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Copa promises thrilling knockout phase

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Tim Vickery | 12:12 UK time, Monday, 26 April 2010

Without Colombian defender Luis Amaranto Perea, Liverpool may well have returned from last week's Europa League clash with Atletico Madrid with a vital away goal.

Perea made his name in another red shirt, that of Medellin back in Colombia, after first working at their stadium selling ice creams and in 2003 he was one of the star attractions in a side that reached the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores.

Seven years later in the same competition Medellin have paraded a young defender with many of the same attributes. Leiton Jimenez has a similar slight build and like Perea, he is not great on the ball, but he has an excellent anticipation, recovers quickly, times his tackles well and takes responsibility for things around him.

Jimenez is 21 this Monday, and can celebrate his birthday by looking back with pleasure on a promising Libertadores campaign, even though they fell short of reaching the knockout stages.

Medellin conceded just four goals in their six group games, but selling centre-forward Jackson Martinez to Mexico on the eve of the competition fatally undermined their hopes and they only scored three times and failed to make it through.

This constant selling in South America means that there are always opportunities for good young players and though Jimenez will not be in action, there are plenty of other names for the notebook lining up this week when the knockout phase gets underway.

Banfield of Argentina have a left-footed Colombian midfielder, James Rodriguez, who seems destined for great things and Nacional of Uruguay have gangling centre-back Sebastian Coates.

James Rodriguez playing for Banfield against Deportivo CuencaJames Rodriguez (right) could be one of the young stars of the Copa Libertadores - pic: Getty

Raul Fernandez of Universitario (Peru) is an athletic goalkeeper, while Libertad of Paraguay have been doing some excellent youth development work and it will be worth a look at right wing-back Victor Hugo Ayala, tricky little right-sided striker Rodolfo Gamarra and lanky left-footed centre-forward Pablo Velazquez.

But as well as the up and comers, the Libertadores also showcases some old timers who are aiming to round off their careers in style.

In recent years one of the competition's most interesting sub-plots has been the efforts of Juan Sebastian Veron to emulate the achievements of his father in the red and white of Estudiantes.

Veron senior was the key man 40 years ago when the club won three Libertadores titles and one world crown. Last year his son played a key role in ending the long wait for title number four, and captained the side to within two minutes of becoming world club champions.

With Veron junior's mission at least partially accomplished, the spotlight this year falls on Ronaldo. His club, Corinthians of Sao Paulo, have never won the Libertadores. This is their centenary year, and they are desperate to put that right.

First, they must get past Flamengo of Rio in the undoubted tie of the round, a clash between Brazil's two most popular clubs. Wednesday's first leg takes place in Rio's giant Maracana stadium, with Corinthians at home in next week's return match.

Ronaldo is a Rio lad, and a Flamengo supporter. He has often talked about playing for the club and seemed on course to do so when he was training with them 18 months ago as he recovered from his latest knee injury.

Ronaldo (right) celebrates a goalRonaldo (right) has been plagued by injuries but still has an eye for goal - pic: Getty

Flamengo, though, wanted to wait to be certain he would make a full recovery, Corinthians quickly offered terms, and the player was off to Sao Paulo - leaving the Flamengo fans feeling betrayed.

The great number nine, then, can expect an icy reception - it didn't happen last year as Ronaldo was injured when Corinthians came to town - but can he shut the fans up?

Over the last few years he has been unable to put together a sustained spell of form and fitness, but he has been very dangerous whenever he has wanted to prove a point.

In 2009, he thoroughly enjoyed silencing those who thought he was finished. He was certainly carrying some excess weight, but when it mattered he always seemed to get in front of the defender.

He has always been a magnificent finisher, and over time has developed an understanding of how to drop deeper and combine with his team-mates. His goals carried Corinthians to victory in the Brazilian Cup, which qualified them for this year's Libertadores.

Then came more injuries and an apparent loss of motivation. With a sense of mission accomplished, he and the club did little in the second half of last year's league campaign, and this year Ronaldo has been sleepwalking through the Sao Paulo State Championship and the group stage of the Libertadores.

The time has come to wake up. Can Ronaldo turn the clock back once more? Will he produce another majestic comeback, like Muhammad Ali against George Foreman? Or, like Ali against Larry Holmes, is it now too late for the tap to be turned on at will?

Perhaps that last comparison is not appropriate. One of the explanations for Ali's pitiful performance against Holmes in 1980 was that for reasons of vanity he had paid too much attention to getting his weight down.

That's unlikely to be a problem for the 2010 model Ronaldo!

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Other 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) There seems to be a lot of Brazilians that move to eastern European countries such as Russia, which seems quite strange considering the drastic climate change. Do they see this as a stepping stone to a possible move to central Europe or are there other reasons?
Chris Cleary

A) The reason is money. Clubs from Russia and Ukraine are now paying very well, and professional footballers will always follow the money. Some have gone thinking of it as a stepping stone to western Europe, but then they've been earning so well that they end up staying longer.

It's worth putting this in perspective, though. When I first moved to Brazil, England was seen as a strange destination, it was all Italy and Spain. Word soon made its way round that the Premier League was paying well, and now it's one of the favoured destinations.

Q) I was wondering what the story was with Esteban Cambiasso and Maradona, how come he's never been called up for the national team under Maradona? His defensive and his passing capability would prove an asset to any squad - surely Maradona can't afford to ignore him?
Wasim Akram

Q) He got on as a sub in the 2-1 defeat by Spain last November, so Maradona had a little look at him there. I think it's probably true that his lobby is far bigger in Europe than in Argentina.

It's often overlooked that Maradona inherited a team in some turmoil; they won just one of the last seven World cup qualifiers under Alfio Basile. Cambiasso often played in the side, and not particularly well. Perhaps he loses out through not being outstanding in any department - Mascherano defends better, Veron passes better. But Cambiasso does have a great platform to push for a squad place with Inter's continued involvement in the Champions League.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Tim excellent as always, but who is that picture of at the top of the page?? it bears no resemblence to your old one whatsoever!!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Tim. Good article as usual. Interesting to see you mentioned the young players coming through at Libertad, although I think you missed 2. Miguel Samudio is already and international, back up to Claudio Morel and Aureliano Torres at LB. And this year we've seen glimpses of the potential of Alborno. He's only 16 and has played some good games in the Libertadores.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi Tim

    I'm just back from a 3 week holiday to Brazil, loved it, what an amazing country. I managed to take in a few football matches while I was there, impressed by the atmospheres at each ground I visited. I wondered what your thoughts on the World Cup taking place over there are. I understand a lot of work needs to be done on public transport in cities such as Rio and Sao Paulo so fans can actually get to the games. Its pretty much certain that the final will be in Rio but what about the opening ceremony. I know everyone in Sao Paulo is hoping it will take place at the Morumbi but are convinced there is some sort of conspiracy to prevent this happening. What do you think?

  • Comment number 4.

    Hey Tim,

    I'm in Guaruja for the next month or so and with Santos just a ferry away they've got a big following here.

    I was just wondering about Neymar - as there's talk that Real Madrid made an offer for him last week after he scored 5 goals (I can't remember who against) which was turned down

    Also, there's talk about him maybe getting into the World Cup squad - is this a possibility?

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Tim,

    Yes, Medellin have certainly missed Jackson Martinez - he is an undoubted talent and one we were always going to find difficult to replace. However, I do not believe his leaving was the primary reason for not qualifying for the knockout stage. Our main problem was that we had to play two of our home games, against Corinthians and Racing Montevideo who were the decent teams in our group, as effectively away games. Against Corinthians we had to play in Millonarios' stadium in Bogota and against Racing we played in Manizales in Once Caldas' stadium. This meant that we played with a 'Libertadores away-game attitude', hence the draws.

    This is my problem with the Libertadores - the attitude of teams when they play away from home. Presumably due to the long distance travelling and lack of European style comfort on the journeys, and the lack of away fans to spur them on, all teams seem to want to play for the draw only and spend most of the game trying to waste time, get through the 90 minutes, and get home as quickly as possible. For instance, in the 89th minute when we were playing Corinthians (in Bogota) they had a corner and the score was 1-1 but they took it short and continued to waste time instead of going for the win. And this was a time when they had not sewn up the group.

    Oh, and on Ronaldo, he was about as effective and useful as a sack of spuds - and he looked like one too!

    Anyway, my question to you Tim is: Do you agree with me on the problem of the attitude of away teams in the Libertadores? For me, it makes the games rather unwatchable and boring when there is only one team interested in winning or in playing football. If you agree, how do you think the away-game approach can be 'fixed'?

    Many regards
    Tom

    P.S. Thanks for all your postings - for me they are by far the most interesting of the BBC blogs.

  • Comment number 6.

    Tim, given the precariousness of the LB position for Brazil, what are your thoughts on Maxwell of Barcelona?

  • Comment number 7.

    Tim, any comment about the bizarre sacking of Fla's Andrade last week? He won the Brazilian title for them, got them into the ko stages of the Libertadores (albeit unconvincingly) and to the final of the Paulista and yet is rewarded with the boot. I see from the local rags that the players are not too happy about the decision (many turned their backs on the club president when she visited them at training) which hasn't yet been fully explained.

  • Comment number 8.

    Tim, fantastic as usual.

    It's interesting how players like Verón and Ronaldo have, to some extent at least, rediscovered their "glory years" back in South America. It goes to show that Verón is a player of top, top quality, in spite of what all the ignorant Man Utd fans might say or think. How Fergie - and Ranieri at Chelsea - couldn't get the best out of a player with such technical ability, creativity and vision absolutely amazes me.

    As for Ronaldo, enormous credit has to be given to his mental strength - and the medical team at Corinthians! - for getting back at all. It's such a shame that he's been majorly unlucky with his knee injuries; he could well have broken all goalscoring records that have been, had he not been hit so badly with the knee problems.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have seen Perea play well in just two matches....
    Atletico's win against Barca in teh Calderon earlier this season.. and against Liverpool on Thursday.

    He is much critized in Spain, and rightly so.
    He is very fast, I'll give him that, but his absolute lack of technique and footballing ability ( the opposite of the colombian stereotype ), and his ability to be one of the most error prone defenders I've seen in top flight football, make him over the last few seasons one of La liga's worst defenders...

  • Comment number 10.

    #8

    Typical numpty ABU comment. Veron is a fantastic player, that utd didn't get to see the best of. He used to excel far more in the CL games that the PL, at a guess due to the differences in the pace. I agree SAF didn't get the best out of him and, should have postioned him differently. We missed someone of his passing ability when he left.

    apologies for the rushed grammer.

  • Comment number 11.

    7# Flamengo is a rio club, they dont play in the paulista state championship fella !

  • Comment number 12.

    Excellent read as always, staying on the topic of vanity can I mention your unfortunate new photo? I had a similar experience myself when getting one taken for my work ID. I didn't want the attractive woman who took it to think I was vain so just said "yeah that'll do" in a deep voice, that was 3 years ago and I've been getting stick for that picture ever since. I suspect you had a similar experience (or lost a bet?).

  • Comment number 13.

    # 8 I think it was covered above but to call Man Utd fans ignorant is just plain daft.. He didn't do well at Utd so the fans were disappointed.. which is understandable as he was a record buy at that time..

    He has since grafted away and is achieving success again which is testament to his ability and character.. there is no need to use him as a tool to have a pop at clubs or individuals.

  • Comment number 14.

    Too bad the club you haven't mentioned on this post (Sao Paulo FC) is the one that's gonna win the Libertadores Cup. Bye.

  • Comment number 15.

    I wonder if Ronaldo will play again... he is getting fatter and fatter. Last I heard, Corinthians coach Mano Menezes barred him from the team (and picked a fight with the club directors) because Ronaldo was weighting 110 kg!!!

    Flamengo was lucky to reach the elimination rounds of the Libertadores. One reason for the sacking of Andrade. Fact is that Flamengo is a messy team, specially in its management side. There are internal fights nobody outside knows about, because they didnt keep discipline, giving special priviledges to crazy Adriano, who each times deserve more his Emperor title... like Nero or Caligula...

    Remember that Flamengo only was champion last year because its last match was against Gremio... and if Gremio won, its cross-town archrival would be the champion. Nobody in the world will admit it, Gremio neither... but come on... lets say Barcelona depends on a Real Madrid win to win the spanish title... and Real Madrid DOES NOT needs that win for anything.


    #5 - the Libertadores has its own play style. Brazilian clubs like to hire coaches who are specialist at Libertadores... because clubs NEED to play different to win it. Thats what Mano Menezes is doing with Corinthians. He has adapted the team and tactics to the Libertadores. Many brazilian clubs already tried to play differently and failed miserably. Libertadores is a war where everything is valid.
    Part of it is to blame on CONMNEBOL. While in Brazil, if a fan throws an empty plastic bottle inside the pitch, the stadium can be suspended for a couple of matches, at Libertadores, fans hurl everything inside the pitch, fights are much more common... its a WILD PLACE... and Conmebol doesnt punish ANYTHING...

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Tim,

    I was wondering how the other members of Uruguay's talented under 20 squad from last year's world cup are getting on, I know Lodeiro is at Ajax. Have any of the other players moved on?

    Thanks Iain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Tim,

    I was just wondering what you thought of Wellington Silva, the 16 year old Fluminese player who Arsenal signed for around 3.5 million. Is it too early for him, or will he be able to adapt?

    Keep up the good work

  • Comment number 18.

    As usual, the knock stage of the Copa Libertadores is interesting. But this year's knock out stage seems interesting as ever! As we have Brazilian Giants Corinthians and Flamengo, Sao Paolo, Internacional and Cruzeiro, winners Estudiantes and former cup holders Velez, Once Caldas and Nacional from Uruguay.

    With the game Corinthians vs. Flamengo as cracker!
    A very exiting Copa!

  • Comment number 19.

    Wednesday nights game is going to be fatty Ronaldo against not quite so fatty Adriano, there is talk around here that Adriano has not trained for some time, which seems likely if his performance against Botafogo was anything to go by.
    Why does everyone praise Ronaldo so much? sure he was good once..but now he hardly ever plays a full game and his injuries are more from age than playing, no one ( or hardly anyone) ever tackles him, and he almost never drops back to defend or even to assist in midfield.Corinthians almost always seem to play more as a team when he is not playing.

    Flamengo were so lucky last wednesday agaist Caracas (not sure of the spelling) and the second Caracas goal was just beautiful .Flamego have some good players with Vagner Love being one of their most dangerous, he always seems to be able to pull out a goal when it is needed.

    Very difficult to choose which team will win as both have been defeated by Botafogo within the last week, but I think Flamengo will nick it.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Tim

    I was listening to the world football phone where Argentina's four centre backs defence was discussed. Has Maradona actually said this is his template going forward? It seems to me this is aimed at stronger teams to cover Argentina's defensive defiencies. His teams against weaker teams are surely likely to be less conservative. Or am I completely wrong.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hello Tim,

    Not sure about your knowledge of Mexican football as you seem more of a South America specialist, particularly Brazil, but do you know much about the young striker Manchester United have signed, Javier "Chicharito" Hernández at Chivas de Guadalajara? He's going to join United in the summer, pending a work permit application.

    I have checked out a few youtube videos and seen examples of some nice finishing, but almost every player can look good scoring goals in youtube videos. What kind of player is he, and can he adapt to the English Premiership? (anyone else can reply if you know much about him)

  • Comment number 22.

    #10 & #13 - thanks ever so much for taking that bait; you've made my afternoon that little bit better. :-D

    You two seem to be the only Man Utd fans I've ever heard speak respectfully about Verón - and, coming from Preston, I'm surrounded by them. The same things always get said about Diego Forlán, too, another player who 'SAF' couldn't reach out to, yet look at how well he's done over recent campaigns.

    It's funny how there's barely any South Americans who have flourished at United: dare I go as far as to say it's down to Fergie's man-management skills? I guess that would be one hell of a maggot to stick on the end of my fishhook...

  • Comment number 23.

    To 22. Gabriel Heinze was quality at left back until Patrice Evra arrived. You say that there's barely any South Americans who have flourished at Man Utd but then there's barely any South Americans who have played at Man Utd: Veron, Forlan, Heinze, Kleberson, Anderson, Rafael and Fabio are the only ones. If you look at the success rate of South Americans adapting to Man Utd, it mirrors England as a whole. Elano and Robinho struggled to settle at Man City too, and there are more examples.

  • Comment number 24.

    Antonio Valencia too, and he has been a success!

  • Comment number 25.

    @22 to be fair, not many have played for man u. There have been the cases of veron and forlan, as mentioned, plus kleberson, none of whom did particularly well. But we also have Valencia, Rafel and Fabio, who you can't say have done badly (yet). Rafael and Fabio are obviously players for the future, so only time will tell if they succeed or not.
    The same can also be said of players at other clubs. Crespo, Veron and Pizarro at Chelsea. Cordone, Acuña Gavilan et al (with the exception of Asprilla) at Newcastle.
    I'm hoping Da Silva and Riveros (when he signs) at Sunderland will be in the succes group, same goes for Roque and Tacuara (first if he stays, second if he signs).

  • Comment number 26.

    I have a question about Internazionale's midfielder Thiago Motta, who also spent 8 years at Barcelona. How come this player hasn't been capped for Brazil yet? I have followed him for over a year since he moved to Genoa and he's been nothing short of impressive. If you had to choose between Thiago Motta and Josue or Jose Kleberson for instance, surely you'd pick Thiago Motta, right?

  • Comment number 27.

    23 & 25: I understand that not many South Americans have come to the Premiership as a whole, let alone Man Utd. But what I will say is that all of those players were either proven/had shown a lot of promise before going to United (Verón, Kleberson and Forlán fit in here), none of them achieved anything like their best form while at United. Granted, Valencia is doing pretty well, and Rafael and Fabio perhaps shouldn't be judged just yet. I disagree about Heinze: during his first season, he showed a lot of promise, but then went off the boil quite dramatically (and hasn't quite recovered, from what I understand).

    And #23, to say that not many South Americans have done well in England is pretty flawed: I seem to recall a couple of Argentines called Villa and Ardiles who didn't do too badly for Spurs; Elano had a very good first season at City, but got somewhat marginalised under Hughes; Juninho at 'Boro was probably one of the best attacking midfielders the Premiership's ever seen; Gilberto at Arsenal; Gomes at Spurs; Rodallega at Wigan; Denílson at Arsenal...there's plenty of South Americans who have taken to the English league with some degree of ease.

  • Comment number 28.

    On Veron I agree with #10 and #13, Veron was a great player who came at the wrong time. In Europe he had some excellent matches but he came at a time when SAF was nursing Keane through his final years. That loyalty also put paid to Kleberson although he seemed lightweight for the role he was signed for. I wouldn't put it down to SAF's man management skills as he is outstanding, more the rigours of playing at the sharp end of the premiership week in week out. As mentioned Valencia, Rafael and Fabio have been very good (as South American talent). And I am still hopeful for Anderson.

    Brazilians as a rule seem to find it difficult to settle in Britain - I'm sure there are reasons but its probably only matter of time when one truly makes his mark and this will inspire others to take his lead.

    The only Brazilians that have played any length of time for a top club are at Arsenal and the jury is still out on them. As for Argentinians Tevez and Heinze seemed to adapt well but they obviously couldn't keep it going under pressure. Heinze got eclipsed by a hard working Evra and didn't like it, Tevez wasn't paid the earth and he didn't like it! We haven't given up though if the rumours linking us with Aguerro are true!

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't really like it when Crespo is labelled a flop at Chelsea, he scored 20 goals in 49 appearances which is a pretty good strike rate considering he had never played in the Premiership before. The reason he was loaned out was because Mourinho didn't like him that much and so he was playing second fiddle to Drogba. Crespo is usually seen as a finisher and he fulfilled that role at Chelsea enough to not be labelled a flop in my opinion.

  • Comment number 30.

    At 27. I could probably give you a longer list of the South Americans who have failed (remember Isaias at Coventry? Mario Jardel? No, you probably wouldn't!) but I'd be here all evening! You probably named all the successes in your post there. I also agree that Crespo was a fine player and successful when he did play for Chelsea, but he preferred Italy and the Italian game, that's for sure - as did Veron.

  • Comment number 31.

    ha ha 15: Poor Brasilians being fined for throwing plastic bottles inside the stadium.
    The last 2 times River played Libertadores knock out matches in Brasil the coach didnt have any windows left by the time it got to the stadium. The River players as you can imagine didnt worry too much about the cold at that stage.seems the Brasilian police dont find any problem in this but then when the "fans" get in throwing the plastic ones must seem a little anti climatic

  • Comment number 32.

    #30: Of course I remember Mario Jardel and Isaias. I don't know why you would assume otherwise. :-s

    I've named probably as many successes as I could think of at the time. Of course the list of "flop" South Americans will be longer, and the same will probably be true of all foreign players that have come to play in the English league!

    Statistically, Crespo was reasonably successful, but it doesn't stand up that his performances were anything like those while he was at Inter and Lazio.

    And yes, of course SAF's man-management skills are very good; that was merely a speculative jibe that got a few of you roused, as was its objective. I don't think he's as good a manager as everyone makes out, but that's a debate for another time.

    Oh, and @28: "Tevez wasn't paid the earth and didn't like it." - he probably should've been; he's done a damn sight better than, speaking of flops, Berbatov, this season and last. Tevez is a terrific player, and has been the main reason behind City's rise this season. Anyone who questions his ability seriously needs a trip to the psychiatrist's.

  • Comment number 33.

    ok so back to the topic on hand, i can see flamengo x corinthians being labelled as the block buster clash of the copa, but often its the little, lesser known teams that provide the best football. also i'm not sure how well fla would recover from sacking it's manager and a bit of a lull since winning the brasileirao last season. corinthians, as one poster above noted, seem well set up to specifically play in copa to advance. with or without o fenomeno. it's no secret that ronaldo's best yrs are behind him, but those of you bashing ronaldo for his weight are watching football for the wrong reasons. appreciate what he's done for the sport, and if you are a corinthians fan, hope that he recovers some motivation to get timao far. my club sao paulo fc (any bias aside) i think has the best shot among brasilian clubs to go far though.

    vamos tricolor paulista!

  • Comment number 34.

    @ Kevin

    I do agree.

    One gets the feeling that Fergie isn't capable of getting the best out of South American players for some reason. People go on about what a fantastic manager he is, and the trophies he has won would speak for him, but Veron, Forlan, Kleberson point to something different. The end of Tevez's United career ended on the back pages of the dailies. He sidelined Heinze, in favour of Evra, then proceeded to prevent him joining Liverpool in a messy transfer saga. Man Utd came so close to signing Ronaldinho in 2003, and I remember reading somewhere then the he chose Barcelona instead because of the "Fergie" factor. Out of the failed stints of South Americans at Old Trafford, Kleberson's irked me the most as he was arguably the best midfielder in Brazil prior to his transfer.

    You will find that South American players do better at clubs managed by Latin European managers, due to cultural affinities, amd also at clubs that have a history of successfully managing South American players. Chelsea have Biletti, Alex, Deco on their books with Di Santo out on loan. All these players have performed quite well for Chelsea. Carlo Ancelotti having managed AC Milan and players like Kaka, Pato and Ronaldinho will have experience with South American players. This is a crucial factor in attracting other South American players to the club. Insua and Maxi Rodriguez at Liverpool, due to Rafa is another example. Gilberto and Edu at Arsenal, Gomez at Tottenham are examples where man-management and sticking with players through inconsistencies are key.

    Crespo wasn't a flop at Chelsea, he just never settled in England due to the weather and cultural differences despite his decent goals record, even scoring more goals in the league than Drogba in 05/06.

    There seems to be a common misconception, that when a player who had performed well in another league, fails to do so in the English Premier League, he isn't a good player. Or that a play has to excel in England to be a true world great. I have heard some people say that Messi could not cut it the Premiership. Veron is always used as an example of an overrated player because he couldn't play consistently well like his Lazio days. What a load of trash. Players can fail to settle due to footballing, tactical or cultural differences. Henry, arguably the Premiership's greatest never lit up Serie A at Juventus. Dennis Berkamp, worshipped at Arsenal, didn't fare too well at Inter Milan. Viera was benched at AC Milan by Capello. Ian Rush is another example.

  • Comment number 35.

    One of the comments mentioned that the president of Flamengo was a woman ... I just looked Patrícia Amorim up ... wow. That's a surprise. (In a good way.) There are so few women in men's football, let alone being the president of one of the top clubs in a very macho/patriarchal society.

    So I did some googling. Born in 1969, she was one of four women Brazil sent to the Seoul Games in 1988 ( http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/athletes/am/patricia-amorim-1.html ). She has been at Flamengo - which is a multi-sport club (swimming, basketball, gymnastics, football, etc) - since she was four. She won the election for overall club president because she ran a smart campaign - in contrast, the football contender (Delair Dumb-rosk) screwed up his campaign so badly that he managed to lose the club election by nearly a hundred votes (out of 2400 or so) the day after the football team won the league. The football side of the club is terrified that she'll pay more attention to Olympic sports. (Ah, turf wars...)

    She (et al) fired title-winning coach Andrade two days ago and was reportedly talking of hiring AC Milan coach Leonardo. (Is that possible or just hot air?)

    Hope she does well... I'm sure a lot of people - both men and football supporters - would be delighted to see her fail. Any comments on her, Tim, and on women in South American men's football in general?

  • Comment number 36.

    Great blog as usual, was wondering if you could give any insight on United's latest South American import, Javier Hernandez? Looking forward to seeing him hopefully feature for Mexico in SA but do you think he's got what it takes to make an impact at United?

  • Comment number 37.

    Mario Jardel and Isaias flops? Both are legends in Portugal and won titles here are some facts:

    - Jardel (4 Portuguese Leagues 3 at Porto and 1 at Sporting) European Golden boot 42 league goals, 1 UEFA cup with galatasaray and various other domestic cups.

    - Isaias (2 Portuguese championships Benfica, and 2 goals against Arsenal at highbury in the first ever edition of the Champions league, Benfica qualified at Arsenal's expense. Both were league champions at the time) At coventry he was at the end of his carrer went for the money.


    If these 2 are flops, I don't know who isn't.

  • Comment number 38.

    Think you've gone a bit mental here Tim, Perea to Ronaldo via Larry Holmes!? (was it just a pretty link for your european readership?) Boxing analogies aside you managed to sum up the chances of a few Libertadores teams and highlight some players to look out for.

    Perea was awesome against 'pool, and something tells me there is a little left in the Ronaldo + R. Carlos engine room, what a story a Corinthians Copa win would be!

  • Comment number 39.

    #32 "Oh, and @28: "Tevez wasn't paid the earth and didn't like it." - he probably should've been; he's done a damn sight better than, speaking of flops, Berbatov, this season and last. Tevez is a terrific player, and has been the main reason behind City's rise this season. Anyone who questions his ability seriously needs a trip to the psychiatrist's."

    I might be alone but of the two I prefer Berba at least for United. Tevez and Rooney were very similar players and as a result were often played interchangeably while Ronaldo was still at the club which wasn't great. However, when Ronaldo left he would have got more game time but chose to join City. Reports say we offered 25 million and I understand City paid more than 40 million so we weren't going to pay that much. But for me Berba offers a different type of play which is good when one approach doesn't work.

    In summary he's a good player but for United not worth over 40 million. In retrospect Berba probably wasn't worth what we paid but we are where we are. I wasn't gutted when Tevez left - he was never a favourite of mine but we probably could have done with him this season. He's also prone to making silly comments to the media. However for the money City spent he was never an option for us while we have other areas to strengthen.

  • Comment number 40.

    Sorry last comment was at #32

  • Comment number 41.

    #15- That's pure whining from the ones that didn't win the title. You know how many games Gremio won last year away from home in the Brazilian League? ZERO. That's right, 0 wins. To say they only lost against the BEST team in the league in the final match because they wanted to lose is non-sense.

  • Comment number 42.

    #31- That's exactly the point he was making: CONMEBOL doesn't do anything. The River matches were from Libertadores.

    In the Brazilian league, I remember Flamengo had to play one match in an empty stadium a couple of years ago because the fans threw one Coca-Cola can at the referee at half-time. In Libertadores, much worse things happen and the clubs get away with it.

  • Comment number 43.

    Go on then may as well chip in with my tuppence worth on the 'all South Americans are flops in England' views that are floating around.

    Hits - Sylvinho at Arsenal (+ G.Silva to some extent), Masch at Liverpool, Zarate at B'ham, Poyet at Chelsea and Spurs, Asprilla at Newcastle, Juninho at Boro (at least one of the ventures) and the original north-east venturer Mirandinha (now scout at former team Newcastle United)

  • Comment number 44.

    #34 Can't agree with those comments about SAF. They are very much back page comments probably based as much on hearsay as any fact. SAF is a great manager but he is a man and he won't always get on with certain types of personality its true. However good a coach you have to get on as people. But Ronaldinho comes out with so many reported comments its hard to know which are true. Even if he did his true feelings were probably held back. The rest is filled in by hack page psychiatrists. That said had we bought him we wouldn't have got Ronaldo.

    As for Heinze he was going off the boil and SAF got annoyed with him because he missed so much of the season on international duty and it eventually got in the way of the number of appearances we got out of him with him being injured plus he was another who spewed off to the media. At the same time Evra had a blistering second season and if you want my honest opinion Heinze got far too much game play in his final season and he probably didn't feel like fighting for his place.

    As for selling to Liverpool that was just never going to happen. Transfers just never go directly between clubs either way. I don't know if it was ignorance of the relationship between the clubs or Rafa using it as a way of winding up United. Probably a bit of both. I can tell you now though no United fan would have been happy if that transation took place. I for one was happy Evra was made number one and happy to see the back of him both for footballing and attitude reasons.

  • Comment number 45.

    Fatman Ronaldo & Has-Been Roberto Carlos vs Wagner Love & Party Animal Adriano, I dunno man I'm putting my money on Flamengo, even though they're bordering on falling apart at the seams (Petkovic's failed drug tests along with Adriano returning to his Inter-Milan party days)... For me Botafogo has the most interesting squad I've seen from the Rio clubs, the Herrera/Abreu tandem can't be beat.

    Tim what's your take on Diego Souza, I think he's the Brazilian Steven Gerrard, his cannonball shot reminds me of the Gerrard's goals in the 2006 World Cup.

  • Comment number 46.

    On the whole Veron at United issue; a lot of people seem to be forgetting that the other four midfielders in the mix were Giggs, Beckham, Scholes and Keane all pretty much in there prime. It was always going to be very difficult to allow Veron the creative freedom a player like him needs so be trully effective, with such great creative players in the midfield along side him. I don't think it is fair to critisise either him of Sir Alex in regards to the impact he had at Old Trafford.

    I did however, used to love watching him and Beckham warm up together before the games. They would stand on oppisite sides of the pitch and just ping the ball to each other back and forth with pin point accuracy. It was pretty rare either one of them ever needed to move a muscle to get to it!

  • Comment number 47.

    @26 - Motta was pushing hard to Fifa to be allowed to play for Italy (despite having played for Brazil in the 2003 Gold Cup.) I don't think Dunga has looked upon that too favourably.

  • Comment number 48.

    # 22 Fair enough if that was a wee grenade thrown in there to get some conversation started.. not a Man Utd fan though.. unfortunately a Celtic fan here..

    on the list of S Americans in the premiership can I throw in Emerson at Middlesborough.. Used to love watching his all action style and the hair obviously caught the eye too!!

    The cynical will say they have stayed for their large wages but you have to give props to Coloccini and Spiderman at Newcastle.. they are sometime Argentinian internationals and have went down to the Championship and completely mucked in for the team and had a cracking season..

  • Comment number 49.

    Great blog as usual Tim, I was just wondering. Seeing as there is such a large diaspora of Irish immigrants in Argentina, have you ever heard of a professional footballer from Argentina with Irish ancestry? If so have they ever considered playing for Ireland?

  • Comment number 50.

    At 37. I think you missed my point.

    I'm well aware that Isaias and Mario Jardel were very successful in Portugal.

    There are plenty of reasons why players fail in certain leagues or at certain clubs, regardless of where they are from -age, fitness, motivation, cultural differences, adaptation issues, etc. You could write a book about it, never mind a blog post.

    At 43 - I also mentioned the 'success ratio' of South Americans adapting to England. It's pretty low, if you compare it to Scandinavian, French, and Dutch players for example. I'm sure there are reasons for that, discussed by plenty of commentators. But I never said the statement 'all South Americans fail in England'- which is obviously untrue.

    On the Tevez posts: Tevez is a fantastic player, and another S.American at Man Utd that I'd forgotten. He is also a success but there were issues with his ownership that City resolved but Man Utd did not want to be involved in. In regards to Ferguson's man management of him, Tevez never learned fluent english so they often spoke through interpreters or through Queiroz. I think Man Utd got their 2 years out of him and I think that's what most clubs, if you look at his career, get out of Tevez.

    At 34. If you have read interviews with Forlan, he speaks well of Ferguson and he and Ferguson have communicated with each other since Forlan left man Utd. He doesn't have a bad word to say about him, apart from the fact that he wanted to play and start more games. You have to remember Forlan was competing with Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for a striker place at Man Utd while he was there.

    One final comment on South American players in England- there have been a handful of outstanding successes, some moderate successes and many failures. Perhaps, though, english clubs haven't always been able to sign the best South Americans. Over the years players like Batistuta, Salas, Zamorano, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Kaka have never come here, to name a few- I'm sure many of those players would have been fantastic successes in english football and could play in any league.

  • Comment number 51.

    43. At 11:45pm on 26 Apr 2010, Dr Wang wrote:
    Go on then may as well chip in with my tuppence worth on the 'all South Americans are flops in England' views that are floating around.

    Hits - Sylvinho at Arsenal (+ G.Silva to some extent), Masch at Liverpool, Zarate at B'ham, Poyet at Chelsea and Spurs, Asprilla at Newcastle, Juninho at Boro (at least one of the ventures) and the original north-east venturer Mirandinha (now scout at former team Newcastle United)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Deary me... G.Silva "to some extent" the extent that the world cup winner was at the heart of the invincibles arsenal midfield of 2004, won the 2003 & 2005 FA Cup, Runner up in the CL Final of 2006, scored the first competetive goal at the emirates and above all else captained arsenal on numerous occasions. Sell the guy short why don't you. I'd argue and i'm sure most gunner fans would too that he was far more of a success than Sylvinho.

    Juninho was a huge fans favourite in all his stints at Boro, and unfortunately whilst scintilating in 1996/1997 probably showed better consistency under McLaren years later, highlights during that spell? A hat trick at old trafford and a league cup winners medal.

    Mirandinha? Not remembered that fondly as I can recall. Poyet and Mascherano were always going to be a hit as their combative, physical style ideally suits the premiership. Asprilla, a poor goals return, and disrupted the team ethic of the 1996 title chasing Newcastle side. Apart from one fantastic night vs a newly formed Barcelona side I wouldn't have him in...Kevin Lisbie is not one of Englands best ever strikers because of a hat trick against Liverpool.

    I would however throw into the mix Edu, who overcame a shaky start to really perform well for arsenal. Valencia surely deserves a mention after a fine couple of seasons? On the whole though, I would prbably say that South American players fit a lot more comfortably into the Italian and Spanish systems.

  • Comment number 52.

    #37 - Mario Jardel and Isaias flops? Both are legends in Portugal...
    If these 2 are flops, I don't know who isn't

    What exactly did these 2 players do in England apart from pick up a wage?

    Here's a fact, nothing.

    Nobody claimed they weren't good players (I saw Jardel play in his prime and he was one of the best strikers I ever saw)

    But by the time he came over to play for Bolton age and insanity had taken their toll.

  • Comment number 53.

    Always happy to read your articles Tim.

    I have a question = what tv channels do I select to watch Brazilian football?

  • Comment number 54.

    49# i think Jose Luis Brown, who scored for argentina in the 86 WC final might have had irish ancestry

  • Comment number 55.

    Excellent blog as per Tim. Really fascinating getting such an insightful look to South American football.

    My question is just a repeat of what a previous member asked. United's new boy Hernandez. What do you make of him? Can he make it big? Or is this our attempt to bring in some Mexican fans and boost capital?

  • Comment number 56.

    @53

    You need to get hold of Globo TV which unfortunately needs a different dish and receiver to the Sky one but they do show loads of games each week. That or find a Brasilian bar - there are plenty in London who show games.

    Otherwise hop over to globo.com where you can watch loads of videos and match clips

  • Comment number 57.

    At 55. it's not a commercial move. A lot of people wonder why maybe Man Utd are not making a move for someone like Sergio Aguero. it's unlikely that Man Utd have the money to buy someone like Aguero, who would probably cost between £40m-£50m- by signing Hernandez, Utd are looking to bring in a gem and find a hot prospect more cheaply. I'm just wondering how much potential this kid has.

  • Comment number 58.

    One of the teams to follow in South-Africa - in my humble opinion - is Argentina. They have some of the best players you could wish for, right there in their squad. Technically they are perhaps even the best, but I wonder if they will produce against the more physical teams (I'm thinking of England and Germany and maybe even Italie). How will Maradona move his team? He has made a lot of changes to it, and the choices that he has to make aren't that easy. Exciting prospect!
    Too bad Belgium didn't make it though...

  • Comment number 59.

    Hi Tim very interesting article, I have been travelling around S. america for the last year and have watched football in every country. I must say that the Argentine league is the strongest one for me and I think that Velez or Estudiantes are favourites for the title. Also the reason that these S. American players are not as effective in the premiership is that they do not get as much time on the ball. The defending in most leagues in s. america is horrendous, I went to a cup game between Flamenco and Fluminese and players were literally walking around the defenders, there was no urgency to close down space. Also Adriano did not move more than 50 yds in the whole game and has to be the laziest player I have ever seen. If I was wagner Love I would have gone crazy!! Also a question for you, is this the first Copa Lib without one of the big five from Argentina not taking part? Personally I think that the winner will come from Estudiantes, Velez or maybe Sao Paolo. Vamos Argentina!

  • Comment number 60.

    No. 49

    The only two Argentine players of Irish descent I know of:

    Franco Niell, currently at Liga Deportiva de Quito.
    Jose Luis Brown, now a coach with AFA's youth teams system, World Cup winner 1986.

    There are or were a number of other players of British descent in the professional era. The one called El Ingles is now the president of Club Atletico Huracan in Buenos Aires, Carlos Babington, who played in Huracan's famous 1973 team (coached by Menotti) and in the Argentine team at the 1974 World Cup. There was also Daniel Willington of Velez Sarsfield. Both players were playmakers of immense talent, similar in style to Veron. In the 90's Carlos MacAllister was also a national team player of Scottish descent. I am not sure if current Al Ain's Jose Sand, who also played for the national team twice and if Roberto Telch who played alongside Babington in the 1974 Seleccion, are of British ancestry.

    No. 59

    I do not think your comment about closing down space applies to the Argentine league as much as it does to Brazil or Colombia. I was at Boca-San Lorenzo last Sunday and the pace was pretty hectic, no time on the ball at all. Same could be said about Estudiantes-River on Saturday.

    Granted, speed results in inaccuracy and South American players love the ball played at their feet. I remember Tevez at West Ham, the first ten or twelve games he played. The ball was going high over his head all the time and his face said it all. I think this speaks volumes of his spirit and disposition as he adapted his game to locale in a few months. He certainly did not run as much here at Boca or at Corinthians.

    I also think that Veron changed the way MUtd played and his 'slower' game improved players around him. That midfield was the best in the world for two years, no doubt and I hated it when SAF undid it.

    By the way, Estudiantes' coach Sabella also played a little while in England (Sheffield United and Leeds)in the 70's and so did Birmingham's Tarantini, who was a World Cup winner in 1978.

  • Comment number 61.

    Ciaran (no. 59): There have been two other instances (this year being the third one) of non of Argentina's big five (for the rest of us that's Boca, Independiente, Racing, River San Lorenzo) qualifying for the Libertadores. The other years were 1969 when only Estudiantes took part as reigning champions, and 1982 when Estudiantes and Ferro Carril Oeste took part.

  • Comment number 62.

    #51 - dear me indeed, love it how you reinforced everything i said. good lad.
    It was to the very extent you pinpointed that i meant regarding gilberto silva, but a lot of the time he was just ineffectual. mirandinha is a legend in his own right, and asprilla was simply one of the best South Americans ever, wherever!!!

    if kevin lisbie's hat-trick does not mean he is a good player why would gilberto silva scoring the first goal at the emirates mean that he is?

    does your user name indicate you're an everton fan? typical bitter blue, just because you couldn't afford Muller's tax!!!!

  • Comment number 63.

    I am so excited for the Corinthians Flamengo matches, they're going to be epic.

    Anyway, I love the Copa Libertadores, I just love the atmosphere, the pace of the matches are fast, the referees normally have good games. Oscar Julian Ruiz, the Colombian referee who we'll see in the World Cup is probably my favourite referee.

    Good tip on James Rodriguez too Tim, the boy is special, extremely special. I'd just like to give a shout out to Angel Reyna at Club America in Mexico, he's one to watch out for in the future too.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ dr wang..., not all everton are fans are bitter! I'm quite content thank you!

  • Comment number 65.

    @59 Please, as Tim wrote many times, do not pay attention to Brazilian state championships no matter who plays (even local derbies).

    This time of the year is the equivalent of friendlies in Europe as teams adjust and acquire fitness. Also, Flamengo as a club isn't the best example of fitness in Brazil (for several reasons).

    From now on, as the state championships end and we reach the later stages of "Copa do Brasil" we will begin to see more solid teams emerge.

    Argentina is different as their schedule is in sync with European's.

  • Comment number 66.

    Short list of Argentine players that played in England:

    Ardiles, Villa, Sabella, Tarantini, Crespo, Veron, Vivas, Di Santo, Tevez, Zarate, Coloccini, Jonas Gutierrez, Pellegrino, Maxi Rodriguez, Mascherano, Julio Arca, Insua, D'Alessandro, Zabaleta, Fuertes... does anyone remember someone else?

  • Comment number 67.

    49 the greatest Argentine who could have played for Ireland was la saeta rubia himself.Alfredo di Stefano always said he got his toughness from his Irish grandmother.His mothers people were from France on the fathers side and Ireland on the maternal side.i think their name was Dick and they lived in Ayacucho province of Buenos Aires
    The most famous and perhaps unlucky family were the Colls.
    Oscar Coll was a superbly skilful player in the 1940s who unfortunately for him was in River Plate in the era of the greatest club team of all "La Maquina" a team of Messis and Maradonas.He only played 24 games for this great team scoring 7 goals but after being forced to leave he showed his worth in Platense and San Lorenzo scoring 74 goals in 152 games.His brother Roberto was equally unfortunate being from the same era In River.Their brother Andres played in both Independiente and Racing
    Santiago Kelly was another "Irish" player who was a substitute in La Maquina.
    More recently were the 2 MacAllister brothers Javier and Patricio.Javier(Full back) was called "El Colorado" the red head and played for Argentina including the famous play off with Australia to qualify for the 94 world cup.He played for Boca Juniors and Racing.His brother(enganche) played for Estudiantes and Argentinos Juniors.

  • Comment number 68.

    Marceleo

    Just off the top of my head:

    Heinze
    Tarricco,
    Figueroa,
    Esteban Fuentes
    Sava
    Messenguez
    Paletta
    Marinello

    I'm sure there are many more, especially in the lower leagues.

    And there's been a few in Scotland aswell

    I remember in the FA Cup a couple of years ago, a 4th division team had an Argentine (can't remember his name)

  • Comment number 69.

    sorry, it's Esteban Fuertes (not Fuentes), isn't it? - and you already had him.

  • Comment number 70.

    the guy at leeds... don't remember his name, and adrian caceres, ex-yeovil town...

  • Comment number 71.

    I agree with you number 60 the argentinian league isnt as open as the brazilian league. Space is closed down quicker and i think you haveto work to get time on the ball. In the brazilian league the players are aload stroll upthe pitch with the ball until they are maybe 30 or 40 yards oot. I lived in Brazil for months so saw aeveral league games and this was the case in the league games not just the regional cups. I think that is why no Brazilian striker has been a big success in England, they are not afforded the same time and space on the ball that they are in their own and other leagues (la liga). Granted I believe that Ronaldinho and Luis Ronaldo would have been massive successes had they been lured to England due to their immense talent. I think Argentinian strikers are more likely to be success full in England becuse they are team players like Tevez and I wish that the goal machine Bati goal had been lured by SAF to ply his trade for Man United. Was proven wrong about Velez last night, but Estudiantes are looking good and thanks for answering my question.

  • Comment number 72.

    allowed even bit jet lagged still!!

  • Comment number 73.

    Just after reading no.60 comment, I would have to agree, the Brazilian domestic league is very open, no closing down, basically very poor defending, and when they come up against Argentinian teams in the Copa Lib, they are usually not up to the pace of the game, the records speak for itself, Argentina has 22 winners while Brasil has only 13.
    Argentina does not have the financial power of the Brazillian or Mexican league but for me its by far the most competitive league on the continent still.Hopefully next year the team with the most glorious record in the competition will be back, the great Independiente of Avellaneda, who also can boast the greatest player of the competition, "El Bocha" Ricardo Bochini, with there new 44,000 all seater stadium, it will be great for the competition.

    Inferno Rojo



  • Comment number 74.

    You are right that the Brazilian league is very open, compared to the Argentine. IMO it is much more due to refereeing (style and quality) than poor defending. In fact, Brazilian defenders seem to do just fine when they move to Europe or playing in the world cup.

    Also, the (poor in quality and style) of refereeing can be a problem for forwarders as well! Maxi Lopez, when playing for Gremio, was always frustrated as he couldn't mark the defenders (the refs would give a foul on every bump).

    Libertadores cup records can be looked at in different ways. The recent record points to an advantage for Brazil. Also, Brazil has no concentration in support and power as Boca in Argentina has. In Brazil, resources are more evenly distributed. Sao Paulo come close, but not quite like it.

    BTW, Brazil is a large country and the style in which Flamengo play isn't necessarily the same as other teams' from other Brazilian states. Gremio for example would be the more pragmatic of the Brazilian sides, while Flamengo the least. Even teams from the same state can have distinct styles.

  • Comment number 75.

    #4
    No way Dunga is going to call Neymar. He seems to like showing that he is the one who is going to pick the squad, and I guess nobody will change his mind. By the way, I guess that Paulo Henrique, attacking midfielder who also plays in Santos, would be a better choice to go to the World Cup as Kaká is not in his best form yet after his injuries.

    #7
    Most Brazilian clubs care about the immediate situation. It's incredible that Andrade, after giving Flamengo the Brazilian title after 17 years without it, was sacked. The players were indeed angry with that choice, and Vagner Love went as far as to shout "You're kidding me!"(or something like that) while a press conference with the president of Flamengo was taking place in the next room. And in Flamengo situation, you can see that it's not Andrade the problem. How would you feel if you were a Flamengo player and the guy who earns 6 times more than you was allowed to go to the training only when he wants to? I'm talking about Adriano, to the ones who doesn't know.

    #14
    Agreed. São Paulo FC is definitely going to win this year!

  • Comment number 76.

    #73 - "the records speak for itself, Argentina has 22 winners while Brasil has only 13."

    I would suggest looking at the last five finals would be a more appropriate measure - 7 Brazilian finalists, 2 Argentinian

  • Comment number 77.

    #76 And how many Brazilian winners in the last 7 years and how many Argentinian winners? I reckon the winning of the tournament is more important. It should be interesting how it develops this year.

  • Comment number 78.

    Carpet bowls. That's not intended to be an insult; since I know nothing at all about Brazilian football, I thought I would offer an addition to last week's discussion about team bonding techniques. Carpet bowls is what Don Revie did with the England team. He took them to play carpet bowls. Surely that's the way ahead for our over-rated national team? Generally, I feel that the powerful binding influence of indoor carpet bowls has been under-estimated by the world's coaches. P.S. On a separate note, in reply to last week's posts about Dutch footy: I used to play parks football in Amsterdam, and it always struck me as interesting that this most consensual of nations is far less committed to the notion of a 'leader' than we are in England. When we fell out at half-time (which happened every week), there was no dominant Terry Butcher-style figure to stand up and call everyone to order. Instead, the arguments raged in little clusters, and anybody who stood up and tried to shout a message of togetherness to the whole group would simply be laughed at or, more powerfully, completely ignored. This is both the strength and the weakness of Holland as a footballing force. There's less of the senseless tribalism that we experience in Britain, and this allows more scope for individual creativity. However, the flipside is that arguments between individuals can get out of hand. My favourite thing about playing football in Amsterdam was that a team were allowed to go "on strike" if they felt the behaviour of their opponents was unreasonable. A couple of times we just stomped off when the idiots on the other team kept clogging us. Then there was a cooling-off period, and a bit of negotiation. And the whole thing was scrapped if the other team were still acting like morons. Also, you were allowed to play badly if you weren't in the mood. "Ik heb vandaag geen zin gehad" ("I just wasn't up for it today") was accepted as a reasonable excuse for putting in a useless performance. Generally, there's more room to follow your conscience in Dutch culture (rather than being carried along by the mass). But that can have negative, fascinating (and hilarious) consequences for the performance of the team. Anyone interested in Dutch footy should read David Winner's ace book, 'Brilliant Orange'. He's got a great theory about the patterns of passing being based on the abstract, artificial Dutch landscape. Proost, jongens!

  • Comment number 79.

    #78 Fascinating stuff... what great players the Dutch! (I would say the best in Europe, technically gifted, fast and strong and physical as they can get). Now I have an explanation that makes sense, for those non-results which left me flabbergasted like Munich 74 and Buenos Aires 78. Those teams inspired fear in the opposition. If they had the ball they were clinical and inspired. If they did not, watch out! They would take it away from you and leave a scar somewhere.

  • Comment number 80.

    I do not extend the above to Babel and Kuyt... ughh

  • Comment number 81.

    The Argentinian superiority in trophies is partially explained by the fact that, until the early 80's, Libertadores was seen as a minor tournament in Brazil. In more than one occasion, Pele's Santos even refused to play it, choosing to travel around the world instead.

    And it was until the 90's, with Sao Paulo winning back-to-back titles and reaching the final in 1994, that it became the single most important competition. At the time, the Brazilian Championship was considered to be at least as important, if not more. From the 90's to present, Brazil won 8 and Argentina 6 (and the score is 10 to 9 counting since the 80's).

  • Comment number 82.

    No.60 and 67

    Thank you both very much, very informative. I only asked as the current Irish squad could really use some Argentinian flair :)

  • Comment number 83.

    Hey, Marcelao -- you're right! Kuyt and Babel haven't covered themselves in glory at Liverpool. Kuyt is a good guy, I think -- a typical Rotterdammer. In that hard working city, the inhabitants are proud to say that they "are born with their sleeves rolled up". It's a shame he hasn't the fantasy to go with the sweat. As for Babel, I think he's been very badly man-managed. The Liverpool coach Benitez strikes me as being a bit like the film director Alfred Hitchcock, who loved cinema but couldn't stand actors. Benitez is a football-nut. It's just a shame that he needs players to make his sport work! With better handling and a more coherent attacking philosophy, I have a hunch that Benitez could have got somewhere with Babel. Re. your comments on how hard the Dutch play -- I hadn't really thought of this, and I think most Dutch people would be surprised to hear it, but your comments suddenly conjured up an image of Jan Wouters whacking Paul Gascoigne in the face with his elbow, one of the nastiest things I've ever seen on a footy pitch. Also, let's not forget that one of the gods of Dutch footy is called Beenhakker. In Dutch, that means 'leg chopper'. Perhaps you're on to something, Marcelao, my friend!

  • Comment number 84.

    FDF: Talking about Rotterdam and Beenhakker...

    As I see it, besides coming up with "total football" to overcome Italian catenaccios (1-0 was a rare goal feast in Serie A those days) you duchies really went at the rulebook very effectively.

    I think it was in the heyday of glorious Feyenoord winning the UEFA Cup that the offside trap was introduced (maybe Ajax also had a go at it?).

    Argentina's Estudiantes (under their then coach Osvaldo Zubeldia), who now poses as the team to beat in Libertadores competition and that almost beat Barca last December in Abu Dhabi, copied the trap back then and brought it to Argentina, much to every football lover's dismay. I was at the Bombonera to attend Estudiantes 2 vs Feyenoord 2, in 1970 and both teams played in a reduced 50 meter field, both moving their back four forward all the time... exciting!

    I remember the tackling of Dutch defenders and midfielders as tough, yet borderline legal and before the 1978 final I worried for our(Menotti's) boys. Somehow they prevailed and the rest is history. I also think that especially in 1974 the Dutch would have won had they had a decent, alive and breathing goalkeeper. Does Jongbloed stand for "young blood?" Guess what? He was also there in 1978! As a goalie he was a willowwood clog.

    Benitez has not gotten two decent games in a row out of Liverpool: they are ugly to watch and they posess no short game, shaky defence and goalie, they are also short on skill and many of their players are not used to their potential (Gerrard?) or they are mediocre. Yesterday they had no discernible shape

  • Comment number 85.

    81.Even if this was the case I cant understand why Brazilian teams would not bother with the continents Premier tournament.I can understand Pele not wanting to enter it with Santos, the man dodged tough club competitions all his life.
    No doubt Brazilian teams are on the rise in the competition but you cant hide the facts, In my opinion the Argentinian teams are that bit tougher and hungrier, thats why they have been more successful, might I add in the future I think Mexican teams will have success, but apart from them I think it will be shared between Argentinian, Brazilian and Uruguayan teams.

  • Comment number 86.

    #85- Sorry, but what you said about Pele is, well, extremely dumb. First, because it wasn't his decision, was the club's. Second, because they decided not to play it after they won the first two times they played it, in 1962 and 1963; if I'm not mistaken, they didn't lose a single match in both these tournaments.

    And third, the Brazilian domestic football was BY FAR the best in the world at the time Pele played. Every World Cup winning player of 1958, 1962, and 1970 played here. At the time, few players would play away from their countries, and so a Brazilian moving abroad would necessarily be moving to an inferior league.

    Anyway, I remember Tim writing about the reasons why Brazilians didn't take Libertadores very seriously at first; it's a mix of cultural and economic reasons.

  • Comment number 87.

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

  • Comment number 88.

    Ill tell you what is pathetic, trying to make excuses for Brazil's record in the competition compared to Argentina's.
    You say when Pele and co where playing in Brasil, it was the best league in the world? well if this was the case why was there record in the Copa Libertadores so poor?( Oh yeah the competition was seen as only minor back then,for Brazilian teams I forgot)what a load of nonsense, when Brazilian teams had a terrible record it was because it was only a minor tournament for them, how convenient.
    The facts are there, you can spout out these facts about Brasil's record to Argentina's from the 1980s to present, but the fact is Argentina record is far superior because it was and still is the strongest league in South America, there 22 titles in the competition compared to Brasil's misely 13 proves this, so please dont make up pathetic excuses, for the Brazilians league poor showing, "cultural and economic reasons"
    Im sure Argentina and the rest of South America had its economic problems 40 years ago as well, the pundits on this site last year also writ off Argentinian teams chances in the competition, and talked up the Brazilian teams, how sweet it was to see Estudiantes go to Belo Horiizonte and beat Cruziero in there backyard.

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • Comment number 90.

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

  • Comment number 91.

    s usual, the knock stage of the Copa Libertadores is interesting. But this year's knock out stage seems interesting as ever! As we have Brazilian Giants Corinthians and Flamengo, Sao Paolo, Internacional and Cruzeiro, winners Estudiantes and former cup holders Velez, Once Caldas and Nacional from Uruguay. work onlinemake money from homepayday loansbest payday loans..

  • Comment number 92.

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

  • Comment number 93.

    The clarity in your post is simply spectacular and i can assume you are an expert on this field. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with incoming post.

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  • Comment number 94.

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

  • Comment number 95.

    s common, currently the strike hard phase of a typical Copa Libertadores exists interesting. But this year's knock out stage seems interesting as ever! As we have Brazilian Giants Corinthians and Flamengo, Sao Paolo, Internacional and Cruzeiro, winners Estudiantes and former cup holders Velez, Once Caldas and Nacional from Uruguay.
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  • Comment number 96.

    Ronaldo and Veron, two great entertainers during their time in European football. Great to see them both finishing their careers in South America at such a high level, putting smiles on the supporters faces.

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • Comment number 98.

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

  • Comment number 99.

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

  • Comment number 100.

    It was in the heyday of glorious Feyenoord winning the UEFA Cup comprar generico sin receta

 

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