U-20 World Cup Begins

June 30, 2007

Zárate and Agüero having a little fun during a practice session

There is another international tournament taking place that will have Argentina as participant. The U-20 World Cup gets under way tonight for Argentina who is the defending Champion and will take on the Czech Republic.

Argentina will be looking to win a record 6th U-20 World Cup.

The team will be led by its two most notable players, forwards Sergio Agüero and Mauro Zárate. It’ll be a very exciting and skillfull attacking duo that promises goals and good football.

The team will also have Boca Juniors central midfielder Ever Banega who was in excellent form recently helping his club win the Copa Libertadores. Also, Liverpool defender Emiliano Insúa, Sevilla defender Federico Fazio and Rosario Central’s talented attacking midfielder Ángel Di María.

Argentina is bringing, with Hugo Tocalli in charge again, a highly offensive minded team to the U-20 World Cup and it will be alot fun to watch and hopefully they’ll bring home another World Cup trophy.

VAMOS LOS PIBES!!!!!!!!!!!!

More on Argentina-USA

June 30, 2007

The first game and first win out of the way. The game last night left much to talk about.

A weak football display. The team won 4-1 not because of what it was able to do throughout the 90 minutes but thanks to a couple of inspired moments by some gifted players who like the whole team, can and must do better.

It might be a rushed judgment after only one game but I still think that the Veron/Riquelme playmaker tandem is not going to work. I thought it was clear to see that with Veron on the field Riquelme struggled to find the ball, struggled with his positioning on the field, struggled to set his own pace, and struggled with the most important part: distributing the ball and imposing his football. With Veron controlling the ball, Riquelme is taken out of his game and can not give the team what he is capable of giving.

It has to be either Veron and Riquelme as playmaker and neither played well enough against USA for a case to be made for either one.

The GK and the backline were not seriously tested by the USA so it’s not possible to talk in depth about their performance.

Crespo continues to score goals when he is needed to and Messi began to play better once he moved to the left side and started to link up with Aimar. That was part of the problem in the first half, he was too isolated and even when he moved around to find a teammate to combine with, there was none.

However, there is no denying what an extraordinary player he is, he was not having a good game but a couple of inspired moments by him and GAME OVER. The best is yet to come from Messi and that is alot to look forward to.

I think that the most pressing issue at hand with the team is the midfield and the inclusion of Tevez in the lineup. Basile should reconfigure the team but will he? Aimar confirmed on the field what he has been showing in the practices. Aimar brought some much need explosion and gave clarity in the midst of all the confusion and he showed once again that he can form an ideal partnership with Messi.

Tevez came off the bench within minutes to score a fantastic goal and make it well known that he in great form and ready to go.

Where should the changes be made?

A change to look like this:





or a change like this:






There is very little time left before the next opponent, Colombia, but enough time to make some necessary changes.

Player Reactions (Argentina-USA)

June 29, 2007

The players comments after last night’s win.


“The field conditions were complicated and in the beginning it became difficult for us to control the ball because they closed in well on defense. I leave satisfied because most of all we wanted to win the first game.”


“It became complicated for us with the penalty that was scored so early, but after that we did not get desperate and we were able to turn it around without problems.


“We knew that they would stay back defending, like they did in the first half but fortunately we did not lose our calm and were able to overcome that.


“I am happy and satisfied with what we did despite how difficult it was with the hot weather that was suffocating on the field. I don’t care how many goals I could’ve scored. The positive thing was that Argentina won and played well. It was necessary to start with a good goal difference and fortunately we got it.”


“In the first half we looked for our game but we couldn’t reach the goal with clarity although once we scored the second goal they opened up and it became easier. Being an Argentine gives you the advantage of playing with great footballers and to be in the starting eleven is not easy, that why when I come off the bench I give the best I have so it gives options to my teammates.”


“We knew that USA would be a difficult rival because they stay back and do not allow you to play. But we figured it out and ended up with a valuable win. We know that we can always improve and hopefully in the next game we’ll continue on the winning track. I get along well with Crespo despite the things that are being said. I would like for Hernan to be the top goal scorer in the Copa America.”

Argentina-USA Goals

June 29, 2007

Argentina-USA Pictures

June 29, 2007


June 29, 2007

Ole’s front page today. Creative as always.

Argentina vs USA – Game Commentary

June 29, 2007


After an electrifying start with Messi, Veron and Riquelme moving close to each other, making short passes back and forth, opening things up, playing our game, our football, and then the USA got a penalty that they converted and the team fell flat.

Veron dropped deep to take control of the ball but was not effective with his passing and gave the ball away too many times. Riquelme moved around alot but did not have as much contact with the ball as he’s used to and when that happens he is not a factor and when he did have the ball he did very little, also ineffective with his passing and at other times making passes that did not help the play buildup.

At least in the first half, with both in the lineup, the team does not have a playmaker, with both in the lineup there is more confusion and errors than football.

The team controlled possession of the ball for the most part but did absolutely nothing with it.

Heinze needs to stay back because his attacking runs do not lead to anything.

A terrible first half for Argentina. It can’t get any worse. I really hope not.



A great result, obviously, but with very little football.

The team did not play well. Veron and Riquelme can not be in the lineup together. It’s either one or the other. Veron improved somewhat in the second half, playing mostly from a deep position and improving with his passing, connecting more consistently with long passes on the ground and in the air, his trademark. It wasn’t a great performance by him though, not even close. Riquelme was not a factor most of the game, though he did make a fine pass (the only one all game) on Tevez’s goal. If Riquelme does not control the ball, he becomes a ghost on the field.

Messi improved in the second half when he moved to the left side and showed why he has to be in the lineup: at any moment, in a second, he can change a game, he can win a game for the team. That said, he will have to play much better in the upcoming games.

Crespo scored 2 goals and showed alot of mobility, even playing out wide at times. Excellent performance.

Mascherano was the teams best player, a great game by him, though not seriously tested, he was superb with his marking.

Tevez came in and immediately scored a fantastic goal, making a great run along with a great finish. Tevez can’t stay on the bench. Will Basile make room for him in the lineup?

Aimar scored a brilliant goal but he needs to play closer to the forwards not as close to the midfield to be effective.

The backline was not tested too much.

The team controlled possession of the ball and played along to its own rhythm but showed very little in the way of football, despite the result.

Tonight, all it took was a few great individual plays that led to the goals. Argentina will have to do alot more than that against the tougher opponents that are coming next.

Lastly, Basile needs to make a change in the lineup. Either Veron or Riquelme will have to go to the bench and Tevez has to fit in somehow, he has to be in the starting eleven.

It is late.

To be continued tomorrow……………

Argentina vs USA

June 28, 2007

Argentina will finally make its Copa América debut tonight. There are alot of expectations for the team and rightly so considering the level of talent that it has brought to the tournament. Argentina’s roster is made up of it’s best players, without question, many whose current form is outstanding.

Being a favorite to win the Copa, of course, does not guarantee anything. It’ll be important for the team to get off to a good start (i.e. win) while it works to establish its game rhythm and its football.

The team is solid in every line and does have a deep bench.

There are questions going into the tournament:

1. Will Abbondanzieri recover from his injury and from his recent poor performances with the team?

2. Will Veron be able to function in his new position as right midfielder?

3. Will both Riquelme and Veron be able to successfully share playmaking duties?

4. Will Basile insist on using Riquelme if he does not perform well or will he take him out of the lineup?

5. Will Messi have his first great tournament with the Argentina shirt and validate his reputation on the international level?

6. Will Tevez have a role in the team or will he remain on the bench?

This Copa América will be a final opportunity for the veteran players to finally win something important with the national team. Crespo, Veron, Zanetti, Ayala, and Abbondanzieri. It doesn’t seem realistic to think that any of them will be with the team in the next World Cup. This Copa América is their last chance for some international glory.

How will Argentina play?

Basile will use a 4-3-1-2- formation with Riquelme as the playmaker and leader of the attack. The team will revolve around him and the pace that he sets.

Despite struggling in the recent friendlies Abbondanzieri brings experience and is coming off a great season with his club team in Spain.

The backline is strong and very experienced with only Milito coming in as the new center back. The defense’s timing and synchronization will have to emerge quickly and will be a key to the team’s success.

Veron will be important in partnering with Riquelme in the play buildup.

The team will have to make defensive adjustments every time Veron moves away from his zone on to the attack. Zanetti will have to move closer to the midfield to cover Veron’s zone and Mascherano will have to be very alert and very fast to defend the spaces that will be left open by Veron and when defending against the counter attacks. Cambiasso’s role will be to provide some defensive balance on the left side of the midfield and make the occasional pass that will initiate an attack.

Messi will have the freedom to move around and not be stationed upfront. The team will need him to drop back and join Riquelme on the attack and to make the explosive runs up the middle or diagonally from the right wing that he is known for. Alot is expected of Messi and his contributions will be crucial.

Crespo is more of an “in the box” type of forward but is capable of participating in the play buildup when necessary, his mobility will be required from time to time but he is a proven goal scorer with the Argentina shirt and that is good enough.

What about USA? Well, what can really be said about a country that is sending to an important, prestigious, international tournament a team that can be compared to a 3rd division team in Argentina (and that is being generous)

How USA football will benefit from sending such an inferior team to play a Copa América that will most likely end in 3 quick losses and an early return trip home is beyond my scope of comprehension.


GK – Roberto Abbondanzieri

D – Javier Zanetti
D – Roberto Ayala
D – Gabriel Milito
D – Gabriel Heinze

M – Juan Sebastian Verón
M – Javier Mascherano
M – Esteban Cambiasso
M – Juan Roman Riquelme

F – Lionel Messi
F – Hernán Crespo

A great result tonight would be a win by at least 2 goals but we shouldn’t expect the team to function like a well oiled machine. The players will not be completely in sync. Afterall, the team only had one week of practices but with the talent that will be on the field it is reasonable to expect some great individual and collective plays. At the least.

Winning the first game of any tournament is huge and that is what Argentina’s needs to do tonight.

Argentina begins the quest for its 15th Copa America.


West Ham makes offer for Tevez

June 28, 2007


£9m to keep Tevez for year

West Ham have launched a desperate bid to keep Carlos Tevez in an astonishing £9million one-year loan deal.

They have offered the Argentina striker a £6m salary – £115,000 a week – but would have to pay his ‘owner’ Kia Joorabchian up to £3m in a loan fee.

Mascherano Interview

June 28, 2007

In today’s Clarín an interview with Javier Mascherano.

Q – Does the team know alot about USA?

M – Basile told us that they always play the same, with a 4-4-2 that sometimes changes into a 4-4-1-1. They’ve improved alot and won the Gold Cup last weekend. Even though they’re bringing substitutes the essence of the team is still the same. Anyhow, it is clear that we must worry about what happens with us before anything else.

Q – It looks like you are going to have alot of work, in the midfield you’ll be surrounded by players with more offensive characteristics than defensive…

M – It could be but they will also help me. The central midfielder’s job is always the same and to be surrounded by skillful players is a good thing. I might have to run alot more, it’s true, but it’s alright if things for the team turn out the way we all want.

Q – Does it worry you to be somewhat alone in the midfield?

M – To be in the national team is never a worry, it is a privilege no matter how you look at it. Besides, Basile has options if changes need to be made along the way to turn around an outcome with players that can change a game in a second.

Q – Once you were called up. Did you think you weren’t going to play because Gago is a favorite of Basile’s?

M – You come to play. We all want to play. Here you have to be ready when called upon. In these tournaments what tends to happen is that someone that is on the bench comes in, starts playing and ends up being an important player. It’s a short competition in which a player’s form has to be taken advantage of fully in order to build a great team.

Q – What does it mean to you to be here after a strange year where everything didn’t turn out the way you wanted but did end well?

M – For all the Argentine players the national team shirt illuminates us. I figure that it must be similar for all of the players in the world, but I think that it’s stronger with us. I’m in the national team and I’m with my team. I even made my debut with the national team first before River. I’ve been a part of the national teams since I was 15 years old and before each call up I still feel the same sensation as the first time.

On Liverpool:

“Benitez has given me alot of confidence. The truth is that I must respond to myself first because that is normal but I know that I can’t fail him because he played a difficult card, for me, in signing me when at the time I hadn’t played for 4 months. Rafa knows what I can give the team and where I play best and I always perform as best as I can for the team.”

Q – How are you with Liverpool?

M – Perfect. With anger because we didn’t win the Champions League but I’m confident that everything will improve and that we’ll be able to accomplish big things.

On West Ham:

Q – Do you have any bitter feelings?

M – No. Look, I don’t have any bitter feelings towards West Ham and I was happy that they were not relegated, even more because Carlitos is there, he is a friend.

Q – Do you question yourself anything about your time with West Ham?

M – Other than assuming my own responsibilities, I was always struck by being left out of the team. I spent too much time out of the team and I wasn’t even given the chance to go to the bench but I never asked for any explanations. I was mainly responsible because nobody forced me to go there. I fulfilled my duties, training until the last day but apparently that wasn’t enough.