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Debutants in the Libertadores spotlight

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Tim Vickery | 18:07 UK time, Monday, 21 February 2011

Of the field of 32 teams in South America's Copa Libertadores, only two have not yet been in action in the group phase - and the pair are among the most famous names in the competition's history.

Independiente of Argentina have a record seven titles to their name. Uruguay's Penarol are five times champions and were winners of the first version back in 1960. Neither club have lifted the trophy since 1987 but they have won nearly a quarter of all the Libertadores titles between them.

And they meet on Thursday.

Independiente have already been in action, creeping past Ecuador's Deportivo Quito in the qualifying round. Inaugural champions Penarol are therefore the final team to make their debut. In the 2011 Libertadores, the first shall be last.

The spotlight has been on the debutants so far. Last November, this column looked at the chances of Godoy Cruz striking a rare blow for provincial Argentine clubs by qualifying for their first Libertadores.

The men from Mendoza, near the border with Chile, made it through but then lost star man David Ramirez, perhaps the outstanding player in Argentina last year, and their coach. Ramirez moved to Buenos Aires to join Velez Sarsfield, for whom, incidentally, he scored a cracker against Caracas on Tuesday. The game also witnessed a serious shoulder injury to team-mate Guillermo Franco, recently of West Ham.

How would Godoy Cruz get on without Ramirez? Their first match was at home to LDU Quito of Ecuador, experienced campaigners and 2008 champions. There was plenty of optimism from the home fans inside the stadium last Thursday. Fireworks were set off before kick-off to mark the occasion and again in the closing minutes with the hosts 2-1 up. It might have been premature. Second-half stoppage time was eventful. LDU had a man sent off but still had time and strength to set up two clear chances. Both were squandered, which meant the Godoy Cruz celebrations could start in earnest.

No such luck for Leon de Huanuco, the Peruvian club who featured in this column in December following a magnificent gesture from their coach, Franco Navarro. In the decisive second leg of the final of the Peruvian championship, Navarro refused to select one of his best players, who had been unjustly reprieved from suspension after being sent off in the first leg. Leon lost the match but won friends - and at least they had their first Libertadores campaign to dream about.

It got under way on Thursday at home to Junior Barranquilla of Colombia. It was an afternoon kick-off - as all of Leon's home matches will be. Their little stadium does not have floodlights but it does have a hill behind it - and thousands of fans either too poor or too mean to buy a ticket gathered on it to cheer on their side.

Junior, though, won 2-1, the opening goal coming from a typical rifling shot from one-time Portsmouth and Southampton midfielder Jhon Viafara. As the home fans left the stadium, at least they had the memory of a superb goal from Carlos Elias to comfort them. And on Wednesday, they are at home again, this time to Oriente Petrolero of Bolivia - Leon's best chance of picking up three points.

Perhaps the stand out Libertadores debut last week came not from a club but from a player, Juan Manuel Iturbe. Aged just 17, he has already attracted considerable attention, being dubbed 'the Paraguayan Messi'. It is an impossible comparison, although Iturbe did his best to live up to it when he came on for Cerro Porteno of Paraguay at half-time in their match against Colo Colo of Chile.

This was perhaps the most entertaining game I have seen in some time. Quickly two goals down, Colo Colo found some form, reducing the deficit and threatening more. The Chileans continued to play some sparkling stuff after the break but to no avail. The introduction of Iturbe took the game away from them.

Juan Manuel IturbeIturbe - 'the Paraguayan Messi'? Photo: Getty Images

It took Iturbe less than a minute to get on the scoresheet with a goal out of the Messi handbook, cutting in on the diagonal, exchanging passes, making space with his acceleration and low centre of gravity and poking in a little left-footed shot at the near post. Towards the end of the game, he rounded off Cerro Porteno's 5-2 win with another special goal, turning his marker and guiding home a precise finish.

Iturbe, who celebrated his second goal with lots of badge kissing, came through the youth ranks with Cerro Porteno, Paraguay's most popular team. This match marked a sensational return to their colours for the talented teenager. He had been away for a year after falling out with the club.

It was a significant year. Iturbe's parents were among many Paraguayans who moved to Argentina in search of work. Though he grew up in Paraguay, Iturbe was born in Buenos Aires. And, 16 years later, when he fell out with Cerro Porteno, Argentina swooped.

Paraguay had awarded Iturbe a senior cap in November 2009, bringing him on as a substitute against Chile. But because it was a friendly, it is not binding. Seeing their opportunity, Argentina got him into their youth structure. He went to the World Cup as part of the sparring team for Diego Maradona's men. And this year he starred for them in the South American Under-20 Championships. The best thing about a disappointing Argentina side, he even scored the winner against Brazil.

Iturbe, then, is kissing the badge of Paraguay's most popular club but has thrown in his lot with Argentina at international level. And he will not be with Cerro for long. He turns 18 in June and is set to join Porto in Portugal.

Iturbe is a footballing citizen of the world. Perhaps before his time is out, he can join Penarol of Uruguay and re-educate them in what it takes to win the Copa Libertadores.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

Q) I like Shakhtar Donesk and Willian is a fantastic player but he has never been called up to the Brazilian national team? Why is this? Do you think he has a chance? Also, what do you make of Giuliano going to Dnipro? He was fantastic in the Copa Libertadores but will he just be forgotten like some other big prospects? Douglas Costa was linked with Manchester United before but I've not heard much about him moving to any big teams.
Scott Cormack

A) These Ukraine-based Brazilians have put themselves in the spotlight like never before. Jadson was in the Brazil squad for the recent game against France - a deserved call-up for an excellent passer of the ball - and did well when he came on in the second half. Shakhtar's exploits in the Champions League also ensure that others at the club get noticed. Douglas Costa, for example, was called up by Brazil recently. As for Willian, he is paying the price for leaving Brazil so early. He was OK but nothing more when he played for Brazil at Under-20 level four years ago, making the move to Ukraine soon afterwards. In the case of Giuliano, I would hope that he is too good to be forgotten, even though he has gone to a club with less of a profile than Shakhtar. Next year's Olympics should be his big chance.

Q) What do you think of the Venezuelan clubs in the Copa Libertadores? I watched the Deportivo Tachira v Santos match and thought Tachira deserved to win. I am not saying they are going to win the tournament but it is nice to see a club from Venezuela making life difficult for such a big club as Santos. By the way, great attendance for that match.
Eduardo Torres

A) I would not go as far as to say that Tachira deserved to beat Santos but I thought they were fair value for their 0-0 draw, with Andres Rouga and Walter Moreno forming a classy centre-back partnership. It will be interesting to see how Iturbe gets on against them! The other Venezuelan side, Caracas, were clearly up against it after an early red card, perhaps harsh, to the talented Louis Angelo Pena. Even so, I thought they did well against Velez Sarsfield, maintaining a threat on the break. It needed two exceptional long-range shots to breach their defence. That 3-0 defeat is not the end and they can still get out of the group. The fact that both Tachira and Caracas have reached the quarter-finals in recent years shows the progress that Venezuelan football is making.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Leon's best chance of picking up three points.
    Just like Newcastle.

  • Comment number 3.

    Another good blog, Tim.

    Iturbe's tale got me thinking. With the seemingly endless hotbed of talent coming from Argentina and Brazil, coupled with the high level of economic migration around the continent over many decades, why have not seen more players from these countries being capped by other national teams? Or maybe we have and I totally missed it.

  • Comment number 4.

    You'd think with a smaller talent pool such as Paraguay, he'd be able to amass a certain number of caps and be guaranteed starting selection during competitive games. Either this comes off as a touch of diplomatic genius for Argentina or the kid ruins his career after he gets overlooked for 2014.

    In a case like this, the football authorities in Argentina have pretty much exploited the nationality loop-hole for their own effect. For example if Iturbe had been in Japan or Norway he would still be Paraguayan. I think that Fifa should genuinely stipulate the rules regarding nationality as either parental or residential regardless of the laws of that country.

    I believe though nationality through "Jus soli" is essentially only really practiced in the Americas, due in part to its history of immigration. Seems odd nowadays though seeing as most of the immigration in SA is internal rather than external.

  • Comment number 5.

    Another great blog and fascinating read Phil. Best blog on this site by miles.

  • Comment number 6.

    RE 5: Tim sorry!

  • Comment number 7.

    I signed him on Footy manager. He was brilliant.

  • Comment number 8.

    Tim should have two blog posts per week here at BBC. Too much happening in South American football for him to cover.


    Tim, returning to the subject of state leagues in Brazil, how do you see the recent threats of Flamengo and Corinthians leaving the Clube dos 13, and also CBF playing São Paulo, Flamengo and Sport Recife against each other based on who was the 1987 Champion (coincidentally, the time when the League was organized by the Clube dos 13) and who was the first 5 times champion???

    If brazilian clubs cant get united (and it seems they cant, after all, São Paulo SHOULD recognize Flamengo´s 1987 title, specially considering in 1987, the president of the Clube dos 13 was also São Paulo´s president!), CBF will continue ruling and so will State Leagues.


    Interesting enough, Flamengo and Corinthians threat to leave the Clube dos 13 is because the Clube dos 13 is dealing better TV rights with Record, but Flamengo considers only Globo can give Ronaldinho the spotlight Flamengo wants.


    Well, we should see how much of a spotlight Ronaldinho can have in league without all other big clubs but Corinthians.


    But to be fair, I am rooting for Globo on this one. The lesser or two evils (dont like the fact Record belongs to the Igreja Universal)

  • Comment number 9.

    ps: World Football Phone In again had no episode this past saturday?

  • Comment number 10.

    There are a lot of rumours going round that Manchester United, using their contacts within Portugal, have already tied up a deal that will see Iturbe moving from Porto to United once he can get a work permit.I've heard Mendes has been trying to broker the deal, with the good relations between the parties. Have you heard anything about this?

  • Comment number 11.

    #3- I think you have missed it, look at Euro 2008, off the top of my head I can think of 3 Brazilian born players who represented European national teams in that tournament: Marcos Senna (Spain), Roger Guerreiro (Poland) and Kevin Kuranyi (Germany). If Eduardo had not had his leg broken he would have been a 4th Brazilian in that competition representing Croatia. And Italy of course had Argentina born Mauro Camoranesi on their roster, as they did at World Cup 2006.

    Bolivia have often had some Argentinians on their national team, in fact their current national team coach Gustavo Quinteros was an ex Bolivian international who was born in Argentina.

    Guillermo Franco, mentioned in this blog by Tim, is an Argentinian who played for Mexico at World Cups 2006 and 2010. In addition to him Argentinian born Matias Vuoso and Lucas Ayala and Brazilian born Antonio Naelson and Leandro Augusto also played for Mexico in the buildup to World Cup 2010. In Mexico the inclusion of these naturalized players met a lot of resistance but in most other countries any doubts about their nationality is often overlooked by their ability to help the national team.

    Iturbe's case is a different one though, being born to immigrant parents in another country. His tale is not much different from many US born players of Mexican descent or French born players of north or west African descent. Some of those players elect to play for the country of their birth (Zinedine Zidane, Jose Francisco Torres) others decide to represent the nation of their parents.

    Soccer Futbol Forum
    http://z8.invisionfree.com/Soccer_Futbol_Forum/index.php

  • Comment number 12.

    annoying that hes not on fifa (iturbe)

  • Comment number 13.

    "Perhaps before his [Iturbe's] time is out, he can join Penarol of Uruguay and re-educate them in what it takes to win the Copa Libertadores."

    I think that to help the manyas win Copa Libertadores again, he has to be the Paraguayan Messi, Maradona, Romario and Beckenbauer all rolled into one. I hope to be proved wrong.

    Anyway, the last time a Uruguayan team played at Independiente's stadium, the home team won and the away team goalkeeper was injured in the head by an Independiente "fan" who threw him a stone (the stadium was suspended for one match). If none of this happens on Thursday, I'll be happy.

  • Comment number 14.

    @4 'Though he grew up in Paraguay, Iturbe was born in Buenos Aires'.

    Buenos Aires was in Argentina last time I checked....

  • Comment number 15.

    #11 - thanks for pointing out a few examples. I'm aware of a lot of South American players who've ended up playing for European national sides - you can add the likes of Pepe, Deco and Camorenesi to your list too - but just can't recall many examples of Argentinean or Brazilian born players representing another South American nation. Certainly nowhere near as high profile as the ones mentioned. And that just surprises me really considering the movement of people around South America over the decades.

  • Comment number 16.

    Sorry, just saw you also mentioned Camorenesi.

  • Comment number 17.

    You're definitely my favourite blogger on the BBC, not solely because from Europe I can't always get to watch games from South America or hear about the stories from there, but also because you take time to answer the questions in the comments and read them which is clearly not the case with other bloggers here.

    So keep up the good work :)

  • Comment number 18.

    Another great article Tim. I'd just like to second the question asked by CanTheyScore regarding Iturbe and whether there is any truth in the rumours regarding an eventual move to United?

  • Comment number 19.

    14 - you seem to have missed the point - a miss as glaring as that of Marlon De Jesus the other week. Iturbe was born in Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA (my emphasis), to Paraguayan parents and he then grew up in PARAGUAY (again, my emphasis).

    No idea on any later agreement with Man U - although I imagine that Porto are investing in him with an eye (or an eye and a half) on having him for a while and then selling him on at a profit.

    And for both the interested, redacao sportv this thursday, 10 am

  • Comment number 20.

    Tim

    In the Libertadores of years gone by i recall two teams from each country being drawn together in the same group (eg Penarol,Nacional from Uruguay and Bolivar,Jorge Wilsterman from Bolivia). The five group winners along with the holders would then play 2 groups of 3 the winners then contesting the final.

    I understand that clubs from Mexico take part as well nowadays but is their not an argument to return to a similar format of having just two clubs from each of the 11 countries plus the holders?

    In my maybe naive view it looks to have been more competitive?

  • Comment number 21.

    #15- Yes thanks for bringing up the numerous Brazilians who have also played for Portugal. But as for your question about Argentinians and Brazilians representing other South American countries, Peru's goalie in the 1978 and 1982 World Cups, Ramon Quiroga was a rosarino like me, someone from Rosario, Argentina. Early in the 2000s Peru had another goalie, Julio Balerio I believe was his name, who was born in Uruguay. Marcelo Elizaga who was Ecuador's goalkeeper in 2010 World Cup qualifying and recently transferred from Emelec to Deportivo Quito is from Argentina. In the 1990s Ariel Graziani and Carlos Juarez a pair of Argentine born forwards represented Ecuador. I previously mentioned Gustavo Quinteros, Bolivia's national coach as someone who represented Bolivia although born in Argentina. His World Cup 94 teammate, goalie Carlos Trucco also was born in Argentina.

    All of these players had moved as adults and played professionally in the country they later went on to represent. On the other hand Paraguay have had numerous Argentina born players who became eligible for Paraguay due to parentage. Roberto Acuna, a long time midfielder who played for Paraguay at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups was born in Argentina. On Paraguay's current national team Jonathan Santana, Lucas Barrios and Nelson Ortigoza were all born in Argentina with one or more Paraguayan born parents.

    Marcelo Martins is a Brazilian born forward with one Bolivian and one Brazilian parent who represents Bolivia. There probably are more examples out there but off the top of my head these are the ones I can remember.

  • Comment number 22.

    I remembered another one, Matias Fernandez a current Chilean midfielder was born in Argentina with one parent Chilean and the other Argentinian. His family moved back to Chile when he was young.

  • Comment number 23.

    Tim, I know this is probably a difficult question since you don't live in Europe (specifically the UK) but how would one go about watching more South American football? I know there are ways of getting streams of it, but I'd rather legal ways! Like what TV channels / websites let you watch live games from South America, more specifically Argentina and Brazil although I'm also interested in watching games from any league in SA just those 2 more.

  • Comment number 24.

    Rosarino, Tim needs to give you a job as his researcher. :)

  • Comment number 25.

    20 - I prefer it as it is, with 32 teams. In my view it's far more competitive now - under that system wth 5 groups, there were 4 teams per group, and 3 of them qualified for the knock out phase -making the whole group progamme a waste of time.
    Now it's competitive from the off. Take 2007 - Internacional of Brazil were not only the holders, they were also the World Club Champions - yet they failed to make it out of their group.

  • Comment number 26.

    24 - we'll have to sack our new researcher!
    Marcelo Martins (as known in Bolivia) or Moreno (as in Brazil) is Bolivian born of a Brazilian dad. He was with the Brazil U-20 team, but when they left him out of the 2007 World Youth Cup he threw in his lot with the country of his birth - where he grew up - in fact he complained in Brazil that as a Bolivian he felt discriminated.

    Seriously, rosarino, many thanks as always for your enlightened contributions

  • Comment number 27.

    come on Tim... second time you say "both of you interested". I guess only two of us manifested, but I am sure more than the two of us are interested in hearing your opinions on TV!

    I suppose the subject will be the Libertadores games (brazil and other south american clubs), but I hope you can throw your opinion about the Flamengo/Corinthians vs Clube dos 13 as well as the clubs fighting each other over the 1987 trophy.

  • Comment number 28.

    Interesting article as always, and glad to hear you talk about my adopted club Cerro Porteño! It was an excellent game and Iturbe looks like a hot prospect - his decision to play for Argentina has certainly caused a stir here in Paraguay and I'm in the process of writing an article on the Paraguayan reaction (from fans, journalists, celebs) which I'll share once done.

    Personally it is odd that he has chosen Argentina over Paraguay as it seems to make little sense emotionally and footballistically (Iturbe used that word the other day so I can copy it!!) - but then Scott Parker or Steven Sidwell going to Chelsea to sit on the bench didn't make sense to me either. Maybe he is hoping that Messi gets injured in May 2014? Otherwise he may not play in a major tournament until 2022 - if ever...

  • Comment number 29.

    Damn, lost a job before I ever had it! LOL, thanks for the correction Tim about Marcelo Martins. I should have looked it up but was trying to recall off the top of my head.

    There may be another player to add to our list as watching last week's Godoy Cruz v Liga de Quito Copa Libertadores game, the announcers said Liga's excellent Argentine defender Norberto Araujo is in the process of obtaining Ecuadorian citizenship and has expressed an interest in representing Ecuador. Maybe we will see him at the Copa America? With Ivan Hurtado reaching the end of his career, Araujo would be a great addition to Ecuador's backline.

  • Comment number 30.

    Great article Tim! On the Shaktar point - do you think they are actually good or is it more a case of serie A's continuing downfall?

  • Comment number 31.

    i know this kid, i signed him on football manager for fulham
    he is quality

  • Comment number 32.

    btw i am talking about Juan Manuel Iturbe.

  • Comment number 33.

    Really, I cant believe Junior Barranquilla´s stadium has no floodlights! Its Grêmio´s opponent this week, isnt it?

    seriously, how does CONMEBOL allows that?

    If you have no floodlights or minimum capacity in your stadium, you SHOULD NOT be able to have games in your stadium. PERIOD!!!


    Seriously, there are some clubs in my state league that put better opposition than some teams in the Libertadores, and their stadiums are bigger/better and DO HAVE floodlights, and still, they dont even dream of ever disputing a Libertadores, because some of them dont even play in ANY national division...

    if CBF allowed the same things that CONMEBOL does, the brazilian league would be in an even more chaotic state of things...

  • Comment number 34.

    #10 - I think a lot of this is just rumour-mongering by agents and the like. Have you seen how many goalkeepers will be signing for United at the end of the season?

  • Comment number 35.

    I was hoping Iturbe's story would show up in this blog. It is quite a bitter-sweet story for Cerro fans and Paraguayans. Much has been published in the local newspapers on what has become some sort of football "soap opera" fit for television.

    As mentioned in the article, Iturbe grew up in Paraguay and came through the ranks of Cerro Porteño's youth teams. He had his debut in first division but soon fell out with the club basically because the administration was not prepared to pay a proper professional contract (that included health insurance) to a minor.

    Upset, Iturbe felt he was being mistreated and some opportunistic football agents (among them old Chilavert, apparently) adviced him to go play for Quilmes in Argentina. Cerro Porteño blocked the move via legal recourse, but it was too late, they had let slip their most promising player that had already shown extraordinary talent at such an early age due to their lack of vision.

    Even worse, the Argentines were quick to pick Iturbe up and give them a place in the U-20 national team and it has already paid dividends for them. So not only did Cerro lose their next big star, so did Paraguay's national team.

    In the end, it was agreed that Iturbe would come back to play for Cerro for a few months until he turns 18 and the club will only receive a small fraction of the transfer moeny once he goes to Porto. So all in all it is really a bad consolation price to have him back although, to be fair, Cerro has no one to blame except its own short-sightedness and incompetence.

  • Comment number 36.

    #33 - Junior Barranquilla's stadium does have floodlights, Tim was talking about Leon de Huanuco's stadium... Junior is one of the biggest clubs in Colombia and their stadium is sometimes used for international matches. Check it out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estadio_Metropolitano_Roberto_Mel%C3%A9ndez
    And seriously though, if a team's stadium doesn't have floodlights it's probably because they're too poor to get them installed. You can't deprive people of playing in competitions they've qualified for just because they're too poor.

  • Comment number 37.

    it been a long time since one of the montevideo giants reached a libertadores cup final ! Do penarol have a chance this time ?

    Independiente, the real madrid of the libertadores, are back, can they do something ? I noticed they finished last in the most recent argentinan league season.

  • Comment number 38.

    Any chance the big clubs (river, boca, independiente, racing, san lorenzo) will regain control of the argentinian league this season ??

  • Comment number 39.

    #7 #12 #31

    You are what's wrong with the modern football fan. Anything you know you have taken from the make believe world of Football Manager, FIFA etc. It doesn't matter how well researched these games are, you have no real knowledge, it's all computer generated nonsense. "I hope my team signs xyz, i bought him for £75m on the x-box and he was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!".
    Go away losers.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi Tim,

    I'm interested in the ability of two former River players who were tipped for the very top.

    1. D'Alessandro looks to have really kicked on over the last 18 months. Do you think the new Argentinian midfield will be built around his creative spark? Is he fulfilling at last the promise he displayed around 9 years ago?

    2. Maxi Lopez looks to have kicked on in Italy, finding his form a lot more consistently. Do you think he'll catch the eye of a bigegr club in Europe or will his future lie back in South America?

    3. Fernando Cavenaghi and Andres Aimar where young players I found exciting when tuning into the Argentinian football circa 2002-2003. What happened to these guys? Did Aimar fail to step out of the shadow of his older brother?

  • Comment number 41.

    @VenecoInFrance: true, I got it wrong. He was talking about Leon de Huanaco, Grêmio´s opponent in the 3rd round.


    But yes, you DEPRIVE people of competitions because they are too poor too play. There are minimum standarts to be followed in ANY competition. UEFA has SEVERE minium standarts. European clubs must conform to them. Why cant CONMEBOL have minimum standarts??

    If Leon doesnt have a decent stadium, its THEIR problem. They should play in a stadium, of their choosing, that conforms to the minimum standarts.


    "Oh look... they play in a pitch that is 50 x 130 meters, with no grass, on the side of a hill. They have no t-shirts (too expensive), so they play shirtless with numbers painted on their backs. And the fans stay in that wood-made bleachers that may collapse at any time resulting in tragedy. But they are POOR SO THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO PLAY THERE"

    :rolleyes:

  • Comment number 42.

    Dont forget the greatest player to wear a Colombian shirt....Alfredo Di Stefano haha

    I think Argentinian & Brazilian football players are a special case and have become cattle. Every country can buy one. We'll see how many Qatar will have in 2022.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hearing names like Penarol again brings back boyhood memories of the football annual, and Subbuteo.

    Iturbe sounds like one Paraguay let slip away, or was it a matter of the player himself choosing to slip away? Re: kissing the badge, I've seen players on loan do that in their very first game, and then see the love affair end pretty abruptly!

    Japan also has ties with South America, e.g. former Peruvian president Fujimori! There's a significant Brazilian population here. Ramos played for the Japanese national team and still appears on tv as an analyst. More recently, there was Alex, and currently, centre half Tulio has been an inspirational captain. I think he was born in Brazil of Japanese Brazilian parentage, though lived most of his life in Japan.



  • Comment number 44.

    Iturbe es Paraguayo carajooooo!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    Great blog, as always, Tim. Although I read the other blogs on BBC Sport, this is the only one I make sure I read every week.

    Now time to put your money where your mouth is, who is your tip to win the Copa Libertadores? And who is your dark horse?

  • Comment number 46.

    - #41 I don't know if you've ever been to South America but some parts of the continent are still quite poor (really poor, not UK council estate poor). I think you'll find most professionnal football clubs do have at least the required standards but some are located in some desperately poor parts of the continent (parts of Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay among others) so they just don't have the resources (marketing ability, ticket sales, etc) necessary to invest in infrastructure.
    You can't compare South America to Europe (actually you can but it would just be stupid), the financial means just aren't there as they are in Europe.

  • Comment number 47.

    @33 "If you have no floodlights or minimum capacity in your stadium, you SHOULD NOT be able to have games in your stadium. PERIOD!!!"

    And why would that be? Have you heard about "sunlight"? You can't get a better floodlight than the large bright one in the sky!

    "minimum capacity"? Many clubs come from smaller towns so having large capacity stadiums that far exceed the population of the area is absurd. As a result, many of these smaller teams end up playing their home games at some other location, depriving them of the vital home advantage of playing in their own stadium with their own fans.

    @41
    "Oh look... they play in a pitch that is 50 x 130 meters, with no grass, on the side of a hill. They have no t-shirts (too expensive), so they play shirtless with numbers painted on their backs. And the fans stay in that wood-made bleachers that may collapse at any time resulting in tragedy. But they are POOR SO THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO PLAY THERE"

    Why go to such extremes?, I thought we were talking about floodlights

    "If Leon doesnt have a decent stadium, its THEIR problem. They should play in a stadium, of their choosing, that conforms to the minimum standarts (sic)."

    I wouldn't know about Leon's stadium as I have never been there, but based on your comments you seem to be well acquainted with it and its standards. I mean, you wouldn't be coming to all these conclusions only based on the fact that their stadium does not have floodlights, would you?

    What's next?, complaining that the stadium may be at altitude and those poor brazilian legs can't cope with it?...oh...hang on...they already tried that!

    How about a small stadium at altitude and with no floodlights?, would that incur the wrath of CONMEBOL?...it would certainly upset the CBF ;)

  • Comment number 48.

    I think that tv channels should take more advantage of opportunities to watch the coppa libertidores, just like eurosport does with the african nations cup and the asian cup. I remember watching eurosport when tevez was at boca juniors and robinho and diego were at santos. I t gives the world a chance to appreciate south american football and just how passionate the supporters are over there. Also I don't understand why more clubs haven't gone down the route that shaktar donetsk have taken and set up scoutng systems in south america so that they can get the chance to sign the best new talents, especially the english teams like everton or bolton who play attacking football but don't have enough money to go out and buy the big players, why not find the players while they are young and develop them. Yes it will take time to become successful and some flops will arrive but no doubt they will find some real gems, and the south american players already have the technical ability and skill, they just need a club to build them up physically and mentally and prepare them for the big stage.

  • Comment number 49.

    @25 "under that system wth 5 groups, there were 4 teams per group, and 3 of them qualified for the knock out phase -making the whole group progamme a waste of time."

    sorry Tim, I don't follow that logic...why would that make the group stage a waste of time?

    "Now it's competitive from the off. Take 2007 - Internacional of Brazil were not only the holders, they were also the World Club Champions - yet they failed to make it out of their group."

    I don't have the stats but would that have been the same Internacional team that won everything the previous season? or had the europeans already stripped them of their best players? If so, we can't really compare them.

    Back in the 2 teams per country years, it was not only competitive but it was also more of a level playing field as all countries had the same number of representatives, unlike the ridiculous high number of clubs from Argentina and Brazil that are allowed to compete.

    The current format is just a money making exercise created by TV, just like the CL

  • Comment number 50.

    49 - if 3 of the 4 teams per group are going through, the group phase is inevitably dull. and 3 out of 4 going through is obviously less competitive than 2 out of 4 going through - i would have thought that would be beyond discussion.
    ù
    The Inter sides are comparable - indeed they sold players after winning the libertadores title in august, but then won the world title in december, and began their libertadores campaign in february and were out by april.
    current format - does allow more clubs from brazil and argentina - but the other countries have also increased their participation - 2 teams plus one in the qualifying round. yes, it's all paid for by tv money, but more clubs are having a chance in the competition, and what's the problem with that? as discussed above, 32 is a number that works better for a competition than the previous 21.

    and 33 - for the record, junior's stadium - or rather the municipal stadium in barranquilla, the metropolitano, is modern and magnificent - it does have the dreaded running track, but even so it's one of my favourites in south america.

  • Comment number 51.

    @23 CareKoala - Thanks to the growing popularity of Twitter, there is a good scene of English language blogs reporting and sharing their views on South American football - particularly Argentine and Brazilian.

    With regards to mainstream coverage, your right, it is poor and I believe these leagues are greatly underestimated in terms of both quality and entertainment.

    The only really mainstream attention these leagues get is through this blog or on the BBC's World Football Phone In (which Tim Vickery is also involved with).

    It is perfectly legal to watch a wide selection of extensive highlights on the websites' of Brazilian broadcasters who own the tv rights, but obviously they will be in Portuguese!

    Matt

  • Comment number 52.

    44 - a paraguayan reader seems to have strong feelings on iturbe's nationality!

  • Comment number 53.

    Sorry, but this is super old news and kind of irrelevant. Germany was always a crossroads of last names, having Polish born or descended players throughout history. They also now sport visible minorities and players born out of the Turkish diaspora. The same thing will continue happening in South America with other Iturbes, as long as cross border labour continues to move freely.

    Poland has had Nigerian born players, Croatia have Brazilians, the USA often included Argentinian born players, Hargreaves plays for England, Ibrahimovic is a Swede! French and Swiss players sport Italian last names, and they often call up players of Northern African or West African ancestry and/or birth. One interesting example: In France 1938, the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia for the most part) participated. Half the team were colonists from Holland and the other half were native Indonesians, and some of them of East Indian descent. In France's team that year there was an Abdel Kader Ben Bouali and a Czeslaw Povolny, both very Gallic...

    How would we characterize the former USSR teams or Yugoslavia, where ethnic/nationality mix was the norm?

    In general, players switch countries of birth for adopted countries more or less following well established immigration patterns or political shifts that vary at any given time. The Brits brought football to South America, along with choo choo trains, meat packing plants and barbed wire: the first matches were played between British workers at docklands and railway stations, and locals that thereafter adopted and adapted the game, etc.

    One has only to go back to the beginning of the XX century to see that Argentinian, Uruguayan, Italian, Spanish, etc. players switched shirts accompanying the back and forth flow of liners leaving every week from Genoa, Naples, Cadiz, etc.

    One example: 1934 World Cup winners Italy had Argies Demaria, Guaita and Monti. It is a bit funny that Demaria's name Atilio was spelled with one T while his Italian namesake teammate Ferraris' name was spelled a la italiana, with double T: Attilio...

  • Comment number 54.

    ... and for every Iturbe out there there are hundreds of thousands of legal and illegal immigrants flowing to capital and employment. We expect this kid to do differently than his parents, who left home to come live on the fringes of society? He should and will look out for his own interest... the train only goes by once.

  • Comment number 55.

    Tim, thanks, but I was already corrected. My indignation is towards Leon de Huanaco.

    @46: ever been to South America? I am South American pal. As I said, in my STATE LEAGUE (Rio Grande do Sul State, in south Brazil), I am pretty sure all 18 stadiums have floodlights. And I am talking about a god damn state league in Brazil, where most clubs dont even participate in any of the 4 divisions of the national brazilian league.

    Even the clubs located in the poorest parts of the continent should have minimum standart stadiums. If not, they should play in a better stadium, in their capital for example.

    But stop with the nonsense, they are professional teams and won $$ from their national federations for qualifying for the Libertadores, and won $$ from CONMEBOL just for taking part in the Libertadores.

    @BladeRunner: stop with the ridiculous excuses. Maybe you should change your nickname to Robin Hood instead, prince of the poor.
    Sunlight??? A good part of the money Leon de Huanaco gets from CONMEBOL comes from TV RIGHTS. Thus, games must be played on GOOD TV TIMEING. Libertadores is played on weekdays, thus the best time to play is at night. But even if you play at sunlight, what if dark clouds cover the sky? Or a rainy day?

    As for capacity, its still the way it must be done. There MUST be minimum standarts for a Continental Cup!!! Dont be ridiculous! These rules exist in UEFA. They exist in FIFA! But you are against them in Conmebol?


    Why go for extremes if I was talking about floodlights? Well, just to follow your OWN reasoning. "they are too poor". You make excuses for anything. How far down the ladder can you go making excuses for what is allowed because a club is "too poor"?


    And what conclusions I took about the stadium? The only conclusion I took is the lack of floodlights. If you think I am saying their stadium is 50x130 meters (out of FIFA standarts), you missed my point, because you have some understanding problem.

  • Comment number 56.

    and really, I DOUBT a club from Peru´s first division, which classified for Libertadores, is poorer than lets say, Veranópolis (from the small town of Veranópolis), or São Luiz de Ijuí (from the small town of Ijuí) or Santa Cruz (from the small town of Santa Cruz do Sul).


    here, a photo of Veranópolis stadium... capacity 4000... a very small town, a small club... but at least THEY DO HAVE FLOODLIGHTS!

    http://www.soccerway.com/matches/2011/01/26/brazil/gaucho-1-div/veranopolis-esporte-clube-recreativo-cultural/esporte-clube-sao-luiz/1047638/venue/

  • Comment number 57.

    53. At 1:53pm on 22 Feb 2011, marcelao wrote:
    Poland has had Nigerian born players, Croatia have Brazilians, the USA often included Argentinian born players, Hargreaves plays for England

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Owen Hargreaves is English, his father is from England. He has more connection with England than some of the players you are referring to there have with their 'adopted' countries. He just happened to be born in Canada, and has the accent because he grew up there. Terry Butcher was born in Singapore, Richard Gough was born in Sweden. No one ever cast doubt on their nationalities. Perhaps you read the english media too much, who saw Hargreaves as a foreigner because he has a Canadian accent and came through the German football system.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ AcesHigh

    I don't think you can use the Gaucho clubs as an argument because despite the lower level in which these clubs compete in - RS is one of the more affluent states in Brazil.

    I understand what your saying about the club's who achieve Libertadores qualification being given prize money - but does the actual money make it to the club's accounts or is it syphoned off by directors etc?

    Matt

  • Comment number 59.

    Can we leave Iturbe alone? He is only 17, he is a TEENAGER. He probably feels Paraguayan AND Argentinian, how old was he when he went back to Paraguay? If he chooses Argentina over Paraguay when playing for the National Team, maybe he is right, maybe he is not, but didn't we all make some mistakes when we were teenagers? He is no "traitor", whatever he decides, he is just a footballer!

  • Comment number 60.

    @53 - Except all that means nothing when you look at Iturbe, because as Tim has pointed out, he was brought up in Paraguay not Argentina. I don't see how you can compare the two. All those wonderful examples you've listed are pointless when you factor in both a) their respective parentage and b) their term of residence in that country. None of which Iturbe can claim to Argentina.

    The only example I can think of would be David Trezeguet, ironically raised in Argentina to Argentinian parents but decided to play for France because he was born there.

    Next time, actually bother to analyse the facts before you waffle off into some gibberish about immigration. For the most part I agree with you, but it has no relevancy here. La Pulguita switched over to Argentina not due to some deep love of Tango that had been stirring inside of him, but mainly due to a political and bureaucratic dispute between his former club and the Paraguayan FA resulting in him missing large chunks of the season.

    All he has done has exercised a legal loop-hole to get him out of this situation to salvage any hope of playing international football.

  • Comment number 61.

    @39 You are an unnecessarily hostile man. Also you clearly aren't aware that the developers of Football Manager use a worldwide scouting network that dwarfs that of any club. I agree FIFA is rubbish though ;-)

  • Comment number 62.

    About Iturbe, i find it disappointing that FIFA would allow a player to change nationality after taking part in a senior game.

    I know the rule was that players had up to their 21st birthday to change nationalities if they had not represented the senior team.

    But Iturbe came on as a sub in a friendly (Chile v Paraguay in Nov 2009 I believe). Apparently, FIFA rules don't apply to friendlies...

    Does that mean Le Tissier could have played for France after all, or do B teams count as senior teams?

  • Comment number 63.

    @Sergio Lahaye: Rules regarding nationality switches have changed about 7-8 years ago, and now it's more flexible.

    Iturbe can still represent either Paraguay or Argentina until he plays in an official match (WCQ, WC, Copa America, Confederations Cup) for either senior National team.

    "62. At 3:32pm on 22 Feb 2011, Sergio Lahaye wrote:
    About Iturbe, i find it disappointing that FIFA would allow a player to change nationality after taking part in a senior game."

    I disagree completely with it being "disappointing". He's 17 and I imagine he is under pressure by many people from both sides. He should have some freedom!



  • Comment number 64.

    Re 56

    Wrong link, Aces! If you want to prove that the Antonio David Farina has floodlights, you must point to this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyEcBj-O12E
    Veranópolis 2 x 1 Internacional - 2007 Regular Season last round

    The last-second goal (the first to be shown in the video) made Internacional to miss the playoffs. You know, Gaucho Football is so strong that the South American and World Champion is only the 7th team in the local league!

  • Comment number 65.

    @58: RS is one of the more affluent states in Brazil, but its no paradise either. Its not much richer than Peru, and Peru has 3 times more population (30 million in Peru vs 10 million in Rio Grande do Sul).

    Thus, there is no excuses that can justify a first division club in Peru not having floodlights.


    As for the Libertadores money going into directors pockets?? Well, thats THEIR problem, isnt it?? The money IS THERE and they should comply to minimum standarts to get it, or use it to comply to such standarts.

  • Comment number 66.

    @Pablo, the FIFA rules were changed in 2009. This is a very similar case to Iturbe's.


    http://sport.stv.tv/football/scotland/227266-explained-the-fifa-rule-which-allows-james-mccarthy-to-switch-to-scotland/

  • Comment number 67.

    @AcesHigh, you are being stubborn in your complaints:

    1) TV, sponsors (e.g., Santander Bank and Nissan) and CONMEBOL have set rules for teams and stadiums. It is clear (by these rules) that Leon de Huanaco is able to play at their own stadium at the groups phase;

    2) The rules applied to stadiums get tougher as the competition goes on. For instance, at the finals (someone correct me if I am wrong) the stadium capacity is supposed to be of at least 30000. Due to that, in 2005 Atletico Paranaense could not play the finals (against Sao Paulo) at their stadium. This will happen to Santos as well if they get to the finals this year;

    3) Oh, but your concern is “not having floodlights”. But TV seems to be careless about that. Maybe because they don’t care about Leon de Huanaco. There are too many options of Libertadores and Copa do Brasil games to show. Gremio will play in Peru against Leon de Huanaco on the 15th of march at 5 pm (Brazilian time). Most probably we will be able to watch it at SPORTV;

    4) I am also a Gremio Fan but I am shocked at your disdain for Peru’s economic and social condition. Southern Brazil is quite wealthy to South America’s standards. Lets respect those really poor people. Oh, according to you that is THEIR problem. How cynical from you.

  • Comment number 68.

    # 65

    Many people (and you) use statistics the same way a drunkard uses a lamppost. That is, as a support (against falling) instead of a source of light (enlightening).

    Imagine the amount of food you eat on a day being shared with two other persons. That is how I see your comparison between Rio Grande do Sul and Peru. So on average we southern Brazilians are wealthier that Peruvians.

    # 56, Veranópolis has gotten its floodlights just a few years ago.

  • Comment number 69.

    Correction:
    … southern Brazilians are wealthier than Peruvians

  • Comment number 70.

    I can understand a lot of thoses cases of players opting their nationality after playing in youth teams or even friendlies with the main team. But, I cannot understand how Thiago Motta was allowed to play for Italy after playing at Concacaf's Golden Cup for Brazil.

    All brazilian players were U-23 (Olympic Football), but that was an option. The competition is North America's Euro counterpart!

    Why bother setting rules if you are going to open exceptions like this one?

  • Comment number 71.

    #70- I understand your point and it is strange that Thiago Motta is now eligible for Italy after playing for Brazil but the reasoning I have heard is that because Brazil was an invitee to the CONCACAF Gold Cup that year those were not considered official matches for Brazil for cap tying purposes. The Gold Cup was an official competition and would cap tie a player from a CONCACAF country but not for an outside "invitee" like Brazil. The same would apply for Copa America, it is an official competition for CONMEBOL nations but for outside invitees like Mexico, the US, or this year Japan, it would not count as an official competition.

    Cruzeiro only scored 4 goals this week in the Libertadores! After 2 games played they have 9 goals for and 0 against. It is early and you hope they have not peaked too soon but they have been very impressive so far. Of course both their games were home matches, soon we will find out how well they travel.

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 73.

    Pelé debutó con un pibe.

  • Comment number 74.

    The debate about choosing which country to play for is intereting, but surely it is like choosing a club. How many top players play for their hometown club, or the club they supported as a child? Most play for teams they feel will win trophies, and with no disrespect to Paraguay, Argentina has more chance of winning major competitions. A player's main aim is to win and play alongside great players. How many of us, given the choice, would pass up the chance to play alongside some of the greatest players in the world? I understand the frustration of Paraguyans (sorry if that is the wrong spelling) but if he feels Argentinian and Paraguyan and he had the choice between the two, well I know which one I would go for.

  • Comment number 75.

    After below the line mentions of South American players turning out for other teams, I wrote this a few years ago:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Argentine_born_footballers_who_have_played_for_other_national_teams

    As for the the issue of León having no floodlights I find the rage from AcesHigh quite funny. I think it is brilliant that such a small team have qualified to play on the international stage.

    I find it hard not to support the underdog when I'm watching football and I can't believe that people would call for small teams to be banned from playing in competitions that they have qualified to play in.

    If the footballing authorities did ensure that these poor clubs are banned and we could no longer appreciate and celebrate the fairytale achivements of footballing minnows and then the sport would lose even more of it's soul.


    http://southamerican-futbol.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 76.

    With the seemingly endless hotbed of talent coming from Argentina and Brazil, coupled with the high level of economic migration around the continent, why have not seen more players from these countries being capped by other national teams? Or maybe we have and I totally missed it.
    BR, tomsbikecorner

  • Comment number 77.

    Iturbe's future journey: Porto in 2012 then Real Madrid or Barcelona or Manchester united or Chelsea in 2014ish or earlier. Then forgotten afterwards sadly

  • Comment number 78.

    @ 74

    I think that choosing what country to play for is nothing like choosing what club to play for (or at least it should not be). National teams should be about identity and national pride, after all what would be the point of international competitions if no one wants to play for the small teams?

    Of course, in reality it is a relative small number of players that have the option to play for more than one national team. In the case of Iturbe it is true that playing for Argentina will give him a higher profile as a player and may improve his chances of catching the attention of the major clubs. On the other hand, he will face a lot more competition to get a spot in the Argentine team while he would be practically guaranteed a place among Paraguay's starting 11. Simply put, there is still a trade-off to be considered when choosing between a "top team" and an "underdog".

    I wish Iturbe the best of luck because he has the potential to become a fantastic player but it is very frustrating to see a small country loose such a talent to one of the "big guys". Paraguay could gain so much from a player like him (especially considering our hsitorical lack of offensive midfielders) while in Argentina he is more likely to become another option among the many excellent midfielders they already have.

  • Comment number 79.

    @Luiz de Curitiba:
    1 - O RLY? Thats obvious. I am criticizing EXACTLY the low standarts set for Libertadores, by CONMEBOL!

    2 - the standarts are very low in the beginning. They should already start higher. Its the CONTINENTAL COMPETITION!

    3 - 5pm at a weekday is an HORRIBLE time

    4 - dont play stupid. Shocked by my disdain for Peru??? Its QUITE THE OPPOSITE!!! I just said Peru is almost as rich as Rio Grande do Sul, and exactly because of that, there is no possible justification for a club not having floodlights in their stadium. The one disdaining Peru here is YOU, because its YOU who are saying they are dirty poor

    5 - and I still use statistics better than you. Your example is terrible and shows complete lack of understanding regarding GDP.
    We southern brazilians ARE wealthier than Peruvians on average. I never denied it. But the difference is NOT great.
    Peru´s Per Capita GDP is U$8647. Rio Grande do Sul Per Capita GDP is U$9817.

    Its a MINIMAL difference that does not justifies calling Peru POOR in comparassion with southern Brazil!!! Thus, YOU are the one disdaining Peru


    6 - does it matter that Veranopolis got its floodlights a few years ago? At least they got it. And they are a team in the STATE LEAGUE!

  • Comment number 80.

    oh, btw, Minas Gerais State GDP Per Capita is SMALLER than that of Peru. Do you think Minas Gerais is so dirty poor that their clubs cant afford floodlights in their stadiums???


    really, terrible reasoning from your part.

  • Comment number 81.

    It's amazing how brazilian love CLUBS not football (AcesHigh complain would be an example for that; actually the stadium in Huánuco is OK, except for the foodlights). I simply cannot find the whole play of the BARCELONESQUE goal from Botafogo FC (not the famous Botafogo FR) against São Paulo FC. They won 2-1, and the second goal is simply astonishing.

    They got the ball, start to pass it around, tipically playing defense with possession, moving it from side to side. Suddenlly, they find a break, accelerate the game, and manage to get a player wide open in the penalty box: 2-0.

    I was in awe. It remembered me one Argentine goal against Serbia in the WC 2006.

    Here, the goal from the moment they decided to score: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4sXbYYaILg#t=6m39s

  • Comment number 82.

    @30. At 08:14am on 22 Feb 2011, Joan_Burton wrote:
    Great article Tim! On the Shaktar point - do you think they are actually good or is it more a case of serie A's continuing downfall?

    A very popularist attitude, however very incorrect.

    As a Shakhtar fan since 2007 - I can attest that while the Ukrainian league is not of the highest quality - you can only beat what is in front of you.

    In this regard, Shakhtar have not only beaten everyone in Ukraine, by winning the Championship (before anyone asks, since 1991 only 2 clubs have - Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk) and then how they should be judged is by European competition.

    So, the fact that they won the last UEFA Cup (before it became the Europa League) - beating teams from Germany, France and many others not good enough?

    In that competition that season - 3 of the last 8 were from Ukraine.

    OK, so let us move on to the Champions League - where they are now in the knockout stages for the 1st time. Let us not forget we won our group - which contained Arsenal, although we got soundly beaten at the Emirates. No mean feat.

    This team IS very very good. A blend of quality European players - such as Darijo Srna, Tomas Hubschmann alonside Ukrainians of quality such as Pyatov and Chegrinnski, add to that South American flair and you have a winning formula, all made possible by a top, top coach in Lucescu.

    They are not doing badly in the UEFA CO-Efficient ratings either.

    What might hinder them, is the Euro-savviness that gets you through matches. They could not do what Arsenal did against Barcelona, so once that experience is there, they can go very far - quarter finals is a real possiblity, a semi (with this team) could be the best that they could hope for. Against teams like Chelsea, United, Arsenal, Barcelona they would struggle (and have, in the past) so if they got a favourable draw, it could happen.

    There are a lot of South Americans there, but two have been crucially omitted by people thus far - Eduardo has made a difference in goalscoring for us and Fernandinho is potentially a player who could go to one of the giants and do a good job. He has been injured but he is a real star in the making and at 26, can step up a level. He was inspirational in our UEFA cup win, so for me he is one to watch and keep an eye on.

    Willian has come on since joining but the times I have seen Moreno (and Shakhtar live) they have never shone. Moreno looks clumsy and does not look to have settled well.

    So, that would be my question to Tim, what is your opinion on Fernandinho?

  • Comment number 83.

    A fruther footnote - I am aware that Eduardo plays for Croatia! But he is Brazilian born (I believe)..

  • Comment number 84.

    @Prsancho: if demanding minimum stadium standarts for the Libertadores, is loving "clubs, not football", then Europe also loves "clubs, not football".


    @TimVickery: and the 4 big carioca clubs just broke away from Clube dos 13.

  • Comment number 85.

    Aces, I've said the stadium is OK (much better than than the Antonio Davi Farina, for instance), except from the floodlights.

    Grêmio played in a midweek afternoon against São Paulo, at Morumbi in 2001 (Grêmio won 4-3), and against Portuguesa, at Olímpico in 1998 (Grêmio won 4-2). Both stadia have floodlights.

    There is no problem not to play at night, except for LEON'S FANS that need to work and cannot attend the game.

  • Comment number 86.

    Hi Tim, interesting article.

    I have nothing of real note to say, except for the part where it says "The Paraguayan Messi" -- when will we stop comparing players to other players? When will we finally let them be their own player?

  • Comment number 87.

    Have to say i was surprised at the scoreline in the Cerro Porteno V Colo colo game, as cerro where not very impressive in the qualifiers against Deportivo Petare

  • Comment number 88.

    @86 agree totally, we can't keep saying he's Paraguayan if he's decided to represent Argentina.

  • Comment number 89.

    @86.... nothing new there then

  • Comment number 90.

    At least, the stadium has floodlights:

    http://globoesporte.globo.com/futebol/times/gremio/noticia/2011/02/cheiro-de-tinta-poeira-e-entulhos-gremio-usara-vestiario-em-obras.html (in portuguese)

    AcesHigh, do not be ofended. I simply couldn't resist!

    P.S.: As we say in Portuguese, this is an "Old Trick". Shame on Junior!

  • Comment number 91.

    Tim, I enjoy your blog from a long time. Finally i saw you on TV today.

    Unfortunately you're among too poor comentators André Rizek and Renato Prado. You live here since 1994 so you know how the press in Rio can be often blind with our huge problems of calendar.

    State Championshio is only good in São Paulo. For the other serie A clubs in other states is a competition who causes a huge debit to their finances.

    I like your idea in expectations. Where 2-3 months without football causes. For many small clubes the begining of the season its better than the final, because its very difficult to become champions.

    I support Coritiba, this year we hope do better than 2009 when we were relegated.

    Keep with this excellent work!

    Thanks!

  • Comment number 92.

    The State Championships are bad organized, bad sold, and etc. But at least the Big-4 (SP, RJ, MG, RS) pay a very interesting fee for the clubs to participate (and it could be A LOT more). They don't cause any debt for the big clubs. It's the the other way around: they even help their finances.

    Best.

  • Comment number 93.

    "Iturbe is a footballing citizen of the world. Perhaps before his time is out, he can join Penarol of Uruguay and re-educate them in what it takes to win the Copa Libertadores."

    I'm sorry man, but that has to be the dumbest thing you've said in a while!

  • Comment number 94.

    @PrSancho: guess what? The Junior Barranquilla Stadium has no showers, no toilets, no sinks, anything, in the visitors room!! They showed today on TV... they filmed inside.

    tsc tsc... maybe the stadium with no floodlights from Huanaco is better after all... maybe not!

  • Comment number 95.

    @AcesHigh The stadium is under renovation for the FIFA Sub 20 World Cup that is to take place in Colombia that explains the current condition of both visiting and home room.

    http://www.fifa.com/u20worldcup/index.html

  • Comment number 96.

    there are no excuses for the visiting room to have no faucets, no water, no toilets!

    when will CONMEBOL stop acceting the ridiculous excuses for anything in the Libertadores???

    it a team takes 20-25 minutes to return in after the break, in UEFA, its disqualified. In Libertadores, its a "normal" situation...

  • Comment number 97.

    Good post again Tim

    Im from an underdeveloped country when it comes to club football, the only team we have is FC København or FC Copenhagen in english sp its nice to read some goog stuff here

  • Comment number 98.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 99.

    the football authorities in Argentina have pretty much exploited the nationality loop-hole for their own effect. For example if Iturbe had been r4 in Japan or Norway he would still be Paraguayan.

  • Comment number 100.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

 

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