BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for December 2009

A South American team for the Noughties

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Tim Vickery | 08:28 UK time, Monday, 28 December 2009

Last week Phil Minshull picked his European team of the decade - so I was asked to do the same for South America.

But what would be the criteria? Obviously in this globalised age the top South Americans play their club football on the other side of the Atlantic.

But European football is not my beat, and I don't watch enough of it to supply an authoritative opinion.

So if anyone wants to suggest a South American side based on club form, then use the space below - and let a hundred flowers bloom, a hundred schools of thought contend.

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Sabella excels as coach of Estudiantes

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Tim Vickery | 11:14 UK time, Monday, 21 December 2009

Pep Guardiola is piling up the titles with Barcelona, and doing it in style - but he must surely face some competition for any coach of the year award from the man whose team gave him a scare on Saturday - Alejandro Sabella of Argentine side Estudiantes.

Like Guardiola, Sabella is a first-time coach - though the Argentine does have many years experience as assistant to Daniel Passarella before being tempted to fly solo with Estudiantes, who are one of the clubs he played for, along with Leeds and Sheffield United.

Given the imbalance of forces, coming within two minutes of beating Barcelona and claiming the world crown is a remarkable achievement. And it is all the more extraordinary when placed in full context.

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Can Estudiantes redress balance of power between continents?

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Tim Vickery | 21:47 UK time, Sunday, 13 December 2009

One of football's strongest characteristics - often a blessing, occasionally a curse - is that the best side does not always win.

One example of this weekly phenomenon came 10 years ago, when Manchester United met Palmeiras of Brazil in the annual match then played in Japan between the champions of Europe and South America.

A moment of Ryan Giggs magic set up the only goal for Roy Keane - one of the very few chances United had. Palmeiras created many more, but the only time they got the ball into the net the goal was disallowed.

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Mixed fortunes for South Americans in draw

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Tim Vickery | 20:21 UK time, Saturday, 5 December 2009

I watched the World Cup draw in the offices of a Brazilian sports TV station.

Amid the hubbub, comments about Charlize Theron and arguments over Sunday's last round of the Brazilian championship, there was a single moment of silence - following the gasp when Group G was completed by the inclusion of Portugal.

Last week I mentioned that Brazil were due a difficult group - now they certainly have one.

Their draw started benevolently enough with North Korea. But then came Ivory Coast, considered by many as Africa's leading challengers. And then Portugal.

Whatever their problems in qualification, the Portuguese line-up commands respect. And so three top teams will battle for two places.

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