Monday, May 31, 2010

HIGUAIN to stay at Real Madrid until 2016

From being the main candidate to stay on the bench after Real Madrid signed Cristiano RONALDO + Karim BENZEMA last season, Gonzalo HIGUAIN became one of the hottest players in Europe and attracted the interest of many clubs around the old continent.

So much so, that one of the first things the club did after welcoming their new manager Jose MOURINHO was to renew Pipita's contract.

The new deal will keep Real Madrid top-scorer from last season at the Bernabeu until 2016.

It seems like we will have Pipita vs. MESSI for a long time at the Superclásico de España between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

South Korea World Cup squad is announced

Following the news posted by Roy with the 23 men from Nigeria, South Korea have revealed their World Cup squad a day after they found out that defender KWAK Tae-Hwi will miss the tournament due to a knee injury sustained on Sunday in a friendly they lost 1-0 to Belarus.

KWAK Tae-Hwi had scored 4 goals in 12 appearances for the Tigers of Asia, an impressive average for a defender.

Here are the 23 names chosen by manager HUH Jung-Moo. In Mundo Albiceleste we always write the surnames in CAPS. Koreans (as many Asian countries) put surnames first, first and second names later. That's why we are using the capital letters first and keeping the surnames in the same order as they are used in their own country).

KIM Young-kwang (Ulsan)
LEE Woon-jae (Suwon)
JUNG Sung-ryong (Seongnam).

KIM Dong-jin (Ulsan)
KIM Hyung-il (Pohang)
OH Beom-seok (Ulsan)
LEE Young-pyo (Al Hilal, Saudi Arabia)
LEE Jung-soo (Kashima, Japan)
CHA Du-ri (Freiburg, Germany)
CHO Yong-hyung (Jeju United)
KANG Min-soo (Suwon).

KI Sung-yong (Celtic, Scotland)
KIM Bo-kyung (Oita, Japan)
KIM Nam-il (Tomsk, Russia)
KIM Jae-sung (Pohang)
KIM Jung-woo (Gwangju)
LEE Chung-yong (Bolton, England)
PARK Ji-sung (Manchester United, England)

PARK Chu-young (Monaco, France)
AHN Jung-hwan (Dalian, China)
LEE Seung-ryul (Seoul)
YEOM Ki-hun (Suwon)
LEE Dong-gook (Jeonbuk)

That's 13 players from the local K-League.
Seven players with the surname: KIM.
Six players with the surname: LEE.

2010 World Cup Theme Song - Argentina's Version

I just discovered this video on YouTube. It's the World Cup theme song but in an Albiceleste version. Felt like posting this video here just for fun. Hope you all enjoy it.

Nigeria releases final list of 23 players

Nigeria national team coach Lars LAGERBACK has released his final list of 23 players. If the name Lars LAGERBACK rings a bell, you're not alone. Lars LAGERBACK (from Sweden) was Sweden's national team coach back in 2002. A reminder that we face Nigeria in our opening match on June 12.

Vincent ENYEAMA - Hapoel Tel Aviv (ISR)
Dele AYENUGBA - Beni Yehuda (ISR)
Austin EJIDE- Hapoel Petah Tikvah (ISR)

Taye TAIWO - Marseille (FRA)
Joseph YOBO - Everton (ENG)
Danny SHITTU - Bolton Wanderers (ENG)
Elderson ECHIEJILE - Rennes (FRA)
Ayodele ADELEYE - Sparta Rotterdam (NED)
Chidi ODIAH - CSKA Moscow (RUS)
Rabiu AFOLABI - SV Salzburg (AUT)

Nwankwo KANU - Portsmouth (ENG)
Dickson ETUHU - Fulham (ENG)
Mikel JOHN OBI - Chelsea (ENG)
Sani KAITA - Alanya (RUS)
Yusuf AYILA - Dynamo Kiev (UKR)
Kalu UCHE - Almeria (SPA)
Haruna LUKMAN - Monaco (FRA)

Yakubu AYEGBENI - Everton (ENG)
Chinedu OBASI - Hoffenheim (GER)
Obafemi MARTINS - Wolfsburg (GER)
Obinna NSOFOR - Malaga (SPA)
John UTAKA - Portsmouth (ENG)
Osaze ODEMWINGIE - Lokomotiv (RUS)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Argentina to wear the Albiceleste shirt vs. Nigeria

As you know, Albiceleste means White and light-blue or sky-blue. The most common Spanish word for White is Blanco, but Albo is synonym. And "Celeste" means light-blue or sky-blue. Well, according to what I hear, that's the shirt we will see Argentina wearing when they take to the field on June 12 to face Nigeria (wearing their traditional green shirts) at the historical Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

For the second match (June 17 at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg), Argentina will also wear the Albiceleste to face Republic of Korea and their furious-red shirts.

The lovers of the blue shirt with which we defeated England in 1986 (and 1998), Greece in 1994 and Serbia & Montenegro in 2006 -to name a few matches-, will have to wait until the third match Argentina will play in Group B as Greece will wear white.

Just thought I'd tell you this during this quiet days in which our team is training behind closed doors at the University of Pretoria's High Performance Centre.

A few bullet-points for you:

- The players will talk to the press on June 3. That will be their first contact with the media since they arrived in Pretoria.

- The only Argentina player using Twitter is Sergio AGÜERO (@aguerosergiokun). All the others are fake. Take my word and don't follow that 'Official MESSI' liar. Like Lio would be Tweeting in English, yeah...right.

- Some info from the camp regarding who shares bedrooms with who. Here are the pairings and the surprising 'lone wolf' that had to stay on his own because the numbers are odds.


BOLATTI-PASTORE (both were team-mates at Huracán a couple of seasons ago)

Maxi RODRIGUEZ-AGÜERO (shared team at Atletico Madrid before Maxi moved to Liverpool)


Clemente RODRIGUEZ - PALERMO (were team-mates at Boca Juniors)

POZO-GARCE (team-mates at Colón de Santa Fé)

SAMUEL-BURDISSO (been team-mates at Inter for a long time)

HEINZE-MASCHERANO (kicking each other to gain the right to use the bathroom first???)

MILITO-HIGUAIN (watch out maids! These two will score if you give them a split second! If you allow me to play such a cheap joke! hahaha!)

ROMERO-ANDUJAR (surely no need for house-KEEPING in that room)


And the loner?

Yep, you have deducted it correctly: Carlos TEVEZ will be alone with his latin music!

More news as I hear them...

Lacklustre performances from our Group B rivals

Since Argentina won't be playing any more friendlies from here until our World Cup debut with Nigeria, I though we could take a look at what our foes from Group B have been doing lately.

After impressing last week with a 2-0 in Saitama over Japan, Republic of Korea have lost to Belarus 0-1 on Sunday.

A solitary strike by Sergey KISLYAK was enough for Belarus to win this match and now Korea will likely put up their strongest lineup to face Spain on Thursday, also in Austria.

The explanation for this defeat could be found in that their manager HUH Jung-Moo is still giving his fringe players a run before he makes the final cut to trim his list down to 23.

By the way...HUH Jung-Moo is part of the 'DUNGA Club'. What is that?'s just a figure I'm using to say that he was one of the players who kicked the hell out of Diego MARADONA when Argentina faced Korea in 1986 in Mexico. DUNGA did it in 1990 and for both, the result was the same: a disaster! Here's hoping Diego gets the same result against HUH and if destiny has it, against DUNGA too if we meet in South Africa.

You don't believe me that HUH Jung-Moo kicked the hell out of Diego? Here's some proof!

Nigeria, on the other hand, also gave some subs a run facing a familiar side to all of us like Colombia.

The Super Eagles went 1-0 down on 29 minutes after Carlos VALDES found the back of the net for Colombia.

In the second half, Haruna LUKMAN tried his luck from outside the box and levelled for Nigeria to make it 1-1.

Greece were not in action this weekend but they will get a taste of what it is to face a South American team when they meet Paraguay on Wednesday.

Speaking of Paraguay, Argentine-born Lucas BARRIOS, has scored against Ivory Coast on Sunday to make it 2 goals in 2 international friendlies (his first score coming against Ireland a few days ago). I guess Argentine strikers are a hot property these days, aren't they?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Team Has Arrived!

At around 8.30am, Diego MARADONA and the National Team arrived in South Africa for the World Cup on Saturday, looking jet-lagged as they were greeted by media at the O.R Tambo International Airport (as reported by the Times Live from South Africa).

MARADONA blew a kiss to reporters, saying "Hola, South Africa. I love South Africa. I’m excited to be here, I love South Africa and I’m looking forward to the World Cup,".
Lionel MESSI was also subdued on his first appearance in South Africa. Wearing a white baseball cap, the Barcelona forward did not react to requests from the assembled media for a smile or a wave.
Clear skies and cool early morning autumn conditions greeted the third team to land in South Africa after Asia powerhouse Australia and Brazil . After a brief session with select TV crews and photographers; Diego, MESSI and the rest of the team left in a brightly painted luxury coach for their Pretoria base.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The dream takes off today. Godspeed Argentina!

As I write this, a couple of young ladies with Argentina tops and very tight shorts are surrounded by a Johnny DEPP look-a-like (sort of!) -well, to be honest he is just dressed as Captain Jack SPARROW and is wearing an Albiceleste shirt- and four girls from a fan club called: Las Kuncitas (Little Kun Girls or something like that).

This bizarre series of events is taking place just outside the AFA Ezeiza Headquarters where minutes from now (Friday afternoon in Buenos Aires), the national football team of Argentina will depart towards the airport and will do the three kilometres that separate the training ground with the international airport.

Oh...but wait a second? Where is Jack SPARROW now? A black car driven by MARADONA is just arriving to the AFA camp and all hell broke loose! Hundreds of fans jump over the car, photographers go crazy just to get the best possible pic from this whole mess and the flight departs in two hours.

I was ready to see the whole team leave in a bus right now, but Diego is just arriving. It's 4:13 PM in Buenos Aires and the flight is announced for 6:45 PM.

Diego makes it through a sea of people (without a hint of him stepping on someone's toes this time) and the fans go crazy and start jumping and singing: 'Argentina! Argentina!'.

Oh...wait! Wait! BREAKING NEWS: TyC Sports interviewing a fan who HAS BEEN HIT BY MARADONA's CAR. Here's what he says: "Yes! He rolled over my feet with his car. I'm over the moon! I was touched by MARADONA. I couldn't be happier!"

I'm learning now that Gary COLEMAN has died and I can't help but thinking: 'Does this mean we can't play all of our little guys together'? I hope not! RIP Arnold, RIP!

The team will be flying business (23 players plus 10 seats taken by the coaching staff) and on the same plane the U20 kids that are going to be helping the team in trainings in Pretoria are going to be allocated in tourist seats.

I read on his Twitter account, that Sergio AGÜERO is announcing that they will leave for the airport in about 15 minutes. But they are already late according to Kun's estimated time of departure.

Want to follow Kun on Twitter? Here's his account. To my knowledge, he is the only Albiceleste player on Twitter (got the habit from his Atletico de Madrid teammate, Uruguay striker Diego FORLAN).

It's the bizarre dimension and we are hitting a new high! Here, here, click to listen to a song the band Los Reales have dedicated to Gabriel HEINZE.

Now a few umbrellas appear on the horizon. They are Albicelestes, but they have the inscription: "NUMERO 12" (Number 12 -the nickname of the Boca Juniors barrabrava -hooligans-) and they are reporting in TyC Sports that some of those thugs are going to be travelling together with the team. PERFECT! NOT!

I'll keep watching this modern circus and will keep you posted on whether they make it on time or not!

Great work of World Cup art!

Just found this gallery on the internet.

32 nations, 32 posters.

Here's Argentina's:

Changes to squad numbers

There are a few changes with some shirt numbers.

GARCE will wear 12.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lets keep Mundo Albiceleste what it is

After several warnings, I shouldn't be explaining my self on why am I deleting some comments.

I'm not going after anyone in particular. I'm just deleting comments containing insults and foul or abusive language.

You don't like your posts getting deleted? Just keep the insults and bad words out of them or else they will keep getting deleted.

It's got nothing to do with being politically correct as there has been a lot of examples in which we made fun of things and took serious stuff rather lightly.

We are all for a bit of fun, but even if some people don't understand it, this is a place made for Argentina fans all over the world and it has always been an example of camaraderie with the occasional heated argument between two or more readers, but they almost never crossed the line and when they did, those messages got deleted and those readers understood.

I hate to go on and delete comments when I could be using that time to come up with new ways of improving Mundo Albiceleste, but I hate it even more when I think of young fans from different countries logging in to read news and comments about Argentina and find messages that are not appropriate and that sometimes could have a lot of meaning if it wasn't for the unnecessary use of foul language.

It's got much more to do with the way those messages are written (with a lot of F words and C words) than with the content. Some times I feel sorry because the content of some of those messages is not that bad and some others it is clearly interesting, but as soon as we spot a curse word that is not appropriate, we have no option but to delete that comment.

Those messages have nothing to do with Mundo Albiceleste's goals, style and identity.

So here is my call for everybody to keep Mundo Albiceleste what it is and what it always has been.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

But here, amigos, they are dressed to kill!

Argentina: The smartest team heading to the WC

The Bum of God?

Apologies in advance if you feel the headline is offensive in any way, but I thought it was the best and funniest way to describe what this post is about and I mean no disrespect to no deity.

Here's the thing. When asked what he would do if Argentina were to win the World Cup in South Africa, Diego Armando MARADONA simply said: "I'll get naked and I'll run around the Obelisco".

The Obelisco is, as the word would suggest even if you don't speak Spanish, an obelisk built in downtown Buenos Aires. One of the most traditional sight-seeing places in the city.

We saw the Hand of God in 1986, will we see another part of God's anatomy later this year?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy birthday to Diego MILITO's biggest fan!

Today, on May 25, Diego MILITO's biggest cheerleader, who happens to be the founder of Mundo Albiceleste was born! That's right, it's Seba's birthday!

On a personal note, I'd like to say thank you to Seba for opening this wonderful blog around this time 4 years ago (though I discovered it prior to the Copa America in 2007) and giving every Albiceleste fan around the world a chance to not only share their views on the team and the players, but to also be able to get their news in english. It's very difficult to find a news source for Argentina that has as many comments from you, the reader, all in english. Later on, John was brought on board to help Seba out with the blog and eventually I was brought in to help those two out. And for all that, I say thank you Seba.

At the moment, Seba is currently sick as a dog. He hasn't been feeling well these past few days, but I think I have the thing that will cheer him right up!

Happy birthday Seba, get well and I expect the same kind of post on MY birthday! Hahaha!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Squad numbers announced!

I know a lot of you have been waiting for this news to come out. The squad numbers have been announced and without further introduction, here they are:

1.Diego POZO
3.Clemente RODRIGUEZ
4.Nicolás BURDISSO
6.Gabriel HEINZE
7.Angel DI MARIA
8.Juan Sebastián VERON
9.Gonzalo HIGUAIN
10.Lionel MESSI
11.Carlos TEVEZ
12.Sergio ROMERO (still first choice keeper. Doesn't want to wear number 1 cause he thinks is bad luck to him)
13.Walter SAMUEL
15.Nicolás OTAMENDI
16.Sergio AGÜERO
18.Martín PALERMO
19.Diego MILITO
20.Maximiliano RODRIGUEZ
21.Ariel GARCE
22.Javier PASTORE
23.Mariano ANDUJAR

Argentina 5 - 0 Canada - Player Ratings

Player ratings sent in by Dave P.

With all the controversy on who is going to the world cup and who is not going, we finally get to see some of the players who are officially representing us play. No Messi, Samuel, Demichelis, and Milito (All resting). A 5-0 victory over Canada, a decent win considering how weak Canada is, they had one chance the entire game and I think we possessed the ball for about 80% of the time. They barely pressured our back 4 and midfield and were content in sitting back and defending. There really was no test for our defenders and Romero was only needed once. In the first half we held possession all the time which carried over into the second half, we were a little wasteful with some chances and some of our crosses were off but Maxi's two goals were scored because of Jonas and Tevez's immense work rate. In the second half the same continued however this time Higuain was working much much harder, and set up Tevez's goal. Here are the ratings:

Romero 6: Literally was only needed once the entire game, but when he was needed he was there to save Burdisso's mistake clearance

Heinze 6: Not tested defensively the entire game, however, he did get forward well and combined well with Di Maria. Passionate and worked hard until he was subbed out.

Otamendi 5: Not tested, did everything he needed to do, missed a header early on but other than that just passed the ball around fine.

Burdisso 5: Same as Otamendi, had one slip up but other than that cannot really rate him because never was tested defensively

Jonas 7: Every game he seems to never go unnoticed in a positive manner. He is everywhere all game pushing down the right side from corner flag to corner flag. Good moves in the attack and high pressure all game amazing work rate.

Mascherano 6: Worked hard all game and really was never worked to hard in the defense but did break up a lot of passes and had a hard work rate all game.

Maxi 7.5: Early on combined well with Jonas and Tevez, beginning to find his form again worked hard down the line until he came off at halftime injured. But before he got hurt he did the damage in scoring a beautiful free kick and topping off the counter attack after a clever Tevez pass. I hope he is okay, because if he is in this form he can be dangerous like he was in 2006

Di Maria 6.5: Great finish by Di Maria, outside of the left into the upper right which came out of no where. This is his explosiveness as usual, he can do something amazing in the blink of an eye. He played well pushing forward and pressed the Canada defense all game. His crosses and corners were a little off today which are usually right on the money.

Pastore 6: Excited to see Pastore start, and early on he was linking up well with Tevez and Di Maria, the much needed link between the midfield and forwards was working well. However, as the game went on he got quiet and began to not play his good balls. Good move to get a foul called which allowed for Maxi's goal. And good pressure but expected a little more from him.

Higuain 5: Terrible start to the match by El Pipita, had 0 touches on the ball in the first 22 minutes, he was running hard but not close enough to Tevez when he needed to combine. He was a part of the lighting quick counter attack in the first half which got Tevez in to pass it off to Maxi, but a disappointing first half. The second half was completely different for El Pipita, he was working and running harder pushing more outside to try and cut i n. He had 2 good chances however both were put wide, but he did press hard which won him a ball which he unselfishly laid off to Tevez to score our 4th. Great speed displayed as well, just work on the finishing.

Tevez 8: Man of the match, Tevez continuing his from from Man City. He hustled all over the place all game until he got subbed out in the 70th min. He looked to take on defenders and did so well. Set up Maxi for his second goal, and scored his finish well by pressing and then getting into position to recieve Higuain's pass. Also, because of his pressure Canada passed the ball to Di Maria to score his goal. What work horse, great game by Carlitos in the absence of Messi.


Veron 5: Came on at half time and played just behind Pastore, did well was great in possession and played some pretty good long balls, very calming feel whenever he is on the ball.

Bolatti N/A: in for Mascherano 59min: Did not really have to do much. Did not see much a difference in the midfield once Masch was subbed out, good work by Bolatti.

Clemente N/A: in for Heinze 59 min: Really was not tested and did not make any mistakes in his 30 mins.

Palermo N/A: in for Higuain 69 min: No impact.

Aguero 6 in for Tevez 70 min: Wow in for 3 seconds and beats the defender sideways and very powerful shot for the 5th goal. Other than the goal Aguero ran hard.

Garce in for Pastore 74 min: N/A

It was good to see our team play and have a forceful win without Messi, even-though Canada is a poor quality football team. Get excited for the World Cup its coming close and anything can happen in South Africa. I can't wait...I will be in Japan during the first 2 group stage matches and will most likely not have access to write player ratings but I will be watching and routing them on from Tokyo. I hope we can show the world our talent and I believe in our team and Maradona, we worked very hard all game today, great work rate.

Argentina 5 - 0 Canada - Highlights

Argentina vs. Canada - Live Chat

Mundo Albiceleste chat for Argentina/Canada

With the Canada friendly match hours away, regular Mundo Albiceleste readers will know that as usual on a match day, we will be holding a live chat prior, during and following the match. We've had a live chat for the Germany game, the Haiti game and even for the preliminary list!

The match is "supposed" to begin (and I say "supposed" to begin because with Diego you could never know) at 3:30 PM Eastern (4:30 PM Buenos Aires time, 12:30 PM Pacific). The live chat is set to begin at 3:00 PM Eastern (4:00 PM Buenos Aires time, Noon Pacific). For Canadian viewers/readers, Rogers Sportsnet will be airing the match at 3:30 PM Eastern (12:30 PM Pacific).

As usual, we will be providing links for those un-able to watch the match.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Diego's press conference. Complete transcript

Diego MARADONA gave a press conference on Sunday night and this is the complete transcript of what he said.

"I apologise for this weather, guys! I wouldn't have wished for this"

On the Canada friendly:

"I told my players what's going to be our lineup for tomorrow vs. Canada. We are going to play at the best of our possibilities because that's what our shirt deserves. We won't have our first choice central defenders, but we are prepared to play a great game. But I'm not going to tell you what's going to be my starting XI here today."

On Diego MILITO's performance in the Champions League final:

"I'm not surprised for what MILITO has done. He played a great season. But so did TEVEZ, so did MESSI and Kun AGÜERO. I will use whoever I see is doing better. I don't have starters and substitutes. All of them can play."

"MILITO ended up confirming I was right in including him among the 23 players I'm taking to the World Cup".

"The match itself was discrete in my opinion. But Inter won it fair and square with two great goals by Diego MILITO, who also played some great passes. I think he was the best player on that pitch on Saturday. Without a doubt."

On the pressure he is under:

"I feel no pressures. Neither do my players. Pressure feels the man who has to wake up everyday to see if he can earn enough money for his children to eat that day. I don't have pressure".

On how important Lionel MESSI is for Argentina:

"If the ball goes through Lionel MESSI, we've got more chances to win. We need to train hard and get the message across to all of my players' heads that we need to be a team and play like a team. With the added value that we have MESSI playing for us".

"I think MESSI is getting to this World Cup better than I got to Mexico in 1986. He's got a better supporting cast. But each match is unique. He needs to know how to read games and to know what he needs to give to the team".

"I did that in 1986. I insist: if the ball goes through him, we've got more chances of winning".

On how he feels these days:

"I'm heading to my fifth World Cup, first as a manager. And I've got great players that are really motivated. I couldn't be happier."

"I'm great. I'm happy. I'm happy to have 20 players already working with me. To be able to build up our squad. To train with them and see they are happy. They are anxious to get to each training session and I can assure you they are training at a supersonic speed. I'm thrilled with my players contraction to work".

"I've got to have them with me. I've got to keep working with them in Pretoria. We can't speak about starters or substitutes. I've got 23 warriors and any of them can play".

"Ariel GARCÉ could have a chance to start. I mean, all the players I called up can do a job for me. We need to wait for those training sessions in Pretoria that could be morning and afternoon."

"A World Cup is won and lost in the little details. I need to have all my players at the top of their motivation to give me what I need from them at any moment".

"I'm reaching this World Cup in my best moment. I'm in a good place regarding everything I was lacking of before. I'm close to my daughters. My parents are healthy. I've got my girlfriend. I've got a jog. I can wake up everyday".

"I grew a beard because my dog almost ate my mouth and left me a big scar. Now since Dalma and Gianina (note: his daughters) told me I look good with a beard, I'm keeping it."

On testing different players and different systems since he took over:

"I've tested and I'll keep testing. We've got a lot of players who deserve to wear the Albiceleste, but we can only take 23 to the World Cup. I have tested a lot because I had my domestic national team. How many managers did that before?"

On the difference between preparations for the 1986 World Cup and now:

"In 1986 we spent 70 days together as a group. We are 20 days way from the World Cup and I still don't have my 23 players together. But what can you do? We need to adapt to what FIFA says. Anyway, we the few training sessions we had together these days, I think my players got my message and they know what we will be playing for".

On Argentina's chances of winning the World Cup:

"We know we're not favourites to win the World Cup. But we are going to present a good fight to anyone who stands in our way. "

On his personal head-to-head record with DUNGA:

"I'm tied with DUNGA. He beat me as a manager, but I beat him as a player in 1990. It's a draw. We'll see what happens if we have to meet in South Africa."

On what he thinks about how people sees him as a manager:

"I don't care what people think about me as a manager. I couldn't care less. I've got my 23 players and I'm ready to die with them."

On how he feels after the first few days working with most of his 23 players:

"What I wanted was to have them with me. Talk to them. Have meetings. Things I couldn't do during the year. I see a good bunch of guys. I see this is a solid group of men with great character. I think we are going to have a great World Cup".

On how he sees people in Argentina with the Bicentenary celebrations and ahead of the WC:

"Our people are excited because of the Bicentenary and because we are going to the World Cup. We are already focused on the World Cup. Our fans will show their support to us on Monday. It'll be a great motivation for my players so they can keep improving as a team and as a group of human beings".

On his colleague Marcelo BIELSA and the job he is doing in Chile:

"Marcelo BIELSA is doing a great job in Chile. He changed the collective minds of the people of Chile and I wish him the very best. When we were going through a tough time in the qualifiers, he called us and gave us all his support. "

On whether he would be willing to sacrifice playing beautiful football just to get a result:

"I don't want to win at any cost. If I quit on the beautiful game with the kind of players I have, it'd be a sin. If we treat the ball as we know, we will be OK. If we start using long balls, we won't".

"I've got a great deal of respect and admiration for José MOURINHO, but I think he defended too much against Barcelona. Even having the players to try something different. But football is like this and whoever is the winner, is right. I think it was a very thin thread and if it wasn't for that goal they didn't give Bojan in the last minute, we would all be talking about how Barcelona would have beaten Bayern Munich on Saturday".

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Watch Milito Goals In Madrid

MILITO: New poster boy for the worldwide media

Right, so here's how Inter's Champions League title and Diego MILITO's personal performance got reflected on the media worldwide.

Traditional Argentine newspaper 'La Nación' through their sports portal 'Cancha Llena' says: "In a glorious day, Milito is the flag-bearer for Inter's triumph"

ESPN in their Spanish portal just reads: "MILITO CAMPEON!"

The biggest newspaper in Brazil, O Globo, reflects in their sports page how: "Inter conquers Europe 45 years after". And adds: "MILITO scores both goals in their win over Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu".

Soccernet just reads: "Champions" and points out how "A Diego MILITO double was enough to see off Bayern"

Argentina only national sports newspaper, Olé, reads: "What else do you want, Diego?" playing with the fact that both, MILITO and MARADONA share the same first name. "With two 'golazos' (great goals) and a sensational performance, Diego MILITO gave Inter the Champions League at the Bernabeu.
We close this tour of the international media with our 'friends' from The Sun. The headline says it all really.

Hello! Did you know Diego MILITO before tonight?

It would be cheap from me to tell you: "I told you so!" regarding Diego MILITO.

Well, there you have it! I'm cheap! hahahaha!

I take it most of you watched the game or parts of it and so a match report is not exactly the best thing I could write right now. There will be highlights for you to see wherever you live or available on the internet.

I feel the best thing to do for me right now is to give you my opinion and my initial reactions after the final.

You know I have always told you that the only thing Diego MILITO needed to shine with Argentina were MINUTES. If a player is not selected, how can he score?

I've been going on and on about how a complete striker he is and how he plays for this team rather than just seeking his personal glory and a goal-scoring record (like many strikers in the world).

I've also said that he is the most underrated Argentina player and how the media keeps ignoring him whilst elevating other players instead to almost mythical figures proportions.

Today, at the world's biggest stage when it comes to club football (which is where players earn their right to represent their countries), Diego MILITO stood up for it. Not only was he up for it, he put on a kind of performance that would absolutely ridicule his doubters.

He did what he does every time he plays 90 minutes. He simply plays great football. He plays for the team and he scores goals at an insanely good average rate. But he always keeps a low profile and he doesn't sell many shirts.

Not only he scores plenty of goals, he also scores the important ones. He scores when it matters.

The title goal vs. Siena last week. The Coppa Italia decisive strike vs. Roma earlier. The third goal vs. Barcelona in the semifinals first leg (which eventually sent Inter through to the final). Goals vs. AC Milan in a match no Inter fan want to lose. These two tonight...

You know when you follow a band from the moment they were only playing at your local pub or were not known to your entire country and then all of a sudden they hit it big and you have to stand how all the new-comers are now talking about how great they are and how loyal fans they have always been?

Well...that's exactly how I feel now when I read on the Argentine media and from Argentine journalists on Twitter. NOW! And not during the course of his fantastic season for Inter, they are praising Diego MILITO and asking themselves whether he should be MESSI's partner up front during the World Cup instead of HIGUAIN or TEVEZ or the rest.

Now! Because he happened to scored at the Champions League final. Because, frankly, I saw of Diego MILITO the same things he's been doing since he joined Inter and even before that, when he was at Genoa and scored 24 goals in Serie A last season (for the record, he scored less goals in Serie A for Inter this time around -22-). He's been doing it even when he played for Real Zaragoza.

But it's only now, with the RESULT and the exposure, that everybody seems to realise how great a striker he is.

I don't think I'm ready to accept all those bandwagoners now. They have always neglected Diego MILITO and, to use a famous MARADONA quote, I hate 'panqueques' (pancakes) who would turn upside down on the eve of a performance like this from this or any other player.

What does that say about them? Does this mean they only watched Diego MILITO played tonight?

There you have it! It's off my chest. But I'm warning you, I'm not going to stop praising Diego MILITO and telling you how I believe MESSI-MILITO is the best possible combination we have for Argentina to play up front in the World Cup. I won't stop until I'm proved wrong on the pitch. Until they play an entire match and they show me nothing. I just hope I would at least get the chance to see that ONCE. I'm willing to be proved wrong and hear all about it from you or my friends in Argentina or anyone. At this point, I just don't want to be denied of that chance of seeing them together in action.

I'm basing my case in their current form and in the kind of compatibility both players will have if they get the chance to spend 90 minutes together on the same pitch.

That's it. End of rant. I'm sorry if it wasn't classy! hahaha!

As for the rest of the evening, what a pleasure it was to see Javier ZANETTI lift that trophy. I know he is hurt deep inside and if this victory helps him heal faster, then I'm twice as happy.

Esteban CAMBIASSO was immense again tonight. There's no doubt I'll miss both of them this summer (even though where I live, the World Cup will be in the middle of winter!).

Walter SAMUEL should have been yellow-carded for a tough foul on Arjen ROBBEN, but got away with it and then he put up another solid performance at the back.

I feel sorry for Martín DEMICHELIS, but I guess it's better that four Argentines won it instead of just the one.

TEVEZ is Man City player of the season

Who else was going to receive that award at the Eastlands?

Congratulations to Carlitos who this afternoon said: "Diego is going to have a tough time deciding who of us, the forwards, will start at the World Cup. Sure, Lio and HIGUAIN are two of the best in the world, but I will keep working hard because I want to be a starter".

Here's some video from Manchester City's official website

Friday, May 21, 2010

MESSI is fine after getting a knock in training

You could imagine Diego sweating and with him, an entire nation and the many from other countries (like 99.9% of Mundo's readers!).

Lionel MESSI picked up the ball, ran for a few metres, stopped and as he attempted a shot, he collided with Javier MASCHERANO and needed treatment from Dr. Donato VILLANI.

He had to leave that training match, but the news coming from the Ezeiza training camp are encouraging. It was only a knock in his right knee. Something that won't keep him from working with the team and wouldn't rule him out of the Canada frienly on Monday.

Here's some footage of a pitch side banner with the important stuff happening behind


According to a prestigious Argentine journalist, Juan Pablo VARSKY, who I follow on Twitter, Diego and his team will all be flying together on Friday, May 28 in South African Airways flight 227. They will depart from Buenos Aires at 18:15 local time.


It will be a party. No doubt about it. It will start at 4 PM local time (as always...check here to see the time-difference between your place in the world and Buenos Aires).

We will be keeping you posted on team news and the important news related to this farewell friendly before Argentina travels to South Africa.

And as every time Argentina takes the field, we will be here on Mundo Albiceleste inviting you to chat and follow the game with your fellow Albiceleste fans from all over the planet.

See you on Monday.

UCL Final Preview - The Fight for Treble Supremacy

Inter Milan and Bayern Munich will battle it out in Madrid, not just to win the Holy Grail of European football but to follow the footsteps of Glasgow Celtics (1967), Ajax Amsterdam (1972) PSV Eindhoven (1988), Manchester United (1999) and FC Barcelona (2009); clubs they have accomplish to win their respective domestic double and the biggest honour in European football (Celtics actually won four in that year).

For us as fan as of Argentina, there are many reasons to watch this year’s edition. And whatever reason it is, I’m sure the final will be as exciting as ever.


I was never was fan of Bayern but somehow I had a sentimental feeling for them after witnessing the agony they had to go through after losing to Manchester United in 1999. Since then, when it comes to German football, they had a place in my heart.

When a friend of mine mentioned to me (back in 2003) that Bayern Munich has singed Martin DEMICHELIS, my first reaction was; is that a Greek player? I felt deeply embarrassed for not knowing that he is an Argentine first and foremost, as I wasn’t following the domestic league as closely as I should have.

As a center-back, what better place to enhanced your talent if not in Germany (okay maybe Italy)? He proved to be a vital component in Bayern’s defense throughout 2005 -2006 helping the club back to back double. Yet, even that wasn’t enough for him to a place in our National Team for the 2006 World Cup. After learning his fate, he admitted that he didn’t feel like living anymore.

In life, when someone feels like this, it takes a person with a strong mentality and high determination to keep going after his/her personal goals. Luckily Micho is such person as he continued to play an important role for the Bavarian side in the years to come; helping them to achieve more honours, with the ultimate prize (should Bayern win’s it) waits for him this weekend.

For Bayern to win this final, they will turn to Micho for all the help they can get as it will be his duty to stop fellow countrymen Diego MILITO from scoring. He has been caught in several occasions for lapse of concentration but let’s not take away his physical strength plus his ability in the air. There will definitely be an interesting key battle between them.


I remember following Inter Milan since the mid-nineties and thinking how dominant this club is going to be. But it never was the case as they were tag the Sleeping Giant for failing to win big silverwares despite investing millions (the Fat RONALDO, Christian VIERI).

All that has changed throughout the last 5 years as it is their turn to smile at the rest of the pack. Already the kings of Italy, the signs are right for them to elevate themselves as the Kings of the continent.

For some reason I’m sure we all know why, Javier ZANETTI and Esteban CAMBIASSO has been the main subject matter in Mundo during these last week. But I wish to put that aside now, as I will still watch them playing with pleasure even if they will be wearing the blue and black jersey instead of……

If there is one player from this Inter side that deserve all the accolades that the club has achieved is recent times, it has to be ZANETTI. In today’s football where players moving from club to club is becoming more a favourite past time, he has proven that being a loyalist is not too bad either. In my opinion, he is truly Mr. Nerazzurri.

As for Esteban CAMBIASSO, what is there left of not to be said about him? I don’t have to remind everyone here about the fact at any one time, the industrialist can both a destroyer and a creator in the middle of the field. It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing Frank RIBERY for Bayern as the Frenchmen is suspended for the final, or else we will be witnessing an interesting battle in the middle of the field between them.

Like Mico, Walter “The Wall” SAMUEL has been the heart around Inter’s stubborn defense throughout their recent successful times. Jose MOURINHO will employ the same kind of strategy that has serve them well in the previous round, therefore SAMUEL will be the key in keeping the tireless Ivica OLIC quite. Not an easy task but surely he has what it takes to get the job done.

There is another important aspect (based on motivation) from this game that I wish to highlight. When I think of CAMBIASSO and SAMUEL, I sometime tend to forget that this weekend will also present them a chance to return to a familiar territory.

I bet deep down those people at Real Madrid must banging their heads for selling Cuchu back in 2004 without realizing the amazing talent that he possess. And it’s high time for SAMUEL to put the record straight with the Madrista crowd after having one poor season with them. I don’t care what does Senor Florentino PEREZ thinks, but I will tell you that those two are Galaticos in their own right.

For the local Madrid fans who will be attending the game, there is a scary treat for them. And no I’m not talking about Freddy KRUGER making a cameo appearance during the game. And for sure it’s got nothing to do with Gabriel HEINZE either.

I’m referring to Diego MILITO (Yes! Seba must be smiling right now), the same guy who put four goals past them while he was with Real Zaragoza. There is no need to argue about MILITO ability to grab the opportunity to score when one turns up and everyone knows he can do it in a variety of ways, despite having Micho around him. If there is one player that the self proclaim Special one will rely on for a potential match winner, MILITO is the man.


One thing I feel it’s great to know that for the third consecutive year, an Albiceleste will lift the “Giant Ear” trophy. The main question here is that “who is it going to be?”

I know that some of you will be cheering for Inter so that ZANETTI being the team’s captain will be the one to lift the trophy. Interesting to know that for some reason even Bayern’s is not short of supporter here.

Looking at both ways, I have no complains at all. After all, from my experience as a writer in this blog, I’ve learned to understand and appreciate the fact that fans of Argentina comes from all walk of life.

The important thing is as a football fan, I do hope for a match that filled with drama and packed with actions. And whoever wins it, I will still be happy for him because no matter what that player is still an Albiceleste.

On behalf of Mundo Albiceleste, best of luck and Vamos to Micho, Pupi, Cuchu, Walter and Diego!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The experience factor at a World Cup

So I'm looking at the list of 23 and I was thinking about a few things concerning this team. When looking at the list I saw that out of the list of 23 players, 8 of them have World Cup experience. All three of our goalkeepers have never been to a World Cup, three defenders have World Cup experience, three midfielders and two strikers. Six out of those eight players were at the 2006 World Cup while the other two were at the 2002 World Cup and one of those two was at the 1998 World Cup.

Nicolas BURDISSO - 2006
Walter SAMUEL - 2002
Gabriel HEINZE - 2006
Javier MASCHERANO - 2006
Juan Sebastian VERON - 1998, 2002
Maxi RODRIGUEZ - 2006
Carlos TEVEZ - 2006
Lionel MESSI - 2006

Obviously the person with the most World Cup matches and experience under his belt in this squad is VERON. Someone who I think Diego wants to bring for experience and leadership.

They say in a tournament you need some veterans and experience (as well as other things) to go deep and I agree with that. Whether it being experience gained by playing at one World Cup or experience at club level going deep and winning club tournaments. For me, experience matters. Players like MASCHERANO, VERON, MESSI, SAMUEL and the others have crucial World Cup experience which might be able to help the team. Now whether they use that experience to their advantage is a different question. You always hear the expression "Oh, well they were a young team", there's a reason why they say that.

In 2006, Italy's squad had an average age of 28. The youngest player being Daniele DE ROSSI (22 years old) and the oldest being back-up goalkeeper Angelo PERUZZO (36 years old). Out of those 23, 9 had World Cup experience in the past.

Gianluigi BUFFON: 1998 and 2002 World Cup.
Fabio CANNAVARO: 1998 and 2002 World Cup.
Alessandro DEL PIERO: 1998 and 2002 World Cup.
Gennaro GATTUSO: 2002 World Cup.
Francesco TOTTI: 2002 World Cup.
Alessandro NETA: 1998 and 2002 World Cup.
Filippo INZAGHI: 1998 and 2002 World Cup.
Gianluca ZAMBROTTA: 2002 World Cup.
Marco MATERAZZI: 2002 World Cup.

So yes 9 out of those 23 had World Cup experience, but 5 out of those 9 had played in two previous World Cup's. Including the World Cup, Olympics and the Euro's, Italy had 18 players who had played in a total of 47 international tournaments. One of their veterans, Alessandro NESTA had played at Euro 1996, 2000 and 2004. The 1996 Olympics and the 1998 and 2002 World Cup. That's a total of 6 international tournaments. Needless to say, there was some leadership on that team.

On our end,

Sergio ROMERO: 2008 Olympics
Nicolas BURDISSO: 2004 Olympics, 2006 World Cup, 2007 Copa America.
Martin DEMICHELIS: 2005 Confederations Cup.
Gabriel HEINZE: 2004 Copa America, 2004 Olympics, 2005 Confederations Cup, 2006 World Cup, 2007 Copa America.
Clemente RODRIGUEZ: 2004 Copa America, 2004 Olympics
Walter SAMUEL: 1999 Copa America, 2002 World Cup, 2005 Confederations Cup
Angel DI MARIA: 2008 Olympics
Javier MASCHERANO: 2004 Copa America, 2004 Olympics, 2006 World Cup, 2007 Copa America, 2008 Olympics
Maxi RODRIGUEZ: 2005 Confederations Cup, 2006 World Cup
Juan Sebastian VERON: 1998 World Cup, 2002 World Cup, 2007 Copa America
Sergio AGUERO: 2008 Olympics
Lionel MESSI: 2006 World Cup, 2007 Copa America, 2008 Olympics
Diego MILITO: 2007 Copa America
Martin PALERMO: 1999 Copa America
Carlos TEVEZ: 2004 Copa America, 2004 Olympics, 2005 Confederations Cup, 2006 World Cup, 2007 Copa America

That's a total of 15 players with 37 international tournaments combined. The average age of the squad is 26. The youngest player being Javier PASTORE at 20 years of age and the oldest being Martin PALERMO at 36 years of age.

Sergio ROMERO: 23 years old.
Mariano ANDUJAR: 26 years old.
Diego POZO: 32 years old.

Nicolas BURDISSO: 29 years old.
Clemente RODRIGUEZ: 28 years old.
Martin DEMICHELIS: 29 years old.
Ariel GARCE: 30 years old.
Gabriel HEINZE: 29 years old.
Nicolas OTAMENDI: 22 years old.
Walter SAMUEL: 32 years old.

Jonas GUTIERREZ: 27 years old.
Javier MASCHERANO: 25 years old.
Juan Sebastian VERON: 35 years old.
Angel DI MARIA: 22 years old.
Mario BOLATTI: 25 years old.
Maxi RODRIGUEZ: 29 years old.
Javier PASTORE: 20 years old.

Lionel MESSI: 22 years old.
Gonzalo HIGUAIN: 22 years old.
Carlos TEVEZ: 26 years old.
Diego MILITO: 30 years old.
Sergio AGUERO: 21 years old.
Martin PALERMO: 36 years old.

Using Italy once again as an example, at Euro 2008, everyone touted them as an old team who was dead. Yet as "bad", as "boring" and as "dead" as that team was, they were the only team in the entire tournament to take the winners (Spain) to the limits and lost on penalty kicks. Just some food for thought...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

23 to respect, love, support, cheer and all that

I think that's a headline that explains what will happen from now on. We all have our differences with Diego's choices and we all would have come up with a different list.

From now on, even though we would still have some of our favourite players out of the World Cup squad, the time to support the team unconditionally and until the very end has come.

For all the differences we could have with Diego, his methods, his decisions, his ways of doing things, I can guarantee you that there would be no bigger fans of Argentina than those of us doing Mundo Albiceleste and more importantly, those of you visiting and commenting and living each game with us.

Now is the time to leave everything behind and support the team.

We will continue to discuss tactics, formations, players picked and all those things we love to argue about. And I hope the day we stop doing that never comes! It's one of the beauties of football. To be able to discuss about everything that has something to do with this wonderful game.

In the next few days, you will see a profile of each of the 23 players that Diego has chosen to represent Argentina in the World Cup.

You will get a new podcast edition (we recorded one last week but we were unable to upload it and now it's old!) and we will be here on Monday to live with you our friendly against Canada. That friendly is announced at 4 PM Buenos Aires. Check your time-difference with our capital city and be here for the live chat.

All that are my initial reactions after I heard about the final World Cup squad.

I'm not going to go through each player one by one.

What I will say is that from that list of 30, Diego got pretty much the best 23 he could have gotten.

It wasn't a great list of 30 to begin with and that made things difficult. More than the names included, what I saw last week was a list that gave Diego a very small margin of error.

Not too many experienced guys or players with the ability to cover many positions.

In some cases it looked like Diego had to make a decision between players of different positions. It looked like he had to choose between taking one more midfielder or keep his favourite 6 forwards. With a stronger and a better list of 30, the only choices he would have had to make would have been between players of the same position (or playing in the same area of the pitch).

What he did was to end up with a list of 3 GK; 7 defenders; 7 midfielders and 6 forwards.

If Diego is planning on using a 4-4-2 formation, those 6 forwards seem excessive and 7 defenders and 7 midfielders could look like too small a number.

Even though my favourite players at that position are all out (Javier ZANETTI, Pablo ZABALETA and to a lesser extent Emiliano INSUA), it's refreshing and comforting to see Diego will be taking natural born full-backs. Clemente RODRIGUEZ can play in both flanks and so can Ariel GARCÉ, the surprising call-up. I feared Diego would have been adamant in only using centre-backs to cover all four positions at the back at all times, meaning he wouldn't have had a Plan B or a different option when you need to support your midfielders or your forwards in certain moments during a match.

BURDISSO, OTAMENDI and HEINZE can all play either CB or FB, so he's got options. Barring suspensions and injuries, Diego should be covered at the back and he could have a flexible bunch of guys to deputise in different positions. The question remains on the unproven players and whether the stage proves to be too big for them or not.

The midfield line is probably the most intriguing and the one which raises more questions and criticism amongst fans.

A blend of experience (VERON, Maxi, MASCHERANO) and youth (PASTORE -20 years old, the youngest in the entire squad- and DI MARIA) could pay huge dividends, but it's the lack of depth at some key positions what really worries me.

It's true that if Diego wants, he can switch to a 4-3-3 and bring one more forward to the mix, giving this bunch of midfielders a break. It's true that he could use TEVEZ, AGÜERO or MESSI a few metres behind the forward line and join our midfield, but on paper, I'm worried to think what could happen if MASCHERANO or VERON are not ready to go?

Jonas or DI MARIA? If one of them can't go, Maxi could cover any of them as he can play on the right or the left with no problems.

But, will PASTORE be up for it if VERON is not ready to go? What about BOLATTI's ability to fill in for MASCHERANO?

What if two of the starting midfield stars is unavailable? What if their unproven replacements are not up for it (though I'd like to think they are)?

It remains my main concern. I know I said we shouldn't bring up the ignored players anymore, but since I'm analyzing the list, I have to point out that I think it's exactly in this situation in which I value CAMBIASSO or even ZANETTI as highly as I do.

CAMBIASSO could have covered for both, MASCHERANO or VERON and he could have also played a role in place of DI MARIA (especially if we want to protect a lead or get stronger in defense). I don't see a midfielder in this list with that ability to cover any position and it worries me.

Up front? I tell you what...any manager going to the World Cup would kill for a lineup like that. I'm confident enough to say we are the best team when it comes to depth on offense. And we are even leaving behind players of the caliber of Lisandro LOPEZ or Ezequiel LAVEZZI.

My only fear before the list was announced was for Diego MILITO to miss out. I think it would have been incredibly unfair. Now I don't know if he will see any action in South Africa, but the fact that he is there is comforting enough.

I wouldn't have chosen Martín PALERMO and I think I would have taken Lisandro instead of I would have closed the list with only 5 forwards (with the former option being favourite as I would have used three forwards as starters in most of my matches and I would have needed more cover in that area).

No major complains here as these forwards are amongst the best in the world and Martín PALERMO could bring the X-Factor to the table and be used as a role player in certain moments.

If anything, I think Diego's biggest challenge when it comes to his forwards is to try and find a good chemistry level amongst all of them. If they link together well, the sky is the limit for Argentina.

The list of 23 chosen by Diego MARADONA

Diego POZO

Gabriel HEINZE

Juan Sebastian VERON

Lionel MESSI
Carlos TEVEZ

The seven players cut are:
Sebastian BLANCO

Argentina List of 23 Chat

Wednesday, 19 May, 2010: The day of the list

Diego MARADONA has time until June 1 to announce his World Cup squad, but this time he is not taking up to the very last second to make it official.

Instead, he will unveil it TODAY.

He will cut his list of 30 and seven players will miss out on their World Cup dream.

What am I hearing?

I'm hearing that Ariel GARCÉ (only played 1 match for Argentina -vs. Haiti-) WILL make it to the World Cup.

And everybody seems to agree that the seven players that are going to be cut out are:

Sebastián BLANCO
Ezequiel LAVEZZI

Those are the rumours, but I wouldn't bet a single penny on them. We all know how MARADONA can change his mind in a split second.

I still fear the worst with some names (I don't want to jinx it so I won't mention them) and I won't be at ease until the list is released.

In the meantime, and knowing the 30 names, who would YOU leave out?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

HERNANDEZ Names Argentina’s Preliminary Squad For Turkey

Argentina coach Sergio HERNANDEZ has named a 16-man preliminary squad for the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

As expected, the usual suspects from the NBA; Luis SCOLA of Houston, Fabricio OBERTO of Washington and Andres NOCIONI of Sacramento, are all included.

In addition to his Real Madrid starting guard Pablo PRIGIONI, ACB players in the squad include Olympians Paolo QUINTEROS of CAI Zaragoza and Juan GUTIERREZ of CB Granada, as well as Matias SANDES of Ayuda en Accion Fuenlabrada and Hernan JASEN of Asefa Estudiantes.

As mentioned before, Manu GINOBILI will not make the trip as he is currently celebrating the birth of his twin sons. In his absence, DELFINO, QUINTEROS and another Olympian, Penarol’s Leo GUTIERREZ, will be counted on to provide a perimeter threat as they did at crucial times at the Beijing Games.

HERNANDEZ will also take a long look this summer at youngster Juan Manuel FERNANDEZ (dubbed by US College Sports Media as Basket MESSI), a point guard, helped Temple University reach the NCAA Tournament this season.

The squad will begin their preparation on July 26th in the city of Salta and will compete in a tournament with Brazil, Puerto Rico and Uruguay on August 2nd and 3rd . On August 4th , the team will go to Buenos Aires to face Brazil and nine days later, the team will travel to Spain and face the Brazilians and Spaniards in a tournament in Logrono.

On August 21st and 23rd , Argentina will move on to Ankara, Turkey, to Ankara to play against Turkey, Lebanon and Canada in their final warm-up games before travelling to Kayseri for the Preliminary Round.

Argentina preliminary squad: Pablo PRIGIONI (Real Madrid), Juan Manuel FERNANDEZ (Temple), Juan Pablo FIGUEROA (Atenas de Cordoba), Juan Pablo CANTERO Atenas de Cordoba), Paolo QUINTEROS (CAI Zaragoza), Carlos DELFINO (Milwaukee Bucks), Andres NOCIONI (Sacramento Kings), Matias SANDES (Ayuda en Accion Fuenlabrada), Hernan JASEN (Asefa Estudiantes), Federico KAMMERICHS (Regatas Corrientes), Marcos MATA (Penarol de Mar del Plata), Luis SCOLA (Houston Rockets), Leonardo GUTIERREZ (Penarol), Fabricio OBERTO (Washington Wizards), Roman GONZALEZ (Quimsa), Juan Pedro GUTIERREZ (CB Granada).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

MERCIER scores, denies VERON and co. of title

It went down to the wire in Argentina.

Estudiantes de La Plata looked like favourites to win the Torneo Clausura but they failed to beat Rosario Central last week and were surpassed by Argentinos Juniors, which defeated Independiente 4-3 with an impressive and remarkable comeback.

Those results, shifted the weight towards Argentinos' side and they arrived to the last match of the season needing to win (it was a very similar situation than in Spain and Italy).

Argentinos Juniors, the club where Diego Armando MARADONA started his professional career. The club that brought up talents that were key figures for our national team over the years, like Juan Román RIQUELME, Juan Pablo SORÍN, Fernando REDONDO, Fernando CÁCERES, Esteban CAMBIASSO, Diego PLACENTE, Fabricio COLOCCINI, Sergio BATISTA (current U20 Argentina coach and World Cup winner in 1986). The club that recently finished last in a tournament(Clausura 2009), did the unthinkable. They are the new Torneo Clausura champions!

The 8th different team to win a league title in Argentina in the last 8 tournaments. That is...8 different champions (no-one repeating in the process) in the last 8 editions of the Apertura and Clausura.

In reverse order and starting with Argentinos Juniors, the list reads:

Banfield, Velez Sarsfield, Boca Juniors, River Plate, Lanús, San Lorenzo and Estudiantes.

Back to this feat achieved by Argentinos. They had to wait 25 years to win this league title again. When they did it, back in 1985, their current manager, Claudio BORGHI, was the start of the team. Probably the first of the players labelled as THE NEW MARADONA. He was an exquisite player and the best at one particular play called: LA RABONA (don't know the name in English), which consists in hitting the ball with your best foot behind your weaker foot when logic and physics would indicate you had to hit it with the other. Hey...that's too hard to explain. Let's see if I find a link about that move.

Here you go...the master explaining the move (plus...some kids trying it -by the end of the video- with the last one, a blonde and tall number 9 looking a lot like Martín PALERMO and executing the move probably just like him! hahaha!):

And here's one disciple who executes it to perfection in recent times:

Again...back to Argentinos Juniors.

When BORGHI was playing, with Sergio BATISTA also a part of that team, Argentinos Juniors went on to win the Copa Libertadores in 1985 too and they got the right to face the European Champions, Juventus.

I was very young, but I still remember that match. It was probably the best Intercontinental Cup final of those played in Japan. Juventus full of talents like Michel PLATINI, Michael LAUDRUP, Gaetano SCIREA and many others had to really go the extra mile to beat that impressive Argentinos side.

Since I've got another window open with YouTube, I'd let you choose which of the following videos you want to watch to relive that classic game.

On Sunday, they needed to beat Huracán to clinch they title. If they failed and Estudiantes got all three points in Santa Fé against Colón, then the title would have gone to Juan Sebastián VERÓN, Clemente RODRIGUEZ and José SOSA's hands.

Mauro BOSELLI opened the scoring for Estudiantes and soon doubled their lead while Argentinos were still 0-0 at Huracán.

But just before they managed to show the replay of that second goal by BOSELLI, a player called up by MARADONA to the list of 30, Juan MERCIER, scored with a half-header/half-shoulder goal to send Argentinos back on the driver's seat.

Facundo CORIA scored Argentinos' second near the end and Alan SÁNCHEZ of Huracán, put some suspense by cutting the lead to only one goal, even with his team playing with 9 men.

It wasn't to be. Not even the clear 4-1 away win by Estudiantes (3 from BOSELLI and one from Enzo PEREZ, who was one of the 108 players Diego called up) had a saying in deciding the matters. The title and all the glory were going to Argentinos Juniors.

Worthy champions of the Clausura 2010 tournament.

Here are the goals:

Huracán 1-2 Argentinos Juniors

Colón de Santa Fé 1-4 Estudiantes de La Plata.

One thing for the superstitious amongst you lot... add to that 24-year cycle they're talking about, that Oscar-winning year for Argentina and that agonizing qualification to the World Cup against Perú at home, you can now say that last time Argentinos Juniors won the league, it was in the last tournament played in Argentina before the 1986 World Cup.

I still don't believe those things, but I know some of you do. So there you have it.

MESSI leads Barça to another La Liga title

He needed two goals to equal RONALDO's record (the real RONALDO. 'O Fenômeno' from Brazil, not Cristiano) of 47 goals in a season playing for Barcelona and he did just that. He scored two in the very last game against Real Valladolid and helped his team win the league and do it with a record-breaking 99 points. Only in La Liga, MESSI scored 34 (same as RONALDO in 1996/1997) an also equalled that record. He did that, by the way, playing in 35 matches (30 as a starter).

MESSI beats Antonio DI NATALE of Udineseand Didier DROGBA or Chelsea (both with 29 goals) and he only trails Luis SUAREZ (35 goals), though the Uruguayan did that whilst playing for Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie, which has a lower coefficient when it comes to calculating how much one goal is worth in that Golden Shoe ranking.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, could only manage a 1-1 draw at La Rosaleda and Málaga saved themselves from relegation. Gonzalo HIGUAIN finished second, only behind MESSI, in the top-scoring charts in Spain with 27 goals.

Hey, I'm even reading Barcelona are the best champions in the history of all the domestic leagues in Europe, getting 99 points, two more than Roberto MANCINI's Inter in the 06/07 season.

If there are any doubters out there, not only MESSI claims the Pichichi Award (given to La Liga's top-scorer) and European Golden Shoe this season, he also shared the top of the assists charts with Sevilla's midfielder Jesús NAVAS.

Congratulations to Lionel MESSI and Gabriel MILITO for being key elements in such a fine championship-winning team.

Whilst this marked the season of Gabriel MILITO's return from a long-bothering injury, it also gave us the chance to witness an out-of-this-world kind of performances from Lionel MESSI.

By the looks of it, that's exactly what we are going to need from him in the World Cup.

Forza Inter Albiceleste!!!!

That’s right! Inter Milan has won the Scudetto for the fifth consecutive time thanks to a 1-0 over relegated Siena. Now they can start focusing on completing “The Treble” when they take on Bayern Munich (who also completed their domestic double) next weekend.

Most importantly it was a happy day for the Albiceleste contingent on the Nerazzurri side; Javier ZANETTI, Walter SAMUEL, Esteban CAMBIASSO and Diego MILITO. More so for ZANETTI and CAMBIASSO after both learned that they will not join the National Team for the trip to South Africa.

For a moment, Roma had the upper edge as they took a 2-0 lead away to Chievo Verona. But all that changed in the 57th minute, when MILITO took a pass from Il Capitano and then went on to finish perfectly past Gianluca CURCI to give Inter the win. That goal takes his tally to 28 goals in all competition.

In other matches, Maxi LOPEZ keeps his good form going after scoring Catania’s only goal in their 1-0 win over Genoa. It has been a great half season for him since he arrived earlier this year, scoring 10 goals in the process and single handily helping his team to escape relegation.

Don’t forget, there was also a goal from another legendary Albiceleste player; Hernan CRESPO that is. He scored in the last minute for Parma in their 4-1 win over Livorno.

I’m sure the on going discussion among fans Argentina throughout the world will be about Diego’s surprise (or controversial, whichever way you may look at it) but for now, all I wish to say is….


Thursday, May 13, 2010

PALERMO in danger? GARCE to go to the WC?

So many things to write on the headline. So little space.

It's been a crazy week. With the list (delays included), the nappy changes and some work I had to do, I couldn't keep you up to date with a lot of things that happened in these last few days. Things that are relevant, things that are not and things that are just making me feel like I will vomit if I keep reading.

A new podcast is coming and we will discuss these things, but here's a little preview.


The deadline to submit the World Cup squad is June 1. Apparently, MARADONA and the AFA will avoid the mess, the chaos and the embarrassment they were under when they announced the list of 30.

I can't guarantee there won't be any delays, but at least the intention is to announce the World Cup squad by Wednesday, May 19. It's unclear why the announcement will be made so early, but what MARADONA is saying is that on the next day they will be start training.

Four days later at the Monumental, Argentina will play a friendly match against Canadá as part of the celebrations of the country's first 200 years of history.


Argentina's build up for the World Cup has been nothing but disastrous. Fights. Arguments. Delays. More fights. Less certainties. The cancellation of the only (almost) proper friendly we had scheduled. Some more arguments about it. And now, less than a month to go for our debut against Nigeria, we still don't know how and when will our team fly to South Africa.

At first they said they were going to fly on May 26 from Buenos Aires to Dubai to play a friendly there and then fly with the same plane from the Emirates to Pretoria.

The Dubai friendly was cancelled and Diego argued with GRONDONA and his son (with money surely being one of the main motives) and a week later, they still don't know when will they fly to get to the University of Pretoria and start the final preparation for the World Cup.
The idea is to travel on the 26th and go straight to South Africa, but they are getting problems to get the number of tickets they need and MARADONA (quite rightly) refuses to let the team split in half and travel in different planes, so the team will likely be flying on the 29th.

The AFA is also looking at organizing another friendly, but the proposal of playing South Africa on May 31 has been rejected.

A friendly against Israel (like in the build up for Mexico 86 -even though MARADONA, paid by Nike, said he wants to forget 86 at a press conference in Munich before facing Germany-) is another possibility, but there is no information regarding date and venue.

We don't know what MARADONA's expression will be if things keep getting complicated even with these travel itineraries that should have been solved some time ago. In the meantime, I recommend you to visit this link and watch the video (the text is in Spanish but it's no so relevant). It is about how Diego's face has been changing from the day he took over as manager and these days.


Not that Diego came to his senses and decided to exclude him from the list, but Martín PALERMO made the headlines for the wrong reasons a couple of days after he was named as one of the 30 Argentine players that are still with chances to go to the World Cup.
Well...those chances have taken a hit when news came to the surface that The Titan's ex-wife, Lorena BARRICHI (on her way to become a beloved figure by many!), is suing him for money laundering.
The model wants Justice to seize PALERMO's possessions and to prevent him from leaving the country. She is accusing PALERMO of committing a fraud to send money to Uruguayan companies to avoid splitting the money in equal parts after the couple's divorce.

According to BARRICHI, PALERMO has not declared a total of 5 million Pesos (1,270,000 USD) to the tax authorities.
My gut-feeling? The woman saw the opportunity to make some noise and she will surely get some money out of this mess without proceeding with her sue and PALERMO will be free to go to South Africa where he wants to ask Didier DROGBA for his shirt.

Ariel GARCÉ DEFINITELY going to the World Cup

When PALERMO scored his header against Haiti, it was Ariel GARCÉ who had crossed the ball to him.
GARCÉ is one of those players unknown to the majority of Mundo Albiceleste readers. He can play as a central defender or as a right-back and he is currently at Colón de Santa Fé (same club as Diego POZO, the third keeper. So Colón de Santa Fé and Newcastle have 2 players each in the list of 30. Same as the Champions League finalists, Coppa Italian winners and Serie A leaders, Inter Milán. But anyway...). GARCÉ is a good guy. A great guy, I may add. And let's be clear on's not his fault that he has been called up.
Even before knowing which of the 30 players are going to get axed by Diego, I can tell you that


Why? Because he said it himself. He had already bought the tickets to travel as a fan! No way he is missing. I've got no clue whether he will go as an Argentina player or just as a fan, but he is going.

Is your heart beating again? hahahaha!

If anything, this speaks volumes of how GARCÉ cares about the Albiceleste. I still don't want him included in the World Cup squad and I still think ZANETTI is a million times better, but I like him more after knowing this fact.


It's over. We've lost him. Argentine-born Lucas BARRIOS will very likely be one of Paraguay strikers in South Africa. Paraguay is his mother's country. There was a time when MARADONA hinted he was considering calling BARRIOS up when he was at Colo Colo in Chile only to never call him up.

You have to admit that BARRIOS' competitors for a place as a forward for the Albiceleste were all world class (except for PALERMO, mind you). After waiting for a phone call that never came, the Borussia Dortmund striker has chosen to play for Paraguay instead.

Right. You pretty much knew that. But here's a twist to the story. Sergio BATISTA, who is still our U-20 national team manager despite missing out of the last Youth World Cup after a horrible South American tournament in Venezuela, will also travel to Pretoria to work with 16 youth players that are going to serve as 'sparrings' for MESSI and co.

They will simulate the way Nigeria, South Korea and Greece play so they help our team train and in the meantime, BATISTA will keep a close eye and work with them thinking of the future.

Here's the thing. One of those youngsters is Juan ITURBE, who is in conflict with Paraguayan side, Cerro Porteño, and has travelled to Argentina to join this group of players and probably play for the Youth Albiceleste in the upcoming tournaments.

ITURBE has the double citizenship, but the reason why this news could be important is because he is regarded to be a very special MESSI-like talent (wait...are they already labelling players as 'The New MESSI'? Isn't that too early!).

His parents are Paraguayan but Juan was born in Buenos Aires. This is a very complicated affair that involves agents, former Paraguay goalkeeper José Luis CHILAVERT, Cerro Porteño, Vélez (where ITURBE was supposedly brought by CHILAVERT) and of course, the AFA.

ITURBE already played a friendly for Paraguay under current manager Gerardo MARTINO.

It remains to be seen how this saga will end and whether this new MESSI lives up to his reputation and whether he chooses the Albirroja or the Albiceleste.

I haven't seen him play and I couldn't find any clips from YouTube. If you do...please share the link with us.


This was another of the top stories this week. I was hoping to sell the story abroad and that's why I didn't post anything here on Mundo when it happened. Not that I think it was crucial to the fate of our beloved Albicelestes, like the announcement of the list or a player getting injured or something.
Some of you may have read it, some others don't. I won't write about it here because it will be too long and, frankly, it's just a show-biz-like kind of fight. I will talk about it during our next podcast (maybe!), but I'm getting tired of Diego's fights with everybody.

This time Diego was accused of something very nasty by Alfio BASILE's son (Alfio BASILE Jr). So I though I'd use this poster for them to stop getting at it and for our beloved-reader-and-friend-and-occasional-podcast-panellist Johnny's amusement!Yes! It's Big COCO advertising a whiskey brand! The prize? You win a dinner with Coco and a trip to South Africa with a friend! Gotta love it!