BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for January 2011

Striker Suarez fits the bill for Liverpool

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Tim Vickery | 16:46 UK time, Monday, 31 January 2011

The last time I saw new Liverpool signing Luis Suarez in the flesh, he was playing his biggest game so far in his native continent.

It was November 2009, and Uruguay were taking on Costa Rica with the final place in South Africa 2010 at stake. As Uruguay coach Oscar Washington Tabarez reflected recently, the World Cup can be enjoyed but the qualification process has to be suffered.

Uruguay certainly suffered to book their place, and despite having a 1-0 lead from the away leg, they were certainly suffering that night against Costa Rica. They dominated the game, but while the goals refused to go in, nerves were jangling, especially for Suarez.

The young striker had an unhappy evening. He started badly, and instead of easing his way into the game with some simple lay-offs, he kept searching for the extravagant option, trying too hard and only making things worse. Soon after the hour mark, coach Tabarez had suffered enough, and Suarez was substituted.

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Crunch time for Ronaldo and Corinthians

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Tim Vickery | 15:39 UK time, Monday, 24 January 2011

More than eight years after combining to such good effect in South Korea and Japan, the 3 Rs of Brazil's last World Cup win are now all back at home playing for major clubs.

As discussed in this space last week, Ronaldinho has joined Flamengo. On Saturday, Rivaldo was snapped up by Sao Paulo. And, of course, there is Ronaldo at Corinthians.

Ronaldo is busy preparing for the final big challenge of his career. If all goes to plan, he will hang up his boots in December, at the scene of his greatest triumph, travelling to Japan to dispute another world title, this one of clubs rather than national teams.

It can only happen if Corinthians become South American champions by winning the Copa Libertadores in June. This, then, is a quest that could dominate Ronaldo's last year as a player. Alternatively, the dream could all be over by the middle of next week.

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One last hurrah from Ronaldinho...?

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Tim Vickery | 11:15 UK time, Monday, 17 January 2011

On a Brazilian TV show on Saturday I was asked to explain the success of the English Premier League.

The answer that instantly came into my mind was the mixture between the old and the new. Modern ideas - the money and the business practices - have been planted in fertile soil because the tradition of the game - its roots in the world's first industrial society - is so strong.

There was another point I might have made which would have been of more relevance to the audience. Outnumbered by the minnows, the big clubs were part of a structure which did not attend their interests. They spent the money, attracted the crowds, but then had to divide the TV revenue with the professional clubs of all four divisions. So they broke away to form their own structure, and the rest is history.

Brazil's big clubs find themselves facing a similar fork in the road - as the events of the last few days have made clear.

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South American youngsters set to shine

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Tim Vickery | 11:30 UK time, Monday, 10 January 2011

The season kicks off on my side of the Atlantic this weekend with one of the great hidden gems of the footballing calendar - the South American under-20 Championship.

Back in 1954, when it was first held, this was an out-and-out youth competition. It is stretching the point to say the same thing today. In contemporary South American football there are teenagers taking on senior roles with their club sides. This year's main attraction is Neymar, who, like Adriano in the 2001 tournament, is going to the under-20 Championship having already represented Brazil at senior level. Carlos Tevez was already a Boca Juniors idol when he played for Argentina in the 2003 tournament.

But there are also plenty of undiscovered jewels on show. A team-mate of Tevez back in 2003 was Javier Mascherano. At the time he had not played a senior game for River Plate. But he was so impressive in the under-20s that he was fast-tracked. A few months later he played for the full Argentina side - still without having made his River Plate debut.

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Can Ganso make his mark?

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Tim Vickery | 10:43 UK time, Monday, 3 January 2011

One of the many wonderful things about covering South American football is the opportunity to watch young talent bloom. Yet too often that process is interrupted prematurely, the player sold off to Europe at a dangerously early stage in his career.

That is what has happened to Marcos Rojo, who made such an impact in the second half of 2010 as Estudiantes won the Argentine championship. Could this be the attacking left-back that his country have been looking for?

I was hoping to draw some conclusions from the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League, which kicks off in a few weeks. Yet Rojo will not be participating following his sale to Spartak Moscow.

Further north there is Fernando Uribe, the interesting centre forward in the Once Caldas side that has just won the Colombian title under former Manchester City assistant coach Juan Carlos Osorio.

Uribe finishes well and is highly proficient at timing his runs to get behind the opposing defence. The rest of his game needs work. Could he show signs of development in this year's Libertadores? It seems not, as he looks set to join Chievo in Italy.

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