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Brazil stay focused - Argentina look muddled

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Tim Vickery | 10:28 UK time, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dunga's announcement of his Brazil squad for South Africa was a crushing defeat for the nation's media in one of its favourite sports - trying to force the inclusion of big names players on to the plane for this summer's World Cup.

But it was the perceived excesses of Brazil's stars that undermined their campaign in Germany in 2006 and paved the way for Dunga's appointment. He took over with a message that individuals might win matches but groups win titles. Over three and half years later, coherence has been maintained.

Before the squad was announced, clips were shown of some of Brazil's recent triumphs. Then came a declaration for Kaka, paying tribute to the spirit of union of the current team. It was a giant hint that there would be no last-minute surprises.

So no place for Ronaldinho. On form and in shape, he would surely be a useful one-man Plan B to have on the bench but he can hardly complain of lack of opportunities. Dunga carried him around for almost three years before finally losing patience.

It is a tough thing to say but the only person responsible for Ronaldinho's absence is Ronaldinho himself. At 30, he should be an automatic choice but he has spent the last few years betraying his own extraordinary talent.

Ronaldinho can hardly complain of lack of opportunities

Ronaldinho may have been the focus of international attention but the local media had switched generations in its campaign, piling on the pressure in favour of the Santos pair of support striker Neymar, 18, and attacking midfielder Paulo Henrique Ganso, 20.

For all the undoubted promise of Neymar and Ganso, there are elements of nationalistic delirium in this movement. The pair were outstanding in the Sao Paulo State Championship but this is a bit like selecting someone for a World Cup on the basis of some good games in the Carling Cup.

Significantly, and Dunga was quick to pick up on it, the pair struggled towards the end of last year when asked to step up a level. Ganso was a relative disappointment in the World Under-20 Cup while Neymar was an absolute disappointment in the World Under-17s.

Their time will come but, as he made clear, Dunga is not in the business of giving anyone experience for 2014 but is being paid to win the World Cup now. And, of course, one more new face would mean one less space for a group of players who have earned the right to be in South Africa.

Whatever we might think of his approach, Dunga can point to the results achieved. In the last two seasons, Brazil have won 18 of 23 games, suffering only one defeat, which came at extreme altitude.

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Adriano has been part of that process but he, too, misses out. He is another one, though, who can have no complaints. He received support and opportunities from Dunga and assistant Jorginho.

After his problems with depression and alcohol, Adriano was allowed to play his way back into contention. A squad place was his. He has thrown it away by repeatedly not turning up to train with his club, Flamengo, as well as his off-the-field antics. As Dunga said, if he let Adriano get away it he would be running the risk of losing command of the group.

This focus on the collective underpins everything that Dunga does. It explains the eminently sensible position to name his 23 straight away (seven reserves, including Ronaldinho and Ganso, were added later). Other teams still have to whittle down from 30 - a traumatic process that jangles nerves and threatens to undermine morale at a crucial stage.

One of them is Argentina. It is hardly surprising that coach Diego Maradona is not as far down the line as Dunga in terms of consolidating his group. He has had much less time in charge - and it is often forgotten that he took over a team in trouble, which with one win in the previous seven games was already struggling to qualify.

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Maradona got them over the line and would seem to have made progress since. It is highly likely that his planned starting line-up in South Africa will be the team that won away to Germany some two months ago. From the chaos of the qualification campaign, a first XI and a general method of play has emerged.

But the rest of his party looks a bit of a mess. It speaks volumes that Brazil named their 23 in a well prepared and orderly fashion while Argentina apparently needed a lengthy last-day meeting to finalise the 30.

Under Maradona, Argentina have toured the country playing a number of matches with only home-based players. This has the advantage of taking the team to the provinces and of giving Maradona more experience on the touchline but it also might have cluttered his head with excess information. He has been looking at more players when he might well have benefited from narrowing down.

Ten of his 30 are based in Argentina. Boca's lumbering centre forward Martin Palermo looks set to stay in the 23. But can he really make an impact at the World Cup? And is he needed as well as Higuain and Milito? It means someone has to miss out - probably Lavezzi of Napoli, such a slippery player on the counter-attack.

Ever Banega, a midfielder of superb passing range who can drop back and markBanega would be an ideal deputy for Juan Sebastian Veron

At the other end of the field, Garce of Colon is in while Zanetti of Inter Milan is out - a baffling defiance of common sense. There are lots of wide midfielders but the area that looks especially deficient is central midfield. Fernando Gago's lack of playing time with Real Madrid has cost him a place while Maradona is not a fan of Esteban Cambiasso, who, in fairness, was one of the least effective members in the side before he took over.

To my mind, the strangest omission is that of Ever Banega, a midfielder of superb passing range who can drop back and mark. He would be an ideal deputy for Juan Sebastian Veron, who at 35 might struggle for gas.

Brazil's choices, then, are methodical, well thought out, coherent. Some of Argentina's look scattergun, products of whims of inspiration. And the wonderful thing is that neither guarantee results - football has never been an exact science.

Apologies, this blog has been longer than usual so no space for questions. Normal service resumes next time. Send questions on South American football to


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  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Tim,

    great blog as always, but I have a question for you..

    I'm a Palace fan, and honestly Julian Speroni has been our player of the season this year. If it wasn't for his man of the match performances week after week, I know that we would have been relegated to League One. In my opinion he is easily the finest keeper in the Championship and could cut it at a top club in the Premiership.

    I know who Sergio Romero is, and Andujar just won the Copa Libertadores, but why do you think he has been consistently overlooked for a squad position? Bearing in mind that he has selected other players from the Championship...

  • Comment number 2.

    Although predictable, how utterly depressing was Dunga’s selection?? Absolutely no creativity from midfield other than Kaka (and he’s spent most of the season injured / out of form) – Julio Baptista, Josue, a dreadfully out of form Felipe Melo?? This side is set out to play one way only – the counter-attack. This will go one of two ways – they’ll struggle to break down three teams who put ten men behind the ball, or they’ll just bludgeon their way to the final.

    With Maradonna’s selection of four centre halves in defence, I think we’re looking at Chile for any excitement from the South Americans.

  • Comment number 3.

    Also I'm very excited about Mexico's World Cup squad, I think they could go pretty far..

  • Comment number 4.

    Zenetti was amazing against Barcelona, the best team in the world, how he doesn't get a place is beyond me, Maradona goes off his heart too much and not his head and I think it'll prove costly as I imagine everyone else does.

  • Comment number 5.

    The ommission of Cambiasso and Zanetti in a year when Inter Milan have reached the Champions League final is baffling. Their defensive performances against Barcelona are ones that could keep Argentina in the finals this year.

    Tim - Who and what is plan B if Veron gets injured?

    I'm disappointed Ronaldinho didn't make it because of that plan a you mentioned (especially after having a good think about it last summer However, in saying that I think that if Dunga would have selected Ronaldinho then he has to justify even further the ommission of the other players you mentioned in the article.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think everyone has worked out by now that despite Maradona's incredible ability as a player, he is definitely not management material... The squad only continues to reinforce that

  • Comment number 7.

    Disappointing call-up by Dunga, and we're set to a dreadful World Cup, regardless of we win it or not.

  • Comment number 8.

    Also, yesterday's highlights included Dunga saying he can't say that slavery was a bad thing since he wasn't alive back then to know for sure.

  • Comment number 9.

    Super blog Tim. One of your best!
    I think 'IanW' is spot on about Brazil. I feel there going to bludgeon there way to winning the World Cup. Just like they did in 94. I've watched them in qualifiers and it was very easy for them. They keep it compact in the middle of the park with their wingbacks doing all the damage.
    Argentina are a joke! Seen them as well in the qualifiers and they will be a laughing stock at the World Cup. I love the country but feel this will be a World Cup for them to forget.
    Keep up the good work Tim. I read your blog every week without fail.

  • Comment number 10.

    SpiveyM - where might I be able to find El Tri squad? Have they announced the final squad or might it be reduced further.
    Pablo Barrera better not let me down now, I've bigged him up to so many people here :D

  • Comment number 11.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well spotted, that man. BBC never seems to report on Mexico so I never bother looking! 3 Pumas, not bad going I guess.

  • Comment number 13.

    It's sad that Zanetti was left out. He is far and away Argentina's best full-back, and is arguably in the form of his career. After giving so much to his national team over the years, it's a shame he hasn't been given one last chance to shine, particularly after missing out on the last tournament.

    Banega, Cambiasso, Gabriel Milito and, in particular, Lucho also are all big misses for me. Some of the home-based players seem to have been picked after a performance against a desperately poor Haiti side.

    Nonetheless, we shouldn't get too downhearted. Argentina has talent most other countries would die for.

  • Comment number 14.

    Why has no one mentioned that Pato has not been included, I assumed this kid is one of the best strikers in the world!

  • Comment number 15.

    No mention of Pato Tim?

    He was arguably the most surprising omission from the Brazilian squad, we all know Ronaldinho and Adriano only have themselves to blame, but Pato looks an exciting player and is surely a better choice than Grafite who is a bit hit and miss.

    Maradonna's squad selection is baffling to say the least. No Cambiasso or Zanetti - just says it all. Argentina will not win the world cup and there will be one man to blame. The Manager.

  • Comment number 16.

    Cambiasso was one of the best players in the 2006 World Cup and has looked excellent in this year's Champions League. The absence of him and Zanetti will surely hurt Argentina's prospects.

    Brazil's squad looks fairly ordinary, though they will no doubt be hard to beat.

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting read.

    I think far too many people might be judging or reading too much from the preliminary selections.

    We all know the huge amount of pressure being built by both the fans and the media in Argentina and Brazil regarding their teams, but Dunga's challenge is by far the most critical for him and his technical group. Anything but a win from Brazil will probably mean the sack for Dunga, as Tim pointed out everyone in Brazil pretty much hates Dunga's style, make no mistake, if they end up winning it, he will be regarded as the mastermind behind the triumph, but should they lose... and we all know what's gonna happen.

    Instead, although the media pressure has been increasing in the past months for Argentina, everyone in Argentina is expecting nothing less than victory, but in reality they could be very well satisfied if they reach semis in S.A.

    Tim, I have a question though, should Argentina go really far in the tourney, do you think it will be due to Maradona's managerial tactics or mostly due to the fact that Argentina does have some incredible and gifted players in their squad? Will he get the sack in the near future, assuming Argentina ends up failing in the WC?

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm in agreement with pretty much all of the comments on here - Brazil's squad, though it looks like it could do the job, would only be able to do the job by scraping results, which is a real shame. I remember watching their friendly against Sweden a few years ago at the Emirates and thinking to myself "How boring is this?" and the only reason they ended up winning is as a result of a Goalkeeping error. Looks like Brazil are going to be boring again.

    As for Argentina, they won't be able to realistically challenge until they get a better manager. The squad appears to lack depth in crucial areas (i.e. Central Midfield) and there's a distinct possibility that they're going to get mauled once/if they get out of the group stages.

    I agree with Spiveym's analysis of the Mexico squad, but I do have my worries - they have great squads every World Cup, but when push comes to shove, they never get anywhere, which is always such a shame! So I really hope they actually do something this time. Nice to see Cuauhtémoc Blanco's inclusion as well, even at the ripe old age of 37!

    And now, time for a question for Tim: realistically, now knowing all of the squads, groups, etc. how far do you think the South American teams are going to go this tournament?

  • Comment number 19.

    Tim, I know you're not one to speculate but with all your knowledge could you please try and predict what the starting lines ups will be now the squad is in place. The reason I ask is that it would make an for interesting analysis and I promise to remind you of your prediction when the first game starts!! I'm not trying to call you out lets say more test your refined skills!!

  • Comment number 20.

    With the obvious exception of Kaka, who exactly are Brazil's world class players. Maicon possibly, but then i'm struggling. Fabiano is a good performer, but never world class.

    I remember back in 2002 when Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho could all be considered the among the finest in their positions.

    This is a very ordinary Brazil side, who may perform consistently well, but I believe they lack that little bit of Magic (a Rossi, a Schillachi, a Canniggia, a Milla, a Zidane) that ususally pops up in a world cup.

    It seems to me that Dunga has a bias towards players who represent what he was about as a player. Hard working, disciplined, but never considered a naturally good footballer. This I i feel is very egotistical, and he may be resentful of those who have greater talent than he ever did.

    As for Argentina, the exclusion of the Tractor, Zanetti is baffling. Milito should surely be ahead of Collocini in the pecking order, despite the latters good form in a league containing such hotshots as : Michael Chopra, Jason Euell and Martin Waghorn.

    Banega should be an automatic choice, whereas Maradona claiming he will use 4 centre backs as his back four is surely asking for trouble against teams with strong wing play. Hopefully we meet them and can exploit this with Lennon, and a naturally left sided winger in Johnson

  • Comment number 21.

    Dunga & Maradona appear to be ruining the world cup before its started.

    What in god`s name is going on? Julio Baptista? Can barely pass or do anything intelligent. I think England have just got a whole lot more of a chance now. As for Diego`s crazy choices. Martin Palermo is about 5-10 years past his best!! Lucho gonzalez has been great this year, as has cambiasso, Banega etc etc. He is a loon! Did anyone see his tactics against uraguay of 4 centrebacks? Its a joke. How can someone be allowed to do this. No wonder Messi looks fed up in blue & white, hes expected to work miracles. These two have too many man management issues to be in charge of a squad. BRAZIL have Nilmar, grafite,robinho & fabiano up front. Who`d prefer Adriano, Pato, Ronaldo or Ronaldinho? MUGS!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    Come on Tim, I give you a 500 bill form the Monopoly game:

    Who are you going to put your money on winning the world cup? One country - who is it going to be in your opinion?

  • Comment number 23.

    well Tim and to fellow bloggers like Colmany2k, and IanW, ; Dunga and us are gonna surprise y'oall this year; since we last won it in 2002, except for spain's version of jogo bonito that handed them the euro 2008, in a weak field for a tounament in my opinion( Italy, Germany, England were all poor) and only the Russians and the dutch really impressed, the world game has changed to a lesses emphasis on bonito passing, and a more tactical, defensive form of soccer. We will make my above pals eat their words in a months time.

  • Comment number 24.

    Zanetti being left out of the Argentina squad just proves how over eccentric Maradona is. His experience alone is worthy of a place but more importantly... his performances against Chelsea, and keeping Messi quiet against Barcelona should be made into a DVD entitled - 'How to play Left-Back'

  • Comment number 25.

    PanteroNegro, I also believe Brazil have a very good chance. They look focused on the goal of winning the world cup.

    However you cant say Italy, germany and England were poor at Euro 2008. Because England did not even qualify! Theyw ere less than poor.

    HOWEVER, this year I think they will reach semis if ar eluck. With Walcott, Lennon's pace they allow room for the other players to express themselves and damage. In the past the midfield were identical and had no pace (Beckham, gerrard, lampard, j cole)

    I believe Brazil will win if their strikers can score enough goals. But all it takes is a draw and a loss against Ivory Coast and Portugal for it to get difficult.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think some of you are being incredibly negative about Brazil's squad. It's not that bad!

    I saw the Brazil-Rep Ireland friendly a couple of months back and despite the 'counter-attacking style' that is being criticised by posters here, I thought Brazil played some lovely stuff. If it hadn't been for missed chances, they'd have scored more.

    I'd refer people back to 2006. Brazil played Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Kaka all in the same team, they played France, and they were limp.

    I don't know who the wonderful attacking players are that people think Dunga should have called up, but Diego has been in as much poor form as Felipe Melo, and at least Melo gives you defensive solidity. Ronaldinho has had his moments this season, but he doesn't beat players any more like he did from 1999-2006.

    With the likes of Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano and Nilmar, and support from the likes of Dani Alves, Maicon and Elano, Brazil have goals in them. No doubt about that.

    98% of countries in the world would kill for that squad. Brazil set up to 'scrape past teams'? Come on, give me a break.

  • Comment number 27.

    20. At 1:43pm on 12 May 2010, tomefccam wrote:
    With the obvious exception of Kaka, who exactly are Brazil's world class players. Maicon possibly, but then i'm struggling. Fabiano is a good performer, but never world class.

    Well Julio Cesar and Lucio are obvious responses for a start.

  • Comment number 28.

    And Kaka :-)

  • Comment number 29.

    Not all the Brazil squad may be defined currently as 'world class' but what does that even mean? In a country with the talent pool of Brazil I am sure they are all talented and if not world class, international quality.

  • Comment number 30.

    great blog Tim, exclusion of Cambiasso and Zanetti baffles everyone. Dunga's squad looks a well thought and organized team like Roy Hodgon's Fulham. I'm sure they will be up there at the Finals, and then it's all about magic.

  • Comment number 31.

    By looking at those squads, I think we may have our first European winner of the World Cup on non-european soil this time around. If I was a coach of a top Euro side, I would be extremely lifted by those squads. I think even one or two of the African sides may be smiling as well.

    To be fair though, I think Brazil can put out a pretty decent side that will be well versed in winning the ball and counter attacking. Argentina may prove to be a bit of a disaster however. It is going to be difficult for Maradona to fuse Argentinian league football players, who seem to have an eternity on the ball, with the players who play in the top Euro leagues (And the Championship!) at a more quicker pace. Can Palermo keep up with Messi on the break? We'll see.

  • Comment number 32.

    I agree with comment 2. I think it will be Bielsa's Chile that will provide the flare from South America, I hope Diego can prove everyone wrong but his selection is very worrying, Crespo even though past his best is has far more to offer than Palermo, who can bairly run at this stage.Milito hasnt impressed me in front of goal, and the same for Higuian, Messi and Tevez have to start up front, the defence is not as bad as it was in the qualifying now Samuel is back, but when the going gets tough I worry for Argentina with Veron in the team.

    Brasil will be difficult to beat and can see them going to the final without beautiful football.
    Can see Uruguay causing an upset and progressing from the group stages, have soom good attacking players and they have a proud history in the competition.

  • Comment number 33.

    "Gunner Do you All"

    Brazil will start with Julio Cesar - Maicon, Juan, Lucio, Michel Bastos - Elano/Ramires, Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva - Robinho, Kaka - Luis Fabiano

    It's difficult to put down on paper, formation wise, it's very lop-sided - perhaps 4-4-1-1 with Kaka playing behind Luis Fabiano, but in reality Robinho will play far more forward than Ramires / Elano, and whoever plays out of Elano / Ramires will help form a solid three in the middle when Brazil don't have the ball. So 4-4-2 / 4-3-1-2 / 4-4-1-1 it is then!!

    Personally, I'd like to see Dani Alves in the Ramires / Elano role.

  • Comment number 34.

    Hi Tim,

    Great piece this week.

    I was surprised with the inclusion of Grafite, a late-bloomer on the international scene, as fourth choice striker - it appears he has taken advantage of Adriano's fall from grace.

    Brazil & Argentina are known for their cavalier approach and swashbuckling style; the sides picked do not reflect that.

    It'll be the first World Cup with the two greatest footballing superpowers playing hoofball and a 4-5-1 formation. Yawn.

    Not long now till the big kick-off!


  • Comment number 35.

    Hiya Tim: I've been waiting for this blog and for the confirmation of the Squad..
    As a mad Argentina fan I got to say that the squad looks good and the balance is also good.
    I would rather take Zannetti and dropped Burdisso due to the experince of Zannetti and the way he has played this season for Inter.
    But hey Maradon is the Man and cant comaplaint. Just wised we could had Juan Riquelme. I think we might struggle with out him if we progress further in the competition. Veron has got the touch but his age not something that can be rely on..
    Well I am hoping this time we can go all the way and I got confidence as far Leo Messi plays his free role and have "El Kun" with him.
    Vamos "Albicelestes"...

  • Comment number 36.

    Dunga picks team based on their international form. Players like Robinhu, and Melo show a lot of heart when they put on the national team's Jersy.
    Robnhu was player of the tournamnet in Copa America ahead of Messi. Him and Kaka link up and click well for the national team.

    Even Baptista seem to be a different player when he is playing fir Brazil. I think too many people look at the club forms.

    Pato has been injured a lot this year. His time will come in next world cup.

    HAvind said that, I thought there would still be room for Ronaldinho.

    One of the few times that I have to disagree with Tim in that Ronaldinho is to blame for not making it NT. Whatever his problems were, he clearly
    turned it around, and single handedly (with some help from Pato) took a weak and aging AC Milan team to CL and a 3rd place finish. WE started to see the glimpses of magic touches and passes. At his best he is joy to watch! His joy when he is playing well is contagious and favorite of young kids. Unlike Ronaldo he enjoys the skillful moves, without taunting or demeaning the opposition. Many times after he skinned the defender, defender would come to him give him "a well done" sort of gesture.

    Shame that Player of his caliber will be left out. He is his flaws, but he is always that likable child.

    Please Dunga, do us a favor, and get that smiley and happy kid. I much rather see him than some of the sulky and petulant babies.

  • Comment number 37.

    "At the other end of the field, Garce of Colon is in while Zanetti of Inter Milan is out - a baffling defiance of common sense."

    I think baffling is the apt word for Zanetti's omission!

    Regarding the Brazil squad, I think Dunga should be praised. It's not his fault that Brazil's talent are more interested in off-field activities than on-field ones. I remember the last World Cup and Brazil were dreadful!

    Of course I'd love to see a Ronaldinho who wanted to be a top-class footballer again, or even an in-form, disciplined Adriano. But these players are just not mentally up to the challenge of being top footballers.

    Ronaldinho, for example, is not exactly a big-game player—something that is backed up by his "performance" in the Barca's Champions League win over Arsenal. In terms of World Cups, he was average in 2002, poor in 2006 and going to be absent in 2010. I think his decline is somehow fitting.

  • Comment number 38.

    20. At 1:43pm on 12 May 2010, tomefccam wrote:
    With the obvious exception of Kaka, who exactly are Brazil's world class players. Maicon possibly, but then i'm struggling. Fabiano is a good performer, but never world class.

    Well Julio Cesar and Lucio are obvious responses for a start.

    Lucio, really? He has a mistakes in him, and his extroverted style makes him stand out more than his ability does. I could think of at least 10 centre backs I would choose ahead of him at this moment in time, his own team mate Samuel being one of them.

    Julio Cesar, yes, possibly...but I can't see a good goalkeeper being the star of the tournament.

    As for Kaka, if you had read my post properly, you would see I noted him as Brazil's only world class player, the only one who could be considered in the top 3 in the world in his position. Maicon also a possibility.

    There is finding a team balance, there is then producing a team full of static, boring, bog standard players.

  • Comment number 39.

    colemany2k said: "I feel there going to bludgeon there way to winning the World Cup. Just like they did in 94"
    Just like they did in 94? Ever seen that little guy play - I believe he was called Romario?
    tomefccam said: "This is a very ordinary Brazil side, who may perform consistently well, but I believe they lack that little bit of Magic (a Rossi, a Schillachi, a Canniggia, a Milla, a Zidane) that ususally pops up in a world cup."
    Might be worth mentioning a Brazilian or two in your list there friend, names such as Zico, Socrates, Careca, Josimar, Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo etc etc etc.
    Anyway, very ordinary looking Brazil squad but who's really suprised? And Pato is nowhere NEAR as good as people make him out to be. The most overrated Brazilian since that waster Daniel Alves.
    Maradona's squad looks like a shambles due to the exclusion of Cambiasso and Zanetti, and the inclusion of the likes of Palermo. Fortunately for them, the group should be a doddle and they might just hit the right gear in the knock-out phase. Here's hoping anyway.

  • Comment number 40.

    i struggle to express my outrage about dungas insane squad. i quite genuinly believe for this decision alone he no longer desrves to stand as the manager of brazil. for a start ronaldinho is without a doubt the most talented footballer ever to walk the earth.fair enough he isnt the fastest or strongest player but with the exception of kaka he is easily brazils best player. donkey dunga has also failed 2 include two world class full backs in maxwell and marcelo yet he has decided to take gilberto. i cant think of any other reason that he has done this other than hes just drawn his squad out of a hat. Donkey dunga also decided that 5000 year old gilberto silva would be a better option than juventus star diego. possibly the most shoking decision of his squad is to not take their best striker pato. now you can argue the case why the rest are not in the squad but there really is no excuse for not including this player he is comfertably the best striker in italy and hes only 19. he is debatably brazils best striker but diddy donkey dunga thinks otherwise??? apart from this other countrys have also made stupid decisions such as france. so from this i think everyone will agree in saying the two teams who have brought the correct team are spain and england. i for one will not be watching the world cup because there is quite simply a conspiricy to ruin it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Another great blog Tim,

    I find some of his decisions baffaling. The Zanetti decision is probably the most difficult to understand but in saying that, he's probably not the type of playe hat will win Argentina the world cup.
    With Ever Bangera and Cambiasso not in, who will replace Veron should they get injured?

    In terms of Brazil, is it me or do they seem a little light in terms of out and out front men?

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Tim. I've got to say I'm shocked that Banega didn't make the final cut. He's had a good season with Valencia this year, showing his passing ability in front of the back four, as well as getting forward and notching a few spectacular goals. Do you know if its Maradona himself who has the final say in his selection? As surely someone with Banega's talent and current form should have made the squad?

  • Comment number 43.

    Look through every world cup squad, and defensively, there are frailties in all of them, so to say this world cup will be boring is way off the mark.
    As for the Brazil squad - they look like one of the safest - someone said they only had one, possible 2 world class players..... Kaka, Maicon, how about Lucio and Cesar? Fabiano is a very good striker, as is Nilmar. In midifeld they will keep the ball all night long if necessary. Brazil probably have the strongest spine of any team in the competition!

    Argentina - lets just say Maradona's made a hash up and be done with it....Coloccini and Maxi, over Zanetti and Cambiasso. oh dear.

    As someone mentioned - I like the look of Mexico, plenty of grit and solidity, and a nice group of flair players. Looking forward to Hernandez's performances as well obviously.

    No-one's squad particularly stands out as scary - especially with the injuries in Spains group. England have a great chance, as do about 6 or 7 other's. Brazil/Spain clear favourites depending on fitness of key players. Expect a few surprises though!

  • Comment number 44.

    im not surprised ronaldinho didnt make it, i saw him play with milan vs man u and the first half hour he was great too watch, tricks everywhere but little teamplay, after the half hour the tricks were gone too and he was invisible
    as for zanetti, such a proffessional, hes been class ever since joining inter and ive never heard anything bad bout him, wonder why diego didnt take him

  • Comment number 45.

    Argentina names a squad without Cambiasso and Zannetti. I wonder which players Maradona has been following this season. It reminds me of Eriksson selecting Walcott ahead of Defoe in 2006. If Argentina is to do well in the world cup, the players will have to do it on their own.

  • Comment number 46.

    We all know the huge amount of pressure being built by both the fans and the media in Argentina and Brazil regarding their teams, but Dunga's challenge is by far the most critical for him and his technical group. Anything but a win from Brazil will probably mean the sack for Dunga, as Tim pointed out everyone in Brazil pretty much hates Dunga's style, make no mistake, if they end up winning it, he will be regarded as the mastermind behind the triumph, but should they lose... and we all know what's gonna happen.

    Actually I read it differently, I don't see Dunga staying on regardless of the result, if they don't win he will be sacked, if they do he will resign with his head held high and avoid another 4 years of criticism.

    To be fair to him I don't see that many players who would fit in to his side and make the team more watchable without risking efficiency. Pato is the only real miss for me as he could have added that spark as an impact player.

  • Comment number 47.

    38. At 2:47pm on 12 May 2010, tomefccam wrote:
    I did notice you had mentioned kaka, I was just putting down my list. Lucio is one of the most accomplished defenders around. Yes, I would agree Samuel is better, but still, Lucio can head with the best, tackle, pass and has decent pace and is very comfortable on the ball. All defenders have mistakes in them, that doesnt mean they arent world class, just that they're human. :)

  • Comment number 48.

    First off, nice blog Tim... while I don't always agree, your writing certainly never bores or falls short of insightful thoughts...

    I do have one major objection to a relatively "minor" comment in this article though. Why do you find it necessary to apologize for Brazil's one defeat by pointing to an overused and overrated excuse of "extreme altitude"? This type of commentary infuriates me, not only as a Bolivian (obvious reasons), but more importantly as a fan of football. It is such an ignorant comment derived mostly from some Blatter'ian dogma, and now further spread to all your readers across the world, that harms the beauty of the game as it leaves no room for praise or recognition for a team that leaves its heart out on the field against teams like Brazil and Argentina. Is it somehow impossible to play at 3,600m? Don't teams ever beat Bolivia at this "extreme altitude"? Has sport been forced into some kind of abstract thought in the mind of Bolivians given the supposed impossible nature of engaging in any kind of exercise at this altitude?

    Last time I visited Brazil in the middle of the summer and was invited to a pick-up football match, I too felt the weight of the heat and humidity, but I was not ready to righteously proclaim any Bolivian (or any other team's) loss to Brazil a victim of nature. Last time I checked, we've actually seen footballers lose their lives on the pitch due to heat and humidity, but never do to altitude sickness.

    "Extreme altitude"? This type of irresponsible commentary almost cost a nation of football lovers to lose the ability to see and enjoy their beloved national and club teams play in their backyards...

  • Comment number 49.

    I stand by my comments 'Pol'. It's a team game and the team cannot be classed as playing beautiful attractive football if only one player does it. Anyway, what ruined USA 94 was the ridiculous heat the games had to be played in leading to games that were slower than a rainy Sunday.

    All I'm saying is that this Brazil team a more methodical and clinical than previous Brazilian teams. I predict Brazil to win the World Cup and I have nothing against the way they play. I'm just stating it's different to previous years.

    To the others who say that Ronaldinho should be included. It was not a difficult decision as Tim points out in previous blogs that the Brazil team never really gelled when he played. From what I've heard Pato has been living it up a bit too much with Ronaldinho in Milan. So much so that his wife has moved back to Brazil. I believe Dunga is right not to take players who are not fully committed to the cause.

  • Comment number 50.

    47. At 3:08pm on 12 May 2010, Nevs_A_Red wrote:
    38. At 2:47pm on 12 May 2010, tomefccam wrote:
    I did notice you had mentioned kaka, I was just putting down my list. Lucio is one of the most accomplished defenders around. Yes, I would agree Samuel is better, but still, Lucio can head with the best, tackle, pass and has decent pace and is very comfortable on the ball. All defenders have mistakes in them, that doesnt mean they arent world class, just that they're human. :)

    Don't get me wrong, I like Lucio, he is class. But world class, I just don't know. But everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    What excites me most about the world cup is seeing what superstar Brazil has unearthed, someone with unique ability who will light up a game. They don't seem to have it this time round, which I think will take something away from the World Cup.

    I cannot see them winning it this time. I think this is a real chance for the likes of England and Portugal to take advantage. France seem in diserray too, and there is simply no logic in them leaving Benzema behind. Italy have an ageing side without the quality they have had in the past. Spain are the obvious threat, but a little bad luck along the way will put paid to that.

    Potential for shock value? Uruguay with their Ajax duo are certain to surprise for me.

  • Comment number 51.

    No mention of Pato? very dissapointed that he hasn't been selected. Did Dunga give a reason? He's the future of Brazil and is probably the best U-21 player in the world. He has had injuries this year but still deserves to go, easily better than the Baptista, Nilmar and Grafite.

  • Comment number 52.

    I love the selection of Brazil, Argentina, France,The dutch etc. How in the world will their be a world cup without Ronaldinho, Zanetti, Viera, Ruud. These guys are naturally gifted and give the younger ones encouragement but anyway its good for us. Its funny. Maradona picking colo who in place of Gabriel Milito?
    My predictions - Argentina will not go past the first round
    Brasil - Quarter Final
    France - First round
    Dutch - Semis
    Spain ?

  • Comment number 53.

    Hi Tim. Saw you at Sportv last night.

    Anyway... I think the local media has some points. The main grips are not exactly about who wasnt on the list, but about who WAS.

    To start, there is noone to replace Kaka. Yes, Ganso would be a bet. But is better to have a bet than having NOTHING. Kaka gets injured. What now? We will have Julio Batista in his place!!!! Thats despairing! As much as we know Ganso was never tested, we know he is a better playmaker than Julio Batista.

    And what about Josue?? Its a consensus in Brazil that everybody´s grannies play better football than Josué. Brazilians would be happy to have ANYBODY instead of Josué.

    Furthermore, another nonsense from Dunga was not calling Victor. The best goalkeeper in Brazil by far for 2 years already... and had ALREADY been called to the squad!

    Now, he didnt get LUCKY enough to play a real match in the Seleção, since as we all know, reserve goalkeepers depend a lot on luck to be able to have playtime. This luck, Doni and Gomes had. Are they better than Victor? No way.

    Good luck there is a reserve list. The entire country will be rooting for a few players of the brazilian squad to get injured till June, so guys like Carlos Eduardo (destroyed in the game he played with the Seleção) can be called to the squad.

    Btw, was the media nationalistic considering Neymar and Ganso to the Seleção? Probably! And thats GREAT. Because the Seleção is all about nationalism. And what any good nationalist who likes football must do is to improve the view of the brazilian championship and its clubs around the world. Calling brazilian-based players does that. Calling guys like Josué or Doni makes it seems our national league is so shallow we dont have replacements better than those two pinheads.

  • Comment number 54.

    50. At 3:32pm on 12 May 2010, tomefccam wrote
    maybe a good shout with paraguay, but I fancy mexico as i said earlier. Chile too will be ones to watch - they get the ball wide to exciting wingers - especially Alexis Sanchez.
    We seem to be in agreement on the other squads - some of them surprising, some of them just surprisingly average (France/Italy). If Spains bad luck continues, then this Cup is very open, but I am going to stick my neck out and pick Brazil as winners (unfortunately). England will be close though - in fact, the only thing that will stop England winning is the insistence of having to play gerrard! especially on the left - when we come up against a team with a half decent right side, poor Ashley Cole will be left horribly exposed, and that will be the end of the road!

  • Comment number 55.

    well, i'm a bit disappointed by some of dunga's selections. sad to see ronaldinho gaucho miss out, mixed about kleberson's inclusion, and happy to see grafite over that bum adriano :)

    biggest concern going in is - of course, if god forbid something happens to kaka, there is no real backup playmaker for brasil. would've been excellent to include ganso, a player who is young and fearless and would have had the capacity to light up the world stage if given the chance. but that will come in time. since brasil has 200MM coaches, there is always an uproar when the selecao for a world cup is announced. but now is the time to put complaints aside and back the canarinho. FORCA BRASIL!

  • Comment number 56.

    cannot have major gripes against dunga in any case. his selections have justified and brasil has achieved great success under him, albeit not in the traditional joga bonito style. there is no reason to doubt that this brasil team is still capable of glory.

    i was wishing for a rich blend of youth and experience. mostly this is a selecao stacked with experienced players, excellent defensive unit that will play counter attacking football and exploit opponents on set pieces. dunga has been given the task to right the wrong of 2006, and so far he's done quite well actually.

  • Comment number 57.

    Omission of Cambiasso and Zanetti!!! I'm particularly appalled at Zanetti's omission - without doubt, the guy is one of the best ever full backs to have played - IMO as good as or even better than Maldini, Carlos and Cafu, and he is still as good as ever at his age.

    Maradona won't have success with Argentina at this world cup because he doesn't have the tactical nous that is required to win at this level. His inability to select players with the experience and ability of the aforementioned two is clearly evidence of this. Clearly, his pathetic little ego feels threatened by the success and kudos that the two Inter players have garnered over the last few years.

  • Comment number 58.

    39. At 2:48pm on 12 May 2010, Pol wrote:
    colemany2k said: "I feel there going to bludgeon there way to winning the World Cup. Just like they did in 94"
    Just like they did in 94? Ever seen that little guy play - I believe he was called Romario?

    mmmm.....did u actually watch Brazil and Romario play in 94? Surely the most boring team to ever to win the W.C. Every time Romario touched the ball, he scored a goal - he only scored 5 (in 7)....not quite Maradona (in fact arguably the most overhyped player in W.C. history) - no the stars of that Brazilian team were the defenders - Marcio Santos, Mauro Silva and before he got sent off, Leonardo

  • Comment number 59.

    oh....and btw...Leaonardo....despite being about the most skillful player in that team, got sent off if you recall for.....bludgeoning an 'bludgeon' is actually a fairly apt description!!

  • Comment number 60.

    He was exposed in the confederations cup by the speed of the United states team. Credit to them that they came back to win but against any other big team they would have gone home. The US exposed us too.
    A world cup with boring brazil, Argentina, Italy, France,Germany,Pragmatic England, I guess the entertainment is going to come from Spain, Dutch,Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Africa maybe. I predict this World Cup will be won by a new country and not the usual suspects.

  • Comment number 61.

    48 - Nice to hear from a Bolivian on this issue - for what it's worth, I completely agree with you. For those who disagree to have a case, they'd have to be suggesting that Bolivia estabished La Paz in its current location in order to obtain an advantage at football. A crazy suggestion. I wish people would get over it. Or perhaps Blatter et al would like to outline the optimum conditions for football?

    I'm surprised to see Grafite in the squad for Brazil, the last time I saw that guy play for Wolfsburg he was hopeless.

  • Comment number 62.

    60. At 4:08pm on 12 May 2010, barca4ever wrote:
    Never rule out the Germans! lol. Now matter how poor their team looks on paper, boy is it a TEAM when they get to the big tournaments.
    And just worth remembering, they had the best qualification record.....

  • Comment number 63.

    I do not for the life of me understand the negativity surrounding Dunga and Brazil, for my money they will hammer medicore opposition and only be tested by the very very best. As for Maradona, I don't think he has it, I think it was a huge part of luck got them over the finish line, I think Argentina are finished in the short term as a world power of football.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think many people here are being narrow-minded about Brazil. Once they got going in qualifying they were fantastic. Dunga has made a very good selection; all of the players chosen played some part in qualifying and have been in good form for either their club or for the Selecao

    Neymar isn't a surprise omission, at 18 he's far too young, and the fact he's still playing in Brazil and has absolutely no experience of playing big European-based players is likely a reason for his exclusion. Tim is spot-on again with the Ronaldinho situation - they didn't ever look like needing him in qualifying, what's the point in wasting a place now?

    I think his striker selection is perfect as well. Grafite and Fabiano are great target men with natural positional sense (Grafite, for me, is horribly underrated), and Robinho and Nilmar are both capable of great trickery - creative players I'd say. The midfield is the tried and tested one from qualifying, Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo holding with Kaka free to roam in the hole. The defence, well we all know it's great, Lucio is one of the best centre-backs in the world at present. As said before, the wingbacks do the damage, but for me it's more exciting to watch than Barcelona's tedious slow game. As for world-class players, you've got Kaka, Robinho, Maicon, Dani Alves, Lucio, Julio Cesar, Michel Bastos... the list goes on.

    As for Argentina, Maradona's selection is an aberration. It will be hilarious to watch a such proud footballing nation turning on their idol when South Korea and Nigeria advance to the knockout round as their expense, but they've only got their ridiculous blind faith to blame.

  • Comment number 65.

    48 - i've often used this space to defend the right of bolivia to play at altitude.
    But there's no doubt that it does give the home team an advantage against opponents who have not had time to acclimatise - is it conceivable that the current bolivia side would beat argentina 6-1 under other conditions?
    For that reason the reference to the fact that brazil's defeat came at la paz - dunga and co weren't shedding any tears about it afterwards.

  • Comment number 66.

    Ronaldinho has not been a serious footballer for several seasons. The World Cup is not the place for foolishness. Dunga is a serious man and wants like-minded players on his team. Let the fans in the stands and at home have all the fun they want, but the players have to be serious about the task. Disappointed about Pato, but there are more effective players in the squad and his time will come.

  • Comment number 67.

    I think making a point about Bolivia playing at altitude, is like making a point that the Dutch are extremely tall, or that the spanish are really fast. La Paz is the Capital of Bolivia, it's part of who they are! If you want a fair playing field then lets get all players in the team to be the same weight height colour speed age. It's rediculous. We don't hear complaints about Moscow being too cold for example, or Nigeria or Eygpt being too hot do we? Everybody has to acclimatise to something and while altitude is a huge factor, you either change the rules and throw them out, or live the rules as they are. You canna have yer cake and eat it. I even think Brazil will score the most goals of any team this world cup and win games by record margins after what I have seen against European opposition.

  • Comment number 68.

    Julio Baptista, Nilmar, Elano and Ramires ahead of Pato Ronaldinho and Diego? please no one on earth can justify this except Dunga and Tim Vickery. I have watched all Serie A and La Liga games this season and I the last game Baptista played for Roam was Copa Italia quater final 3months ago...Where is Marcello? Micahel Bastos and who is the reserve left back? this blog is a joke.

  • Comment number 69.

    67. At 4:37pm on 12 May 2010, collie21 wrote:
    I dont think, anyone was complaining about the fact Bolivia's home games are played at altitude. All Tim just stated, that when it comes to South American qualifying, a defeat away at Bolivia, tends to be a shrug of the shoulders, compared to a "normal" defeat.
    It is a far more effective advantage to Bolivia, than pretty much anything else - such as big/loud crowd, narrow/wide pitch, or even the plastic pitch in Russia, so making reference to it being a cause for a loss there is pretty acceptable.

  • Comment number 70.

    It's a shame because for the neutrals, you want to see the best players in the world putting on a magnificent spectacle, and therefore you would prefer to see the likes of Ronaldinho, Adriano, Ronaldo, Nilmar etc. etc. Players that can create something out of nothing.

    But you have to understand that managers want solid reliability. You don't get that from anywhere near anything called reliability from those players, so you can't blame Dunga. It might make the football a bit more boring, but Brazil are more workmanlike than the teams full of flair and brilliance of old.

    As for Argentina, well Maradonna has taken a big risk. He is still somewhat unproven as a manager, so this World Cup could really make or break his reputation. No Cambiasso for me is staggering, but what do i know?

  • Comment number 71.

    The truth is that Argentina and Brasil could win this World Cup even with their B teams, only Spain poses a real threat. So leaving a few class players might be baffling to some people particularly the eurocentrics but they can't take all their "european stars".

    BTW The chances for Italy and Germany winning this WC are very thin, for England nil

  • Comment number 72.

    69. At 4:43pm on 12 May 2010, Nevs_A_Red wrote:
    67. At 4:37pm on 12 May 2010, collie21 wrote:
    I dont think, anyone was complaining about the fact Bolivia's home games are played at altitude. All Tim just stated, that when it comes to South American qualifying, a defeat away at Bolivia, tends to be a shrug of the shoulders, compared to a "normal" defeat.
    It is a far more effective advantage to Bolivia, than pretty much anything else - such as big/loud crowd, narrow/wide pitch, or even the plastic pitch in Russia, so making reference to it being a cause for a loss there is pretty acceptable.
    I might be wrong Nev but as far as I remember I think FIFA are looking to get them to play their home matches elsewhere. I don't know if that was a rumour or fact though.

  • Comment number 73.

    Palermo?? Lavezzi?? do you have to be an old team mate or play for Napoli to get the nod from Diego (in Datolos case, not even good enough for Naploi)? Don't even get me started on Maxi and the 2 muppets from Newcastle!

    the AFA should've binned him after qualification. Th outburst would've given them the perfect excuse.

    Hope Zanetti and Cambiasso lift the cup on the 22nd. Two stalwarts of a team that overcame "the best team in the world" ™. Should win Serie A on Sunday to add to the Coppa Italia. Possibly the first Italian team to win this treble (not totally sure on this tho'). Obviously not quite enough to convince El Diego. Maybe missing 3 pens in 1 game is the way to catch his eye??

  • Comment number 74.

    Okay I am wrong, they were banned for a while but FIFA backed down eventually.

  • Comment number 75.

    I would not be surprise if Argentina does well in the worldcup.I am not buying into the hype that not playing in europe means you haven't got the talent, which I assume Vick to be saying. As for Brazil, I've seen most of their Worldcup qualifying games and though they won most, they weren't impressive. Goals win games and that what they did, score goals. The final games against Argentina doesn't tell the real story. Argentina to me looks the better team, but Brazil score the goals. Le me ALERT you all! France,and Portugal are two teams with abundance of talent ready to be explode in the Worldcup. They did underperform in the Qualification round which should be a concern to the other Countries.

  • Comment number 76.

    TheMightyAndyGray said: "mmmm.....did u actually watch Brazil and Romario play in 94? Surely the most boring team to ever to win the W.C. Every time Romario touched the ball, he scored a goal - he only scored 5 (in 7)....not quite Maradona (in fact arguably the most overhyped player in W.C. history) - no the stars of that Brazilian team were the defenders - Marcio Santos, Mauro Silva and before he got sent off, Leonardo...Leaonardo....despite being about the most skillful player in that team, got sent off if you recall for.....bludgeoning an 'bludgeon' is actually a fairly apt description!!"

    Did I watch it? I did indeed...from the stands in fact, thanks for asking. How about you? The pub, or your couch?
    I've read this oul' crap about that Brazil team being boring before. Granted it was not a patch on the dazzling football on display in '82 or '86, but to describe it as "bludgeoning" or similar is lazy, and even clichéd a lot by people who maybe didn't even see those games. And Leonardo got sent off, so what? Jonas Thern nearly broke Branco (of Dunga's) leg for an atrocious tackle in one of that games against the Swedes. In the final Brazil at least attempted to was Italy that were perfectly happy to play for the draw.

  • Comment number 77.

    Hi Tim - I've just heard that Paraguay have announced their 30 man preliminary squad and that Salvador Cabanas did'nt make it. I know it was highly unlikely that he would be picked but it's a great tragedy for him and to football that he won't be at the World Cup. I hope he makes a recovery where he can at least play in europe for a couple of seasons before he retires (I know his age is against him at this stage). A true hero of mine.
    I'm absolutely gutted that I won't be able to see him play against my country (Ireland) later this month in a friendly.

    Can you tell us anything about his replacement Lucas Barrios? I believe he plays for Borrussia Dortmund and has recently only qualified to play for Paraguay as he was born in Argentina.

  • Comment number 78.

    Dunga has a leck of possibilities so he can make a orchestra with abilities players but he rather rely on commited players even they are not skilful than others like Ronaldinho, Pato, Diego, Marcelo, Neymar, P. Henrique etc. That is the way he chose to do his job even if he'll fail. I'd rather ronaldinho, marcelo, neymar ... but 2006 showed us how a spectacular team became terrible. A winner team make story not a brilliant team like Brazil was in 1982.

  • Comment number 79.

    chei, my team Nigeria have a realistic chance on June 12th.
    Bring on June 12th!

  • Comment number 80.

    68 - over the course of his reign i criticized dunga earlier and louder than many - it's not my type of football, and watching gilberto silva plod around pains me.
    but - a bit of humility in face of the facts. pleasing me is not top of dunga's list of priorities! Doing it his way has brought results, and whatever you or I might think about his squad, these players have earned the right to represent their country in the World Cup.

  • Comment number 81.

    @64: Neymar is too young... and doesnt has experience against european players. I agree. And I remember another player who didnt have experience against european players and was even younger... and won a World Cup in 1958? What was his name again? Oh, I remembered. It was someone named Pelé.

    A brazilian reporter made that exact question to Dunga: "can we assume that if you were the coach in 1958, Pelé would not have played that cup". The answer of Dunga (and Jorginho, who got pretty irritated), is that you cant compare ANYONE with Pelé. Both completely missed the point: that you DONT KNOW how good such promising young players are, unless you believe in their potential and take them to a Cup! Yes, Pelé is a dogma in Brasil, noone can even dare to compare anyone else with him. BUT back in 58 nobody knew that Pelé would become a legend, thus, its OBVIOUS that stupid Dunga would not call Pelé to the Seleção, had Dunga been the coach back then.

  • Comment number 82.

    anyway, those who agree with Dunga´s team still havent said who they believe will be Brazil´s playmaker in the event Kaka gets injured.

  • Comment number 83.

    How can Maradona be so stupid...I hate how he has his stupid pre-concieved notions of players who are fantastic, and won't select them because "he doesn't like them". We need Zanetti and Cambiasso on the squad and Banega would be a good choice too...Why Palermo? what an awful, awful choice.

  • Comment number 84.

    Have to agree with colemany2k and IanK
    Brazil will grind out wins and Maradona is a clown, wouldnt surprise me to se Argentina implode at training camp.
    I'm looking forward to seeing Paraguay and Chile who have a lot to prove and will be trying all out.

  • Comment number 85.

    'aceshigh' i'm a bit pleased to see some of dani alves' recent matches for barca. as a result of constantly pushing up, he's become even more involved in their attacking play and has started some nice passing besides crosses going. as an alternate to utility elano, or hardworker ramires or in the dire strait that kaka is injured, i think dani alves would be first to fill in. he doens't have the same creativity level of course but looking at that brasil squad, who does?

  • Comment number 86.

    66. At 4:37pm on 12 May 2010, LeeMeade wrote:
    Ronaldinho has not been a serious footballer for several seasons
    So lets get this straight, Ronaldinhu is so good that even when he is not serios he managed to be the best player in his team, 10 goals 14 assist in 35 games! Or AC Milan is just full of clownS, and many of those clowns (Borrelio, Pirlo, Huntelaar) are going to the WORLD CUP.

    Ask Milan fans, they are not happy the way Dugna is treating Pato and particulary Ronnie.

  • Comment number 87.

    Vickery a Dunga apologist! Would never have thought it. Terrible squad lacking invention in midfield (except Kaká who is out of form) and power up front (in case Luis Fabiano gets injured/suspended/dropped). This Squad won't win the cup. Especially not with Robinho (who is overshadowed by Ganso and Neymar and even young striker André in every game he plays for Santos).

  • Comment number 88.

    @85: thanks for the answer. I never thought of Daniel Alves in that role. Problem is... I guess neither has Dunga. One way or the other, if Dunga never tested Daniel Alves in that position, Daniel Alves in that position is as much of a bet as Ganso.

  • Comment number 89.

    just a little useless info for the non portuguese speakers here... Ganso means Goose... thus, in 2014, when luckily Dunga wont be coach anymore, we will have a nice attacking duo... Goose and Duck...

    ps: Zico was called Galinho (Little Rooster), so who knows... he is a coach... Little Rooster managing Goose and Duck?

    pps: the reason for each one´s nickname is very different. Alexandre Pato is only called that because he is from the city Pato Branco (White Duck), while Ganso got the nickname from his appearance.

    ppps: Galinho de Quintino was a nickname given to Zico. But Zico is also a nickname (with no meaning)

  • Comment number 90.

    Zico - as he explained to me himself - is because he comes from portuguese stock, so little Arthur was arturzico rather than arturzinho.

    Neymar/Pele. Please! Neymar is potentially great, but - Pele was doing well with the senior Brazil side a year before the 58 World Cup - 8 months before this one Neymar was failing in the World Under-17 Cup. There is a difference.

    Also, Neymar in domestic football is protected by the absurd criteria of Brazilian refs - everything's a foul. After years in Europe Robinho never managed to adapt to this one.

    Dunga apologist! Again, please! I've consistently argued the corner my my type of football - but let's recognise serious and hard work when we see it, even if we don't share all of its guiding principles. It's caled being fair.

    Also, the intellectual level of some of Dunga's critics is truly appalling - lazy minded. At the press conference one figure, a big name journo, launched into Dunga, saying that that because he's not taking dunga he will go down in history alongside cesar luis menotti of argentina, the coach who didn't select the 17 year old maradona for the 1978 world cup..... which argentina won! I'm sure dunga would be very pleased to go down in history alongside cesar luis menotti - for this reason anyway.

  • Comment number 91.

    Tim, so anyone who doesn't agree with your praise for Dunga's selections is "lazy-minded"? Hmm. Look closely at the squad and you will see it is deficient in many areas and duplicanted in many more (esp. volante, Dunga's own position). It is a desperate squad but, as anyone who lives in Brazil knows, Dunga doesn't attend matches so has no idea who is playing well.

  • Comment number 92.

    Maradona knows he is not a tactic's master he is not a fool, he is selecting a team of players who can work out with his method, i mean he is a motivator thats strong point. Cambiasso a Zanetti are well known here as high pro footballers but cold hearted too, if you know what i mean, Maradona knows he wont make an impact over them, maybe this is hard to see for an european but it makes a difference, Palermo has already prove his supernatural instinc for score, he scored the msot important goals for Boca Juniors in the last 10 years and also with few games in the national team scored the most important goal of the qualification, you can be sure he will brake his leg scoring a goal if its neccesary, that kind of players Maradona wants in his team, players like Mercie who for sure will improve his performance to the best with the inspiration and motivation that Maradona can provide.
    We have already played a WC with the best players (the europeans) for the media, we actually did that in the last three WCs, now is time to try something different, we are going with a team of warriors to SA and not to entretein but to bring home that sneaky throphy.
    My prediction: Argentina won the thing and Spain will be the first of the candidates falling down.

  • Comment number 93.


    Regarding Ronaldinho, I say good riddance... If it wasn't for Inter, the scudetto would have been fought by the Sicilian teams & Bari. Too much importance has been placed on MIlan, which is a collection of has-beens... they have three guys (Dinho, Pirlo & Seerdof) that play the same position (4 if you include Beckham). Even bringing Leonardo seemed like some half-baked idea to "right" such a lousy investment (Dinho).

    Still, with the wealth of players in the Brazilian League... Dunga could've given Diego Souza & Diego Tardelli a courtesy look. Robinho may be talented but he's a showboating annoyance in my view.

    As for Banega, that one is tough. The kid is terrific, disciplinary issues may be the reason.

  • Comment number 94.

    It seems to me as though both squads have been picked pretty much according to form, as far as the coaches go. Dunga likes his teams to be big, physical, well-drilled and hard-working and has selected guys that will fit into that, with Kaka and possibly Robinho supplying the craft.

    Maradona doesn't really seem to know what he wants and has gone for a hotch-potch of players that might win the tournament on sheer attacking talent alone but could just as easily get knocked out very early on, thanks to shoddy defending and a lack of a clear game plan.

  • Comment number 95.

    Im deeply disapointed at Cambiasso,Banega, Lucho not being in the squad. Less so about Zanetti he was brillant against Barca but had put in some dispointing displays for the national team when picked.

    There must be some underlying reason for the exlusion of the the above players, especially the three central midfielders (its been stated but the squad is desperatly short of altenatives to Masch-Veron, i.e. certain players do not get along...thats why those have been excluded - for the greater good of the team...because I just dont buy into the idea that Maradona is this incompetent!

    Any speculation on this?

    At the end of the day though there will be no issue if Argentina go all the way! Cannot wait for the World Cup to begin but i do love the build up!

  • Comment number 96.

    Tim vickery i just wanted to one point out? surely mardonna was mad to leave out cambiasso and zanetti they have key for inters succes this season and a typical example of that would be their journey to the final in the cl. Sorry but if you think veron is good enough for dm ! than the world has gone mad.

    Im not surpised why madornna is so woeful when it comes to picking players ! riquemleme arugably one of argentinas best holding midfielders until those two had a falling out what a shame i think he was one of the reasons why they didnt qualify so easily as they should have done!.

    On to brazil i totally understand why ronaldinhos and adrianos exclusion everybody knows about their problems. But sorry how could he leave out pato? you forget to mention him hes been arguably ac milans stand out player in their woeful season!. Yes hes been injured but he stil manages to score goals!.

    Robinho could have easily been dropped out with his problems at city and all,grafite hasnt been hitting the goals as much this season . There are also other arguements against dungas decision to pick these players.

    Again you have julio baptista this man doesnt even get a game at roma,klerson? seriously ,josue has had an average season with wolsburg?,felipe melo? has been rubbish for juventus all season. You can talk about ronaldinhos and adrianos exclusion but sorry half of these players have been just as average this year no excauses about that.

    Other players like hulk?, how did he get overlooked?,alex has been fantastic for chelsea? again overlooked?,cris was important to lyon in their quest for the semi finals of the champions league i could go on and on dunga it looks like hes picked his favourites rather than looking at the players that have performed quite decently for their respected clubs this season?.

    What is your take on this tim?

  • Comment number 97.

    Tim,great blog.Applause. Finally you got over your 'no samba-dance' rant. Good to see a good critic come to realise that there is something called justification in others part too. As for the squad selection,i was pretty much close myself. Never expect surprises from a brazilian coach. But i have always been critical of what having gilberto silva meant to dunga. I think many know him as a that defensive holding midfielder which he has an impresson of. But that position as a footballer is as modern as makelele and i don't think dunga understands it so perfectly. Instead,like you said in a blog long ago,gilberto is that to dunga what dunga was to brazil and he exploits that take advantage of what lucio is to brazil this time around. Whenever i've seen brazil play with gilberto silva in it,lucio gets to a sweeper position,an unorthodox position these days. Lucio often goes out on run in among the oppositions midfield while playing for club.But with brazil,except in corners and when field possession is held high he rarely crosses the half-line.That acts to brazil advantage of not losing,but doesn't help out with winning,as he is so physical a presence while having these runs. A hindrance to brazils workman-like approach is surely the two-man defensive midfielder minded teams(like brazil themselves are sometimes). They don't have attacking mind or legs to aid kaka when the game goes into a deadlock.They barely have an attacking midfielder to substitute when the opposition park the bus between 30 to 40 yards and man mark kaka...Italy and germany look too obscure to bet on. But after 2006 i guess people don't risk their hearts against these two teams.

  • Comment number 98.

    And about argentina,i'm shell-shocked by the absence of both zanneti and banega. I see that diego is trying to build the team around messi but seems he has no idea what tactics when employed can result in giving messi the space. Don't know if anyone have seen and kept in mind but JSV(veron) is never man marked and even against brazil he was so free because the brazilian defensive midfielder himself was helping out the full-back in marking,channeling and dispossessing messi. Veron never had that gift named creativity and is so casual passer of the ball. But i tell you casual passer of the ball are more attractive and diego got that very impression and everyone knows his naivety. What argentina need to do is develop another channel to pull out the defenders away from messi and diego should know that diagonal balls from veron aren't an inch lethal as we have seen during the qualifying. Argentina have 3best strikers that can hold the ball up high and pass in among the final yards,namely milito,tevez and aguero. Even with messi and these three outstanding strikers argentina's problem is rather scoring a goal than conceding. Diego is so good a player rather than only a striker that should start but i don't see that happening. As for the defense 4centre backs..!!I know its kinda silly but diego has a point. No full backs surging forward and having masch as the holding midfielder. In a normal thinking world its quite defensive,almost sealed defense. But can only 5 men playing high up make goals for argentina? Seems maradona believes messi is really the maradona of post-modern football. Lastly for messi,he will come out as either mess-iah or mess-ed.

  • Comment number 99.

    I have to agree with AcesHigh (53 & others)

    Whilst I don't necessarily agree with a few of Dunga's selections I can see how he can justify them, for example...

    Grafite...he wanted another strong striker to lead the line if he loses Fabiano, Adriano is way too fat and would rather pay a R$20,000 fine to Flamengo than turn up to training. I also don't think he sees Pato in this mould, in fact Pato simply doesn't fit anywhere into the system as he sees it.

    Gilberto Silva...Despite all his critics he is one of those who can justify his call up on the basis of minutes played in the successful qualifying bid as well as bringing an untold wealth of experience.

    The selections I really have a problem with are Josué and Julio Baptista. Ok Julio Baptista got some gametime in qualifying but if Dunga really believes that he could stand in for Kaká (he said as much in an interview on TV Globo) then surely his stubbornness is bordering on stupidity! As for Josué, can somebody please tell me exactly what he has done when playing for anyone????

    I support Santos here in Brasil because my better half is Santista (not always easy when living in Rio!) and have watched all of their games this season and even if I put my allegiances aside I still think that Ganso should have been given a place. I first watched him at the Villa Belmiro nearly a year ago and picked him out as having great technique if lacking a little end product but he has come on in leaps and bounds this season and has begun to show real leadership on top of his great vision and creativity and deserves a spot.

    Also, Tim mentioned that selecting players who are playing in Brasil at the moment is like chosing from the Carling Cup, although I agree that the State Championships are a bit ridiculous with all the minnows still included, it should be said that Santos had to beat the mighty São Paulo (comfortably in the end) to reach the final and are also contesting the semifinal of the Copa do Brasil tonight having defeated a strong Atlético side in the quarters.

    I could ramble on all night about Ganso's qualities but my main gripe is with the lack of a viable substitute for Kaká, if Ganso is too young, surely someone like Diego would be a better option.

    It's all made for a great chat here that's for sure!!

  • Comment number 100.

    A very well written and thoughtful article on the required discipline when pursuing Team objectives. But unfortunately the 2010 World Cup will miss a talented soccer player.


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