Saturday, October 31, 2009

NBA News - GINOBILI, The Bat Catcher

Happy Halloween to every one!

In a night when you expect him to either score spectacularly and produce an amazing dunk, Manu GINOBILI made headline for some other reason, when the SA Spurs took on the Sacramento Kings.

Instead he showed off his quick hands by capturing a bat!

The uninvited guest found its way into AT&T Center and was roaming around for a brief period during the game. The interruption forced the game official to stopped the play until Manu emerge with his Halloween trick; swatting the bat out of the air with a bare hand.

He then carried the creature off the court to thunderous cheers. As the theme song to “Batman” played, a few Sacramento players applauded, too. A trainer emerged to squirt sanitizer on Manu’s hand.

“When you can’t dunk anymore, you have to find a way to make it into the news,” Manu said. “So that’s what I did. I grabbed a bat. I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

Hopefully the bat is alright nothing happens to it.

Spurs won the game 113-94 with Manu posting 13 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists plus one steal. On the other end, Andres NOCIONI had 2 points, 3 rebounds & 1 assist.

It was a night three other Tall Albiceleste players were on the wining side. Fabricio OBERTO posted 4 points, 2 rebounds, & 5 assists in the Washington Wizards 123-104 win over the NJ Nets. Carlos DELFINO played his first game as a starter for the Milwaukee Bucks and posted 5 points, 3 rebounds plus an assist in their 96-85 win over the Detroit Pistons. Luis SCOLA help the Houston Rockets overcome the Portland Trail Blazers (111-107) with 8 points and 6 rebounds.

HIGUAIN With A Double, Jesus Upsets Old Lady

After being humiliated being by an unknown side in mid-week, Real Madrid returns back too winning ways with a 2-0 win over Getafe despite playing with only 10 men after just 27 minutes into the game.

Gonzalo HIGUAIN was given the nod by under pressured coach Manuel PELLEGRINI to start the game. He returned back the favour with a two goals performance.

After receiving a cross from MARCELO, he controlled the ball on his chest, took his time and then smashed a rising left-footed shot into the near top corner. His second came just two minutes later after being sent through by Karim BENZEMA, he slotted a low post shot past keeper Oscar USTARI.

He did came close to score a hat-trick, when his shot hit the bar in the 65th minute. Eventually he was brought out to make way for captain RAUL and he was given a well deserve standing ovation from the Bernabau faithful.

Meanwhile in Italy, Ezequiel LAVEZZI, German DENIS and Jesus DATOLO all played crucial roles for Napoli in their dramatic 3-2 win over Juventus at the Stadio Del Alpi.

Juve were already 2-0 up despite of the initial troubles from both LAVEZZI and DENIS. Then the course of the match changed when DATOLO was brought in the 58th minute. Just a minute into the game, he provide a low cross at the far post for Marek HAMSIK to pull one back for the Naples side.

Five minutes later, DENIS was again causing problems in the Juventus penalty area. He headed the ball from a corner which Gianlugi BUFFON could only parry but he was unable to meet the rebound. Instead a slight touch from him allowed DATOLO to slide the ball in for the equalizer.

Then in the 81st minute, DATOLO played a part when his cross was deflected and landed at HAMSIK to net the winner. Once again, the poor south of Italy are happy thanks to the contribution from the Albiceleste trio of the San Paolo.

Franco SOSA scored for Lorient in their 1-1 draw with Lens. Just a day earlier, Lucas BARRIOS continued his goal scoring spree for Borussia Dortmund in their 2-o win over Hertha Berlin. While in Portugal, Ernesto FARIAS earned FC Porto a point against Belenenses.

Expect more news coming in later from Mundo on the Albiceleste Army at the European front.

Friday, October 30, 2009

CAMBIASSO makes the list to face Spain

Some surprises. Some returns. Some confirmations.

The biggest news is the return of Esteban CAMBIASSO to the national team. It'll be the first time in one year that Diego calls him to represent our country.

You make your own conclusions. Here are the names for Argentina to face Spain on 14 November in Madrid.


Gabriel HEINZE
Nicolás PAREJA
Cristian ANSALDI

Fernando GAGO

Lionel MESSI
Carlos TEVEZ
Ezequiel LAVEZZI

GAGO returns and I'm (pleasantly) surprise he makes the same list with HIGUAIN (meaning that Diego could be coming to his senses -if he's got any- and he's not paying attention to personal feuds between two players he likes).

No Diego MILITO and no Lisandro LOPEZ. With the former, originally in MARADONA's list for the WCQ against Perú and Uruguay, it could be a case of him not being 100% fit, even though he returned on Thursday for Inter and scored a goal v. Palermo.

ANSALDI is in. INSUA is out. Which means Diego is still looking for a left-back to impress him.

Maxi is back. But ZANETTI's got no place in this list while COLOCCINI, who is not playing regularly for Newcastle United (in England's second tier), still makes the team.

I wonder if more players will be added to this list of 18.

Friday news roundup before the list for Spain


The birthday cake candles, that is! Because the man turns 49 years of age today. That's why Olé, the only sports newspaper in Argentina, came up with a headline that read: "Que la sople" (Let him blow it -the candle, of course-).

In other news, Héctor ENRIQUE, the one who passed the ball to Diego near the half-way line for him to go on and score that wonder of a goal against England in 1986, has been added to the national team coaching staff. Fernando GAMBOA, a former Newell's Old Boys and Boca Juniors defender, looks odds on to join the staff too and become a new collaborator for Diego.

On the other hand, Miguel Angel LEMME, the pathetic assistant coach that punched a journalist in Montevideo upon the team's arrival and then dedicated obscene words to the media right after Argentina qualified for South Africa 2010, has been axed by MARADONA.

"I told LEMME that he is a great coach, but I won't be using him now because I need other things. I explained that to him and we are in good terms" said MARADONA.

MARADONA also said that Cristian ANSALDI, a left-back who plays for the Russian champions of Rubin Kazan, will be in the list for the friendly against Spain as well as the two goalkeepers: Sergio ROMERO and Mariano ANDUJAR.

To add one more thing to my theory of BILARDO and MARADONA wanting to recreate the same scenario they lived when the former was manager and Diego was a player back in 1985 in the build up for the Mexico 1986 World Cup, I read today that MARADONA asked singer Valeria LYNCH to sing one of her songs that became famous through a film called HEROES. That movie told the story of the 1986 World Cup and the footage of MARADONA warming up with the song 'Me Das Cada Día Más' (You give me more and more everyday) became a classic.


The Russian company called RENOVA, which promoted and organised all European-based friendly matches for Argentina, has announced that they won't renew their contract with the AFA. In fact, they will immediately terminate the contract that was supposed to expire in 2011.

"This decision is related to the AFA plans of taking matters in its own hands for the preparation process towards the World Cup 2010" says the statement issued by the company through the press agency Interfax.

According to that contract, signed in 2006, Renova had the rights to organise 24 friendly matches in the following five years, for each of which they had to pay the AFA 750.000 US Dollars.

U17 World Cup : Los Pibitos Lose, Finish Second In Group A

A dubious decision by the referee cost us the opportunity to finish top of Group A as host, Nigeria came back from a goal down to win 2-1.

The Golden Eagles came strongly within the moment from kick off but Los Pibitos responded with a nice build-up which lead to the first goal of the game. Esteban ORFANO took control of the ball, burst into the area and slammed a left-footer home to stunned silence from the home crowd in the 2nd minute.

However Nigeria didn't have to wait long for the equalizer as a corner kick was flicked on expertly at the near post by Kenneth OMERUO, for Omoh OJABU to push home from six yards out in the 5th minute.

After that, Argentina were looking to maintain some possession with a hope of finding another breakthrough against the Nigerians defense. But it was their opponent who almost had the golden chance to take the lead before half time through Sani EMMANUEL. Goalkeeper Ignacio ARCE was again forced to make another face when he pushed Ramon AZEEZ's dangerous snap shot from 30 yards around the post.

In the second half, it was almost all Nigeria as they were pushing themselves very hard for a winner. They finally got their opportunity when Federico RASMUSSEN hauled down Olarenwaju KAYODE in the penalty area. Substitute EMMANUEL stepped up to hammer home for Nigeria’s winning goal.

With this results it is confirmed that Los Pibitos are now placed second in the final standing of their group. Which means in the round of 16, they will play the team that finishes runner up in Group C. At the moment, it could either be Iran, Colombia or the Netherlands.

U17 World Cup : Argentina vs. Nigeria (Match Preview)

We’re just hours away again for another exciting encounter against Nigeria, team whom I regards as our distance relation from Africa. After all we have played against them almost in every level, from the senior World Cup to this level.

The Match

Having already qualified through the round 16, Argentina will take on Nigeria in their last group game to determined who will finish on top. So certainly there is all to play for as both teams are highly motivated to reach that objective.

A draw will be the most diplomatic result for both teams but certainly the host nation will be eager to leap frog us in the group standing. Therefore it will be business as usual for our boys.

Starting Line Up

Based on line up which was announced by Jose Luis BROWN from the AFA’s website, it seems he has decided to rest some of his first choice. Probably keeping them available in the next round freshly and free from suspension.

Damian MARTINEZ; Frederick RASMUSSEN - Leandro GONZALEZ - Leandro MARIN; Esteban ORFANO - Jorge BALBUENA - Facundo QUIGNON - Gonzalo OLID APAZA - Nello SOSA; Eduardo ROTONDI

Here is a quoted from BROWN, courtesy of

"All the players here are making the same effort, go through the same training sessions and listen to the same talks. Because of that I'll try to give playing time to all of them, especially if certain starters are tired."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The NBA Season is Back!

The best basketball league season is back and offers a lot optimism for Manu GINOBILI and the rest of the Albiceleste gang in America.

After missing out much of last season and playing with bad ankles, Manu spent most of the last few months resting, healing his injury and slowly getting back to full fitness. And he made the most of it by performing his best game in a long time in San Antonio Spurs 113-96 win over the New Orleans Hornets. Back to his usual role as the team’s sixth man, Manu help the revamped Spurs from the bench with 16 points, 4 assists plus a rebound and a steal. We do hope to see more from him in the future.

Luis SCOLA is another player that is expected to come good this season as the Houston Rockets will be relying on him a lot after learning that they will not have star center YAO Ming for the whole campaign. Against the Portland Trail Blazers he did not have a good game but tonight against the Golden State Warriors, he came alive as the Rockets won 108-107. He scored 15 of his 21 points in the third quarter plus he grabbed a game high 11 rebounds to go along with his 2 assists and a steal.

Andres NOCIONI only manages 4 points and 6 rebounds in Sacramento Kings 89-106 lost to Oklahoma City Thunders.

Carling Cup : Goals from INSUA and TEVEZ

While we’re in the midst of a heat discussion regarding future’s squad list from Diego, couple of football news coming from Europe.

English Carling Cup (Round 4)

After a tremendous weekend against Manchester United, Liverpool were looking to continue their fine form against Arsenal. Instead they went out of the competition after losing 1-2. Emiliano INSUA scored his first goal in English football, drilling a looping shot up over Lukasz FABIANSKI from 25 yards.

While it is the end of the road for INSUA (and Javier MASCHERANO), the Albiceleste duo of Manchester City had plenty of reason to smile after City’s 5-1 win over Scunthorpe. Pablo ZABALETA had an assist in Roque SANTA CRUZ’s goal which out City back in the lead in the 38th minute. Carlos TEVEZ also had a goal for himself after a fine display of ceaseless running in the 71st minute.

Spanish Copa del Rey (Fourth Round)

German PACHECO scored the second goal for Rayo Vallecano in their 2-0 shocked win over Athletic Bilbao.

Italian Serie A

AC Milan threw away a two goal lead in the dying minutes against Napoli. Three minutes into stoppage time, German DENIS headed his side level to earn the Naples side a point. Don’t forget more football from Italy coming up later when Inter will take on Palermo

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


According to reports in Argentina, Javier ZANETTI, Esteban CAMBIASSO and Rubin Kazan player; Cristian ANSALDI will be named to the squad for next month's friendly against European Champions, Spain.

It would be ZANETTI's first call-up after having been dropped for the last 2 matches against Peru and Uruguay. This would be CAMBIASSO's first call-up since Diego took charge. As for Cristian ANSALDI, he took part in an U23 match against Guatemala in 2008, however, it would be his first senior call-up.

Jesus DATOLO is also making rounds and might get called-up. Both Walter SAMUEL and Fabricio COLOCCINI are closely being monitored by the coaching staff.

Diego MARADONA will release the squad list either on Thursday or Friday(though it's usually Friday) and the domestic list of players will be released sometime next week.

My thoughts? I'm loving it. ZANETTI should never have been dropped in the first place and we've been missing CAMBIASSO, big time. Not sure about ANSALDI, but he'll likely just be a squad player. I'm surprised SAMUEL's name is being thrown around, I thought Diego forgot he even existed.

U17 World Cup - Argentina vs. Germany (Match Highlights)

Enjoy the highlights from the video which I’ve just uploaded above. In the meantime here is a quote from our coach Jose Luis BROWN after the match (courtesy of

It was our mistake that led to their opener, and that made things more difficult and forced us to change our tactics. In the first-half, we made mistakes but we didn't lose heart. I barely said anything to my players at half-time, I just asked them to play a more compact game. We're lucky to have very technically gifted players like Daniel VILLALVA, Sergio ARAUJO and Sebastian GONZALEZ, who are very skilful in tight spaces. They made the difference, and once we'd got the lead we were able to hold onto it by remaining solid throughout. Now I have to talk with my staff to decide which players could do with a rest before I announce my team for the final match.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

U17 World Cup : Remarkable Comeback From Los Pibitos

Apologize for the lack of pre-match information. But what turnaround from our Young Guns! And it all happen within a split of a minute. Remarkable performance indeed from Jose Luis BROWN boys.

Los Pibitos were up against a German side who were under pressured after failing to secure a win against Nigeria (despite going 3-0 up!). And they started positively when Mario GOETZE scored easily past Damian MARTINEZ after receiving a free kick from midfield.

Our boys started to slowly work their way into the match, with Boca Juniors ace striker Sergio ARAUJO leading the way. However the Germans kept it tight at the back and gave no room for our boys to break through, thus maintaining their lead at half time.

In the second half, Argentina started the match brightly again only this time with some slick moves and nice passing, finally they manage to find the back of the net. Daniel VILLALVA dribbled past a couple of German players and was brought down in the penalty box in the 57th minute. The referee pointed to the spot with Esteban ESPINDOLA stepping up and converting the equalizer.

Just a minute later, right from the kick off; a horrible back pass from the Germans allowed ARAUJO to steal the ball. He calmly finished off his move past the German keeper to give Argentina the lead. Our boys could have manage to finish the game beyond German’s reach with some several other chances. Nevertheless they stood still to collect full three points from this all important victory.

With this result, it is confirm that Argentina will progress to the next stage regardless of whatever the result may be between Nigeria and Honduras. Los Pibitos will play hosts Nigeria in their final game on the 30th of October in Bauchi.


Monday, October 26, 2009

SAVIOLA and Benfica run riot

After an exciting weekend full of goals, Monday brought us only 2 note-worthy goals coming from(my opinion) one of Argentina's most underrated strikers, Javier SAVIOLA. Ever since making the switch from Real Madrid to Benfica, SAVIOLA has re-found his scoring boots and has been in great form latley.

On Monday, Benfica hosted Nacional and just like Barcelona ran riot on Real Zaragoza 6-1, this was the same thing. After a beautiful split through ball by AIMAR on the first goal, it was SAVIOLA's turn to shine. With the score tied at 1-1 and having had a goal disallowed for offside(very close call by the linesman), SAVIOLA's first goal came off a set piece as a cross was sent into the box and SAVIOLA was the first to connect with it as he headed the ball into the net. SAVIOLA's second came in the second half. Having picked up the ball in the penalty box, SAVIOLA beat the goalkeeper to a shot at the far post to make it 4-1 to Benfica.

From Six Star Barca To Superclasico Argentina

Exciting weekend indeed for football lovers. From El Clasico in England to Super Clasico made in Buenos Aires. So lets take one thing at a time.

Firstly, another sending off for Javier MASCHERANO in Liverpool’s remarkable 2-0 win over Manchester United. Then Carlitos Manchester City failing to collect all three points after settling for a 2-2 draw Fulham, despite going 2-0 up.

Then up to Spain as always, another five star performance from Lionel MESSI (or should I say six star) as Barcelona turned around their dreadful form over the past few games with a 6-1 win over Real Zaragoza. He scored Barca’s fifth goal after being put through Andres INIESTA and he beat keeper Juan Pablo CARIZZO with an exquisite lob. Not to forget his cross for Seydou KETIA that started the goal fest for them for the Blaugrana.

In Portugal, two goals from Ernesto FARIAS plus one from Mariano GONZALEZ help FC Porto to a 3-2 win over Academica. After stunning week in the Champions League, FK Rubin continued their great form in the Russia Premier League with a 2-1 win over FK Rostov with goals from Alejandro DOMINGUEZ and Christian ANSALDI. in Greece, AEK Athens settle for a 1-1 draw away to Aris Salonika with Ignacio SCOCCO the scorer.

Lastly the biggest match in the Argentine league, River Plate against eternal rival Boca Juniors. First Ariel ORTEGA missed a penalty. Rumours has it he might be called up by Diego for next month friendlies. Marcelo GALLARDO put River ahead with a nice free kick over the wall and into the top left corner past Pato ABBONDANZIERI. The equalizer from Boca came from, who else but Martin PALERMO after receiving a flicked pass from, who else; Juan Roman RIQUELME.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The New Masche Scores In Germany

Not that many to talk about. But at least there is one notable name that deserve a mentioned; the player dubbed as the “New Javier MASCHERANO” by many critics.

The player which I’m referring to is Franco ZUCULINI who used to play for Seba’s Racing Club last season. He was a target among several big clubs in Europe (Manchester United, Juventus etc.) instead opted top go to Germany to play for TSG Hoffenheim. The Hoffe defeated Nurnberg 3-0 with ZUCULINI scoring their third goal with an amazing strike from outside the box. It was a pity that our Under-20 never made it to Egypt as he would have been one of the stars to watch, nevertheless he is certainly one player to look out for in the future.

In Turkey, Pablo BATALLA was among score for Bursaspor as they trashed BSK Istanbul 6-0. In Greece, Emanuel PERRONE scored for Atromitos in their 2-1 win over Asteras Tripoli. While Panionios won 3-1 against Giannina with Carlos CASTIGLIONE among the scorer.

There was quite a number of goals coming from the second tier league around the continent.

In the Spanish Segunda Division, Real Betis came away with 2-0 win at Girona with Mariano PAVONE scoring for them. Two players were on target in Italy’s Serie B. Matias MIRAMONTES for Ancona in their 3-1 win over Frosinone. And Matias SCHELOTTO for Cesena in their 2-2 draw with Grosseto. Meanwhile in the Bundesliga 2, Matias CENCI scored from the spot to give FSV Frankfurt 3-2 win over 1860 Munich.

Certainly all eyes tonight will be on the El Clasico encounter between Javier MASCHERANO’s Liverpool against Manchester United. Don’t forget in Spain, Lionel MESSI & Barcelona will be looking to consolidate their position at the top when they face Real Zaragoza.

U17 World Cup - Group Round-Up

Just to kind of update from John's post earlier, "little" Argentina defeated Honduras in their oppening match of the U17 FIFA World Cup 1-0.

However there's more good news. The other 2 teams in the group, the European champions Germany and the host Nigeria played to a 3-3 Draw which means that Argentina now tops Group A with 3 points, ahead of both Germany and Nigeria who each have 1 point. Also in the Nigeria/Germany match, German defender Robert LABUS got himself red carded which means he will miss Germany's next match which is versus Argentina on Tuesday, October 27.

Here's what Argentina coach Jose BROWN had to say following the match.

"We weren't at all surprised by how well our opponents played. The first thing we emphasise when preparing for any match is to respect the opposition, whoever they may be. It was a very difficult match, firstly because of how well Honduras played, and secondly because of the weather. I know from experience that the first match in a World Cup is always the most difficult, and we managed to win. I'm delighted with the result, but I'm already thinking about the work we have to do to be well prepared for the next two games."

Be sure to check back for more news coming from this tournament.

U17 World Cup - ARAUJO Strikes Sinks Honduras

Little Argentina opened their campaign at the Under-17 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Honduras but in reality Jose Luis BROWN’s heavily favourite side needed to work hard for this victory.

The match started brightly for us as we were holding most of the possession but failed to convert some of the chances that were created. Honduras relied mostly on the counter attack did gave us a couple of scary moments, especially from both Nestor MARTINEZ and Oscar PADILLA.

In the second half, Argentina continue to put the pressure on Honduras and were finally rewarded for their effort with a goal from Sergio ARAUJO in the 58th minute. After some good work from Adrian CIRIGLIANO and Sebastian GONZALEZ, the Boca Juniors prodigy pulled the goal deftly inside the far post.

Not too long afterwards the whether became worst as heavy rain started to pour, soaking the entire field and subsequently effecting the ball movement from both teams. It was a moment which reminded me of our match against Peru in the Monumental.

And it almost did looked like as if history might just repeat here with the Hondurans as they were beginning to gain some momentum in search of a equalizer. But our young guns manage to calm the storm and in the end were rewarded with the all important three points.

Next up for the Los Pibitos will be Germany on the 27th of October.

U17 World Cup : Argentina vs. Honduras (Match Preview)

We’re just hours away from the kick off of our first match against Honduras, so here is a short preview.

The Match

One thing is for sure is that being lumped in the Group of Death (something I’m sure we’re all quite used to it) means that Los Pibitos have to make the most from their debut match against the Central American side, with all due respect arguably the weakest team in this group. We need to make a positive start here before facing European champions Germany and the host & current holders Nigeria.

Starting Line-Up

Jose Luis BROWN has confirmed the starting line up for today’s match will be as follows: -


This will be the first time Argentina will face Honduras in a FIFA sanctioned tournament (please feel free to correct me here). The match will be played at the Abuja Stadium at 16:00 local time. Be sure to join us at Mundo’s Chat Room.


Friday, October 23, 2009

FIFA Under-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 - Preview

Right, I’m pretty sure after all the drama from the senior World Cup Qualifier; we just can’t wait for the big tournament to start next year. Maybe for the time being, let us keep ourselves busy with the Under-17 version. At least there is something for us to talk about after the Under-20 missed out on Egypt earlier in the year.

It’s funny to think that despite the massive success we have achieved at the Under-20 level plus the two gold medal at the Olympics (Under-23) this particular World Cup title is one the only title to elude us. Our best finish in this tournament has only been in third place on three occasions (Italy 1991, Ecuador 1995 and Finland 2003).

Under the command of Jose Luis BROWN, Argentina qualified for this tournament with the best defensive record from the South America Under-17 Championship (conceding just four goals), in the process scoring 10 goals and winning four of their five games.

Here is the complete squad details

1 Damian MARTINEZ (Independiente)
12 Ignacio ARCE (Union De Santa Fe)
21 Jorge PUCHETA (Lanus)

2 Leandro GONZALEZ PIREZ (River Plate)
3 Lucas KRUSPZKY (Independiente)
4 Leandro MARIN (Boca Juniors)
6 Esteban ESPINDOLA (River Plate)
13 Nicolas TAGLIAFICO (Banfield)
14 Federico RASMUSSEN (Lanus)

5 Jorge BALBUENA (Lanus)
7 Adrian CIRIGLIANO (River Plate)
8 Franco BITANCOURT (River Plate)
10 Sebastian GONZALEZ (San Lorenzo)
15 Esteban ORFANO (Boca Juniors)
16 Facundo QUIGNON (River Plate)
18 Gonzalo OLID APAZA (River Plate)
19 Nello SOSA (Estudiantes)

9 Daniel VILLALVA (River Plate)
11 Sergio ARAUJO (Boca Juniors)
17 Guido DAL CASON (Quilmes)
20 Eduardo ROTONDI (Argentinos Juniors)

I have to admit that I don’t have the in-depth knowledge about the squad. I do know that among the players look out for are keeper Damian MARTINEZ and captain Esteban ESPINDOLA. Both players are crucial for our back line as it was largely to their contribution that we excel during the qualifying tournament. Not to forget star forward Daniel Alberto VILLALVA was the top scorer with three goals and he already has abundance of experience at senior level from his club River Plate.

For the record, we are in Group A which is the most toughest group in the tournament comprising of the host Nigeria and current European holders Germany. But first, we will face Honduras. Be sure to check out our match preview and more news coming from this tournament.

The Eagles Hit The Top In Europe

No! No! This has got nothing to do with Don HENLEY and those Desperados from Hotel California.

It’s Benfica, thanks to the superb performance from both Angel DI MARIA and Javier SAVIOLA, produced a masterpiece display against Everton in the Europa League yesterday, as they hammered the Toffees 5-0.

The Eagles made the breakthrough in the 14th minute with a superb half-volley from SAVIOLA after a cross field pass from DI MARIA split the defense. Not to mentioned both of them combined to help Oscar CARDOZO scoring two goals. Brazilian LUISAO made it 4-0 and SAVIOLA completed the rout in the 83rd minute, courtesy of another cross from DI MARIA.

Lazio defeated Villareal 2-1 at home, adding more woes to the Yellow Submarine who know occupy the bottom of La Liga. In the 20th minute, a quick ball forward picked out Julio CRUZ, who turned inside his marker before feeding Mauro ZARATE on the far side of the box and he dinked the ball past Diego LOPEZ.

Other scorer from Europa League; Hernan LOSADA was the hero for Heerenveen in their 1-0 away win against Hertha Berlin. Ismael BLANCO scoring from the spot for AEK Athen but the Greek side fell 1-2 against BATE Borisov of Belarus.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Classy Strike From Freddy Heinze

I have to admit this is something that I’ve never expected. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen defenders scoring some nice goals but never have I imagined something as classy as this coming from Gabriel HEINZE.

Mr. Freddy KRUGER turned to be the difference in what was a poor Champions League match between his side, Marseille and the host FC Zurich. A cross from Lucho GONZALEZ from the right, found HEINZE unmarked beyond the far post to send a neat side-foot volley curling back past goalkeeper Johnny LEONI into the far corner.

Well love him or hate him, he seems to be doing well with the Les Phocéens as thanks to that goal the French side came away with a 1-0 win, reviving their chances of qualifying further in the competition

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chelito The Hero For Lyon In Anfield

It was a Champions League that was filled with drama and upset, the biggest being Barcelona’s 1-2 home defeat to FK Rubin Kazan.

Another big highlight was Liverpool defeat to Lyon at home. The Reds were looking to bounced back from their freakish defeat in the Premiership during the weekend had both Javier MASCHERANO and Emiliano INSUA in their starting line up. The French side had Lisandro LOPEZ up front but it wasn’t to be his night. Instead with the score line tied at 1-1, Licha was replaced by Cesar DELGADO in the 86th minute and the latter won it for his side in injury time.

Internazionale were to disappointed after their were held to 2-2 draw at home against Dynamo Kiev. Walter SAMUEL saved the day for Jose MOURINHO with a superb header into the far corner courtesy of Wesley SNEIJDER’s corner in the 47th minute.

Another Italian side Fiorentina came away with a 4-3 win against Hungarian side Debrecen with Mario SANTANA among the scorer for them.

Another Albiceleste scorer was the lesser know Ex-Independiante Pablo BRANDAN in the Romanian side Unirea Urziceni fantastic away win against Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers.
More Champions League coming up later today with the big clash between Real Madrid and AC Milan. Will we see Gonzalo HIGUAIN in action and scoring as he did during the weekend. Not to forget Kun AGUERO’s Atletico Madrid will travel to London to take on Chelsea plus many more.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't say I didn't tell you! Argentina to play Israel!

In our latest podcast I said I wouldn't be surprised if Argentina were to play Israel in Tel Aviv.

We have to face it. We are managed by Diego and co-ordinated by BILARDO and those two are incredibly superstitious.

I said I thought BILARDO had a masterplan that consisted in creating a fight with the media so the team could galvanise against a common 'enemy' and then I said: "Don't be surprised if Argentina goes on a tour of Israel before the next World Cup like they did in 1986 before going to Mexico"

Now I'm hearing the last friendly before traveling to South Africa in Tel Aviv against Israel.

There's more.

We will face Serbia on 18 November (a match just around the corner) and on 3 March it'll be Germany in Germany like Roy reported a few days ago here on Mundo Albiceleste.

So...we've got a match against Spain coming up on 14 November, followed by Serbia (these two will be proper tests as both of them will be in South Africa 2010).

This report of a match v. Serbia on 18 November, clashes with the previous information that said we were facing Nigeria in London. We need confirmation on this one, but this is what I'm hearing.

Germany next year and there's also Israel.

I just heard that on TV and will give you more details as soon as I find them.

Champions League Matchday 3 - Tuesday Preview

The European season is back in full swing and this week is a Champions League week. Here are Tuesday's matches.

Debreceni VSC vs. ACF Fiorentina
Fiorentina: Jose Ignacio CASTILLO, Mario SANTANA

Liverpool FC vs. Olympique Lyonnais
Liverpool: Javier MASCHERANO, Emiliano INSUA
Lyon: Lisandro LOPEZ, Cesar DELGADO

FC Barcelona vs. FC Rubin Kazan
Barcelona: Lionel MESSI, Gabriel MILITO
FC Rubin Kazan: Alejandro DOMINGUEZ, Cristian ANSALDI

FC Internazionale vs. FC Dynamo Kyiv
Internazionale: Javier ZANETTI, Esteban CAMBIASSO, Walter SAMUEL, Diego MILITO

VFB Stuttgart vs. Sevilla FC
Sevilla FC: Federico FAZIO, Aldo DUSCHER, Lautaro ACOSTA, Diego PEROTTI

AZ Alkmaar vs. Arsenal FC
AZ Alkmaar: Sergio ROMERO

Olympiacos FC vs. Standard de Liege
Olympiakos: Luciano GALETTI, Christian LEDESMA

Jose MOURINHO's Inter Milan side will be led by a veteran of Argentinians as they host Dynamo Kyiv. Meanwhile in Germany, Stuttgart will host a team of youth Argentinians. Most notably Diego PEROTTI who has caught the eye of many readers not only here on Mundo, but all over the world with his impressive performances with Sevilla this season. Meanwhile Liverpool will host former French champions Lyon in a key match-up in Group E.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pipita Return’s To Real With A Goal

First, a Happy Deepavali and Festival of Light to all our Hindu and Indian readers. Let us hope that during these tough times, the light of glory will shine upon our beloved Albiceleste.

And now that we can breath with relief that our team has made it to the World Cup, it’s time to turn our attention back to the European domestic league. After all from now until June next year, it’s everything to play for as our players will try to win a place Diego’s team for the trip to South Africa.

For one particular, returning to his club from international duty must have given him a huge motivation to keep working hard on his form. That player is non other than Gonzalo HIGUAIN. Now that he is already fully capped by Argentina, we can throw all our worries about him defecting to join the Les Blues.

As expected these days, Pipita is more of roll player rather than key figure for Real Madrid. Not surprisingly he was on the bench when Real entertain Valladolid at home. With the score line at 3-2, the visiting team did look even more dangerous and were pushing hard for an equalizer.

But all that came to end when Pipita was brought in the 72nd minute, and only took seven minutes later to score his first goal in La Liga. After receiving a nice pass from Xabi ALONSO, he delicately chip the ball pass goalkeeper Jacobo SANZ to seal the win for Real.

Another player that we long to see in an Albiceleste shirt was also on the score line for his club Internazionale in Serie A. Esteban CAMBIASSO, the most underrated but still talented and gifted player in Argentina, opened the goal scoring galore with a turnaround shot in the 6th minute in Nerrazurri’s 5-0 win over Genoa.

The saw match a total of five players (CAMBIASSO, Javier ZANETTI, Walter SAMUEL for Inter and Hernan CRESPO and Rodrigo PALACIO for Genoa), all ignored by Diego for last week’s World Cup Qualification.

On a lesser know player from Ligue 1 in France, Gonzalo BERGESSIO was on target for St Etienne from the penalty spot in their 1-2 defeat. In Turkey, Pablo BATALLA scored for Bursaspor in their 3-2 win over Denizlispor.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mundo Albiceleste Pod - Sucking up the pressure

Argentina will be playing in the next World Cup ( feels good to be writing this and forget about the World Cup Qualifiers!)

Mundo Albiceleste is happy and I'm sure that happiness is reflected in this new edition of our podcast.

First segment we are joined by our friend Joel Richards who was a lucky eye-witness of the battle of the Centenario. He tells us how it was to be close to the pitch.

Roy had more problems with his connection than HEINZE everytime he is on the ball, so unfortunately...we had to replace him by halftime.

Johnny, John and Seba shared a long conversation and they even started looking at the teams they'd like to face and those they'd like to avoid in the next World Cup, while Diego's comments are discussed throughout the entire show.

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.

No regrets from Diego the day after

OK. I've been incredibly busy and I'm still wanting to share my thoughts with all of you after Argentina sealed the ticket for South Africa.

In the meantime, here is a transcript from a 45-minute long interview Diego had with TyC Sports on the early hours of Friday (or in fact the late hours of Thursday as we all know Diego is a night-hawk rather than an early-morning songbird).

The following is the textual transcript of everything I managed to pick up (I'm proud to say it's very close to 100%) from what he said.

Get ready for some classic Diego quotes.



I don't know if the journalists are now using my comments against them to talk about that and forget about the fact that we have qualified for the World Cup.

All I know is that I won't regret what I said and I won't apologise to nobody in the media.

I've said this many times. I'm not a role model. Parents should be role models. I don't want the kids in the country to take me as an example to follow. What happened at that press conference was my way of releasing some steam.

We live many terrible things in this country. Dead people everyday. Thefts. More poor people everyday. Nobody speaks about that in the media and I think they should pay attention to those things. I think to instead speak of what MARADONA could say after the team reached the World Cup finals depicts the bad state of our journalism.

It was a way to let it all out and that's it. If they want to take that and only that, I think they are not working as they should. They are not doing a good job.

I'm sorry they are saying I'm arrogant, but I'm not going to take back anything I said. I have apologised to the ladies. To my mother and to all the Argentine and Uruguayan women that were watching. But to nobody else. Because I don't feel I have to apologise to them.

I've been preparing for this match against Uruguay for a long time and I've seen and heard how journalists that never wore shorts and they though they knew everything and they thought they only truth was their own, were criticising with bad intentions. Criticising me, MESSI, MASCHERANO...

All that really hurt me and I think that played a part in my head for me to react like that in that press conference.

It hurt me that they were saying our team can't play football when we know when things are not going the way we want them to go. Comments from people who never played football. Not even for 50 bucks. They have no moral authority to say what they say. I don't feel angry at them. I pity them.

Those former players that became a kind of pundit and go to a TV show to get 1000 Pesos (260 USD or 160 British Pounds) and for that money they go on and say things like MESSI doesn't know the lyrics to the national anthem or that some players don't want to play for Argentina.

I feel sorry for those people who could still be working in football and instead they grab a microphone and they spit on our plate.

I've used many players ever since I took over for Argentina but that's because you have to always keep searching. In finding your best team, you always have to keep trying things.

There's very little time to work before World Cup Qualifying matches and when the players arrive from Europe, you have to consider many things and pay attention to every detail. You have to give them some time to recover from the long flights. You have to see if they are coming with minor injuries or knocks and then you have little time to select the best starting eleven.

I will never take precautions before I speak. If I do that, I wouldn't be myself. I have made many mistakes in my life and I have apologised when I thought I had to. The only ones I should forever apologise to are my two daughters. Because I've been an absent father for them for many years.

Of course I'm exposed and I know my face is out there. It was my way to let it all out and I want to leave things in the past now. I won't speak about that anymore.

What my players achieved on Wednesday is way more important than anything I could have said.

The most important thing to me is that our shirt will be there in another World Cup. It's not easy to come back from three consecutive defeats. We knew we had to give our everything in these two decisive matches and that's exactly what we did.

I don't know if another manager could have survived a 6-1 defeat in Bolivia. I know I did. I found shelter in my coaching staff and my players. We showed up in the darkest hour and thank God today we are in the World Cup.

I gave my everything in every game. I never picked a player because I like them or I have a good relationship with them. I always think of what's best for our national team and if we are in the World Cup, credit should go to all the players that played a part in our campaign. The most important thing for me is our national team shirt.

I'm waiting for MESSI because I know he will go off. I know it. I've found a great striker in Higuaín.

If I could play another one of those WCQ matches we've played, it would surely be Brazil. We made mistakes. It wasn't entirely down to Brazil's game.

I have to speak to all my players. I would like to speak with MASCHERANO, VERON, HEINZE and MESSI to hear them and see if I can find out what's needed for the future.

We won the World Cup in 1986 when we became solid as a group. The entire squad. Because nobody believed in us before we went to Mexico. That's what I want now. To solidify our squad so we can galvanise against everything and everybody.

In a World Cup, you need to manage the mental aspect of your players, even more so than the physical part.

You have to be grateful in life. Martín PALERMO is a great goalscorer. If he can keep up his level of performances, he can be in the World Cup squad. I don't care about his age. All I care is about his knack for scoring and what a great person he is.

We have a friendly with Spain coming up and if we want to be great, we need to play against great teams.

Had I failed to reach the World Cup, I could have become the first victim of a fusillade in this country. But even then, I would have died on my feet. Because I have chosen to be our national team manager. Nobody told me to do it. I would have died standing proud.

I dedicate this qualification to the World Cup to our fans and to all those who live football with passion in this country.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A look at the matches ahead

With the World Cup Qualifiers now behind us and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in the near future, here's a look of what's ahead in the next few months in terms of matches.

November 14, 2009: November 14 is an International FIFA date, which means Argentina will have a friendly to play. And who better to test ourselves against(aside from Brazil) than the European champions, Spain. MARADONA and la Seleccion will be travelling to Madrid for what should be a great match. The last time we played Spain was back in 2006 and it was Alfio BASILE's second match in charge(in his second reign as Argentina manager). The match didn't end our way as we lost 2-1. XAVI and David VILLA scored for Spain and Daniel BILOS was our only goal scorer that night.

November 18, 2009: Another International date, this time versus the team we beat in the final of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Nigeria. Granted it's going to be against a completely different Nigeria side and at senor level. The match will take place in London and we'll have the chance to test ourselves against one of Africa's best teams.

December 4, 2009: A date that you should circle in your agenda. This is where the official Road to the World Cup begins(for the teams that will have qualified). The draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. On December 4, we'll find out who's in the same group as who and if we'll once again get the Group of Death.

March 3, 2010: We'll get a chance for revenge as Argentina takes on Germany in Munich. Granted it's not a World Cup Quarter Final match and it's in Munich and not Berlin, but you get the point.

As you can see, MARADONA doesn't have that many matches left to test out some players/formations. Of course there's going to be the usual 2-3 friendlys in May, but the dates have not been set yet. At the moment, it looks like our opponents could be England, Italy and Israel. However if any of them are in our group at the World Cup, we'll have to change opponents. Some people might wonder why Israel? Well if you know anything about BILARDO, you'll know why. Argentina faced Israel prior to the 1986 World Cup where Argentina won. BILARDO saw it as some sort of "lucky charm" and Argentina faced them again prior to the 1990 World Cup.

So that's it. That's a look at the matches ahead for Argentina. Are there any teams you would like to face or any matches(or a match) in particular you are looking forward to?

Uruguay 0-1 Argentina - Player ratings by Dave P

Apologies for the delay. I got a call one hour after the game and had to leave everything. Only to return at 4 AM!

Here are Dave P's player ratings.

We are in South Africa, baby!

Good victory tonight we pushed through it, here are my ratings...

Annnnndddd we are through. Great feeling right now after all the stress that Maradona and the NT has put us through for the past half year. What a game as well, it was a completely different feel and tactic then against Peru. It seemed as if we were a different team.

The 4 CB back defensive line ended up working well. What we needed was a tie to be guaranteed fifth place, and we got the goal and the 3 points to get the direct route with style, even though we had no style tonight. It was very much a bump and grind match, players were working and hustling hard only to be fouled every other minute. Possession was given back and forth for the first 30 minutes and then we eventually
settled down and held onto nice possession of the ball for last 15 minutes, which carried over into the second. We didn’t have much attack for the entire game; actually we had not attack, partially because Veron was playing deep in the midfield unlike Aimar who pushed up. But he did settle the game well. Anyway we got the win through gritty play by all our players. The defense was excellent tonight, amazing defensive display of tackling and marking from Demichelis and Mascherano both. 2 wins in a row?? Definitely not by the style of play that the media and Argentine fans like to see, but I don’t care if that’s the style of play that gets the victory that sounds good to me.

Ok here are the ratings…

ROMERO (7.5): Great game for our young super goalkeeper talent. Always quick to react to deflections and reads the game well. In the first 10 mins there was a counter attack by Uruguay and Shciavi was out of position, Romero was quick to pounce out of the box and distinguish the threat and safe us. On set pieces was very quick in the air and truly was confident in everything that he did. In the last 5 mins there was a corner kick, where Romero soared above 15 players to grab the ball out of the air in triumphant fashion. Great player.

OTAMENDI (5.5): Very slow to begin the game, was caught out of position and any attack Uruguay had in the first half was done on his side. As the game went on he became more confident in his tackles, but missed a header, which caused a little threat that was tamed by Demichelis.
Most of the time was out of position on set pieces and on the FK that Uruguay made bounce right in front of Romero, it was Otamendi’s man who got free. Overall, an ok game no really big mistakes but could have played better.

DEMICHELIS (9): Amazing display of what a true CB can do and how a CB can set up a stonewall. Demichelis was back in great form always bodying the Uruguayan attack around as well as tackling the ball away. A couple of time’s Veron passed sloppy balls back to Demichelis who was quick to clear out of our area. Every time Uruguay, and I mean every time they would attempt to slide a ball through or play someone
in our third Demichelis would deflect it out or stop the pass dead.
With Demichelis at CB and Romero in goal I am very confident in shutting down many teams. Great Great game from Demichelis our #1 CB at the moment.

SCHIAVI (6): Much like Otamendi, was sloppy, slow, and out of position in the first half, but didn’t really make to many glaring mistakes. Schiavi was never really tested to much because Demichelis was stopping everything. One point in the 2nd half he had a clumsy clearance right to Uruguay, but Romero was there to save the shot. For every small mistake he made he was solid enough to slow down the attack and allow for our players to come back and help defend. Good game for Schiavi, although I would not like to see him play on our NT anymore…he is not NT quality.

HEINZE (8): Moving from CB to LB for this game, Heinze played very well.
Him with Demichelis was a remarkable stopping force tonight. Heinze usually gets scared and makes sloppy passes, but tonight Heinze seemed to do everything right. He was great at pushing the ball forward and combining with Di Maria. Heinze’s work rate in tonight’s game can not be questioned, the entire 90 mins he was giving it his all. He knew what was on the line and did not seem to buckle under the pressure
like he usually does. Constantly slowing down the Uruguay attack and proved that he has a spot on the team just by the passion he shows on the pitch. Great play tonight

Jonas GUTIERREZ (6): Can sum up his play tonight in one sentence; was expecting to
see more out of Jonas today but still always working hard. In tonight’s game Jonas was really not noticeable at all, every once and a while he would pop up out of nowhere to make a run or a defensive stop. He really shined though towards the end of the match when everyone was tired, his endurance is un real. He smoked past Caceres only to get dragged down for a red card. This set up our free kick where we got our goal. Describes Jonas perfectly, he does all the hard running and hustling but gets the reward for the team indirectly.
Quiet but solid game for Jonas

MASCHERANO (7): This is the Mascherano that we are used to seeing. Completely different game than against Peru, Masch was all over the field today. Working well to compliment Schiavi and Demichelis. He collapsed well when we needed defensive support and always was putting pressure on the midfield, which made Uruguay make sloppy passes. True hustle hard nose player, confidant tackling all game and was rarely out of position. Good defensive support, which is his role, good game.

VERON (7): He came in for Aimar to play the attacking link with the strikers. Did a poor job with this, he supplied no help to the attack and pretty much dropped in line to play another defensive mid role like Mascherano. In the first half all his passes were sloppy and sometimes he forced passes that were not on. In the second half he played more defensively, his role of just keeping possession helped us
settle the game down as Uruguay pushed forward more. But no help in the attack, except for the one FK that we score on his shot caused the deflection to go to Bolatti. All that being said every time he got the ball from a striker he was content with just keeping the ball in the midfield. He knew that if we held possession safely and did not push to far forward a counter attack could not screw us. A true veteran performance by Veron and was key to us maintaining the tie until our goal.

DI MARIA (6.5): Good game for Angel. Pretty much our only dangerous player on the night. Early in the first half he was always running at defenders even if he didn’t get anywhere. Made a few bad passes and held onto the ball a little too long. But still the youngster’s touch and quickness was ever dangerous. In a game that was more for the defense he played well but did not get as many touches as he did in
the Peru game. In the second half Di Maria was completely invisible did absolutely nothing and was subbed out for Monzon in the 75th min to go even more defensive.

HIGUAIN (5): In a game where we had no link between the midfield and the attack Higuain did the best that he could have done. He ran around and checked back to get the ball only to pass back to Veron who did not give it back. Other than this there was a few good combinations with Di Maria on the left but overall some miscommunication caused for no good efforts on goal. Higuain played well, would have liked to see more initiative to attack the net but either way an ok game.

MESSI (4): I don’t know if I can even rate Messi tonight. He was pretty much non-existent the entire game for except 2 or 3 runs that looked dangerous. Every time he touched the ball he was dangerous but had no support on the ball up top and eventually just passed back to Veron. Not his game at all tonight and some may question his ability to perform on the NT level. But the truth is he had no one to combine with and he can not beat 5 Uruguay players every time he touched the ball.


MONZON (6): Came on in the 75 min for Di Maria to give more defensive stability. Nothing else to say, dropped back and marked well for the 15 mins he was in for.

BOLATTI (7): In for 10 mins, but took the deflection off of Veron’s shot calmly and shot into the goal. Got us the 3 points, other than that nothing else.

Tevez N/A: On for Messi at 86min

So we are on our way to South Africa, our performance tonight was a solid defensive display, and what I liked the best was the consistency. Even though we had only 1 or 2 shots on goal, we were consistent in our play in possession. Unlike against Peru where we played well in the first half and were non-existent in the second half, tonight we put up with the intensity and everyone played with passion away from home. Veron added nothing to the attack but was solid in controlling the tempo of the game, in a game where we only needed a tie. Still thousands of questions for what we need to do when we need to actually score. In the Peru game we had Aimar help the attack and we were good in movement up top but had a bad defense. In
tonight’s game we had Veron not help the attack but were solid in defense. We need to find some way to have the midfield both help attack and still be solid defensively. But at the moment I am very excited and happy for us, even though I have criticized Maradona, I am very happy for him. Tonight Maradona’s passion and work rate was shown by all our players and we came away with the result that we needed. I kind of like writing these happy player ratings…

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We're Going To South Africa!!!

The moment that changed it all for us. The moment that I believe will be best remembered by fans of Argentina from all over the world throughout this qualifying campaign. The long hard and bumpy road that we've endured has ended on a happy note. That's all I need to say for now.



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mundo Pod - The Battle of the River Plate

First of all...many apologies for the delay. I'm still up at 4 AM after having to deal with all sorts of technical issues.

For some reason, there were lots and lots of noises and interruptions in our recorded conversation and we could only find out about it once we were editing the pod.

For that matter, I thought it was best to let you decide. If you want to go ahead and listen to our pod despite the many difficulties we have experienced that have resulted in a below-par sound quality, we'll be very happy and grateful.

If it's too much for you to take and the technical problems drive you crazy, we'll understand and again, we're sorry for the inconvenience.

Done with the apologies, it's time to discuss Argentina-Uruguay!

Without a doubt our most important match since that quarter-final meeting with Germany in the last World Cup.

The fact that another edition of The Battle of the River Plate is the one that will decide the fate of two traditional footballing nations, makes things even tastier!

John, Roy and Seba are joined by Johnny who shares with us his experience under the rain at the Monumental and Lucas, who somehow missed that last-gasp PALERMO goal.

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 probable lineup Mundo Albiceleste gave you on Monday was almost entirely identical to the one it's been rumoured to be the final starting XI for Argentina to face Uruguay.

The only player that will keep his place from those we thought were going to be dropped is Angel DI MARIA.

The Benfica midfielder appears to have done enough in Diego's mind to earn another start.

Unfortunately for Pablo AIMAR, though, MARADONA seems to have decided to sit The Little Clown in favour of Juan Sebastián VERON.

Emiliano INSUA will also be dropped and Martín DEMICHELIS will be the one taking that vacant spot, surely moving HEINZE to the left-back position.

With the changes Diego has in mind, the lineup would be the following (again...this is not confirmed):


OTAMENDI-SCHIAVI-DEMICHELIS-HEINZE (our nightmare of a defensive line will be there to fool around with our nerves)

Jonas GUTIERREZ (surely now to play on the right) - MASCHERANO-VERON-DI MARIA


This is slightly better than the lineup from yesterday, if you ask me. But still...not even close to the kind of lineup I'd be happy with ahead of a final like the one we have against Uruguay.


By the way...a new edition of Mundo Albiceleste's podcast has been recorded and is currently about to be edited. You'll be able to hear it before the Uruguay match.

Monday, October 12, 2009

And your first probable lineup to face URU is...

...brace yourselves! We're in for a bumpy (and very uncomfortable) ride in the Centenario Stadium on Wednesday.

Because it looks like MARADONA will be picking the following starting eleven (whether you believe it or not, that's another matter. By the way...I can't believe this. I already feel like throwing my computer out the window. That's how angry I am at reading this):


OTAMENDI as a right back (yes, never played there with Argentina. Not his natural position)

SCHIAVI (getting another chance after looking so completely out of his league against a pretty poor Peruvian side at home, even when Perú were missing their best three strikers)

DEMICHELIS (still not completely match-fit after his surgery and with only a handful of minutes against Perú to be accounted for in the last 70 days).

HEINZE as left-back (he's like Freddy KRUGER or something. He refuses to 'die'. He keeps coming back for more. He keeps tormenting me instead of tormenting the opposition's forwards. FORLAN and SUAREZ must be laughing with a flask and a mate in their hands by looking at the defensive unit we will be using for this crucial WCQ decider).

But there's more. Hold on because there's more!

MASCHERANO will probably play out of position and he will be used as a right midfielder instead of playing in the middle of the park.

VERON and BRAÑA will be playing in the middle instead.ÑA gets a full international debut in the worst possible stage I could imagine. Great!

Jonas GUTIERREZ will be back playing as a left midfielder.

Up front?

MESSI and HIGUAIN will be the partners. summarise, here are the eleven names:




Some other thoughts....

Great! We have no creative players in midfield. All workhorses with the exception of VERON who could provide some good through balls for MESSI and/or HIGUAIN but I'm afraid he'll be asked to work more on the defensive aspects rather than commanding our offense from midfield.

Amazing! We'll be trying to stop the supersonic FORLAN and SUAREZ with the old carriage that is SCHIAVI, the liability that comes out from everyone of HEINZE's pores, the inexperienced, out-of-position-unproven OTAMENDI and the notably unfit and out of form DEMICHELIS. Life is great!

Fantastic! Our four probable defenders are all natural centre-backs! Are you saying we have no natural left-backs or right-backs in the entire nation?

Cool! MESSI and HIGUAIN will be the next victims if they fail to provide some goals! MARADONA will be burning them and the not-so-knowledgeable fans and members of the media will begin to think PALERMO is better than those two, but none of them will see that they will be incredibly isolated having to find a way through the Uruguay defense all by themselves.

Terrific! As Tim VICKERY mentioned it in his latest blog for BBC, no team have scored more goals at home than Uruguay!

Sensational! Our record away from home in this WCQ is: 1 win (Venezuela away), 2 draws (Brazil -do you believe it???- and Perú -do you believe it???-) and 5 defeats (Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay).

Shocking! I believe we have no other choice but to depend on what Chile can do against Ecuador. The good news is that BIELSA is not the kind of manager that will be happy to drop points. He'll go for it and he is probably the most honest, fair-playing manager in World football. Based on form from both, Chile and Ecuador, logic says that should at worst be a draw, but the home team are clear favourites there.

Any of you out there feel a little less pessimistic?

Any of you can find a reason for me to cheer up a little bit?

Any of you feel even more negative than me?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This is what happens to me with PALERMO

It's not that I hate him. I don't. I've never liked him as a football player, but I've learned to respect him.

It's not that I have anything against him. No. He seems to be a very calmed and humble guy who has achieved a lot of things in his career and none of those things came easy to him. He worked for them. He works very hard for all the good things that happen to him all the time and he worked even more when things didn't go his way.

He has had plenty of rough patches during his career:

- Three penalty-kicks misses in one match with Argentina, something for what he's been crucified. In fact, many people in the world simply know him as 'the guy who missed three penalties in one match'.

- A brick wall collapsed on his leg while celebrating a goal for Villarreal in Spain.

- He damaged his knees more than once and his career was on the line many times.

He came back stronger from all those blows and some more that have to do with his private life.

My problem with PALERMO is that I feel that, for whatever reason, his time with the national team shouldn't be now. Not with the number of quality strikers that are currently shining in Europe and never got a decent chance to play for Argentina.

One other big reason for me to take this position is that I've always liked my forwards to be good players. To be skilful. To be complete. My all-time favourite is not Argentine, is Dutch: Marco VAN BASTEN.

That's why I can respect a guy with a zillion goals scored in his career, but it'd be very very difficult to me to worship a player like that. Respect him? Yes. Fear him? Sometimes, yes. But loved him to bits? That's a whole different matter to me.

Even the great Batigol was not the most gifted player and it took a long time before I started feeling some love for him. Though I think Gabriel BATISTUTA was a much better player than PALERMO.

To help me explain where I'm coming from, I feel Argentina should be playing a more fluent kind of football. I feel we shouldn't be in such a desperate situation, which of course, calls for desperate measure (and that's where PALERMO comes in).

We've been struggling to find a proper system or a reliable lineup and we've been seeing how both BASILE and MARADONA tried different options to no success.

By rescuing our national team last night, PALERMO (as innocent as he is in this whole mess) is somehow validating what GRONDONA did by appointing MARADONA and what MARADONA did by taking our national team to the desperate situation we are now.

That's my problem with PALERMO. I still thank him for scoring that goal, but frankly, it kills me because I know he'll now become a regular and he'll prevent us from seeing better, faster and more complete players.

I'm writing this when the PALERMOMANIA is hitting an all-time high in Argentina. Doubt PALERMO and you'll be ridiculed in any public forum where football is discussed in this country.

They are probably right. Results are everything in modern football to many people.

Not for me. I still have pretty clear in my mind the horrendous second half we played last night. I'm still pretty worried about the fact that playing like this, we won't get too many wins down the road.

I'm not one of those many Argentina fans who are now committing to God and resting assured that PALERMO or The Beard himself will eventually save Argentina.

I'm tired of riding our luck and having to depend on other results. And oh boy we've been having an incredible luck with results from other matches lately. I think of Venezuela 2-2 Uruguay; Peru 2-1 Uruguay; Chile winning in Colombia for the first time ever! Paraguay, with nothing to play for, beating Venezuela away.

Lady Fortune will smile at a different team tomorrow and we'll be left empty-handed.

Until we start preparing accordingly for our matches and we start showing some team-work, some tactical awareness and some gameplan, I'll keep talking about luck because that's all we've got now.

As for PALERMO? Thank you, Martín. But you ask if I want to see you playing for us again on Wednesday or in an eventual World Cup? Martín. Thanks for asking. But I think I'll pass.

Live commentary from the famous Victor Hugo

You surely heard him calling Diego's goal against England in 1986 and bursting into tears.

I just found this on YouTube and it's Víctor Hugo MORALES commentary for that last-gasp PALERMO goal.

Some nice pics added in the edition. A nice little video:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

News Of The World - Who's in South Africa 2010

You all know I love my football. I'm all for all things Argentina, but I also enjoy watching international football from all across the globe.

Having a relatively quiet day at home in Buenos Aires, with cable TV and an internet connection, I was able to enjoy almost 24 straight hours of World Cup Qualifiers from many regions around the world and here are my takes from a very busy and exciting super-Saturday.

Chronologically speaking, Ivory Coast were the first of the day to secure a ticket for their second consecutive World Cup. Led by the fantastic (if only he didn't dive that much) Didier DROGBA, the Elephants came from behind to get a draw away to Malawi and join South Africa and Ghana as African representatives next year. They wait for the other three from that continent with Cameroon, Tunisia and Egypt being favourites but Gabon, Nigeria and Algeria also having chances.

I then watched as the prolific Miroslav KLOSE scored for Germany to book their place at the mighty Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. That 1-0 win sent Russia to the European playoffs.

Italy trailed twice in Dublin against Ireland but they equalized twice through Argentine-born Mauro CAMORANESI and Alberto GILARDINO. That point was enough for them to go to South Africa and try to defend the title they obtained 3 years ago in Germany.

Denmark and Serbia were the two unlikely group-winners to seal their qualification on Saturday. On paper at least, Nicklas BENDTNER's Denmark weren't favourites to win in a group containing Cristiano RONALDO's Portugal and Zlatan IBRAHIMOVIC's Sweden. They won the group and they are still undefeated with only one game to go.

A crucial win for Portugal over Hungary left them in the driver's seat as they need to beat Malta at home in their last match to be sure of a place in the playoffs.

The Serbs stunned many as they beat France to the top spot in Group 7. They defeated Romania 5-0 at home and they also return to the World Cup where they shared group with Argentina and our three rivals from the first round in Germany (Netherlands, Ivory Coast and Serbia -although it was called Serbia and Montenegro back then-) are all through to the next World Cup while we still have to wait some more.

Than it was all about Argentina and South America.

Chile were impressive and they scored four against Colombia to clinch their place in a World Cup for the first time since 1998. They are still partying in the streets of Santiago and BIELSA is being considered pretty much as someone who has revolutionised Chilean football.

Venezuela crashed out at the expense of Paraguay (although mathematically they are still in with a chance. They need to beat Brazil by a huge difference, hope for Chile to beat Ecuador and for Argentina to put a good few goals past Uruguay...not gonna happen, is it?).

We all know what happened with Argentina and there's only Ecuador v. Uruguay to talk about.

What a crazy game that was. Ecuador got in front through VALENCIA and only one minute later, the excellent Luis SUAREZ levelled the scoring for Uruguay. It looked like the match was heading for a draw which would have complicated Argentina even further as we needed someone to win that game. I preferred Ecuador to win it so Uruguay would have nothing to play for on Wednesday and Argentina would have at least secured 5th place.

But FORLAN, from the penalty spot, gave Uruguay a huge win that turned out to be a good result as we now have a nice advantage over Ecuador and if they don't win in Chile, a draw will get us to South Africa automatically.

Finally, it was the turn for CONCACAF. A region we should be paying attention too. A few weeks ago, Mexico were in fourth place and hence, they were the ones who would have been facing the fifth-placed team from South America. Last week it was Costa Rica. This's Honduras!

First things firts, the USA and Mexico, the two clear powers from that region, have both clinched their tickets to the World Cup. The Americans defeated Honduras 3-2 away from home, whilst Mexico eliminated El Salvador with a 4-1 at the Azteca.

Fourth-place, and a playoff with either Argentina, Uruguay or Ecuador will now be decided between Costa Rica and Honduras.

They are both away from home with Honduras visiting El Salvador, whilst Costa Rica travels to the USA. Honduras need to win and they need Costa Rica to draw or lose in the USA as Honduras have better goal difference than the Ticos.

That concludes my roundup of international football which saw the number of teams qualified to South Africa 2010 increase from 11 to 19. We still need to find out which will be the remaining 13.

Here's the full list of teams that will be in South Africa 2010:

South Africa (host nation)

Ghana; Ivory Coast

Australia; Japan; South Korea; North Korea.

Denmark; Spain; Germany; Italy; Netherlands; Serbia; England.

South America:
Brazil; Paraguay; Chile.

USA; Mexico.

Bahrain and New Zealand played to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their playoffs. The winner of that matchup will be on their way to South Africa.

Prison break for clueless MARADONA

I am as happy as every Argentina fan because we won.

I also feel like I have a responsibility in front of all of you to avoid getting too carried away and I feel the need to try to analyse things as objectively as possible.

The truth is, Mundo Albiceleste will be one of the main victims if Argentina doesn't get to the World Cup. What would we be writing about if we miss out? I don't even want to think about it. The thought alone drives me crazy.

That is why, first and foremost, I desperately want Argentina to qualify to South Afica 2010.

On the other hand, though, tonight's win left me with a bittersweet taste that I can't take off my mouth.

We won. Other results went our way and now we can probably afford a draw in Uruguay to make it to the World Cup. But I'm afraid our manager will be blinded by the result and will forget or ignore the fact that we needed to get a fluky goal deep in injury time to beat a team that have lost all their previous away matches in this World Cup Qualifying campaign.

MARADONA will probably disregard the fact that we were clearly outplayed during the entire second half by a below-average Peruvian side (they were without at least their three best players: Claudio PIZARRO, Paolo GUERRERO and Jefferson FARFAN).

We panicked when we went up 1-0 and we lost the ball from then on.

MARADONA, who clearly got out of jail with that last-gasp goal from PALERMO, is surely thinking we won because of The Beard (God). That certainly is not the best recipe to follow when our national team is going through a phase in which a cool head is needed much more than hot mystic delirium and belly-surfing goal celebrations.

Our team had no balance. I applaud the intention of playing offensive football. I welcomed the inclusion of AIMAR and HIGUAIN instead of insisting with AGÜERO and TEVEZ.

AIMAR gave us another dimension going forward because he knows how to bring the ball up from midfield and he's got an eye for the killer assist.

AGÜERO and TEVEZ are great players, but they were not clicking together with MESSI and they were nowhere near a decent level considering what we all know they can bring to the table.

Giving full debuts to unproven Enzo PEREZ and young Emiliano INSUA was a different matter. PEREZ didn't convince me. He had a chance in the opening minute that would have changed the entire evening had it gone in and after that, he faded out. Didn't convince me.

INSUA, on the other hand, had a good game, but considering his youth and the stage freight sometimes can come together with matches like this, could have given us all sorts of headaches.

I won't go name by name. I'm just trying to analyse Diego's decisions and the effect they had on this game and on the current state we are in.

To start the second half, Diego introduced PALERMO (a second big target man, traditional striker or Number 9 as we call them in Argentina) and decided to take out an engine like Enzo PEREZ from midfield.

Yes, we needed to score, but sometimes, just sending forwards to the pitch is not the solution. It's not something that will guarantee you get a result. In my opinion, that substitution came a little too early. It looked more like a substitution a manager would have made in the final 15 or 10 minutes when you desperately need to score and the opposition will be happy to seat back and wait for you to attack them.

Not when the second half is just starting. Because then you score in the second minute of that second half and what? The game changes. Perú has to come out and attack you and they will be more prepared to battle it out in midfield.

Argentina were left with too many attacking players on the pitch (MESSI, PALERMO, AIMAR, HIGUAIN and even DI MARIA who was more in charge of attacking than defending). That's half the field players you have. The bench wasn't ready to give you too many options because our only defender was DEMICHELIS and then you only had one midfielder that could do a job defensively (Mario BOLATTI). The rest were all offensive players (Federico INSUA, Carlos TEVEZ and Sergio AGÜERO).

MARADONA simply took too long before he decided to change a few things but by then Perú grew so much in confidence that they were winning all the key battles in every area of the pitch.

The emergence of Sergio ROMERO as an immense goalkeeper has to be one of the best things to happen to Argentina in recent times and in more than one occasion, he was there to save us from disaster.

The inevitable came, though, and Perú got their deserved equalizer in the dying minutes. Again, because Argentina were unable to keep control of the ball. I can't recall a single decent chance after HIGUAIN's goal until that miracle from Martín PALERMO, deep into injury time.

We can't keep relying on The Beard to give us a hand and guide us to the World Cup. We can't keep relying on other results to go our way and oh boy they did go our way in every match from our region on Saturday.

We need to sort it out and we need to open our eyes and understand that PALERMO is not the solution to all our problems.

I'm sure we all do, but I'm also sure (unfortunately) that our manager doesn't.

Argentina 2-1 Perú - Players ratings by Dave P.

As we usually do here on Mundo Albiceleste, here are Dave P's player ratings for the match between Argentina and Perú

Mhmm, it feels really really good right now, almost didn’t happen and thought it was going to be a déjà vu of our past games but PALERMO right spot right time. It feels great to get 3 points. This new look team that MARADONA fielded today worked out very well in the first half even though we did not score. We were combining well and there was finally a link between the attack and the midfield which AIMAR and DI MARIA did well.

The second half was a completely different story we got an early goal by a great run by HIGUAIN and slicing ball by AIMAR, two new faces made a huge impact. However, as the 2nd half went on we eventually reverted back to our old selves and seemed lost, then the hurricane winds and torrential down pours came. At this point anything could have happened, “anything” did happen, defensive break downs on our side and then PALERMO…Lucky that Uruguay won and now our fate is completely on us and only us…ok here are the ratings…

Sergio ROMERO, (7.5): In the entire first half had to make only 1 or 2 saves. Was solid in the air and big in the net. The second half was when he came up huge, SCHIAVI and HEINZE were caught out of possession and he came to the rescue getting down low to block a shot. Huge save from our starting goalie. When the rains came he was caught out of position a couple of times, and on Peru’s goal he could not really do anything because the winds and rain were un real. Good play and should be our starter, immense talent

Jonas GUTIERREZ, (7.5): Great to see Jonas back in the line up after missing out on the last two qualifiers. He deserves to be a starter with all the passion and work rate he encompasses. In the first half he was showing this work horse-ism by moving up the entire right flank and getting
all the way back in defense very effectively. He combined well with Enzo PEREZ as well as MESSI. In the second half he was still in defensive mode but once Demichelis came in he kind of moved into an advancing position. He was always there when he was needed. Excellent moves on the end line and crosses throughout the game. Great game for Jonas so much passion in his game

Rolando SCHIAVI, (5.5): Very quiet game in the first half for SCHIAVI as for much of our defense. He was moving the ball well with HEINZE in the first half and seemed to be confident on the ball. However, as the game went on he seemed to grow with nerves. With Peru’s two good chances before they scored he was out of position and also over committed where he should have been dropping and staling for more players to help out in defense. On Peru’s goal the entire team was for fault in the box because everyone was standing, but SCHIAVI was one of the ones standing around. Would feel much better with Demi, PAREJA, or OTAMENDI in his spot. Also, SCHIAVI induced no threat on set pieces with his height.

Gabriel HEINZE, (6.5): Much like SCHIAVI played well in the first half with a lot of control of the ball and smooth passes. Not many mistakes throughout the entire game for HEINZE and bodied players around easily. In the second half HEINZE maintained his intensity and pursuit of tackling, played well however, was caught out of position on Peru’s chances he was pushing too far up at times and at other times giving the opponent too much room. He has to continue to find his form and he will be solid, there were no typical HEINZE moves in this one and it was less
never wrecking as usual.

Emiliano INSUA, (6.5): Glad to see a young new left back instead of PAPA and HEINZE. INSUA was solid throughout the game and really didn’t have to do much at all. Maybe pushed forward a couple of times too far but in the long run recovered well and combined well with DI MARIA when he needed too. Really, not much else to say about INSUA good first outing for the youngster and hope to see him get more action on the left back position.

Enzo PEREZ, (6): Played well but only for 45 mins until he was subbed out. He had our first chance to score within the first 2 minutes of the game but his shot went wide. He combined well with the new look offense of AIMAR, MESSI and HIGUAIN and worked hard down the right flank.
With the workhorse Jonas behind him he was pretty much free to attack as much as possible. Seemed to enjoy the movement inside when MESSI moved outside for a little bit in the first half and was always making threatening runs. Good to see some actual attack from the right wing
instead of seeing Maxi contribute nothing.

Javier MASCHERANO, (6): Good game for our captain, but not one of his best either. In the first half he was holding down the midfield extremely well, pressuring the Peruvian’s and even making some good distribution with AIMAR. However, in the second half after we scored much like our entire team he seemed to fall asleep and gave the Peruvian’s too much room in the midfield. This may have been because of the 3 man midfield that MARADONA seemed to move to in the second half which gave the Peruvian’s a lot more room to move on the wings and in the center of the pitch. On the whole MASCHERANO can play a lot better, a lot of the reasons why SCHIAVI and HEINZE were out of position has to do with the fact that MASCHERANO was out of position as well.

Pablo AIMAR, (7.5): The clown was back in good fashion today. After not playing for almost 3 or 4 years on the NT I believe. AIMAR playing the attacking midfield roll that I felt we have so desperately needed since RIQUELME left the team and MARADONA took over the team. AIMAR provided the much-needed link in attack with the strikers, and in the first half it worked out extremely well and looked dangerous, just the final shot was missing. He distributed the ball well everywhere well out wide, in the middle, and even beat players himself. Excellent movement and support with MESSI and dare I say looked a little bit like the Xavi-MESSI connection (not quite). In the second half played a great through ball to HIGUAIN behind the defense and got us the goal.
He seemed to struggle a little with less midfield support but still was an attacking threat. There was one time in the first half when he had the ball just inside the box and chipped it to the back post instead of shooting himself. Either way I approve very much of AIMAR in the attacking midfield role and hope to see him in Uruguay’s game not VERON.

Angel DI MARIA, (8): Wow very solid performance by Angel. Good to see him back after the 4-game suspension for his stupidity in the red card. Right from the start on the left side DI MARIA was pushing and beating defenders. He would always look to create with AIMAR or take it himself and play good balls across to the middle. Played dangerous balls to HIGUAIN and MESSI and had a few shots himself. I don’t know what else we could want from DI MARIA other than scoring goals, but he kept this style of play up for the entire 90 mins even in the hurricane conditions. Extremely creative and fast talent. He was the one who kept the ball alive and chipped it over to Jonas who set up our winning goal. Great game.

Gonzalo HIGUAIN, (7): His first official international call up and was very impressed. Early in the game did not really do much at all, but as the game went on in the 25 min on seemed to find more space in the box but couldn’t finish. The ball from DI MARIA he put over the net was a little embarrassing, and then again he was found in open space and had his shot save miraculously by the Peruvian goalies tiny boot. Then seemed to drift off completely in the last 10 mins of the first half. To start the second half made a great run to stay onsides which AIMAR
found. Took his goal very well and find the left side of the net, felt amazing to see us finally have a lead in a game and HIGUAIN’s face showed it. Drifted as the game went on again and was taking off for DEMICHELIS in the 68th min. Good Debut but could have been better.
Anyway if he continues to look this dangerous and score keep him as the starter.

Lionel MESSI, (7): In the beginning of the game he did not do much, but as it moved on he dropped back a little bit and received the ball. Everytime he touched the ball 3 Peruvians were on him and he made them look silly many many times. He linked up with AIMAR and Enzo very well in the first half and had some world class runs and passes but unfortunate to get a final touch. Had an excellent shot and unlucky it did not find its way into the upper left corner, missed by maybe a half foot. MESSI did not seem to get as frustrated as he usually does and it showed with one of his better outings for the NT under MARADONA. The AIMAR help was huge in making Messi more dangerous, they played off eachother well. For some reason however, he did absolutely nothing in the second half. The midfield link seemed to fall apart as well in the second half and he could not conjure up any of his magic.


Martín PALERMO, (7.5): Came on in the second half for Enzo PEREZ and got involved early with a few runs and balls played through to him. He showed his passion and was always threat with balls played into the box either from crosses or set pieces. Took a boot to the face while
going for a header, as well as, an elbow to his eye too. Other than that did not really do anything else but score the 3-point goal. Was at the right place at the right time and proved his worth in the dieing seconds. As much as I am speculative about PALERMO, I am loving him right now he is a passionate player and shows it well. Great goal!!!

Martín DEMICHELIS, (6.5): Came in the 68th min for HIGUAIN for more defense. Demi played well in the last 20 minutes and in the end was a smart sub for the fact that their was pretty much a hurricane on the field. I trust DEMICHELIS a lot in the back and he had a few key enforcing tackles. Good to see him back from his injury, and hopefully he will start against Uruguay instead of SCHIAVI.

Federico INSUA, (n/a): Came on for AIMAR in the 76th min, did not really do much due to the weather, but he played a part in PALERMO's goal.

Really enjoying this victory right now, in perspective it would have been nice to beat the worst SA team by more then 1 gol in the last seconds of the game. But either way we got 3 points. The first half of this game had many many positives and if we can come out like that against Uruguay but actually finish we will be looking good. In the second half we got the 2 gols but the tactic that MARADONA chose once we scored to sit back and pretty much play with no midfield was not
smart. It allowed Peru to get back into the game and put too much pressure on our players. The attacking midfielder tactic worked very well…I can’t write anymore I’m celebrating, eventhough we are not through yet, but because I forgot what it’s like to win a game.

As always...feel free to contribute your very own player ratings and discuss Dave's grades.