BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for September 2010

Sandro keen to ignore talk of home

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Tim Vickery | 10:27 UK time, Monday, 27 September 2010

Millions of people every year move to live in a new country and struggle to make sense of their new surroundings as they deal with a different climate, new language and unfamiliar culture.

The fascinating thing about footballers is that they go through this process in public. Everything they do is geared towards their performance on the pitch, where their work (i.e. the success of their adaptation) is viewed and judged by thousands in the stadium and millions watching on television.

Extra interest is added by the fact that footballers have not usually grown up as global citizens. They are frequently drawn from the lower end of the social scale, with little access to cultures outside their own. Then, of course, there is their youth. Many of the migrating players are at an age when they are going through changes and establishing their own identity as an adult - a process that can be difficult enough on familiar ground.

It is hardly surprising, then, that there are casualties - players unable to cope and whose potential is never transformed into reality.

Sandro, Tottenham's new Brazilian acquisition, is determined not to be one of them.

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Why the Argentine rollercoaster fails to thrill

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Tim Vickery | 14:09 UK time, Monday, 20 September 2010

Chelsea's start to the season shows it is not easy for a competition to retain both quality and competitive balance.

The Premier League has a collective TV deal, with a more equitable distribution of television money than some other major leagues. Even so, those clubs with a wealthy benefactor or a huge fan base can put themselves streets ahead of weaker rivals, while only a handful of clubs go into the season with any realistic chance of winning. A dose of predictability is the price paid for the quality on show.

It is the opposite of domestic football in Argentina, where the first division has become wildly unpredictable. However, the price paid for this excitement is a lack of quality.

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Emirates experience leaves me jealous

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Tim Vickery | 08:13 UK time, Thursday, 16 September 2010

Emirates Stadium

Before Arsenal's massacre of Braga, the last time I was at a Champions League game was when the tournament was still called the European Cup.

In 1992 - a couple of years before moving off to Brazil - I was lucky enough to be at the old Wembley for the final between Barcelona and Sampdoria. It is one of my happiest football memories. The sun shone, London turned into the Mediterranean for the occasion and two excellent sides served up an enthralling game, decided in Barcelona's favour with a goal in the last minute of extra time.

The British media were wowed by the technique and intelligence on show from the two teams. It was light years in advance of anything that was being played in England, where clubs were still feeling their way back after the ban from European competition.

Eighteen years later, Barcelona remain a benchmark and the reigning champions of the continent are from Italy. In the meantime, English football has gone through enormous changes. Arsenal fans still refer to the North Bank and the Clock End but little else from 2010 would make sense from a perspective of eighteen years ago.

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The boys from Brazil

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Tim Vickery | 13:27 UK time, Monday, 13 September 2010

Symbol of exotic Brazil, Carmen Miranda was in fact born in Portugal. When she was young, her family decided to try their luck down South American way.

These days, the flow is in the opposite direction. Bananas, said Carmen, were her business. The business of Braga, meanwhile, is importing Brazilians. The provincial club, who visit Arsenal on Wednesday, are attempting to disturb the peace of Portugal's traditional big three - Benfica, Porto and Sporting - with a squad that includes 17 representatives of the country's former colony.

Perhaps it is payback time. After all, the Portuguese contribution to Brazilian football is considerable - especially in the history of Vasco da Gama, the Rio club dominated by immigrants from the old country.

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Testing times for Argentina caretaker coach Batista

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Tim Vickery | 20:34 UK time, Sunday, 5 September 2010

For South America's national teams, there are no competitive matches until the Copa America next June - and that tournament is primarily a warm-up for the next set of World Cup qualifiers, which get under way soon afterwards.

This, then, is a transitional time - a moment for fresh players to be tested and new coaches to be appointed.

This weekend's round of friendlies will have left some of those coaches with big smiles on their faces. Earlier this year, Colombia re-appointed Hernan Dario Gomez, who took them to the 1998 World Cup and was in charge of Ecuador four years later. On Friday, he chalked up his first win in this new spell with an excellent 2-0 triumph away to Venezuela.

Ecuador, meanwhile, have gone Colombian once more, appointing Reinaldo Rueda, who took Honduras to the recent World Cup in South Africa. His reign could hardly have got off to a better start on Saturday, when Cristian Benitez scored after 30 seconds as Ecuador won 2-1 away to a strong Mexico team.

Peru also took a step in the right direction, winning 2-0 away to Canada in their first match under Sergio Markarian, a vastly experienced Uruguayan who qualified Paraguay for the 2002 World Cup.

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