Wednesday, September 30, 2009

HIGUAIN and MILITO sick to their stomachs

If I'm feeling disgusted and completely enraged, imagine how Diego MILITO and Gonzalo HIGUAIN must be feeling watching Martín PALERMO score two goals against a very weak Ghana side in an absolutely meaningless friendly match!

The media, always pro-Boca Juniors and pro-Martín PALERMO in particular, are all over this news. They are postulating him and even saying Argentina has found the striker we needed.

Their own dirty agendas are put way before the well-being of our national team and in order to sell more papers and always have the exclusive interview with PALERMO and to keep Boca fans (half of the country) happy, they claim PALERMO is a beast and some are even saying he should start, not only against Perú and Uruguay but also in the eventual case we make it to the World Cup.

Why? On what basis? How many would have MILITO and HIGUAIN scored if they were put against a mediocre side like the one Ghana sent to Córdoba? I'm saying MILITO and HIGUAIN but feel free to add other names such as CRESPO, Lisandro LOPEZ or even SAVIOLA who keep scoring at will whenever they play. In the Argentine league or in Europe.

Why is it that PALERMO gets the unfair upper-hand when it comes to team selection when the other two are playing every week against much tougher opposition and are younger and way better than him?

The thing that none of the PALERMO-loving media and fans seem to be mentioning is what PALERMO said before the match v. Ghana.

When asked whether he would look forward to taking a penalty-kick if given one v. Ghana and when the journalist reminded him of that horrible night when he missed not one, not two, but three penalty-kicks in the same match v. Colombia in 1999, the Boca legend said: 'I think I'd feel pressured and with a big burden on my shoulders. I would prefer that one of my team-mates takes it instead'.

So that's your 'goleador'. Do you really want to rely on him? Do we really want HIGUAIN and MILITO to seat on the bench while PALERMO takes the field to face Perú?

Of course, Ghana didn't bring their stars to Córdoba and up next is Perú, the worse team in the World Cup Qualifying from South America. The stage is set for PALERMO to score and by all means he should scored and probably he will.

If you ask me...that would be the worse thing that could happen to Argentina as PALERMO will suddenly be universally considered as the solution to all of our problems when in fact he presents us with a problem as he will become yet another player to eclipse our best natural-born and in form goalscorers.

This match against Ghana did us a lot of harm. Of course MARADONA doesn't realise. He probably thinks they brought the best they have and he thinks he found the new BATISTUTA.

Is there anybody out there that could help us?

NBA Media Day - Manu GINOBILI & Luis SCOLA

This is NBA Media Day. Two Tall Albiceleste gave their opinion about the upcoming season. Manu talks about his return from injury and the new look San Antonio Spurs. While SCOLA talks about the Houston Rockets on how they will cope without their star center.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MESSI scores in Europe

On Monday it was TEVEZ, on Tuesday it was MESSI. Matchday 2 of the Champions League took place on Tuesday and we only had 1 Argentine International(Note: International) on the scoresheet. MESSI scored Barcelona's first goal of the campaign as they won the match 2-0.

Javier ZANETTI's Internazionale were held to a 1-1 Draw against FC Rubin Kazan from Russia. Rubin Kazan's goal came from the Argentinian Alejandro DOMINGUEZ. Other matches involving Argentine's tomorrow will be be FC Porto versus Atletico Madrid(combined, both teams have 8 Argentinians between them). Also on Wednesday, Gabriel HEINZE will make his return to Spain as he takes on his old club, Real Madrid.

Matches for Wednesday involving Argentine's:
Bayern Munich vs. Juventus
(Bayern Munich: Martin DEMICHELIS, Jose Ernesto SOSA)

FC Girondins de Bordeaux vs. Maccabi Haifa FC
(Girondins Bordeaux: Fernando CAVENAGHI, Diego PLACENTE)

PFC CSKA Moskva vs. Beşiktaş JK
(Besiktas Istanbul: Matias DELGADO)

Real Madrid CF vs. Olympique de Marseille
(Real Madrid: Gonzalo HIGUAIN, Fernando GAGO, Ezequiel GARAY)
(Olympique Marseille: Lucho GONZALEZ, Gabriel HEINZE)

FC Porto vs. Club Atlético de Madrid
(FC Porto: Fernando BELLUSCHI, Diego VALERI, Mariano GONZALEZ, Ernesto FARIAS, Tomas COSTA, Sebastian PREDIGUER)
(Atletico Madrid: Kun AGUERO, Maxi RODRIGUEZ)

Don't forget that Argentina host Ghana on Wednesday in Cordoba, Argentina.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Carlitos With A Brace Against Former Club

Was He Listening To Our Conversation?

That’s what I’m thinking right now. After all, the general feeling among everyone in Mundo Albiceleste is that he should not start, or to certain extent not being called up for the National Team.

The next thing like a true professional he answers his critics (us to be exactL) by scoring twice for Manchester City in their 3-1 win over his former club West Ham.

Well it’s nice to see him on fire for his club, something which I will say the same for any other Albiceleste that are within the National Team radar. Personally I would not exclude Carlitos altogether as there is something about him that Diego’s side can benefit from (remember the friendly against France earlier this year?).

But for now, I will still maintain my earlier statement that I would prefer someone else (either MILITO or HIGUAIN) to start against Peru.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DEMICHELIS to replace injured COLOCCINI

A big fat YES from me!

Diego Armando MARADONA has called up Martín DEMICHELIS to replace Fabricio COLOCCINI, who picked up an injury and won't be able to make it for the World Cup Qualifiers double round of fixtures v. Perú and Uruguay.

The Bayern Munich defender, who has been a regular in every one of MARADONA's matches in charge of Argentina, is recovering from an injury that required surgery in one of his ankles.

The injured pair of Ariel ORTEGA and Esteban FUERTES will miss out on the friendly against Ghana which lowers the age average of our squad quite significantly.

In place for them will be Mauro BOSELLI (of Estudiantes de La Plata -top-scorer of the last Copa Libertadores-) and Nicolás GAITÁN of Boca Juniors.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Maxi Rescues A Point For Atletico

Well it was nice to see the mixed review that we’re getting from the latest list for our next month’s World Cup Qualifier. Do keep them coming as there will be plenty of updates coming in the week ahead. For now, back to the European League fixtures on Saturday.

Diego MILITO could not increase his tally for Inter as they suffered a 0-1 loss to Sampdoria. Lionel MESSI had a nice assist for Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC in Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Malaga. Which means……

Surprise! Surprise!

It was Kun AGUERO and Maxi RODRIGUEZ, two players that had different fortune for the National Team that got the spotlight as Atletico Madrid manage to salvage a 2-2 draw away to Valencia.

Kun gave the visiting team the lead but Valencia equalize through Pablo courtesy of a nice assist from the Ever improving BANEGA. The home side took the lead before half time through David VILLA. Just as when Los Che looks set to collect full three point, Maxi came to the rescue for Atletico with a volley at the far post.

Another last minute hero was Gonzalo BERGESSIO as he scored the late winner for St Etienne in their 2-1 win over Monaco. It was his first start for the Les Verts and that goal takes his tally to 2 goals in 3 matches.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pipita, AIMAR make the list. A few regulars don't

The 18 players based in Europe have been named by MARADONA to form the squad for the last double round of World Cup Qualifiers against Perú and Uruguay and the biggest news is the inclusion of Gonzalo HIGUAIN and the return of Pablo AIMAR.

Another important aspect to analyse when looking at this list is the exclusion of some other players that have been the backbone of Diego's national team.

Lets have a look at the names and then discuss whether Diego's decision is fair, crazy or what.

Here are the 18 names that are guaranteed of a place in the squad that will play to avoid the embarrassment of missing out of the next World Cup:

Sergio ROMERO (AZ Alkmaar, Holland)
Mariano ANDÚJAR (Catania, Italy)

Nicolás PAREJA (Espanyol, Spain)
Gabriel HEINZE (Olympique Marseille, France)
Fabricio COLOCCINI (Newcastle United, England)
Emiliano INSÚA (Liverpool, England)
Pablo ZABALETA (Manchester City, England)

Javier MASCHERANO (Liverpool, England)
Jonas GUTIERREZ (Newcastle United, England)
Lucho GONZALEZ (Olympique Marseille, France)
Angel DI MARIA (Benfica, Portugal)
Pablo AIMAR (Benfica, Portugal)

Lionel MESSI (Barcelona, Spain)
Sergio AGÜERO (Atlético Madrid, Spain)
Carlos TEVEZ (Manchester City, England)
Gonzalo HIGUAIN (Real Madrid, Spain)
Diego MILITO (Internazionale, Italy)
Ezequiel LAVEZZI (Napoli, Italy)

On form Lionel MESSI and Diego MILITO were no-brainers.

Jonas GUTIERREZ makes a comeback from injury and gets another vote of confidence from MARADONA. DEMICHELIS? Maybe he is not ready.

Six players from English teams (two from Newcastle United -currently in the second tier of the English pyramid-), among them is Carlos TEVEZ who has been underachieving big time for Argentina and struggling with ankle and knee injuries lately.

Of course the inclusion of Gonzalo HIGUAIN will make a lot of people happy and relieved and believe me that the exclusion of Fernando GAGO had a lot to do with that particular call-up. Just don't ask me questions about it.

Time to take a look at the names that were virtually erased out of the blue by MARADONA:

Juan Pablo CARRIZO: Days after taking over as Argentina manager Diego said 'CARRIZO is my first-choice keeper'. Not anymore, it seems. Even though the former River Plate and Lazio custodian is playing regularly for Real Zaragoza in Spain.

Javier ZANETTI: Il Capitano gets the axe. His latest performances for Argentina surely let him down and in his place, Pablo ZABALETA is probably the main candidate to become the starting right-back for the Albiceleste.

Maxi RODRIGUEZ: Another victim of his own string of bad performances with the national team. I'm not sure he's got anything to complain about being axed.

Fernando GAGO: Word has it, he did something against Paraguay that didn't go well with MARADONA. Now he is punished and as a bonus track, Diego dialled Pipita's number.

Jesús DÁTOLO: This is a name that I was really expecting to see included after a couple of great performances with Argentina and two goals in his first two matches. The fact that Jonas and DI MARIA are back, really hurt him, but I thought Diego had developed a bond with the Napoli midfielder.

Lisandro LOPEZ: I'm speechless. He is performing way better than AGÜERO and TEVEZ and LAVEZZI combined. Surely something happened behind the scenes at some point between the Brazil and Paraguay matches. He was bound to start against Brazil or Paraguay (or both) and instead he didn't get a single minute. I'm disappointed to see him ignored.

Bare with me because I'm completely disorganised right now and there are so many things to talk about right now.

I'll continue as thoughts keep coming to my mind.

Emiliano INSUA: I'm delighted that he got the call. I'm hoping he becomes the left-back we've been all waiting for since SORIN retired from international football. Yes, he is not the same kind of attacking force, but he'll probably be able to do a good job and he is a million times better than HEINZE.

Here's a name that will make a lot of Mundo Albiceleste's readers in Malaysia very very happy: Pablo AIMAR.

Will he become the play-maker we're looking for since RIQUELME decided to quit the national team?

We are talking about a guy that was admired by Lionel MESSI when growing up and what I remember of the two of them playing together with Argentina (if my memory doesn't fail me) was actually pretty interesting.

Angel DI MARIA's four-game suspension is finally over and he is another Benfica player on this list.

Lucho GONZALEZ gets another chance now that he is back from an injured shoulder. He's at a new club in Marseille and he scored last week in a league match. I imagine him taking a spot on the right now that Maxi is gone.

Kun and Carlitos get yet another chance at a big stage. Will they finally work? Will they still get to start ahead of players that are performing way better every week?

Nicolás PAREJA will surely be used as a fringe player and will again wait on the sidelines while Gabriel HEINZE keeps getting automatically called up, which makes me end up this article on a bad note and with a horrible set of memories from his past performances.

I'm eager to read your reactions and don't forget the rest of the list will be completed with the usual suspects from the domestic league. Names like Rolando SCHIAVI, Mario BOLATTI, Juan Sebastián VERON, Nicolás OTAMENDI, Emiliano PAPA, Rodrigo BRAÑA and Martín PALERMO look like they have a lot of chances to make it, but be ready to be surprised. I'm sure you already are!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

ORTEGA back in the national team at 35

It really is getting desperately horrible now at Ezeiza.

MARADONA spent 11 days in a clinic in Italy, where he hardly did any work (I'm thinking if you don't have the players around you to work with them, at the very least you could be watching some videos, meeting your coaching staff...I don't know. Doing some of the things you are supposed to be doing and you're getting paid for).

When he comes back, Argentina have a completely meaningless friendly match against Ghana. A 'C' side from Ghana, with no ESSIEN, MUNTARI or any of the other established international stars they have. They'll bring a squad fully formed by players from their domestic league (ranked 64th in the world, by the way), so it comes as no surprise that we are fielding a 'C' team too.

Ariel ORTEGA (35), Martín PALERMO (36), Rolando SCHIAVI (36), Esteban FUERTES (36) all made the squad for the match in Córdoba.'s just a bunch of players that are either too young to capture the eyes of the European clubs or simply not good enough. They'll do OK against a C team from Ghana, but none of the players he called up are likely to have a decisive role in the World Cup Qualifiers, let alone the World Cup.

The list is below, but first, a statement from MARADONA.

"The last thing I'd stand is to be imposed of something from somebody. I won't even accept a suggestion to call up a player. I never got imposed of something. Not when I was 15, let alone now that I'm 48. There is nobody around me who can decide on a player call-up other than me. GRONDONA can't decide on the players I choose. BILARDO can't either. Not even MANCUSO or LEMME. And I take full responsibility of any possible outcome and of anything that could go wrong".

MARADONA said he's got the list for the double round of WCQ v. Perú and Uruguay ready and he will announce it tomorrow (Friday).

Rumour has it, Gonzalo HIGUAIN will finally feature.

The list for Ghana? (there are a couple of River Plate players, by the way and it's worth to mention that no Velez Sarsfield, Lanús or San Lorenzo's players were eligible because of their Copa Sudamericana fixtures. Hence why no PAPA, OTAMENDI, DOMINGUEZ, SALVIO, BLANCO or LEDESMA, to name a few, are nowhere near this list).

Diego POZO (Colón de Santa Fe)
Cristian CAMPESTRINI (Arsenal de Sarandí)

Matías CARUZZO (Argentinos Juniors)
Ignacio CANUTO (Argentinos Juniors)
Rolando SCHIAVI (Newell´s)
Juan Manuel INSAURRALDE (Newell´s)
Cristian VILLAGRA (River)
Fabián MONZÓN (Boca)

Rodrigo BRAÑA (Estudiantes LP)
Enzo PÉREZ (Estudiantes LP)
Leonel VANGIONI (Newell´s)
Federico INSÚA (Boca)
Jesús MÉNDEZ (Rosario Central)
Mario BOLATTI (Huracán)


Gabriel HAUCHE (Argentinos)
Martín PALERMO (Boca)
Ariel ORTEGA (River)
Luis RODRÍGUEZ (Atlético Tucumán)
Esteban FUERTES (Colón de Santa Fe)

A couple of Estudiantes midfielders but no VERON. That doesn't mean MARADONA doesn't like VERON. Maybe he does and he doesn't need to see how he does against Ghana C and thinks it's best to have him rested and prevent the risk of injury.

You'll find a million explanations on the media on how great the call-ups of PALERMO and ORTEGA are for Argentina (of course, they are the darlings of Boca Juniors and River Plate supporters and therefore the media will always praise them in order to keep the majority of their readers happy and loyal to them). The truth is that if Argentina goes to a World Cup relying on those two to provide the goods, we'll be bound for disaster. And the fact that they are instant ticket-sellers is perhaps a better way to explain what these two are doing wearing the Albiceleste in 2009.

I'm in panic now. What if the two of them have a great game v. Ghana? Will MARADONA realise it's not the same to play in Córdoba against a bunch of players from the domestic league from Ghana that wouldn't probably care that much? Will he think that if they perform against Ghana they will surely have an impact against Perú and Uruguay?

I don't want to think about it too much because I'll go crazy and because I fear the manager will misjudge that and will blame the lack of results on an apparent lack of determination from our players, when clearly, what's lacking is a gameplan. An idea of how a team should play. The continuity that some players need to grow in confidence and the proper utilization of the footballers that are rocking the world every week, rather than those who will score against weak and inexperienced defensive units in the Argentine domestic league.

Until MARADONA realises of that, we'll continue to live in danger.

MILITO Increases His Tally

Firstly on behalf of Mundo Albiceleste, we wish to inform you that we will keep you posted on the latest list (officially or unofficially) as soon as we have them. Like the rest of you, we too are itching to see who is going to make it to that list.

But for now, all I’m thinking right now is whether the following player will be in that list. As always he is on fire for his club yet for some reason he can’t even make it to the bench of our NT. Seriously something must be wrong here.

Diego MILITO is fast proving that with time and patient he will deliver the best. Unlike in previous matches, this time against Napoli, he didn’t need to wait that long to score to continue his hot steak. This takes his tally to 5 goals in 5 games.

I must say it is going to break my heart to see a player in such form not making into the final squad against Peru. Let us hope and pray that a miracle will happen here. Also scoring in that game is Ezequiel LAVEZZI, earning a consolation for the visiting team.

Still remaining in Italy, Mauro ZARATE scored from the spot in Lazio’s 1-2 defeat against Parma. While in thrilling 3-3 draw between Bologna and Roma, Nicolas BURDISSO was on the score sheet for the Roman side.

Meanwhile another young hot shot is also making waves in Spain, just a day after Diego PEROTTI of Seville. This time it’s Pablo PIATTI who scored twice against Kun AGUERO’s Atletico including a last minute equalizer to earned Almeria a well deserve 2-2 draw at the Vicente Calderon.

Moving on to the French Coupe de la Ligue, Gonzalo BERGESSIO scored twice for St Etienne as they defeated Nice 4-0. Lastly Eulogio ZARATE was on target for Grasshopper in their 4-0 win over FC Aarau in the Swiss Super League.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Leo’s Double Sends Barca On Top

Surely the big day for most of us at Mundo Albiceleste will be this coming Friday, when Diego names the squad for our final two World Cup Qualifier. At this moment, we’ve been hearing too many reports that I would prefer not to think about it so much instead just wait and see what would the final outcome be.

One name that is unlikely not to be included has to be Lionel MESSI. He continued from where he left off over the weekend with another brilliant performance which saw Barcelona defeating Racing Santander 4-1 thus sending them back to the top of La Liga.

First he provided an assist for Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC to put Barca in front and later scoring their second and fourth goal; both with his usual trademark move and left footed drive from which you can view from the video. Once again, it is proven if there is a system in place for him, he can do wonders.

Another player, one which I’ve been hearing a lot lately, that got himself in the score sheet is Diego PEROTTI. He was the scorer for Seville in their 2-0 win over Real Mallorca. I have great feeling that this one looks destined to have a big future. Anyway, what’s your take on him?

More action from Europe coming up later today.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quick Double From MILITO Inspires Inter Revival

After spending the whole day visiting family friends home for this festive moment here in Malaysia, I was looking forward to sit back for the night and watch some exciting match that was in store. Most notably the Manchester Dhabi.

Carlos TEVEZ made a quick recovery and returned to the hunting ground which he spend during the last two years. As expected, the reception among the home fans was not good but still never take away his amazing contribution of two assist that kept City in the game. No doubt it was United’s day but for me the match was not won courtesy of OWEN controversial goal in injury time but more so from Carlitos unlucky shot that hit the bar. How’s that for a change!

Simultaneously, another interesting game was also going on but this one was from the Italian Serie A between Cagliari and Inter Milan. I must say that I was really sad while watching this. Already a goal at half time, Inter Milan came back to snatch three points courtesy of two clinical finish from Diego MILITO in a space of just four minutes.

And why am I sad about this? Because its just a bittersweet pill to swallow knowing that (if the reports were true) no matter whatever he does, another Diego will no longer be keen to call him up for the National Team. Surely we may not know for what reason this has to happen to him, but in the meantime here is the video for you to enjoy watching.

Still in Italy, Julio CRUZ was on target for Lazio in their 1-1 draw with Catania. And right now as I’m writing this, Lisandro LOPEZ and Cesar DELGADO are partnering up front for Lyon against PSG. Hopefully we’ll get something from them. For now it’s nappy time for me.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

MESSI Gets The Better Of Kun As Barca Hammers Atletico

While news regarding Diego’s presents in Italy may raised a lot of eye brows plus the more uncertain news that we’re getting pertaining to the National Team must be going through our mind; perhaps we can put a side all of them and recap on what turned out to be another smashing Saturday for Lionel MESSI.

While he was resting and enjoying in his Spa, I was hoping maybe Diego might be watching Lionel facing his son-in-law Kun AGUERO in the Nou Camp. No surprise it was MESSI that got the better of Kun as Barca won 5-2 with another sublime performance from the Flea.

First he scored Barca’s second after receiving a through ball from Xavi and then fired with his left foot in the centre of the penalty box. Then he had an assist in Seydou KEITA goal to put Barca 3-0 up. Kun AGUERO pulled one back for Atletico just before half time.

Another goal from Diego FORLAN for Atletico looked to be final goal of the night. However with barely seconds before the final whistle, MESSI fired another, this time with his right foot to the bottom left corner.

In a double joy for Catalonia, rising star Juan FORLIN was also on target for Espanyol in their 3-2 away win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Whether or not is there is any future for him in the National Team, Lucho GONZALEZ contribution for Marseille simply can’t be ignored. He first scored then went on to assist in two other goals as his side hammered Montpiller 4-1.

Still in the French League, Monaco trash Nice 4-1 which includes a brace from Alejandro ALONSO. Gonzalo BERGESSIO scored for St Etienne in their 1-1 draw with Auxerre.

There were also goals from several lesser known names as well.

In the Bundesliga, Diego KLIMOWICZ of Bochum was on target in their 3-2 defeat to Mainz. While in Greece, Lucas FAVALLI was another player on the losing end despite scoring in Atromitos 2-1 loss to Kavala.

Friday, September 18, 2009

There is no ending to this mess. What next?

The answer to the question posed in our headline is simple: 'Nobody knows'.

I'm hearing all sorts of different versions around and I don't know which one to listen to or which one has some truth behind.

Lets start with what's real.

MARADONA is off to Italy to lose some weight and have a minor surgery in one of his knees.

GRONDONA didn't know of this and of course he is not happy, but publicly he said: 'We knew about Diego's trip to Italy. There's nothing wrong. All we need to stop this crisis is for the ball to get in the back of the net and stop conceding'. Simple, right?

GRONDONA, BILARDO, MANCUSO and LEMME all met on Monday and several other times during the week to discuss what's the best way forward. They have been on the phone with MARADONA during those meetings.

Argentina will face Ghana in Córdoba on 30 September. The match is organised just to raise money, sell tickets and honour the contract signed with a company that promotes this kind of friendlies. The squad will be formed by players from the local league with the exception of those playing for Velez Sarsfield (like OTAMENDI, DOMINGUEZ and PAPA), San Lorenzo (we saw BERGESSIO in the past, but now he is playing in France) and Lanús (Sebastián BLANCO and we also had José SAND who went to play in the Emirates). Those three teams play in the Copa Sudamericana and can't release their players.

The list for the Ghana friendly will be released on Monday after the next round of Torneo Apertura matches.

BILARDO is not taking charge of the national team by no means.

Now lets take it up a notch and talk about a few of the things that have been said and written in the last couple of days about our national team and the people in charge of it.

These are only rumours and should be taken as they are. NOT TRUE (at the moment)

GRONDONA to fire someone from MARADONA's coaching staff?

It's one theory. GRONDONA clearly doesn't have the integrity or the guts to fire MARADONA and this could be a perfect shortcut to see him out of Ezeiza.

I remember that PEKERMAN left (he wasn't fired by GRONDONA), but in reality, he was told he would have taken a major pay-cut (and so would the members of his coaching staff) and that was it for him. He wouldn't take that. Not only because of the money itself, but for the treatment he was receiving.

Under this situation, GRONDONA would probably be making one of his trademark moves. He knows MARADONA will continue to live by his very own codes and if GRONDONA touches one of the members of his team, that should trigger Diego's resignation.

A move to get GUARDIOLA to manage Argentina?

I can't believe this. Please, disregard this 'information' that came out of nowhere and has no truth whatsoever. Ignore it. Won't happen. In fact, I regret having read that report as it was a complete waste of my time.

Random Video of the Day: MESSI vs. MARADONA

It's time for Random Video of the Day! Or in this case, Random Videos of the Day.

They're both Argentine, they both played(one still does) for Barcelona, they both have some Italian in them, they both won the U-20 World Cup, they're both left footed, they've both scored some fantastic goals and dazzled us with 5 star performances. One won the World Cup in 1986 and he's hoping that the other can do the same in 2010. However, they're both in the spotlight right now. Whether it's for the right or wrong reasons, they both are. Of course, I'm talking about Diego MARADONA and Lionel MESSI. With many similarities, it's only fair that I post this 3 Part video, called "Lionel MESSI vs. Diego MARADONA" comparing both players. In this video, whatever Diego does, you'll see MESSI doing the exact same thing(if not very similar) to Diego. MESSI has been compared to Diego his entire career, now you decide if he's worthy of being called "MESSIDONA".

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Argentina to face Ghana on 30 September

The first African national team to guarantee its place in the next World Cup (apart from South Africa, of course), will visit Argentina to play a friendly in the city of Córdoba.

With this not being an official FIFA international date, both Argentina and Ghana will be using players that are not part of their main team. I mean...I don't believe Ghana will come with stars such as Michael ESSIEN or Sulley MUNTARI as I don't think Chelsea or Inter will let those players leave for such an irrelevant friendly.

In case of Argentina, it means only players from the local league will be called.

Ariel ORTEGA looks set to make a comeback and the list is yet to be announced. Martín PALERMO and Rolando SCHIAVI too. That's 107 years between the three of them, but in this case, since it's not a World Cup Qualifier and all it matters is to draw some attention and sell some tickets, I don't think it is too bad for them to play. After all, this is an irrelevant match.

The bad thing is that I fear that if any of those players (or others that are clearly not up for the challenge in the international stage) have a good game against Ghana, will probably confuse MARADONA even more and they may have a role against Perú and/or Uruguay.

In other appears that all it is needed at this stage is the official announcement, but the decision of facing Perú in the Estadio Monumental after the experiment of Rosario is reportedly already taken.

Also...I hear that with the exception of Brazil-Bolivia in the next round and Perú-Bolivia in the final round, all the other matches will be played at the same time -to avoid suspicions or conspiracy theories-.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

AYALA willing to come back...

According to an article on TyC(Argentine sports media), former Albiceleste captain Roberto AYALA said he's willing to do "anything in his power to help the team" and that the door is not closed(for him to return to the National Team).

This is interesting, because at the beginning of 2009, news surfaced that Diego wanted to call-up El Raton but AYALA refused. Now this does not necessarily mean that AYALA is back on the team. We would need Diego to call him up, but with everything going on right now, it's more than a possibility.

Personally, I'd welcome AYALA back. I know he's up there age wise and that there are younger players that are able to do the job, but if Diego doesn't call those players, I'd be happy with AYALA. He brings heart, experience and leadership and he's been playing great for Zaragoza lately(even going back to last season).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

PIPITA and HEINZE the first to score

One looks like he's off the National Team and one looks like he might be on it, either way they both scored! With the Tuesday fixtures of the Champions League now over, we only had 2 Argentine players who scored for their clubs. The first one came from PIPITA(Gonzalo HIGUAIN) against FC Zurich to give Real Madrid a 3-0 lead.

The other goal came from Gabriel HEINZE who scored his first ever goal for his new club Marseille. They took on AC Milan and HEINZE scored the only goal for his team as AC Milan won 2-1.

Argentina in Champions League Matchday 1

Yes, it's that time of year again, it's the beginning of the UEFA Champions League! And here at Mundo Albiceleste we will keep you updated on everything that has to do with Argentina in this club tournament. Here are the matches for today(Tuesday, September 15) along with the names of each Argentine in every team.

Group A:
Juventus vs. Girondins Bordeaux
Girondins Bordeaux: Fernando CAVENAGHI, Diego PLACENTE

Maccabi Haifa vs. Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich: Martin DEMICHELIS, Jose Ernesto SOSA
Group B:
Besiktas vs. Manchester United
Besiktas: Matias DELGADO
Group C:
FC Zurich vs. Real Madrid
Real Madrid: Gonzalo HIGUAIN, Fernando GAGO, Ezequiel GARAY

Olympique Marseille vs. AC Milan
Olympique Marseille: Lucho GONZALEZ, Gabriel HEINZE
Group D:
Atletico Madrid vs. Apoel Nicosia
Atletico Madrid: Kun AGUERO, Maxi RODRIGUEZ

Chelsea vs. FC Porto
FC Porto: Fernando BELLUSCHI, Diego VALERI, Mariano GONZALEZ, Ernesto FARIAS, Tomas COSTA, Sebastian PREDIGUER

Surely, the key match for all Argentina fans will be tomorrow when Inter Milan host reigning champions FC Barcelona at the San Siro.

Monday, September 14, 2009

DEL POTRO: Highlights & Trophy Presentation

There is saying that goes something like this “In a journey through the darkness, there’s light at the end of the tunnel”

Today that light, is non other than Delpo.

DEL POTRO wins and the whole Argentina is happy

It was a thriller that lasted a little bit more than four hours. It was the first time Roger FEDERER was forced to play a fifth set in a US Open final (and he arrived today with a run of five consecutive titles). For a change, this time, he lost.

Juan Martín DEL POTRO has always said his favourite tournament was the US Open and tonight he made the miracle happen against the toughest possible rival who, as expected, didn't make his life easy.

The Argentine took the last two sets and won his first Grand Slam title to make the whole country celebrate.

Mundo Albiceleste salutes the brilliant Juan Martín DEL POTRO on the biggest day of his professional career (and probably his whole life).


I have 19 names for you. Ready to see them?

I'm watching TV and I'm trying to read between the lines and avoid falling into the hands of those journalists that have their own interests and personal agendas.

I'm mature enough and I'd like to think I have the ability to see for myself and to reject the message that is coming from the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the majority of football fans in Argentina are happy to buy the message they get from the so-called pundits.

Therefore, you have that "journalist" who watches Boca Juniors matches from MARADONA's VIP box and so he goes on and on about how PALERMO and SCHIAVI represent the true spirit of the national team and how MESSI and the rest are all primadonna.

You have others who are now calling for Mauro BOSELLI (of Estudiantes) and they keep ignoring Lisandro LOPEZ and Diego MILITO who both have been where BOSELLI is right now and took it another level to be true stars in Europe.

Those journalists can be all those things I'm saying, but because of their own personal agendas and in exchange of not criticizing MARADONA or GRONDONA or some players, they have access to exclusive inside information.

With that said, I've heard 19 names they mentioned that could be part of the list to face Perú and Uruguay next month.

Here they are. Pay special attention to number 19. A name that will show you just how contradictory MARADONA is.

6. Emiliano INSUA
17. Rodrigo PALACIO (former Boca Juniors)
19. Gonzalo HIGUAÍN

These names are not 100% confirmed (nothing is 100% confirmed with MARADONA), but you can see the exclusion of GAGO and HEINZE would open the door for HIGUAIN.

CRESPO leaves a big team (replaced by Diego MILITO) and goes to a smaller team (to replace Diego MILITO) and instead of this meaning the one who is in the up (MILITO) gets the opportunity instead the one who is in the declining part of his career...

Don't get me wrong. I like CRESPO and I was always on his side when everybody criticized him. In fact, I would have the two of them in my team, but MILITO would be my starter.

There are many other things to discuss and I may have missed out on a couple of players because I started typing as I was listening to this list and maybe I didn't type everything.

But have 19 names is better than having nothing, right?

Alright, give us your calls!

The River Plate Connection

Hernan CRESPO and Javier SAVIOLA both scored on Sunday, hoping to try and earn a spot back on the National Team.

Genoa took on Napoli on Sunday with a match that produced 5 yellow cards and 3 red cards. With the score 2-1 for Genoa, Hernan CRESPO came on in the 58th minute. Fast forward to the 75th minute and CRESPO gets on the scoresheet for Genoa! A good run from fellow Argentine Rodrigo PALACIO, led to a pass to CRESPO who was in the box and being the typical #9 that he is, slots it into the back of the net. Ezequiel LAVEZZI came on in the 58th minute. The match ended 4-1 in favor of Genoa.

However it was SAVIOLA's goal that made the headlines in Portugal on Sunday as Benfica took on Belenenses. It took El Conejo only 6 minutes to score the first goal of the game and what a great goal it was. Taking the ball from his own half and scoring! SAVIOLA made a rabbit like run, before squeezing into the box and shooting. His inital shot was saved by the goalkeeper, but he got his own rebound and scored to give Benfica the lead. The match ended 4-0 for Benfica.

Los Pumas to play 'Four Nations' from 2012

In the middle of the storm that our football team is living, our rugby union national side Los Pumas have been confirmed as the fourth member of the tournament that is known as the 'Tri Nations' and will be renamed 'Four Nations' starting from 2012.

Bronze in the last Rugby World Cup in France 2007, Los Pumas are the only side among the top-ranked in rugby union that lack an annual world class competition and this inclusion represents a major boost for the sport in Argentina.

Argentina will join the SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australia). Each team will play three home and away matches between August and October.

No doubt a sensational news for rugby in Argentina and a fair reward for what Los Pumas have been achieving in the last few years.


2009 US Open Men's Single Final - DEL POTRO To Take On FEDEX

Well we’ve been hearing so many cries for some divine intervention for our National Football team. It’s time to rest that movement just a bit and hope there could be one in Flushing Meadows.

Juan Martin DEL POTRO crush Rafael NADAL 6-2, 6-2 & 6-2 in the semi final thus becoming the first Albiceleste in five years to play in a Grand Slam final (2004 Rolland Garros when Gaston GAUDIO defeated Guillermo CORIA). Awaiting him in the final is non other then defending champion and World No.1 Roger FEDERER.

So far in 2009, the only thing that has stop DEL POTRO from achieving his Grand Slam glory was FEDERER himself. First in the quarter-final of the Australian Open in which he was hammered by the Swiss maestro and later on in the semi-final of Rolland Garros.

So will DEL POTRO be lucky in his third attempt against Fedex and to become the third Argentinean to win the US Open after the legendary Guillermo VILAS (1977) and Gabriela SABATINI (1990)? Only time will tell.

We at Mundo Albiceleste would like to wish him good luck for the final and hopefully a victory here can bring some cheers to the many suffering Albiceleste fans at the moment.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Diego flew to Europe to tell players they're out

BILARDO said on Friday: 'We will be having a meeting with MARADONA and the rest of the coaching staff on Monday'. GRONDONA was also supposed to attend to that meeting.

Instead, MARADONA flew to Madrid, where he plans on starting a series of one-on-one meeting with some of the players he's been calling since he took over as national team manager. GRONDONA only found out when Diego was already airborne.

I know you can't wait to know the names of the players he would axe. Without further introduction, here they are (according to reports on Olé, the only Argentine sports newspaper):

Gabriel HEINZE (I still can't believe it and I need to see the list in two weeks. If he is out of the team, I think this is great news for Argentina and I'm sure many of you -if not all of you- will agree with me)

Fernando GAGO
(with the exclusion of these two (if it happens), the inclusion of Gonzalo HIGUAIN becomes at least a possibility. It's all I can say. Of course, you never know with MARADONA, but the chances are there).

(I still think he can do the job if the team play as a team).

(He's been horribly out of form and I'd understand if he's cut out).

Lisandro LOPEZ
(30 seconds in and he scores against Russia. Played ZERO minutes in the World Cup Qualifiers and yet he's punished. Is it rocket science to understand his exclusion would be linked to something that happened off the pitch? We would be missing out on a great striker who can adapt to several roles and positions up front and who also happens to the on form. But he is not family and he never played for Boca Juniors -so the media won't pressure MARADONA if Licha is left out-)

(Scores in every match he plays for Inter, like he did with Genoa, Zaragoza and to some extent Racing Club before that. Played an average of 26 minutes and was ignored against Paraguay in favour of a 36-year-old striker from Boca Juniors. Same as with Lisandro, no pressure from the media will come if he is excluded. In fact, all the mediocre journalist in Argentina seem to go with the same script and they say: 'MILITO never performed with Argentina and he had many opportunities'. It makes me sick to my stomach, but I heard that time after time. Poor MILITO -and poor fans, as we have our goal-scoring machine getting ignored incomprehensibly-).

The report on Olé says you can't tell for sure with MARADONA and that the conversation the manager will have with each of the players above may give them another opportunity.

AGÜERO? He'll continue to be considered (did any of you had any doubt of this?)

MESSI and MASCHERANO? Diego says he is due to have a conversation with them and ask them why don't they perform for Argentina as they do for Barcelona and Liverpool. Great! Perhaps they can explain they can't perform if there is no gameplan or tactical awareness or work during the week the players are (supposed to be) training in Ezeiza. Will MARADONA listen to them? Hmmm...

By the way...those who were dreaming of a meeting on Monday with consequences for MARADONA, can keep on dreaming. But they better prepare for the worse kind of nightmares because Diego will stay in charge.

And while he is at it in Europe, Olé reported that Diego will have an arthroscopy in one of his knees and will also undergo a treatment to lose weight.

MILITO : Give Him 90 Minutes & He Will Score

He has proven before, he has proven now and certainly in the future, if given the rightful chance he will prove it again. And exactly what is that? I’ll tell you in a short while.

Diego MILITO sealed Inter Milan’s victory over Parma by scoring their second goal just two minutes from time. It what could have been a frustrating afternoon, MILITO finally got his name in the score sheet after BALOTELLI found him on the counter and he finished the move off with a tap-in.

Yes he did miss a few chances before the goal. But all I’m saying is that the same man that Diego refuses to start (let alone play for substantial minutes) for the National Team, when given the proper chance (70-90 minutes of football) he will surely score for you.

After watching this game, I’ve been left to ask this question over and over again. What would have happened if we had him starting for us when we played against Brazil & Paraguay (or anyone else for that matter)?

Well here I am again, praying very hard for another Devine Intervention so that we might see him given some quality time on the pitch for our next two World Cup Qualifier and let his goals take us to South Africa.

Oh yes, just one more thing, COLOCCINI did scored for Newcastle in their 1-0 win over Cardiff!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

MESSI Scores For Barca On His Return

Surely the talk about our National Team will continue to go on an on and until we get to hear any latest development (if there is any) but for now I would like to put our attention back to the European league fixture on Saturday.

Lionel MESSI returns to Barcelona with a goal after enduring in what could be his worst ever week in his football career. The defending champion defeated Getafe 2-0 with both goals coming from the second half.

Originally, he was left on the bench alongside other first team players as coach Pep GUARDIOLA wanted them to be fresh for the Champions League trip against Inter Milan. As soon as MESSI (together with INIESTA) was brought in the 58th minute the tide change in Barca’s favour.

Summer signing Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC gave Barca the lead in the 66th minute and MESSI sealed the deal for them in the 80th minute. Daniel ALVES, having also come off the bench, sent over a deep cross that IBRAHIMOVIC controlled before unselfishly chipping back across goal for the unmarked MESSI to thump a powerful header into the roof of the net.

I was personally happy to see MESSI with all that smile on his face and really praying hard that with the help of some Devine Intervention we will get to see that smile from him against Peru and Uruguay.

In French Ligue 1, Montpellier defeated Lens 1-0 with a penalty from Alberto COSTA. Meanwhile in Russia, Alejandro DOMINGUEZ scored from the spot for FK Rubin in their 5-0 Saturn Moscow. Lastly in the Swiss Super League, Eulogio ZARATE scored twice for Grasshopper in their 3-4 defeat to FC Zurich.

Friday, September 11, 2009

BILARDO: 'We'd only welcome Jesus and Mary'

You think I'm joking, right?

You think I'm making that up! You think I'm bored and I have nothing better to do than mess up with your minds and your Albicelestes hearts so I come here and write bad jokes about the national football team of Argentina!'re wrong.

I'm only here to reflect the reality and to let you know of the latest developments around MARADONA's team.

This time, it is BILARDO who takes centre stage (about time?). Named as National Team Coordinator (or some made up job title) at the same time Diego was appointed as manager, Carlos Salvador BILARDO, who won a World Cup in 1986 as head coach of Argentina, has been doing whatever he was doing completely away from the spot lights. In fact, nobody knew what he was doing.

MARADONA gave him no saying when it comes to the tactics and the training sessions, let alone selecting the players for the squad.

Now everybody seems to realise Diego needs help (except perhaps for Diego himself).

MARADONA has been fighting a pointless fight against GRONDONA in order to have Oscar RUGGERI installed as an assistant manager. GRONDONA said no, MARADONA said I don't want BATISTA or any of the ones you like and we, the fans, are the victims that are suffering from having Alejandro MANCUSO and Miguel Angel LEMME surrounding MARADONA and earning a salary as members of the coaching staff when they are clearly not up for the challenge.

Right after we lost to Paraguay, a long list of potential assistant-managers-to-be were thrown to the air (like Antonio MOHAMED or Claudio VIVAS -BIELSA's old assistant manager-), but instead, BILARDO seems to be aiming higher (or rather being high before speaking to the media).

'This thing has to end like it has started. If Jesus and the Virgin Mary are coming to help us, we will accept them. But we will welcome nobody else' is what Carlos BILARDO said.

This is, perhaps, the most ridiculous quote I have ever read from a sports personality. This is borderline with insanity. This is just an old man suffering from severe mystical delirium.

Why don't we, instead, come up with a tactical plan, some hard work and some basic concepts of team play before we call out for higher powers?

Wouldn't it be easier? Or don't we realise that for as much as we go to church before a match (like our Argentina squad did before facing Brazil) and we pray every minute we will never succeed by doing just that? I mean...Argentina is a Catholic country, but are we ignoring the fact that Brazil is the country with more Catholics in the planet? They clearly outnumber us!

Of course I'm not taking my previous paragraph seriously, but I can't either take BILARDO's comments without a hint of sarcasm.

He continued: 'What Diego did for Argentina is a lot. He always stood up to defend these colours and he responded everytime he was called upon'. Perhaps someone should tell BILARDO that he means MARADONA-The-Player and not MARADONA-The-National-Team-Manager.

The only time when he actually made some sense was when he said: 'You can't judge our players on one or two matches. You can't say "they played a bad game, now get rid of them". You have to support your players. Talk to them and convince them so they can improve next time'.

It's late now and I really need to go to sleep.

I hope that while I'm at it, I can dream of a forward line of Lionel MESSI, Jesuschrist and the Holy Spirit scoring a hat-trick each against Perú and Uruguay. After all, that's what the people in charge of the team we love with incredible passion seem to be planning on.

I'm sure we've got a divine right to make it to the next World Cup. Right?

Diego and his eternal contradictory nature

I have been reporting things as I heard them and I've been mainly informing, rather than giving my opinion.

After yet another contradiction, I'm here to do a little exercise to remember some of the contradictory messages that MARADONA has been sending out and some of the phrases that sounded like 'his truth' and now are being erased by his elbow of God.

When MARADONA took over he said:

MARADONA's quote: 'Juan Pablo CARRIZO is my first choice as a goalkeeper. I don't care if he is not playing for Lazio'

Outcome: Three matches later, when CARRIZO didn't have 100% responsibility in the goals he conceded, he lost that number 1 shirt.

We all know what happened to his next choice: ANDÚJAR. And now, only a few months after he designated CARRIZO as his first-choice keeper, he is using his third in Sergio ROMERO (if you don't count Diego POZO and Cristian CAMPESTRINI, which he used v. Panamá when players from the local league were called up).

When Martín DEMICHELIS got injured and needed surgery:

MARADONA's quote: 'Nicolás BURDISSO is the natural replacement for Martín DEMICHELIS'.

Outcome: BURDISSO joined the squad for Brazil and Paraguay and didn't play a single minute (instead, he had to witness how DOMINGUEZ was outclassed and outpaced in Brazil and yet he won a second cap three days later and he also watched as a 36-year old Rolando SCHIAVI was sent in vs. Paraguay instead of him)

Just before the friendly in France:

MARADONA's quote: 'I think it's time I give Lisandro LOPEZ good minutes for the national team'.

Outcome: Lisandro LOPEZ took only 30 seconds to find the back of the net against Russia (he only played in the second half). It was a friendly. Lisandro LOPEZ played exactly 0 (ZERO. A big fat ZERO) minutes in the World Cup Qualifiers.

And this next one is the quote that really kills me and disgusts me now that I read Diego is planning on calling more players from the local league and leave out some of those that are European-based.

Just before the match v. Brazil in Rosario:

Question from a journalist: 'Diego: if today you had to come up with a list of 23 players to go to the next World Cup, do you think those players are here in this hotel with you right now?' (NOTE: There were 28 players in that squad).

MARADONA's quote: 'Yes. The 23 players are here with me now'.

Outcome: Well...we don't know what the outcome will be yet. It certainly doesn't look like a good one. Reports EVERYWHERE are suggesting Diego will 'punish' most of the players that came from Europe to play against Brazil and Paraguay and he won't be calling them up again. Even names that are (or were) close to his heart like MESSI, AGÜERO and TEVEZ are being questioned.

The media, still licking Diego's arse (if you allow me the expression and if you don't I apologize but I can't find a better way of putting it), are now blaming all on MESSI of all people. They are now praising PALERMO (Boca Juniors biased anyone?) and even Rolando SCHIAVI.

This, my friends, is looking worse and worse each day.

If you ask me now (and my head replies), I'd say Argentina do not deserve to be in the next World Cup, for much as it hurts me to say it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mundo Albiceleste Pod - Is there light at the end?

Four defeats in the last five matches give us plenty to talk about.

We have dropped from the automatic qualification places and we are facing real danger of not making it to the World Cup next year.

Mundo Albiceleste's team is joined by Lucas in Australia and there is no topic left out of a very heated conversation after Argentina lost to Paraguay.

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 or right here in the comments' box. If you want to participate in a future edition of our podcast, make sure to drop us an e-mail too.

The biggest sin of all: wasting your talent

Having a conversation with Lucas (a reader of Mundo Albiceleste and an Argentina fan through and through), I came up with a thought and here I am to try and share it with you.

I believe there is no bigger sin than wasting your talent. Lets face it...when you have no talent, you're going to rely on your determination or your hard work to make up for it. If you don't succeed in whatever you do in life and it happens because you have no talent in what you were trying to do and you gave it your best shot, then nobody can say anything bad about you. After did whatever you could and you did try your best. You'll feel no regrets at all.

If you do possess all the talent you need and you waste it, that is when you will regret it. It is when you'll probably be criticised, by those who love you and those who don't.

In a way, even when he achieved the most important prize there is in football and he reached the status of a true legend of the game, I think Diego MARADONA is perhaps the clearest example of someone who committed a crime against himself.

I don't know whether you can still say he is a complete waste of talent. After all, he did achieved many things in football, but there is no doubt in my mind that he did boycotted himself and cut his career short when he was on top of the world.

He felt invincible and that was probably because he was! But he suffered from a terrible addiction that made him a worse player than he was and caused him so many problems in his career and even more so in his personal life. Not to mention the court of flattering parasites that did him no good with bad advices and sucked his money in the meantime.

With his talent and the incredible ability his body had to take on some brutal treatment from rivals without suffering many major injuries (barring that broken ankle when he was in Barcelona in a match against Athletic Bilbao), MARADONA could have played in at least one more World Cup (if only as a super-sub or an influential squad member at 38) and he could have achieved many more things at club level.

Right now, somehow I think what he is doing to the team is the same thing he did to himself in the past, when he was a player.

What we are witnessing (especially against Paraguay last night) is probably a perfect representation of what I'm trying to say here.

He has all the tools at his disposal. He started off with the complete respect and admiration from every player he called up to play for him. He had the media on his side. The public opinion too. Everybody wanted him to succeed and to cap an incredibly captivating Cinderella story. What better redemption for him (after all the troubles he has had to endure) than leading MESSI and co. to the next World Cup and actually have a shot at winning it?

We've been keen supporters of Diego here at Mundo Albiceleste and somehow we've been fooled by how things are developing. Because we always thought he wasn't going to be alone in this. We thought someone like BILARDO would have a saying in the coaching and the tactical preparations, but obviously we were wrong and now we're suffering just as much (if not more) than all the other true Argentina fans.

What is going on lately and the succession of wrong decisions after bad judgements after terrible choices, is like a perfect metaphor of what the last days of MARADONA 'The Player' were.

The only thing I still believe is that he didn't have enough time to work with his team, but that's hardly an excuse. I believe that even with the little time he has had, things could have been done much better. We can't ask this team to play by heart and to know where each team-mate will be at all times even without looking. That takes a lot of time and work and chemistry. All I'm asking is to see a team that knows what system they are going to be using. A team with at least a hint of an identity. Some kind of tactical awareness. Because the class and the quality is there.

If you look at the talent we have to pick from, all you can think of is that there is something very wrong in the way we are performing. Especially when you see a couple of 36-year old players from the domestic league trying to fish for a ball to see if you could hit jackpot and get away with crime.

Diego has always been contradictory and eventually, he was only hurting himself when he was at his worst. Right now, with what he is doing, he is also hurting the fans we've got not only in Argentina but all over the world. He is hurting our players (I'm not saying they are saints or Gods. And not all of them are the same, but their image with many fans is certainly getting unfairly stained). He is hurting the history of our national team. A history for which, ironically, he wrote the most important pages with his delicious left foot and his heart of a lion.

He is hurting himself and it seems like there is nothing we can do about it but suffer from our very own positions.

We seriously need things to change dramatically or else, the crown MARADONA was not afraid of losing when he took over as a manager, will forever fall from his head.

I for one, surely don't want that, but as I said many times here on Mundo Albiceleste, with GRONDONA calling the shots and knowing that Diego won't quit, I don't see a quick solution for this mess we're in neck-deep.

And it makes me sad.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Player Ratings: Paraguay 1-0 Argentina

By Dave P.

Wow, that’s all I have to say. I remember way back when MARADONA was first elected coach of Argentina how controversial it was but deep down inside I was a little happy to see our great player be coach of the NT. Oh how everything has changed, it has been a while since I have done player ratings and once again I am writing them with negative emotions. I can’t remember the last time I wrote these with a satisfied feeling. In the first 15 mins it felt as if our team was starting to get a little chemistry together but as the clock moved forward everybody drifted away from the mentality of winning. It seemed as if we were just going through the motions, no combination, just lazy passes and sloppy positioning. It’s not like we were
dominated by Paraguay, we just did not have any attack what so ever, which means eventually our defense was going to break down. Especially with our make shift defense at the moment.

Anyways here are my depressing ratings again…

Sergio ROMERO (5): Our best player on the night, he was not tested too often but came up with a few quick reaction saves. The goal that was scored on him he could have quite possibly gotten down to the ground quicker to parry the shot, but then again he is our tallest keeper and it is harder for him to get down compared to ANDUJAR or CARRIZO. Saved ZANETTI's butt at least 2 times when he was quick to come off his line and collect the ball. Good game.

Javier ZANETTI (2): In the beginning of the match was very quiet, but had a few good combination runs with MESSI and VERON. On the goal that was scored he was slightly out of position but the main thing was that he was not fast enough to keep up with HAEDO VALDEZ. I have always had good things to say for ZANETTI, but after tonight’s performance coupled
with his last 3 games I say its time for ZANETTI to move on. Not only was he too slow to catch HAEDO VALDEZ but also he seemed to be lost all game with whom he was defending.

Sebastián DOMINGUEZ (1.5): Wow! Another very shaky performance from a CB. This is exactly what we don’t need, he got beat by the Paraguayan strikers far to easily and too often throughout the game. Was probably the main reason why we conceded the goal. He pushed up way to far to help GAGO and MASCHERANO, which opened up space for HAEDO VALDEZ and spread the back 4 leaving the rest of our defense confused. I thought DOMINGUEZ was a fast player but after tonight, he proved that he is not a NT quality player.

Gabriel HEINZE (3): In the beginning HEINZE had some good tackles when DOMINGUEZ got beat which could have possibly saved us from further embarrassment. But like the majority of our team as the game went on no one seemed to know what playing football meant. He drifted all over
the place and became his reckless self. However that being said he was probably the best defensive player on the team tonight.

Emiliano PAPA (4): One of our most active players, which is sad to say because he is our left back. PAPA hustled up and down the entire left wing all game without ever losing his speed or tiring. Every time he joined the attack his quickness was a problem for the defense of Paraguay, however his final touch or cross never ended in anything positive. Still I was impressed with his endurance and determination. Good outing in a bad game for PAPA.

Jesús DATOLO (4): Played only the first half then LAVEZZI was subbed in at half time. DATOLO was very active and a bright spot for us in the first 20 minutes. He could not be slowed down and was able to beat defenders to get to the end line. Played in some crosses and one dangerous one that our short strikers would never be able to head. However, for some reason after the 20 min mark he drifted out of the game and seemed to not have the hunger that he had in his last two outings. Played good for not having any support from AGÜERO or MESSI.

Javier MASCHERANO (2.5): Very poor outing from MASCHERANO. You would expect his typical bulldog approach in helping out our back four, but instead he was too reckless and caught out of position too many times. On the goal that was scored, DOMINGUEZ was beat then GAGO and MASCHERANO both missed chances to poke the ball away and were beat. Not much else to say for Masche our captain acted nothing like a captain in tonight's consecutive loss. Should be embarrassed.

Fernando GAGO (2.5): Pretty much the same thing as MASCHERANO. GAGO played way too defensive and was part of the problem for why we had no support on any attacking runs. Every time he got the ball he would force a ball up to the attack, which would get us no where, just lose of
possession. Now I have seen GAGO play well before, but this performance was sad to watch. He had no clue what to do when he was on the ball and held on to it not just 1 second too long but 3 or 4 seconds too long. Sad to say but if this is the GAGO that comes to play he is not NT quality either.

Juan Sebastián VERON (1): Terrible. Through out the game VERON was too slow for the pace of our attackers and held onto the ball too long missing any chances that we had for combinations, which were few and far between. Had a few crosses but they were all wasted. All his set piece kicks were wastes as well. As the game went on you could see his tiredness
combine with his frustration build and it was inevitable that he was going to get a red card. Still was very stupid of him for once he get the red card that pretty much made our team concede. I don’t want to seem like a pessimist but he does not deserve to every be back on the
NT either.

Sergio AGÜERO (4): Was very active in the beginning of the game and played well with DATOLO, however not combining well with MESSI throughout his entire performance. AGÜERO worked very hard but no avail. Tracked down the Paraguayan defenders and ran at defenders which no one else, not even MESSI, was doing. Was subbed our for PALERMO in the 58min, which proved to be a dumb idea. No one was doing anything to help AGÜERO. Probably the hardest working player on the night.

Lionel MESSI (2): Hmm, usually I am the first one to compliment MESSI even in our games that we lose. However, in this game he was no where to be found ever. He did run hard, but barely was on the ball and never made any breath taking runs at defenders. You could see the frustration build as the game went on with MESSI. All his free kicks and corners were terrible. Yeah he may have been tired, but if you are considered the best player in the world then you should at least be some what of a threat to the opposition. PAPA was more of an attacking threat then MESSI tonight. Very sad performance for MESSI, I feel for him.


Ezequiel LAVEZZI (4): Came in to start the second half and was a great choice by MARADONA. When the team was down and seemed that they did not have any fight in them the ball went to LAVEZZI and he would create or attempt to create an attack. He ran effortlessly and won some free kicks and corner kicks that could have been dangerous if MESSI could play a good
ball. Still when he was brought on our attack had no cohesion, which relates back to the fact that we have no attacking midfielder or player maker in the midfield.

Martín PALERMO N/A: Came on for AGÜERO in the 58th did absolutely nothing but win a header in the dying seconds that gave us our best chance all game but SCHIAVI could not get on the end of it. Would be a different rating if we had scored on that. Way too slow for the pace of the game even with fresh legs.

Rolando SCHIAVI N/A: Would not like to see him ever called up again, like PALERMO way too slow and was beat way to easily in the few minutes that he was in.

…So yeah another defeat in the books and we find ourselves in the 5th place 2 points behind Ecuador and only 1 point above Uruguay and Venezuela. Ok so we had a lot of injuries that limited some of our good defenders from being called up for this round, and hopefully they have speedy recovers for the upcoming October qualifiers. I have said it before and I will say it again, the past couple qualifiers have been sad for me to watch, we are losing our passion and ability to attack. I blame it all on the fact that we have no midfielder that can play with our strikers and pass and mover, also, not set tactic. Veron was supposed to do that but as we all saw the last two games he is no where near what he used to be and does not
deserve to play for the NT. What I think needs to be done, I don’t know how realistic it is. But I feel that we need MARADONA to quit or be fired. Many people think that if we do this that it will just cause more confusion. I disagree we are in a desperate position and are in
immediate need of help and change. Hate to say it but desperate times call for desperate measures, get MARADONA out of here, the first games that he coached we played well but that was because of his initial motivation factor. As the games have gone on we now see that MARADONA has no clear tactic at all and that he is making our players have no clue what we are doing while on the pitch. Get rid of MARADONA now! Bring in a interim coach, or BATISTA. Get a list of different players for the October qualifiers. New faces that will show their passion and willingness to help out their country in times of need, instead of playing the same old defenders and midfielders.

Here comes the worst case scenario

I haven't changed, people. Trust me. I haven't. I'm still the one supporting the team through thick and thin. No matter if I don't like the players selection. No matter if I love or hate the coach. No matter whether they play beautiful football or horrible long ball.

I always say that with my local team (Racing Club) and with Argentina, I know nothing about tactics. I know nothing about personal affection or hatred. I know nothing about football at all. I just support them. No matter what.

I my team doesn't play beautiful football, I watch Barcelona on TV. Or Arsenal on a good day. Or any other team. I get my fix elsewhere. I support Racing Club and Argentina. Period. And I keep supporting them even more when the going gets tough.

My trust on managers and players has a limit, of course. And it pains me when I see things could be done in a very different way and it just doesn't happen.

MARADONA said right after the defeat in Paraguay what I've been telling you all along: "I won't quit. I have spoken to GRONDONA and my two daughters and I'll stay until the end of my contract. Nobody can break me".

GRONDONA is yet to make a statement, but I have also been telling you that he won't sack Diego.

With that in mind, the future looks horribly dark.

Our team is playing worse and worse each game. I have actually gave up on Argentina scoring. I fear our rivals will score every time they get by the midfield line. I see nothing from Argentina. Nothing. And it kills me.

All this time I've been trying to stay positive and ever since Diego got appointed, I trusted he will work with an experience team behind him. Professional people that would help him make tough decisions. People like BILARDO, who I thought was going to have a saying in the tactical aspects or the training process.

Nothing has happened. All we are seeing is a series of bad results that are getting us on the verge of missing out of the next World Cup.

Diego, as I expected, doesn't seem to realise how serious this situation is. His image is already tarnished but he could make it even worse if he doesn't get help or if he doesn't change the things he is doing wrong.

To start the game without OTAMENDI (we don't know if he is injured or not, because the information is not coming out of the Argentina camp. Rumour? That OTAMENDI said a few things to the press about how we defended set-pieces against Brazil and therefore he was excluded) and most importantly, to have Lisandro LOPEZ and Diego MILITO (both scoring at will in Europe) not even on the bench sure raises a few eye-brows.

But to finish the game with Martín PALERMO (36) and Rolando SCHIAVI (36) both fishing for a potential loose ball in the Paraguay area, surely has to be the worst possible image this shambles of a team could give.

I don't think judging players individually will make much sense (even though we will have Dave's player ratings here later), because, the way I see it, there is no way any player (good, great or bad) could perform according to their true potential.

I've got plenty to say about a lot of things and I'll do it in our next podcast (which I'm sure will be a heated discussion).

Here's an open forum for you to vent your feelings.

How fans are caught in the middle of a mess

The current state of things around our national team poses a dilemma and have many fans, like myself, suffering as the real and only innocent victims of a history of bad decisions, mostly driven by selfish personal interests that have a complete and pretty evident disregard of the well-being of Argentine football as a whole and the national team in particular.

Ever since Julio Humberto GRONDONA took over as the Argentine Football Association (AFA) in 1979, our football has suffered from his unscrupulous operations and his mafia-like policies. A sort of 'I scratch your back and you scratch mine' kind of system that he established between him and his accomplishes, the presidents of the Argentine clubs that gave him more power, in order to take their cuts and become powerful men at the same time.

I vote for you in every presidential election at the AFA from here to eternity and you help my team get promoted or avoid relegation or even have every controversial decision in every important match go my way.

That is the kind of power Julio GRONDONA has build up during the last three decades. He shook hands with the de facto military presidents that were responsible for the disappearing of 30,000 Argentines. He then shook hands with the democratic Presidents elected after them and they come and go, but GRONDONA seems to be perpetually in that powerful position of his.

I think the only good decision that GRONDONA took in his entire tenure as the big chief of Argentine football was to appoint José PEKERMAN as Youth Coach, when the man had no pedigree or fame and he was competing for that job with people with a notably higher profile than him.

One good decision in 30 years gives him a worse ratio than TEVEZ's goal-scoring record in this World Cup Qualifiers.

Along the way...GRONDONA (now 77-years old) is to be blamed for the following cancers in our beautiful game:

- The Barrabrava culture: By the time hooligans were being controlled in most countries around the world, the Argentine barrabravas began their golden era and GRONDONA was never able to come up with a solution. Why? Because many of the clubs' presidents use the barrabravas as a tool to pressure the regular fans to vote for them. They are pretty much a mob that will sign for the best bidder and will paint flags and banners with the name of the candidate that gives them free plane tickets to follow the team abroad or in the provinces or extra match tickets for them to re-sell and make a small fortune out of it.

In many notable cases like River Plate, for example, the barrabrava has taken such an uncontrollable power that they even took a cut in Juan Pablo CARRIZO's transfer to Italy. Not that CARRIZO is guilty of it, it was a very filthy business going on between the club directors (those shameless criminals that are killing one of Argentina's most prestigious clubs) and the barrabrava (another kind of criminals).

The fact that some players (like at Independiente) had meetings with the bosses of their barrabrava to arrange how the players will pay for the firm to travel to the World Cup in South Africa, without the AFA intervening to put an end to such aberration. Violence and the violent firms are like a cancer that has spread all over in Argentine football and sometimes it is almost impossible to draw the line as to whether the violence really comes from a small and organised group of 'fans' or whether it comes from those wearing suits and ties and carrying big briefcases full of dirty money while they make decisions that keep ruining our game.

A fact to help me put this into perspective: Since GRONDONA took over as President of the AFA, there have been 141 football-related deaths in Argentina. An average of 4,7 per year.

- The crazy league in Argentina that nobody understand (and hence don't care about):
In 1981 GRONDONA decided that it wasn't enough with the refereeing decisions going the way of River Plate and Boca Juniors, so he introduced the 'promedios' (point average system) that prevented big clubs to get relegated if they had a bad season and finished bottom or near the bottom of the standings. With his new system, if River Plate or Boca Juniors had a bad campaign, they were surely going to be able to get enough points the following season to enrich their 'promedio' and get out of jail. As early as in 1983, the system proved efficient for River Plate as they escaped relegation even when they finished in the bottom two, so they got to stay up.

GRONDONA and his business were smiling. Fair play and justice are still crying.

Not happy with those changes, in 1989/1990, GRONDONA decided that he was going to play two tournaments in one season. The Apertura and the Clausura. The reason behind it? Shorter tournaments will give many teams a shot at the title and will prove to be more exciting. To some extent, he was right, but it was hardly fair when a team won the Apertura playing most derby matches at home and avoiding travels to the provinces. Qualification to the Continental cup competitions was never clear and proper fans in Argentina have to have a major in maths to understand whether they are in good or bad positions when it comes to qualifying for the Copa Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana.

Did I mention that Boca Juniors and River Plate get annual invitations to the Copa Sudamericana and that they don't qualify on virtue of points gathered? Yes. You are right. It's non-sense.

- Deal with the TV: Since 1985, GRONDONA signed a contract with a company called Torneos y Competencias (they have the TV channel most of you know: TyC Sports) to give them the exclusive broadcasting rights for Argentine football. Ever since then, the TV company exercised a monopoly that prevented any other channel in the country to show the goals until Sunday at midnight (after they aired the famous show: Fútbol de Primera, which shows highlights of the weekend's games -similar to Match of the Day in England-).

Until last month, it worked for GRONDONA. He even renewed that contract with TyC two years ago. All of a sudden, the government -locked in a fierce battle with Grupo Clarín -owner of TyC- approached GRONDONA, offered him twice as much for the same broadcasting rights and that was it. GRONDONA tore up the contract with TyC and he began with his rants of saying how inconvenient the TyC contract was for Argentine football and how disadvantaged the AFA was under those terms.

- Lack of financial control of the clubs: Football clubs are always bailed out in Argentina. They mismanage. They don't go by the rules. They steal and they never pay taxes or honour their contracts, but still, there's always a way out for them.

Racing Club is a major example. Part of the Big5 in Argentina, the club was the living proof of what I said in the previous paragraph. Pressured by the fact that they couldn't win the league in 35 years, all sorts of desperate measures were taken and the result was a mounting debt of 40 or 70 million USD until the club had to file for bankruptcy.

The government then acted to make sure the club was kept alive and a private company was welcomed to rescue the club with a promise that the debt would be pay in 10 years. A decade later, that company itself went bankrupt and the corruption seen in their everyday affairs was even bigger than before.

GRONDONA first promoted and supported the introduction of private companies in Argentine clubs and when he saw it was clearly not working, he changed his mind, but the damage was done.

The AFA promise of punishing clubs with transfer embargoes or points deduction for a misuse of money or stadium closure for violence never actually happened and everybody is still at it as long as GRONDONA keeps getting his votes and his pocket money.

And us, the fans, are in the middle of this mess.

The appointment of Diego MARADONA was nothing else than a continuity of this decadent government that GRONDONA is running with no apparent and serious opposition.

How can you form an opposition if the man has everything covered and his henchmen do the dirty job for him?

There is no room for democracy under this totalitarian old dinosaur that keeps getting his own way time after time.

On one hand he appoints MARADONA and gives him total control. On the other...he doesn't let Diego pick his coaching staff because he doesn't like Oscar RUGGERI.

GRONDONA clearly picked MARADONA with the conviction that Argentina were going to qualify to South Africa without a problem and only because having Diego as the boss would mean heavy dollars coming his way (with TV money, friendly matches offers, juicy sponsorship deals, etc).

Now there is a feeling in the air that changes could come if Argentina miss out of the next World Cup and that a new order should be imposed in Argentine football if that happens.

Many of us, fans, who just want our national team to perform the way we know it can perform, don't know what to think.

If I was given a contract to sign in which I'm guaranteed that if Argentina crashes out and miss the World Cup in South Africa next year GRONDONA will be removed from his position (and none of his henchmen will get appointed to replace him), then I'll be really sorry that the price we're paying is rather steep, but I'll happily sign it in the search of a greater good.

Since there are no guarantees of that happening and my love for my national football team is still very strong, I've got no option but to wish Argentina well and celebrate the goals that could keep perpetuating GRONDONA in charge (for much as it hurts me to death).

A horrible situation to be in, but this story was something I wanted to share with you for a long time now. I hope I have helped you to understand what's beneath the surface in Argentine football.


Don't forget to listen to our podcast. The perfect build-up for the match against Paraguay in Asunción:

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.

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