Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Back to 3-4-3 ? 4-3-3 ? Who knows...

There are some rumours around that Maradona could change to a 3-4-3, but using a more defensive midfield adding Jonas Gutierrez on the right side and Clemente Rodriguez on the left, two players who have both defensive and offensive skills and they could help to "follow" Muller and Podolsky along each side.
The midfield would be completed with Javier Mascherano and Juan Sebastian Veron, of whom Lionel Messi said that he likes playing with him because he can get the ball more times through him.

Although this is not confirmed it would be a good idea to strengthen the midfield and try to have the ball more than Germany.

Other reports say that Javier Pastore could be regular instead of Jonas or Clemente and to make things more confusing, some say that the only change from the Mexico game could be Walter Samuel returning to the starting lineup to replace Nicolas Burdisso.

With the game still 72 hours away, tomorrow will be another training day and Maradona will give a press conference on Friday, when the team might be confirmed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

24 years ago...

Today, June 29, was the 24th anniversary of this day.
I hope to have deja vus of this day after next Saturday's game. ;)

No news yet about the team. The players had the last free day today so there will probably be news about any possible changes tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Road to the 3rd World Cup : Argentina 3 - Mexico 1

Without a doubt it wasn't Argentina's best performance in this World Cup. Mexico played a good game tactically, controlling the midfield while the game was 0-0, but to do this they had to attack with less people and their best chances during the first 20 minutes came mostly from very long shots.
When the game was pretty even and Argentina was starting to get the ball more, the 1-0 came through a very clear offside play, and from there the game changed.

Mexico was very nervous, they committed a terrible mistake that cost them the second goal and the 3-0 a few minutes into the 2nd half finished them.

There are a couple of positive things to take from this game. First of all that the team was able to win and score 3 goals even when they were not playing as good as in previous games.
Second, some very good individual performances like Tevez, Otamendi, Higuain.
Third, the team has no suspended or injured players (besides Walter Samuel who could be back next Saturday) going into the quarterfinals.

Next is a VERY tough game against a Germany, a team that is a high level, with young players. A Germany different to previous years, playing what i would describe like a "Southamerican style", fast on counters, with skilled players and a lethal offense.

Maradona will have a week of hard work ahead... but probably Germans are worried as well on how to stop Argentina, right ? ;)

Four wins...3 to go ?

Final comments

In the last training session before the game, Maradona showed Nicolas Otamendi and Maxi Rodriguez again playing for Jonas Gutierrez and Juan S. Veron, so those two, plus Burdisso replacing the injured Walter Samuel would be the changes in the starting lineup compared to the team that started playing this World Cup.

Twenty four hours from now, i hope to be writing a few words about another win for Argentina.
Mexico was a tough rival 4 years ago when Argentina won 2-1 in extra time (with this AMAZING goal by Maxi Rodriguez : ) in this same stage of the Germany World Cup, but i think both teams are different now.
Argentina is in my opinion a better team, with a experienced Lionel Messi (he was only 18 years old and wasn't a regular back then), a more solid Carlos Tevez and scorers like Higuain and Milito coming from great seasons are better than a Hernan Crespo who in 2006 was already on the down side of his career.

Sergio Romero – Nicolas Otamendi, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Burdisso, Gabriel Heinze – Maximiliano Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria – Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi

On a side note, the blog is 1 month old today and has already more than 1000 visits, so I would like to thank everyone for your support and i hope to be able to keep you interested once the new season starts.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Burdisso x Samuel

The only thing confirmed by Maradona in today's press conference is that Inter's defender Walter Samuel is still not recovered 100% from the injury he suffered vs Korea, so Nicolas Burdisso will stay in the starting lineup.

Not a big deal in my opinion, because Burdisso is as experienced as Samuel and a good defender as well.

The other two changes were not confirmed by Maradona (Otamendi x Jonas and Maxi x Veron) but i'll write about it if there are more news later or early tomorrow.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jonas, Veron out ?

Like is usual since Maradona is the coach of the NT, he did a football practice using what would be the starting lineup for the next game.
The 11 that he set for this training game had two changes from the lineup that started vs Nigeria in the 1st game of the groups stage : Nicolas Otamendi playing on the right side of the defensive line replacing Jonas Gutierrez and Maxi Rodriguez for Juan Sebastian Veron.
The change in defense is not a big surprise because Maradona said on the press conference after the game vs Greece that in his opinion Nicolas Otamendi had been one of the best players on the field, but it is unexpected that he would leave Juan S. Veron on the bench because he was considered as a coach on the field for the team.

In my opinion, both changes are OK.
Maradona is trying to have a more solid defense with Otamendi, who has less offensive skills than Jonas but the team doesn't need those having Maxi Rodriguez, Di Maria, Tevez, Messi and Higuain to attack.

Probably tomorrow the lineup could be confirmed, but it looks like the 4-3-3 will start with :

Sergio Romero – Nicolas Otamendi, Martin Demichelis, Walter Samuel, Gabriel Heinze – Maximiliano Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria – Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Road to the 3rd World Cup : Argentina 2 - Greece 0

It wasn't easy. Nobody thought it would be. Greece did what everybody expected and they did it really well.
Just defend. Papastathopoulos (what a long last name!) followed Messi everywhere, there are rumours that he's still following him to the hotel. :)
Argentina's best skill this time was patience. They moved the ball around as much as needed to find spaces and was lucky to punch in the right moment when Greece started to look tired.

And the second goal came through Martin Palermo, a 36 years old guy most people probably barely knows, but he's a legend in Argentina. He became Boca Juniors's historical top scorer this year with 220+ goals and he's known for overcoming many problems, like 2 very serious knee injuries. Playing for Spain's Villarreal a small wall fell on his leg, breaking it.
He has scored in any way you can imagine, from anywhere in the field and with any part of his body.
Evelen years ago playing a Copa America for Argentina he missed 3 penalty kicks in the same game(this is probably world wide known) !
A few months ago Maradona called him to the NT as a price for his career, and payed scoring the 2-1 goal in the last second of a qualifiers game against Peru that almost secured Argentina's place in this world cup.
With that, he won his place in the squad, and today he has made history again, becoming the oldest debuting player to score in a World Cup.

Next Sunday a new story begins, vs Mexico like in 2006.
It should be a much open game, because Mexico's defense is not good and they usually play more offensive. Argentina should have much more space to play, but i will write about this in the next few days.

Three wins...4 to go ?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Messi will be the captain

Just a quick update to say that the lineup i wrote yesterday is confirmed by Maradona, and he also said that because Javier Mascherano won't play, Lionel Messi will be the team captain in this game.
An extra motivation for him, who will be looking forward to score his first goal in this World Cup and also a special day because it will be the 24th anniversary of the greatest goal ever in a World Cup.
(and yes, also 24 years of the Hand of God :) ).
To get into the game mood, you can watch it again here, narrated (live) by Uruguayan commentator Victor Hugo Morales :

A very cold night is expected in Polokwane but this should be a problem for both teams as well.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Seven changes

As always, it wasn't confirmed by Maradona himself, but the starting lineup for the last group game vs Greece will have seven changes from the 11 that started vs South Korea.

The goalkeeper, Sebastian Romero, will be the same.
In defense, young Velez defender Nicolas Otamendi will replace Jonas Gutierrez who is suspended. Martin Demichelis will be one of the four regulars that will play, with Nicolas Burdisso replacing injured Walter Samuel, and Estudiantes's Clemente Rodriguez, a fast and skilled player, on the left side.
In midfield Juan Sebastian Veron will return to the starting lineup, Fiorentina's Mario Bolatti will replace Javier Mascherano (who is rested because he has a yellow card and could miss the next game if he gets another card), and Maxi Rodriguez.

In offense...don't worry, the world's best player will play, Lionel Messi, but this time he will be accompanied by Sergio "Kun" Aguero, and Inter's striker Diego Milito.

Motivation is big for this players to start in the regular team, and because getting the 1st place in the group would mean that the team plays the Round of 16 in Johannesburg and won't have to travel to another city, while if it ends in the 2nd place, the next game would be at Nelson Mandela Bay, aproximately 1000 km from where the team stays.

So, the 4-3-3 team that will play vs Greece would be :

Sergio Romero - Nicolas Otamendi, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Burdisso, Clemente Rodriguez - Juan Sebastian Veron, Mario Bolatti, Maxi Rodriguez - Lionel Messi, Diego Milito, Sergio Aguero


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Road to the 3rd World Cup : Argentina 4 - South Korea 1

Another very good performance for Argentina, but this time they were able to score on many of the chances they created and were able to end the game with the 3 goals difference they probably deserved vs Nigeria.

The game started as expected, with South Korea 100% focused on defending and Argentina moving the ball around and trying to create spaces on a really closed defense.
Bad news came fast, with Walter Samuel leaving the game with an injury that will be confirmed today. He could be out for 10 days, or maybe for the rest of the World Cup.

Angel Di Maria was more participative than the last game, and one of the best news for Argentina is that even though Lionel Messi is the best player in the team, they don't need a perfect game from him to win because Di Maria and Tevez can create enough danger as well.

Luck was on Argentina side too, and the game was opened with an own goal by Park Chu Yong. The 2-0 came a few minutes after that, but South Korea was still playing like the game was 0-0.
Right before half time, a huge mistake by Martin Demichelis brought South Korea back from the dead and showed again that this team still has to adjust some issues on the last line.

Argentina kept attacking in the 2nd half but the pressure was not as in the 1st half, and when things were looking difficult for Argentina, coach Diego Maradona showed that he's not as bad as a coach as most people thinks and put skilled Kun Aguero for a very tired Tevez, changing the game for good.
Gonzalo Higuain completed his hat-trick, winning back the confidence lost in the previous game and Argentina put a foot in the next round.

What's next ?
Rumours are that Maradona might give a rest to some players. Tevez, maybe Higuain and/or Lionel Messi could sit and maybe be replaced by Pastore, Aguero and/or Milito, but the place in the Round of 16 is still not confirmed so for now this are all speculations that will be confirmed or not during the weekend.
Jonas Gutierrez will be out for sure, suspended, and Javier Mascherano and Gabriel Heinze both have a yellow card and if they get a second would be out for the next stage, so they are the biggest candidates to rest against Greece.

Two wins...5 to go ?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Maxi In - Veron Out

Finally Maradona confirmed the lineup today, with only the expected change of Liverpool's Maxi Rodriguez replacing Juan Sebastian Veron, who ended the game vs Nigeria with a minor muscle injury and so he won't be used in this game to avoid any risks of a more serious muscle strain.

So, Argentina will use a 4-3-3 and Maxi Rodriguez more on the right side of midfield to help Jonas Gutierrez in defense but also use his offensive skills when the team attacks.

Sergio Romero – Jonas Gutierrez, Martin Demichelis, Walter Samuel, Gabriel Heinze – Maximiliano Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria – Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi


Monday, June 14, 2010

Veron doubtful, tactic change ?

As i wrote a couple of days ago, the most obvious problems that Argentina had last Saturday was on the right side of defense, where usual midfielder Jonas Gutierrez didn't feel comfortable playing in that position.
Because of this, Maradona trained yesterday using Roma's defender Nicolas Burdisso as he could be in the starting lineup replacing Gutierrez next Thursday in the second group game vs South Korea.
If Maradona decides to make this change, it would mean that Argentina will use a 4-3-3 tactic, using two lateral defenders with not much offensive skills to attacl through the sides.

The only player that ended with a minor injury last Saturday was 35 years old midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, who had a minor muscular problem but he's still not out of the next game and will be waited until the last day but won't be risked if he still feels pain on his leg.
If he's not fit to play, he would be replaced by Liverpool's Maxi Rodriguez to work in midfield with his team mate, Javier Mascherano.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Road to the 3rd World Cup : Argentina 1 - Nigeria 0

Stats normally don't lie, so when we see a 7-1 in "shots on goal", it means that Argentina was far superior than a poor Nigeria team that only remembered to attack during some minutes of the second half.
Nigeria's goalkeeper, Vincent Enyema was without a doubt the man of the match as chosen by FIFA itself, saving some amazing shots by Messi.

An old coach in Argentina always said that any tactic in football is like a short blanket : if you cover your face your feet will get cold and if you cover your feet your face will be cold.
In football, if you play defensively you will have problems attacking and attacking too much means that you will take risks in defense, and this last option was what happened to Argentina today.
Jonas Gutierrez had problems covering Ogbuke Obasi in the 1st half, and Tevez wasn't helping as needed, so Argentina will have to fix this for the match vs South Korea next Thursday and for later stages, because not all teams will be as harmless in offense as Nigeria.

In offense things were much better, with Messi playing one of his best games with the national team, opening spaces for Higuain who had a bad night. Tevez also opened spaces playing on the right side, similar to what Eto'o has been doing for Inter this season and had a good game although not one of his best.
Di Maria on the left was well covered and was almost a no-show for Argentina so Maradona will have to work harder on getting him involved in offense.

Overall a promising start for Argentina. Starting with a win is very important to raise confidence and gives time to work on tactic issues.

One win...six to go ?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

3-4-3 / 4-3-3

The mistery is over, and it looks like Maradona has decided to use a 3-4-3 tactic that will change to a 4-3-3 in defensive positions.
Newcastle's Jonas Gutierrez will be responsible to cover the right side of the field with his offensive skills when the team attacks, but he will also be the right defender when Nigeria has the ball.
Overall a very offensive lineup that will probably change if the team advances from the groups stage and has to face tougher rivals.

Sergio Romero – Martin Demichelis, Walter Samuel, Gabriel Heinze – Jonas Gutierrez, Juan Sebastián Veron, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria – Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Transfer Market News

Slowly, the transfer market in Argentina keeps moving.
To the usual thousands of rumours, there are some transfers close to be confirmed.

* Velez : defender Nicolas Otamendi, 22 years old and champion with Velez in Clausura 2009 where he was one of the top players, is close to sign with Italy's AC Milan for 10 million euros. The transfer is currently delayed only because Otamendi is in South Africa with the Argentina NT.

* Estudiantes : the La Plata team will also miss one of their top defenders next season because 31 years old central defender Leandro Desabato will be transferred to Mexico's Tigres de Monterrey.
His replacement could be Fernando Ortiz, a 32 years old defender who was playing in Mexico the last 3 years, and was champion playing for Estudiantes in Apertura 2006.
The team's top scorer in Copa Libertadores 2009 and in this last season, Mauro Boselli, could also leave the team. His contract also belongs in a 50% to Boca Juniors so both teams need to agree if they accept England's Wigan offer of 9 million dollars.

* Boca : 23 years old offensive midfielder Damian Escudero is close to sign with Boca after they buy a 50% of his contract from Spain's Villarreal.
Escudero was transferred to the spanish team in 2008 after starting his career in Velez Sarsfield, but he never was able to show his skills because he was on the bench for for most of the last 2 years playing for Villarreal and Valladolid.
Boca is also looking for a new goalkeeper, and Banfield's captain Cristian Luchetti, champion in Apertura 2009 seems to be their main priority.

* Arsenal : ex Chacarita striker Matias Alustiza, who was on loan in Spain's relegated club Xerez for the last 6 months, will play for Arsenal next season.
Alustiza is a fast and skilled player that will replace Franco Jara, a good striker and the team's top scorer last season, who was transferred to Portugal's Benfica for 5.5 million euros.

As always, i would like to get your feedback through the blog comments or mail me at

Sunday, June 6, 2010


One of the things that makes every championship more interesting are derbies and big rivalries.
Without a doubt the biggest in Argentina is the Super Derby between Boca and River.
The two teams with most fans in the country have a worldwide known rivalry and the country stops every time they meet. This derby was born almost 100 years ago because both were established in the "La Boca" neighborhood of Buenos Aires. River later moved far from there, to Nuñez, on the other side of the city, but the rivalry kept growing.

While all games between the 'Big 5' (Boca, River, San Lorenzo, Independiente and Racing) are considered derbies, Independiente and Racing have another huge rivalry, with their 45-50k fans stadiums separated by only 2 blocks in the Avellaneda area, just outside Buenos Aires.
San Lorenzo is the odd team of the 'Big 5' as their biggest rival, Huracan, is outside of this group. This rivalry is also caused because both teams are from very close neighborhoods and it's still a big one although there's a big difference between them in championships (10 to 1) and fans.
San Lorenzo has also a rising rivalry with Velez Sarsfield in the last 20 years because of the success of Velez.

One of the big missings for next season will be the Rosario derby between Newell's and Rosario Central because the last one was relegated to 2nd division 2 weeks ago.
Football in this city, 300 km from Buenos Aires, is a religion, and the almost 2 million habitants are divided between this two teams (there are also other very small clubs from lower divisions) making it one of the most violent derbies in the country.

Another huge rivalry from outside Buenos Aires is the La Plata (50 kms from Buenos Aires, 600.000 habitants) derby between Estudiantes and Gimnasia.
Estudiantes with 4 championships and 4 Copa Libertadores has been much more succesfull than its rival, who never won a championship since profesionalism started in 1931, but this is still a big derby with La Plata city habitants divided between this two teams.

Banfield, Lanus and the newly promoted Quilmes are all clubs from the south of the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires and games between them are derbies and must win games for this teams.

Argentinos Juniors and All Boys, also Buenos Aires teams and with their stadiums 20 blocks from each other will meet again next season after All Boys spent 30 years in lower divisions.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Argentina, the mistery continues

After a week in Pretoria, the starting lineup for the game vs Nigeria next Saturday is still a mistery.
With no friendlies played since May 25th when they beat Canada 5-0 before leaving Argentina, the team opened the training session to the cameras only once, last Thursday but during the press conference some players said that the tactic used could be similar to the one in that game vs Canada.
Carlitos Tevez, who wasn't considered as a regular until a few weeks ago, could be one of the surprises in a 4-2-3-1 offensive tactic, with Higuain as the only area striker and Tevez, Messi and Angel Di Maria.
3 of the 4 defenders are almost 100% confirmed : Martin Demichelis, Walter Samuel and Gabriel Heinze, while the player on the right side of defense would be Jonas Gutierrez, but there's also a chance that Gutierrez would play on midfield, instead of Tevez, and Maradona will use Nicolas Burdisso in defense.

So, two probable lineups are :

Romero; Gutierrez, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze; Veron, Mascherano; Tevez (or Maxi Rodriguez), Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria; Higuain.

Romero; Burdisso, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze; Veron, Mascherano; Jonas Gutierres, Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria; Higuain.

Next Sunday the press will again be able to get access to the team training session and there could be more news about the starting lineup for the debut vs Nigeria.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Last champion Argentinos has new coach

Argentinos, winner of last Clausura after 25 years without winning a championship, has confirmed that Pedro Troglio will be the new coach of the team next season.
Troglio, 44 years old, is an ex River, Lazio and Gimnasia player who played the 1990 World Cup for Argentina.
In the last few years he coached Gimnasia, taking them to Copa Libertadores 2007. After a short era with bad results coaching Independiente, he was hired by Paraguay's Cerro Porteño where he was champion in 2009.

With some players leaving the team after their contracts expired and 2 tournaments to play in the next semester (Apertura and Copa Sudamericana), he won't have an easy job with Argentinos Juniors to replace Claudio Borghi, who didn't renew his contract to sign with Boca.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Transfer Market News

There are still 2 or 3 more weeks until teams start their pre season trainings but some of them have started moving the transfers market.

* Boca : they were the worst defensive team in Clausura, conceding 38 goals in 19 games so they've made top priority to improve in this area. Newell's central defender Juan Manuel Insaurralde, who was in the initial 30 players list of the Argentina national team but was cut out later, is their new player for next season, and new coach Claudio Borghi asked the club board to make their best effort to get Argentinos Junior's defender Matias Caruzzo, captain of Clausura champion.
Their other priority is to renew contract with two historic club players : playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme (who will probably miss more than half of next Apertura recovering from a knee surgery) and the club all time top scorer, Martin Palermo, who is in South Africa with the Argentina NT. Both negotiations don't look easy because teams from Brazil and Mexico are want them as well, but club president Jorge Ameal talked to the press and was confident that they will stay.

* Colon : much more was expected from the Santa Fe team in Clausura, but a quick elimination from Copa Libertadores brought the team's mood down, and they won only one game of the last 14, as they also lost their chance to qualify to Copa Sudamericana which was another priority for them.
A few days into the offseason one of their best players and big young promise, 19 years old playmaker Facundo Bertoglio, was sold to Ukrania's Dynamo Kiev in over 4 million U$S, so to replace him they brought 25 years old playmaker/striker Federico Higuain (brother of Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain), who is coming from a great season playing for Godoy Cruz.
Bolivia national team captain, central defender Ronald Raldez and Newell's left defender Juan Quiroga (who was a reserve for most of the last season) were also acquired to improve a defense that conceded 32 goals in the 19 games of Clausura.