BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for May 2011

Messi the perfect combination

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Tim Vickery | 13:05 UK time, Monday, 30 May 2011

It is too soon to know where he is going to end up in the pantheon, but Lionel Messi's performance on Saturday ensures beyond all doubt that he belongs among the all time greats.

Watching him scale the heights has given me particular pleasure because I had the good fortune to be there at the start of the journey, the moment when he first appeared before a mass public.

The event was the South American Under-20 Championships, staged in Colombia at the start of 2005.

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Are Argentina better off without Tevez?

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Tim Vickery | 07:12 UK time, Monday, 23 May 2011

The stocky shadow of Carlos Tevez is likely to be cast all over the Copa America in Argentina this July.

The Manchester City striker will almost certainly not be picked for the tournament as Argentina coach Sergio Batista is apparently building a side without him.

He is attempting to create an imitation Barcelona, with Lionel Messi in the 'false number nine' role that Pep Guardiola invented for him with the Catalan club. The back-up is to use Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid as a target man striker.

Tevez, then, is not in the frame in his favourite centre forward role, and he is not a flank flier like Ezequiel Lavezzi and Angel Di Maria, Batista's other strikers in his 4-3-3 foprmation - though it would be no surprise if Sergio Aguero were to force his way in and play the David Villa role in Batista's Buenos Aires Barcelona.

And if Tevez is not going to be in the starting line-up, having him in the squad carries an obvious risk.

As fans of most of the teams he has played for can testify, Tevez is a moaner.

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Long journey pays off for Pedroza

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Tim Vickery | 10:21 UK time, Monday, 16 May 2011

The fascinating 51-year history of the Copa Libertadores has now been further enriched by the emergence of a goalscorer born in England.

Antonio Pedroza's journey has taken him from Chester to Chiapas, the town of his birth to the region in the south of Mexico where he now plays as a striker for Jaguares.

The son of a Mexican father and an English mother, Pedroza ensured that the club's debut campaign in the Libertadores got off to a good start when, just before his 20th birthday, he scored in both legs of their qualifying match against Alianza Lima of Peru.

But then little was seen of him - until last week's quarter-final first leg at home to Cerro Porteno of Paraguay.

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Copa exits may prompt Brazil tactics re-think

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Tim Vickery | 07:42 UK time, Monday, 9 May 2011

Asuncion is currently the capital of South American football - and not just because the offices of the continent's governing federation are situated on the outskirts of the Paraguayan capital.

Eight teams are left standing in the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League, and two of them are based in the Paraguayan capital; Cerro Porteno, who have blown hot, cold and lukewarm during the competition, and Libertad, who have been consistently excellent. No other country can boast more than one club in the last eight.

In the case of Argentina, the traditional power in the Libertadores, this is no longer a surprise. It merely repeats the pattern of recent years - but for Brazil, it is a bombshell.

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England could learn lessons from Colombia's Cup

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Tim Vickery | 09:44 UK time, Monday, 2 May 2011

The memories came flooding back last week when the draw was held for the Under-20 World Cup, which kicks off in Colombia at the end of July.

Ten years ago I travelled up there for the Copa America. It was the first time that Colombia had staged a major tournament, and some doubted that they could do it.

The political moment in the country was tense, with guerrilla forces offering a threat. In the build-up to the tournament there were car-bomb attacks in some of the major cities, and then the vice-president of the Colombian FA was kidnapped.

The Copa America was postponed for a few days. Then it was back on again - but without Argentina, who decided a couple of days before the kick-off that they would not be going.

Brazil's midfielder Mauro Silva got closer. He arrived at the airport, checked in his luggage - and then decided he was too scared to go. It was with some trepidation that I flew up from Rio.

I need not have worried. The tournament went off smoothly, and the Colombians proved to be wonderfully warm hosts. They turned out in numbers for all the games, genuinely appreciative that all these teams had decided to visit their country.

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