MASCHE play for club and country in 2009-2010?

MARADONA confirms the starting XI for Colombia

And it is the same we've been discussing at Mundo Albiceleste in the last couple of days.

Daniel DIAZ, Martín DEMICHELIS and Gabriel HEINZE.
Javier MASCHERANO, Fernando GAGO, Jonás GUTIERREZ and Juan Sebastián VERON;
Lionel MESSI, Carlos TEVEZ and Sergio AGÜERO.

2009 Rolland Garros - Del Potro To Face Fedex In Semis

Juan Martin DEL POTRO made it through to the semi-final for the first time in his career in a Grand Slam tournament. Awaiting in the next game is non other than hot favourite Roger FEDERER, more of that later.

Despite having to play against another clay court specialist in the form of Tommy ROBREDO, he didn’t look threatened at all from the first serve of the game. He defeated the 29th seeded in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4 & 6-2.

“I was very nervous all match, and I never managed to really get in the match because my legs were really tense,” the 20-year-old said. “Maybe you couldn't see that from the outside, but I was pretty tense. Tommy played really well. Three sets, that is not a good indication of what the match was, because he really played well. But I played better, so I won.”

DEL POTRO converted four of his 10 break points, while ROBREDO wasted all seven he held. Now he will face perhaps in what could be his biggest nemesis of 2009, Roger FEDERER. He doesn’t need anyone to remind what happened to him in Australia back in January.

“With his game, he does everything perfectly,” DEL POTRO said. “His game is much of a problem to me, and this is why I never won when I played him.”

The 6-foot-6 has a big serve and forehand but could face his own battle with nerves. And he knows the crowd will be in FEDERER’s corner.

“Everybody wants Roger to win this tournament,” DEL POTRO said. “If I can’t win this tournament, I want to see next Sunday Roger with the trophy.”

As much as most tennis lovers in the world would love to FEDERER completing his Grand Slam, I for being an Albiceleste supporter would love to see an upset here as always. No harm in dreaming big and being optimist at the same time.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Argentina thrashes Holland 4-0 in Toulon's debut

It could be the case that the old post I wrote from YouTube (through the tool they have that allows me to directly post from their website) will show up later, overnight, and we'll have something like a double post. Anyway. Since it is still not up, I'm trying something different and I'm embedding it.

Enough with the explanations. Here are the four goals from Argentina's debut in the Toulon Youth Festival against Holland.

Franco JARA opened the scoring in the first half.

Diego "Little Monkey" PEROTTI tried to cross and instead the ball flew straight into the top far corner to make it 2-0. Why is he nicknamed "Little Monkey" (Monito in Spanish)? Simple! His father was the legendary Boca Juniors winger, Hugo "EL MONO" PEROTTI, who used to play alongside Diego MARADONA at La Bombonera.

BUONANOTTE got fouled inside the penalty box and BANEGA showed courage and class to take the resulting penalty-kick and put the game out of reach for the Dutch.

BUONANOTTE then made a MESSIESQUE run towards the box from the right and cutting to the left. After a rebound, he used his right foot to show us he can also shoot with that one and it ended 4-0.

The bad news of the evening is that a thief broke into the hotel where the Argentine squad is staying and took home with him some money and some possessions that belonged to the players.

Argentina will face Egypt next (Friday) and a win will practically guarantee a place in the next round for Sergio BATISTA's team.