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Will amazing miss prove costly for Ecuador?

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Tim Vickery | 11:34 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

It was a miracle of Marlon de Jesus - and I am still trying to work out how he managed to miss the target.

Last Thursday, in the South American Under-20 Championships, Ecuador's burly striker Edson Montano burst through the right of the Uruguay defence, got to the byline and rolled the ball square to the equally burly De Jesus, who, positioned no more than three metres from the goal, contrived to shoot over the bar.

It is a trick he would probably be unable to repeat if he tried.

The game situation made the miss all the more astonishing. It came in the 88th minute of a hard fought 1-1 draw. The consequences are apparent from a glance at the tournament table. The six remaining sides in the competition are playing off for various prizes. As usual, the top four will qualify for the World Youth Cup. But, since the scrapping of the Under-23 championships, the top two will also qualify for the 2012 Olympic football tournament, which is a big deal in this part of the world.

Marlon De JesusDe Jesus is one of Ecuador's bright, young talernts. Photo: Getty Images

With two rounds to go, Ecuador are fourth, behind Argentina, Brazil and leaders Uruguay. Had De Jesus been more accurate, Ecuador would be topping the group.

Worlds can change on such slips. Four years ago, Uruguay and Argentina met in the last round to decide who would join Brazil at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Uruguay only needed a draw. They had most of the chances and were looking comfortable. Late on, as Argentina pushed up, a long punt put Uruguay striker Elias Figueroa behind the opposition defence. All he had to do was bring the ball under control and he would have found himself with only the keeper to beat. But the ball bobbled away and the chance was gone. It hardly seemed to matter. But then, deep into injury time, Argentina won a corner on the left and Lautaro Acosta, one of the smallest men on the field, rose to head down and in. A year and a half later, Argentina went to the Olympics.

By then, 1986 World Cup-winning midfielder Sergio Batista was in charge of Argentina's youth sides. He took the team to the Beijing Games and came back with the gold medal. That triumph gave Batista the credibility to take over the senior Argentina side last year. But had Figueroa's control been better and if Acosta had not got his head to the ball, someone else would probably be coaching Lionel Messi and the rest of the Argentina side that take on Portugal this Wednesday.

Might that miss of De Jesus have similar significance? It certainly makes it tough for Ecuador to qualify for the London Games. They will hope to beat Chile in Saturday's final round but, to be sure of an Olympic place, they may well have to beat Brazil on Wednesday - and Brazil will be stung by losing to Argentina on Sunday. Admittedly, Brazil will be without Neymar. The tournament's outstanding talent showed plenty of the petulant side of his nature against Argentina and is suspended after picking up a second yellow card. Even so, Ecuador will go into the game as underdogs.

Whatever happens in the closing two rounds, posterity could well declare Ecuador the real winners of the 2011 South American Under-20 Championships. Because the real aim of all of this is not to qualify for the Olympics or go on to win the World Youth Cup. The real purpose is to help groom players for the senior national team.

And on the evidence so far, Ecuador would seem to be in good shape. More than any other team in the tournament, it is possible to imagine several of the Ecuador players taking the big step up in the future. This is vital because Ecuador have come a long way in a short space of time. As recently as the 1980s, they were whipping boys on their own continent. In 2006, they were in the world's last 16.

But the danger signs are obvious. Ecuador need only look to their neighbours. Peru made their breakthrough in the 1970s, then slid back. Colombian football promised so much in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then went into decline. In both cases, one spontaneous generation had broken through, caught the world's attention and then not been replaced. And both countries can draw on populations far bigger than Ecuador's.

Alex Ibarra

A golden generation took Ecuador to the World Cups of 2002 and 2006. Some of the current Under-20 team might be able to replace them. Goalkeeping, for example, has not been an Ecuadorian speciality but John Jaramillo is looking very safe. In front of him, captain Dennys Quinonez has a claim to be the centre-back of this Under-20 tournament. His reading of the game and anticipation have been excellent, while he forms an effective partnership with the taller, cruder John Narvaez.

Combative and with a fine range of passing, Fernando Gaibor is as good a central midfielder as any on show, while there are two interesting speed merchants on the flanks - Alex Ibarra (pictured) on the right and Marcos Caicedo on the left - although their pace can be negated. On Sunday, Colombia did it by defending deep. Still, Ecuador have more ball-playing options in Juan Cazares, who is with River Plate in Argentina, and the left-footed Jonathan De La Cruz. Up front, there is the strong man duo of Montano and De Jesus.

Of course, not all of them will come through but De Jesus is a great hope. He played in the previous version of this tournament two years ago, scored plenty of goals last year for his club, El Nacional in Quito, and made a couple of substitute appearances for the senior side last September. He was injured in the opening game of the current tournament and was still feeling his way back when he came on as a substitute against Uruguay. But he appears to have many years ahead of him and hopefully many chances to wipe out the memory of that extraordinary miss.

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.

From last week's postbag:

Q) I'd like to ask about Blackburn Rovers' new signing from Newell's Old Boys, Mauro Formica. I've never seen him play - although I knew the name - and was wondering if you can give us Blackburn fans an idea if what to expect. Also, do you think he can adapt quickly to life in the Premiership? Has he moved at the right time?
Matt Gregory

A) I'm told that Blackburn's coach compared him to Gabriel Batistuta, which is wide of the mark, because Formica is an attacking midfielder. The comparison which has always hung around Formica - Ariel Ortega coined it - is with Kaka. There is something in it. Formica has that capacity to launch surging runs from the middle of the pitch and can shoot with venom off either foot. I like him a lot but I'm not convinced that the Premier League is ideal for him at this stage - the space he likes to operate in is going to get squeezed. And Formica hasn't filled out as much as Kaka did. Still, I think he's more suited to English football than Carlos Villanueva, the talented Chilean playmaker who had a spell with Blackburn.

Q) Whatever happened to Elano? He was sublime in his first season for Man City but only showed glimpses of his class from there. Didn't hear much of him after he moved to Turkey but he had a good World Cup before he got injured and now he's back in Brazil? Backwards step maybe?
Jordan Cooper

A) He's had a strange club career - and not just in Europe. Before he came good with Santos, there were times when he couldn't get a game with Guarani. I'm not sure rejoining Santos is a backward step. They have some wonderful young players and they are the team that everyone will want to see in the Copa Libertadores. The idea of playing a wise old head in a side like that must be very attractive, especially with the salaries that Brazilian football is currently paying to big names.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Tim, assuming most (if not all) of the players featuring for Ecuador in this tournament play in their home country, how do you think the current crop of youngsters will get on once their inevitable big move abroad materialises?

    Obviously making their name abroad and testing themselves against better competition is vital to the long-term success of the senior side, but I can't think of many of their countrymen who have done well in Europe and beyond. Is this likely to change any time soon?

  • Comment number 2.

    This is another example of how far ahead south america is ahead of england, i have watched a few of the matches, and the quality is extremely high, that is why there is a continuous supply line of young talent from south america to europe, i dont understand why an english team doesnt try to have a larger scouting network in outh america and africa, it would cost money obviously but they would reap the rewards in the long run. As for the miss, well those things happen i'm afraid, and i think it's unfair that this article is specifically targetting this miss, imagine if that player now finds out that this article has been posted on one of the biggest tv companies in britain, we should be hailing the quality of young players, not going on about the negative parts to their game.

  • Comment number 3.

    2 - the last paragraph of the piece does exactly what you are calling for - on the heels of saturday, is this another example of gooners not concentrating to the end!!!

    1 - a lot of ecuadorians go to mexico - it's still very early days with europe, but dramatic progress has been made. valencia at man u, for example - 20 years ago it was unthinkable that someone from ecuador would be starring for such a club. i also think it's a real shame that terms couldn't be agreed for cristain benitez to stay at birmingham - an excellent little player, who keeps getting better (his dad was the first ecuadorian to be transferred to europe - lasted about 6 months with a sopanish second division team in the 80s) - surprising to me that no other english club has thought of taking him back.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great blog Tim, I was wondering if you could give me any insight on Juan Manuel Iturbe? He seems like a very exciting propect.

  • Comment number 5.

    Another briliant and informative article Tim, can you tell me what kind of reputation Emilio Izzaguirre the Celtic full back has in South America? We signed him for something like £600k and the way he's playing he looks like a steal, rumours are that SAF is looking at him. Would hate to lose him as top quality left backs are hard to come by.

  • Comment number 6.

    Just watched the miss - incredible. Next time he should stand still and let the ball hit off him.

    As for players from Ecuador, I watch Scottish football and remember Ulises de la Cruz's impressive season at Hibs nearly a decade ago. Unfortunately for his club, he then went to the World Cup and won a move to Aston Villa.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 7.

    Tim, I thought I heard a commentator say a few years ago that Ecuador were not going to be allowed to continue to play their home games at altitude, which I think I'm right in saying Quito is, because it was deemed to give the home team too unfair of an advantage. Or am I getting confused with Colombia?

    If I heard correctly, was this an effort from the powers of South American football to nip the rise of Ecuador in the bud? In the game I was watching, Argentina took the lead in Quito, thanks to Messi or Tevez I think, who was then subsequently sent off, with possibly Argentina going on to lose the game. The atmosphere looked fantastic.

    Believe it or not, Felipe Caicedo is still on Man City's books, though he hasn't played for us for a few seasons. I think he was loaned out to Sporting Lisbon, who didn't want to keep him, but it seems he's suddenly scoring goals for fun for Levante in Spain. He seems typically Ecuadorean to me, barrel chested, a sprinter's acceleration, but all too often, a random finish, a la another Latin American export who played for City, Paolo Wanchop.

  • Comment number 8.

    Tops again, Tim. Monday afternoons/evenings are a pleasure these days.

    I like your point on Cristian Benítez - he was probably Birmingham's best attacker last year in terms of the kinds of problems he regularly caused defenders. I can't for the life of me think why another Premier League team - or any top European clubs, in fact - didn't snap him up once it feel through with Birmingham. I'd certainly have him at Blackburn.

    Speaking of which, I reckon Fórmica has probably made the move too early in the same way Carlos Villanueva did. I hope to be proved wrong, naturally, as he clearly has talent, but it's made me want to ask: why do so many South Americans make the move to England when so young given they know of all the less enjoyable/successful experiences - a decent number of which high profile, too - of the many who have gone before? Surely the best advice to young hotshots in Latin America aiming for glory would be to wait that bit longer before making the move...?

  • Comment number 9.

    A new blog written by passionate students : http://thefullcircleblog.wordpress.com/. Debate and comment welcomed.

  • Comment number 10.

    not a bad game for Brazil, considering one defender broke a leg at 1 minute into the game, and 4 minutes later, another brazilian defender went off the game, this time not by injury, but by red card.

  • Comment number 11.

    oh, and he went by a red card for elbowing the argie player... in the penalty box!!

    so, 5 minutes in the match and Brazil was losing by one goal (Argentina converted the penalty) and with 10 players... and the two players that went out (by injury and red card) were defenders, so the defensive system was in a disarray so early in the game!

  • Comment number 12.

    What is afoot in brazil that they can suddenly afford the wages of players like Ronaldinho and Elano? Or are they living beyond their means? I sincerly hope Brazil can retain its talent longer in future. The romance of some far flung genuis making the ball talk at a world cup in a yellow jersey is still one of the great football experiences

  • Comment number 13.

    Weezer.... Brazil has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, hence the influx of money into the game.

  • Comment number 14.

    As far as I can make out, many SA players, Brazilians included, get very little playing time in their European teams, and so decide to go back home as the only alternative of having exposure and eventually making their national teams again, and then going into a new and profitable european contract. Many will never make it, as new generations of players are always getting into the wagon.

  • Comment number 15.

    I do wonder if Brazilian players will become more selective when moving abroad now. In the past young Brazilian players would move to the likes of Croatia, Ukraine, Belgium etc purely because the wages and chances of gaining some type of meaningful first team football was higher. With the influx of money and the natural progression this would have on the development on the domestic game - I think many Brazilians would stay in their own country simply because they can afford to. Likewise moving out to the middle of nowhere in Europe might just kill your international career.

    You would still get Brazilians moving abroad but I think the calibre of those players, would be much less greater than before.

    Someone like Elano would be a good example. If he was faced a few years ago with the decision of having the same wages offered to him by a big Brazilian club, say like Corinthians, would he reject this in favour of moving to an industrial city in eastern Ukraine for the same amount of money? Surely, he would just stay in Brazil and wait until an offer from Italy/Spain/England came in?

    If you look at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup squads there was a healthy mix of European and Brazilian based players. In 2002 in particular, only 10 of the 23 were based in Europe whereas in 2006 and 2010 - the figures read that only 3 players came from Brazil. (Maybe even 2 if you discount Robinho in 2010.)

    Additionally, I wonder if this might have some positive impact for 2014 and beyond for Brazilian football. In the past you could argue that the teams had a natural style of play borne from within the country and that playing their football in Brazil led to some sort of greater cohesion and togetherness.

    If you think about it, the majority of teams who have won the World Cup in modern times have done so with a squad of mainly domestically based players or players who had played most of their careers in that country. In 2002, players like Lucio and Ronaldinho had only one season of European football under their belt whereas the likes of Rivaldo and Roque Junior had played a number of years in Brazil before moving to Europe. I do wonder if the later Brazilian WC sides suffered from some type of footballing disconnect from their own country and whether keeping hold of Brazilians in Brazil will actually lead to greater success at the WC...

    If 2010 was a Spanish victory from within Barcelona, maybe 2014 can be a Brazilian victory from within Corinthians, Sao Paulo or Flamengo?

  • Comment number 16.

    Just wondering what you make of Dario Conca ever playing for Argentina? He was voted best player in Brazil last season, and is still yet to be called up by Argentina. Brazilians praise him, and some rival players from Botafogo said they inspire to play like him. Is it a personal issue between Sergio Batista and Dario Conca? Or has Conca just been unfortunate? He's such a talent and highly influential. Better than D'alessandro in my opinion.

  • Comment number 17.

    Eurosport has been covering the tournament here in the UK, so I’ve managed to watch a few of the matches. Obviously the one I was looking forward to the most was Argentina vs. Brazil. Brazil's start to the match had to be one of the worst I’ve ever seen, losing their captain after 3 minutes to injury and then their other central defender to a red card 6 minutes later, however, Argentina’s approach to the remainder of the game was very disappointing. A goal and a man to the good I really thought Argentina were going to show their credentials, instead, as had been the case earlier in the tournament, there was none of the controlled, stylish passing football Argentina’s youth and senior teams have become famous for over the past 15 years; all this team had to offer was cynicism and a complete lack of ambition, while relying on Iturbe’s individual quality to make the difference and considering the way Brazil dominated with ten men, I think Argentina got a belated Christmas present with the sending off.

    As for Brazil, well, from the games I’ve watched so far its good to see them at least trying to get back to playing in a more traditional style (Menezes influence I guess?) even if they do lack the midfield playmaker to really pull it off. Its just a shame they risk undermining their undoubted flair and individual talent with such indiscipline and petulant behaviour, in particular, the star turn so far: Neymar. This tournament is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to watch Neymar play live and although he certainly looks a level up from Robinho in terms of his all round talent, its unfortunate to see he’s picked up some of his former Santos teammates less then admirable qualities when it comes to theatrics and constant moaning. I’ll be watching with interest if the rumours come true and he ends up joining Barcelona in the summer. It certainly wouldn’t hurt him one bit to spend sometime playing alongside and learning from the likes of Messi to lose that ego and gain some on the field bravery to stay on his feet and let his football do the talking when confronted with the kind of cynical play Argentina’s under 20s dished out, if not, I fear, he runs the real risk of wasting his talent.

  • Comment number 18.

    Great post Tim! I always find your blogs about South American football really interesting and they are a welcome addition to articles about Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool.

    The mention of Jonathan De La Cruz reminded me of Ecuador's Ulysses De La Cruz, who was one of the worst players I have ever seen at Villa Park. Do you think that De Jesus would fair better in one of Europe's top leagues? Does anyone know what has happened to useless Ulysses?

    http://www.inofftheghost.com

  • Comment number 19.

    18 - i think you've been harsh on Ulises De La Cruz - a wonderful player for Ecuador. He's still playing, back in Ecuador for LDU, where, without the pace of old, he features in central midfield.

    17 -agree with most of your thoughts on the Brazil-Argentina game, but I don't really think Argentina were cynical - just limited. Admittedly they are not at full strength (Lamela, for example was not released and the elegant Hoyos wasn't fit) but all through the tournament they have shown an inability to enjoy controlled possession that makes them hard on the eye - it's a worrying sign.

    As for Brazil, in technical and physical terms they were clearly better. But their lack of emotional control is very disappointing - experienced, calm coach Ney Franco has obviously not been able to transmit tranquility to the players. Perhaps more worrying, though, is the conceptual approach - they seem happiest charging down the pitch as quickly as possible and then falling over in endless attempts to win free kicks.

  • Comment number 20.

    I saw the blackburn manager compare Formica to Batistuta and it made me laugh.
    It also reminded me of seeing Joe Kinnear, then newcastle manager, explaining how Mareque, the Independiente left-back and shortest defender in the argentine league, would be a great signing because of the added height he would give to the defence. I guess at some point he saw a video and decided against him and his 5ft... .


    It all makes me worry how much english managers and clubs gamble and rely on outside recomendations that might not be totally nuetral nor disinterested.

    How much did Bruce, Redknapp and Martinez know about Angeleri, Sandro and Boselli? Im assuming they never saw them in the flesh, relying on outside opinion, some highlights videos and crossing of fingers.
    An amazing way to invest many millions of pounds.


  • Comment number 21.

    no opinion then

  • Comment number 22.

    21 - problem with your ? is that it's off topic - and the place for such questions is via the e-mail, otherwise the debate loses focus - stick in the e-mail and i'll almost certainly chose it for next week - then we can all debate it.

    and for those interested (both of them i suspect), i'm doing redacao sportv this thursday - 10 am

  • Comment number 23.

    hey Tim, if you think I am one of the interested in knowing if you are going to appear in Redação SporTV... well, you nailed it. Thanks for the info. Will you keep pushing your opinion about State leagues? Do you feel you are alone in your battle or do you see much support??? Am I offtopic and thus you wont answer me? :)

    I guess I should mail you!

  • Comment number 24.

    The Ecuadorian team surely benefited from a domestic league rule that mandated each team field a under-20 player for at least 45 minutes. This obligatory first division experience must have helped.

    @1- Three players on the Ecuador under-20 squad play outside the domestic league: the tournaments's second leading goal scorer Edson Montano (Gent-Belgium); Walter Chala (Rubin Kazan-Russia); and Juan Cazares (River Plate-Argentina).

    A few have stood out from the senior side in European leagues and even in the Champion's League: Antonio Valencia (as Tim mentioned); Christian Noboa (2 time champion and captain of Rubin Kazan); and Edison Mendez (champion with PSV Eindhoven). Segundo Castillo was also a sort of cult hero at Red Star Belgrade a few years ago. Keep and eye on Felipe Caicedo (with Levante, on loan from Man City) and Jefferson Montero (also with Levante, on loan from Villareal) - they are very young and very skilled players. Cristian Benitez will be back in Europe with Celtic this summer.

    @18- Don't insult Ulises de la Cruz. After leaving Europe in 2009, Ulises returned to his former club, LDU Quito. Having lost much of the speed that made him a threat down the flanks, Ulises now plays a holding midfield role at LDU. In that capacity, he helped LDU win 3 titles since his return: 2009 Copa Sudamericana (vs Brazil's Fluminense); 2009 Recopa Sudamericana (vs Brazil's Inter); and the 2010 Ecuadorian League. The brilliant 30+ meter goal he scored vs Fluminense in the ist leg of the 2009 Sudamericana final is worth taking a look at on youtube. Ulises is also a great and humble human being who funds his own foundation to benefit his native village of Piquiucho, in one of the poorest, if not the poorest areas of the country. He funds housing, school, and health clinic construction, irrigation, a sports complex, youth development, and economic empowerment projects. He is a UNICEF ambassador. In an age of spoiled athletes, Ulises is a perfect example of the type of lasting impact one can make after having the privilege of playing professional sports.

  • Comment number 25.

    24 - I wasn't insulting Ulises De La Cruz as a person, he always seemed like a nice guy, he was very professional even though Villa fans were very harsh to him, and I am impressed with his work outside of football. However, I was just mentioning that he was pretty rubbish for Villa when he played here and was at fault for a lot of goals conceded that season (I think it was 04/05). David O'Leary did play him at full back, perhaps that wasn't his best position.

    I just checked out the goal, it was a cracker!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3dV68yc3pI&feature=related

    (It is the last goal on 1:34)

    http://www.inofftheghost.com

  • Comment number 26.

    Great blog as usual Tim, keep up the good work!

    Any of you guys know if this http://www.101greatgoals.com/videodisplay/marlon-jesus-miss-argentina-8396617/ miss is really Marlon de Jesus as well? Was it earlier this week? If so, he's had a pretty awful few days.

  • Comment number 27.

    25. At 09:15am on 08 Feb 2011, In Off The Ghost wrote:
    24 - I wasn't insulting Ulises De La Cruz as a person, he always seemed like a nice guy, he was very professional even though Villa fans were very harsh to him, and I am impressed with his work outside of football.
    ---

    Think it was Ulises that I heard sent half his wages back home to pay for community projects in Ecuador.
    Which makes him nicer than 90% of footballers you hear about.

  • Comment number 28.

    I know this gets said quite a lot on here and I don't want to turn it into some sort of love fest but this is once more the best blog and debate of any sporting subject on the bbc by a country mile

  • Comment number 29.

    20 Clubs like Spurs employ extensive scouting networks so they should know what they are getting. Smaller teams seem to rely on agents quite a lot so that seems a bit dodgy.
    I wonder if it is true that Sunderland once bought the wrong player from the Argentinian League?

    I think that Juniinho was first recommended to them by a fan who was working in Brazil. Not certain that is a true story though.

  • Comment number 30.

    @29

    I'm slightly cynical when it comes to overseas scouting networks.

    Firstly, the opportunity for bribes is worrying; eg the player's agent offers the club scout a "gift" for making sure the club listens to his recomendation and signs the player (even if he isnt good enough).
    With lots of cash disappearing in agents' fees there's planty of scope.

    Secondly, it would worry me that the scout feels the need to justify his role by pushing players that might not be suitable.


    With regards to spurs, a remember a couple of years ago seeing Damian Comolli at a banfield - river game, watching Radamel Falcao and Augusto Fernandez. Shame for him he didnt take Falcao...


  • Comment number 31.

    How about Maxi Rodriguez's woeful miss against Chelsea? Will that bring his career to a premature end?

  • Comment number 32.

    28. At 11:21am on 08 Feb 2011, Westdrop wrote:
    I know this gets said quite a lot on here and I don't want to turn it into some sort of love fest but this is once more the best blog and debate of any sporting subject on the bbc by a country mile

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

    That's because Tim's blog never takes the patronising tone that many other BBC bloggers/contributors/journalists seem to think they are duty-bound to take.

    This is one of the feww BBC blogs that appreciates that football is a truly global game and does not assume that the readers are all spotty adolescents or knuckle-dragging neanderthals with Sky Sports subscriptions. Tim writes a blog assuming that his audience are intelligent adults with an enquiring mind about the global game of football, which does him great credit and therefore is one of the few bright spots of the BBC football coverage, television and online.

  • Comment number 33.

    31: Sure it will make the blooper reels but Maxi will recover to score more goals

  • Comment number 34.

    @ 15: In the case of Elano, he was playing at the best Brazilian club at the time, alongside a host of future stars, none of whom would have gone to Europe if they could have achieved anything close to the same success at home. however, at that time - even more than today - it was a question of when, not if they would make the move. Over the course of 3 years Santos lost Elano, Diego, Robinho, Alex, Renato, Léo and Ricardo Oliveira.
    Further to Jordan Cooper's question/Tim's answer at the start, I think Elano has paid a price for not being a self-promoter. He was the unsung hero of the great 2002-2005 sides, playing equally well in a variety of different positions (RB, defensive midfield, attacking midfield, winger and striker), according to requirements and popping up to score some vital and often spectacular goals. His move to the Ukraine helped put Shaktar on the map as a growing force, yet was not at unqualified success. At MC he quickly became an idol, but the club changed managers and his friend Robinho was clearly unhappy at the club. The move to Turkey basically helped secure his place in the Brazil side, and the nasty injury that kept him out of the game against Holland was probably one of the prime factors in Brazil's elimination (along with the unavailability of his obvious replacement). With Santos keen to land a third Libertadores title and showcase their young stars into the bargain, his return is both welcome and a sensible move, because of his skill, versatility and down to earth professional attitude, but also because of his experience at the highest level of the game.

  • Comment number 35.

    @ 24: great feedback Rob!

  • Comment number 36.

    "a glance at the tournament table" and "Ecuador would be topping the group"?

    Why no link to it?

  • Comment number 37.

    @bosterososvigilante

    To answer your question about Redknapp regarding his knowledge about Sandro... he compared him to Socrates.. so yeah, I guess that answers you hahaha

  • Comment number 38.

    About the U20 competition going on in South America..

    Call me crazy, but Ive been much more impressed by Lucas, a Xavi esque sort of player, than by Neymar.. The number10 who I never had heard about before dribbles with more ease and with more control of his body, while Neymar dribbles well when close to the box, but when not, he dribbles in the wrong times, and prefers to fall then to give a pass..

    Lucas fits perfect in a Barcelona side to replace Xavi IMO, do you agree Tim" does he have any attitude problems

  • Comment number 39.

    @ 37: not sure that comparing Sandro to Socrates reflects knowledge of the two players concerned, to be quite honest. Will watch Sandro like a hawk from now on for evidence of this unexpected creative genius (I'm not saying Sandro is poor - it's far too soon to judge anyway - just comparing styles that I suspect are quite different).

  • Comment number 40.

    38 - we're going to have to disagree about lucas. yes, he has some ability, he's quick and direct, quite strong as well - but xavi? lucas has no idea of dictating the rhythm of the game and no peripheral vision - he seems to be playing inside a tunnel. i don't know what he is yet, and i don't think he knows. an impact sub at top level, or playing wide right, perhaps.

  • Comment number 41.

    39 - i think harry conceded that when he made that comparison he hadn't actually seen sandro play

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Mr Vickery. Do you think Gerado Bruna will make it at Liverpool at all or anywhere professionally at all? He's currently 20 (Too old for the Under 20's Sudamericana I think.) and has featured at that level tho (Toulon Tournament I think) but I've noticed he's still in the reserves he joined when he was 16 from Real Madrid where he was highly rated.

    Has a good left foot and some intelligence on the ball and can spot a pass from what I've seen of him, more of a floating midfielder who plays between the lines than out wide and can take a mean free kick, but appears to lack stamina or dearing pace.

    But he doens't seem to be progressing into the first team or even improving his football on loan unfortunately.

    Or maybe he is a late developer?

  • Comment number 43.

    What is happening with Vasco da Gama at the moment? I know that generally Brazilian teams suffer from instability and the fact that any decent players are generally shipped abroad at the first sniff of cash such that a team's line up seems to be unrecognisable one end of the season compared to the other, but given that the other big Rio teams seem to have got their act together, why is it that Vasco show no signs of revival?

  • Comment number 44.

    Paraguay were poor against Ecuador and let it slip away against Colombia, in part I'm not worried, Paraguay always qualify with gritted teeth, but it's frustrating not to see them make the final round, do you see this merely as a blip or something more sinister in their progress?

  • Comment number 45.

    hey Tim, do Andre Rizek and Renato Maurício Prado agree on ANYTHING at all, when off the air, or its just on the show that they cant agree on anything?

    do you think its somewhat surprising that not even brazilian sports journalists agree with you on the question of state championships (when you said you would be saved of dipping your head into boiling water if the State Leagues were eliminated, Prado gave a resounding "no way")

    or the movement to end them has to come from the players... or from the clubs???


    Grêmio is using the State League to test the reserve squad... there probably wouldnt be such a good chance to do that if there was no state league... on the other hand, Renato Portaluppi didnt want to coach the reserve team on the away games in the interior cities of the state, so he could train the main team for the Libertadores, but the club president demanded Renato to coach the team in those games too.


    Thus, I just dont see that much support from the media and the clubs to end the State Leagues... as I said, you should do a much larger project about it, interview lots of people with different opinions, investigate this issue much deeper...

  • Comment number 46.

    45 - i honestly think the tide has turned on the issue of the state championships - i've never seen so much criticism of them in the brazilian media as in the last few weeks.

    JL Portella's column in Lance! last week was so damning i could have written it myself - on ronaldinho playing the state thingie i've gone with the comparison of buying a rolls royce and driving it on a dirt track - his was more brazilian - the rubber barons lighting their cigars with big banknotes.

    i think change will come from the clubs - but not until the golden rain from 2014 has fallen.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    Tim, your prediction turned out to be accurate in the end. If Marlon had netted the goal, Ecuador would've finished second and qualified for the first time to the Olympics...

  • Comment number 49.

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

  • Comment number 50.

    Anyone see this bit if sportsmanship later on in the competition? Just goes to show that the old South American attitude is destined to continue into the future: http://www.sickchirpse.com/2011/02/24/taking-diving-to-a-new-level/ it's a real lol

  • Comment number 51.

    Not quite sure how he missed that? 3-meters and over the bar... isn't that what we practice since the age of 5 or 6? I am Tim and I eat freeze dried food and won't miss from 3-meters.

 

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