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Chile plot course for South Africa 2010

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Tim Vickery | 07:25 UK time, Monday, 8 June 2009

Four of the five games in this weekend's 13 round of South American World Cup qualifiers were won by the away team.

That's a remarkable statistic in a continent where so often the home sides come out on top. Before this round, the campaign was reproducing the standard South American ratio of 3 to 1, with 31 home wins to 10 away.

So there are four teams entitled to feel happy with their 90 minutes' work. All were great results. But in my mind, there is no doubt whatsoever as to which was the most impressive performance.

It is not Venezuela's 1-0 victory away to Bolivia, even though it meant overcoming the hazards of extreme altitude. Venezuela sent a group of players up the mountains early to acclimatise to the conditions, and their young side defended well.

On the other hand, the win was something of a freak. They failed to manage a serious shot -the goal came from a cross heading straight to the Bolivian keeper until one of his defenders turned it into his own net.

It's not Ecuador's 2-1 win in Peru, although they had four senior players suspended and one injured. Jefferson Montero confirmed his immense potential with a goal - but it should be borne in mind that Peru are stranded on the bottom of the table and this was their fifth consecutive defeat.

It's not even Brazil's extraordinary 4-0 win away to Uruguay, even though this was history in the making - in emphatic style.

Brazil had never before beaten Uruguay in a major competitive match in the Centenario stadium, and broke the hoodoo with a display of their counter-attacking prowess.

Nevertheless, the corner count of 15-2 in Uruguay's favour indicates where the action took place - and the scoreline is distorted by the tale of two contrasting keepers.

Swap over Brazil's magnificent Julio Cesar for Uruguay's hapless Sebastian Viera and the outcome may well have been different.

Which leaves Chile and their 2-0 triumph in Paraguay.

There was no need for any great heroics from Claudio Bravo in the Chilean goal. Chile travelled to Asuncion to meet the team who were at the top of the group, with a 100% home record - and beat them in style.

Before the game, Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino suggested that the winners would book their ticket to South Africa. If he is correct and Chile are all but home and dry, there is much to celebrate.


The World Cup will gain an ambitious, attacking side who produce some exhilarating moments. Its architect, coach Marcelo Bielsa, richly deserves another crack at international football's top prize.

Bielsa took his native Argentina to the 2002 World Cup. They had been superb in qualification, and were justly placed among the tournament favourites. But Japan/South Korea 2002 was an unusual tournament.

Held early to avoid the rainy season, it left those who had played the gruelling European season with limited recovery time. Argentina found themselves physically incapable of playing Bielsa's high energy attacking game, and went out in the first round.

But his philosophy remains intact. Bielsa wants to attack. He wants the game to take place in the opponent's half of the field, and so he has little use for the conventional full back. He wants his width higher up the pitch.

If the opponent attacks with two strikers, as Paraguay did on Saturday, Bielsa will defend with three, and lay out his side in a 3-3-1-3 formation.

Paraguay looked to hit strikers Cardozo and Haedo Valdez early - but they were taken care of by Chile's defensive line - and the Paraguayan midfield found it hard to get up in support because they were being pinned back by a Chile side anxious to impose itself on the game.

Chile's two goals bore out Bielsa's faith in the value of wingers - both to get behind the opposing defence but also to stretch them, and create space for infiltrations through the middle.

The first goal was an example - tricky right winger Alexis Sanchez slipping in a pass for attacking midfielder Mati Fernandez to burst through and score with a subtle finish.

The second was classic wing play, Jean Beausejour on the left teasing his full back, getting to the byeline and curling over a cross headed in at the far post by centre forward Humberto Suazo.

Martino was honest enough to admit that his side had been outplayed, and described Chile's inter-passing as the best on show in South America at the moment.

On Wednesday, Chile take on Bolivia in front of their own fans in Santiago. It should be their home banker - and a win will take them to 26 points with four rounds to go.

In previous campaigns 28 points have always been good enough for automatic qualification. Chile's first World Cup since 1998 is in sight.

Wednesday's match will be a test of the team's capacity to cope with the euphoria engendered by their own performances. But the real test will come next year - when Bielsa returns to the World Cup with a point to prove.

Comments on this piece in the space provided. Other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag;

Q) Seeing as Leonardo has been made AC Milan manager, how do you think he is going to fare?
Ayo Ogundipe

A) A fascinating one, indeed. I can only see this as a response to what Guardiola has done at Barcelona - appoint someone from within, an ex-player with a connection to the core values of the club.

If this view is correct, then Leonardo certainly has a lot to live up to. I don't think he was Guardiola's equal as a player, and I'll be surprised if he has the same vision of the game.

What interests me most about the appointment is finding out whether Leonardo can take the tough decisions - he's always struck me as a nice, well brought-up type of person who says all the right things but perhaps doesn't want to offend people.

Guardiola walked straight in and cut out what he saw as deadwood - Ronaldinho and Deco were moved on, some criticized it at the time but a year later it looks like a masterstroke. Can Leonardo assert his presence in the same way?

Q) As an avid Liverpool fan, I see we have been linked to Kleber of Cruzeiro over the last few days. Are you able to shed any light on him?
Isaac Keteku

He said that Liverpool were interested, the club said they'd not received an offer, so maybe this is agent talk.

He's a talented support striker, helped Brazil win the 2003 World Youth Cup, and was then largely forgotten at home after moving to Ukraine and spending five year with Dynamo Kiev. Came back last year with Palmeiras, and with Cruzeiro this year.

Lots of talent, lots of problems. Got sent off again on Sunday, has already been sent off twice in this year's Libertadores and seems to have real difficulties controlling himself. He's 26 in August, so if he's going to mature a bit then he's leaving it late.




  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Tim,

    What has the reaction been like in South America to the Argentina performance? Watched the game on Sky and thought they looked like a team who didn't understand how to play the system the manager wanted... At one point it looked like they had a back 3, Gago and Masch sitting, Guttierez as left wing back, Veron floating and three up front with absolutely no-one on the right side! Seem s to be a big problem, if Zanetti is not on the right then they don't seem to have a back up plan. Also, seems to me that all three of Tevez, Messi and Aguero would play better off a centre forward like Milito rather than 3 little men. I could almost see them playing the Liverpool 4-2-3-1 shape.

    Secondly, how have Peru managed to find a generation of footballers with no pace. It was funny watching the game last night, listening to the commentator "the problem with Vargas, no pace" and "the problem with Guerrero, no pace"... Seems like a few more tough years ahead unless the bring back Farfan and Manco develops.

  • Comment number 2.

    Were you surprised at how easy Brazil won? And what is going with Mexico?? They're in danger of not qualifying! they lost again this time to el salvador.

  • Comment number 3.

    hi tim,
    well i was watching the brazil vs uruguay game and i dnt understand why dunga do not want to include pato in the team cos for me i think he is a better player than batista and fabiano even if he scores but pato i see him as the future of brazillian attack and i think he must be really fustrated that those over rated players are selected ahead of him . can u give me your opinion on this

  • Comment number 4.

    Good blog, always enjoy reading it. South American football just ain't straight forward. Be good to see a team like Chile back in the World Cup if they go on to qualify

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Tim

    I'm very sorry, but I must whole-heartedly disagree with your comments about Leonardo being a response to Pep at Barca.

    Italian clubs have been in the habit of appointing ex-players as managers for far longer than this sudden proliferate across England and Spain - Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti, for starters, were from this boat. Giovanni Trapattoni is perhaps one of the best managers to have come directly from the playing world, but then there are other names such as Roberto Mancini.

    The only reason why Pep is so famous, let's be fair, is the proliferation of media nowadays compared to when, say, Capello was appointed, and the style in which Barcelona did a historic treble. But to claim that Barcelona have had some pioneering vision in appointing a former player as their manager, to subsequently go on and do things successfully, is erroneous, and I must whole heartedly disagree.

    Kind regards

  • Comment number 6.

    Indeed a Channel 4 blog (a site I'm not a very big fan of, for their anti-Inter perspectives) illustrates my point quite well -

  • Comment number 7.

    Good to see that Chile won in a week when they bid Marcelo Salas a happy retirement:

  • Comment number 8.

    To Henry,

    Im not sure Tim was suggesting that Milan have suddenly realised the potential of a former player becoming the manager. As you say there is a history of it in Italy. I think it was more just in the (vain) hope that they could pull the same trick of quick, outstanding success that Barca have.

    Of course, their squad is no where near as good, so Leonardo will have to be twice as good as Guardiola to have a chance to getting the same success.

  • Comment number 9.

    And Leonardo won't. Italian football is full of Premiership cast offs...

    Lets be fair Italian football is well below the levels of the Prem and La Liga...

  • Comment number 10.

    Another great blog, Tim.

    Without any real fullbacks, how does Chili cope with an opposition side that uses their flanks? I can imagine they will be outnumbered on the flanks, so it's interesting to see how they deal with it.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Tim,

    Has Birmingham's new signing Christian Benitez taken any part in Ecuador's qualification campaign? At what success? Do you think he will cut it in the Premier League?

  • Comment number 12.

    is it your opinion that Antonio Valencia would choose Man Utd over Real Madrid as rumours have suggested or do you think he will try his luck in Spain

  • Comment number 13.

    Having watched alot of South American football over the last few years, and following up your blog of last week I have been really impressed by Humberto Suazo the striker playing upront by Chile. He has a good work rate and a great scoring record. I understand he is playing in Mexico now and was wondering if you think he could tell me anything about him, could he make the step up to play in Europe ? and weather any teams had been showing an intrest in him?

    Cheers Tim

    Charley King

  • Comment number 14.

    The agent of Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi has claimed Liverpool have made a concrete bid for the Argentine striker. What do you make him?

    Ive seen him in patches and was impressed with his speed and touch. Can he therefore make it in the PL?

  • Comment number 15.

    Having watched alot of South American football over the last few years, and following up your blog of last week I have been really impressed by Humberto Suazo the striker playing upront by Chile. He has a good work rate and a great scoring record. I understand he is playing in Mexico now and was wondering if you could tell me anything about him, could he make the step up to play in Europe ? and weather any teams had been showing an intrest in him?

    Cheers Tim

    Charley King

  • Comment number 16.

    5 - It is not the fact that Leonardo and Guardiola were both players, it is that Leonardo has a strong connection to AC Milan and Guardiola has a strong connection with Barcelona.

    This may be the case of Trapattoni in AC Milan in the 70's, but not the case of Ancelotti, who was already a well-established manager when took the job as manager in the club he made his name. Capello also made his way as coach to assistant to manager in the club he ended his career, but it wasn't the club he was associated with, after all he only spent the 3 last years of his career in AC Milan and the rest of his career in Roma!

    Mancini may have played in two of the three clubs he managed(Lazio and Fiorentina), but those were in the end of his career, spending 2 years in Lazio and not even six months in Fiorentina. He never even had time to learn the values of those clubs.

    Having Guardiola or Leonardo as manager in their clubs is the same of having Roy Keane managing Man Utd, not Ipswich.

  • Comment number 17.

    I've just realized that Trapattoni didn't ever manage Milan in full-time, only taking the job as caretaker two times! He went to make his name as manager in a very different club, Juventus.

  • Comment number 18.

    I share your view Tim. Chile has a nice run in now and if they can win their next two home matches, I think they can start planning for South Africa. I'm a big fan of Bielsa and I think they'll surprise a few teams next summer.

    I still think that Venezuela can nick the final playoff spot for a place in South Africa. It would be really nice for them, to go from whipping boys to one of the main contenders in the region to qualify. They are the only team from the region not to play in a world cup finals! Their home matches are definitely winnable (especially if they face an already qualified Paraguay.)

    The race for the playoff spots looks really tight though! Uruguay, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia all have a shot at it really.

  • Comment number 19.

    Everyone knows the impact of Cruyff and his Dream Team in Catalan and someone like Guardiola who is a symbol of Catalan culture and continues the Cruyff philosophy was to hire someone with that vision. Plus people within saw more than that; he was a disciplinarian and great attention to detail.

    Leonardo is not a response to Pep but it is a reaffirmation that a young coach with the core values of Milan can bring great success without as such a great overhaul. Pep brought the best out of his players while getting rid of the excess baggage, playing with great style.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Tim,

    Thought Chile were good in Paraguay but what has happened to Claudio Maldonado, one of the best holding midfielders in South America?

  • Comment number 21.

    hello tim,

    i noticed recently that japan have been invited to play at the next copa america and i was wondering what critera you have to fulfill in order to get an invite ? the reason i ask is i wondered if england would ever get an invite to play in such a prestigious tournament ?

  • Comment number 22.

    Hey guys

    You are meant to comment or contribute to the blog and not to ask questions.. out of the 20 comments above , almost 18 of them are all asking Tim one question or the other. you know where to drop questions if you have any (Tim's email) .. this is a blog and only comments are welcome, it's not a Q & A session.......

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Tim,

    Have you had a chance to watch any games from the CONCACAF qualifiers? As things stand right now, Uruguay would be playing Honduras in the play-off.

    Personally, I fancy the same three teams from last two World Cups advancing again this time around, and Honduras getting the dreaded fourth place. I say "dreaded" because I just can't see any CONCACAF team defeating a CONMEBOL side in the play-off.

    And by the way, I'm more than happy to see Costa Rica top of the table :)

  • Comment number 24.

    Mohtechnix, not wanting to start an argument here but look at your own posting history including

    63. At 10:36am on 12 May 2009, mohtechnix wrote:

    Who is corinthians playing on wednesday night and what time is it in the Uk please

    Now we are asking questions here about the world cup qualifiers, which Tim or other contributirs may wish to comment on, which I would say is fair enough, asking Tim to be you TV guide on the other hand...!

  • Comment number 25.

    No doubt that Bielsa is the main reason behind this succesful Chilean team. He has brought a new mentality to our football, a winning mentality. What is more remarkable is that there arent big stars in this team. In the past we used to rely on two or three big experienced names. Elias Figueroa, Quintano and Caszely in 70s. Then Zamorano and Salas in the 90s.

    This is a young team playing beautiful football. I sometimes draw a parallel between this Chile and ArsenalTwo professors and their kids. We all hope that Bielsa can stay for a long time, in this way our local football managers can learn from him as well.

    Thanks Tim for your blog dedicated to Chilean football.

  • Comment number 26.

    Harmannick but it's different when there are other peole posting comments..In this case everyone is just asking question and he can't obviusly answer 20 quesrions can he? Don't tske it the wrong way!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Hello Tim,

    I read in the news recently that Manchester United are 'set to sign' youngester Dodo from Corinthians, in a move that has angered Carlos Alberto. He calls it a disgrace and says:

    "The big teams have the money and can take our best players. It is a big problem in Brazil.

    "The clubs cannot keep good young players because they can make much more money in other countries. They should change the law so, at least until the age of 20 or 21, the best players play in Brazil and get experience before moving to Europe.

    "Fifa must do something."

    I was just wondering if any previous attempts have been made by the Brazilian or Argentinian FA to stop this kind of exploitation of the younger players? Is their any real attempt or wish by Brazilian clubs to keep hold of these players, or is the financial situation so desperate that they actually promote selling of younger players?

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 28.


    Chile is definitely getting, at least, fifth place. Hats off to Bielsa who, in mi opinion, is the best South American manager - at least at the national team level (with all due respect to Martino who's also superb). Had Bielsa not left after winning gold in Athens, Argentina might have been the second South American team to win the World Cup in European soil.

    Following-up on your comment about Viera, why did he play? He didn't even get one minute of play in this year's La Liga (granted, it's no shame to be second best to Diego Lopez). Even though he plays in Spain's second division, Carini would have done better considering how experienced he is.

    I still don't see Uruguay blowing it but Ecuador's resurgence should make it interesting. Moreover, the looming possibility of facing Mexico in the ensuing play-off is mouth watering!

    I'm surprised you didn't comment on the Argentina-Colombia match. I'm heartbroken we lost against such a mediocre Argentine team. They will come back empty handed from Quito if they keep playing like that. Maradona has got absolutely no clue and I truly hope he gets sacked before the World Cup. Otherwise, even as skilled as they are, the Argentines will hardly make it past the group stage.

    Anyway, it was a good article and I completely agree with you that Chile's result was the highlight of the week. With Bielsa's Chile and hoping for Paraguay to come back to life, I'll expect a stronger South American challenge to European superpowers in SA.

    Will you have a new post on Thursday?


  • Comment number 29.

    28 - With Maradona or Bielsa, Argentina is the only south-american squad that I definitely fear in a World Cup.

    We may be leading Paraguay only by goal difference, but they have no world-class players, nor does anybody except us and Argentina.

    And in a tough tournament like the World Cup you need a few players who can make something on their own. If we had no Romario in 94, we certainly wouldn't make to the final. Same in 2002 with Rivaldo and Ronaldo.

    Maradona may be a terrible coach, but they have Messi and Aguero in their squad. If they play like they played in the youth-tournaments, then Argentina needs no coach to succeed.

  • Comment number 30.

    #28 I completely agree with you with regards to Maradona and Argentina. He might be an inspiration for all his players, but that won't get you very far, especially in a WC. I particularly cannot understand the point of trying the formula with Aguero, Messi and Tevez up front, plus Veron, Mascherano, Gago, etc. I mean, does he think that they will eventually click and play like Brazil in 1970? No way.

    Argentina looks very vulnerable and I think that not even Peru plays that bad in every area of the pitch.

  • Comment number 31.

    At post 7. meatandmalbec

    I couldn't agree more, a deserved mention for Marcelo Salas. Ivan Zamorano was also a great striker - a lot like Roque Santa Cruz- and a great player for Real and Inter. But I always thought Salas was the bigger talent, I will always remember him destroying England at Wembley and having Sol Campbell on toast. He could dribble, had quick feet, a wonderful left foot and was a brilliant finisher with either foot and in the air.

    It all seemed to go wrong for him with injuries in Serie A. He had two decent seasons with Lazio but his career seemed to peter out. It was a shame, because for me he was up there with Ronaldo and Batistuta as one of the top 3 strikers from South America over the past 20 years.

  • Comment number 32.

    #29, I would like to disagree with you. Messi alone won't do anything for you. He needs the supporting players he does have at Barcelona. I think many of the Argentina players are overrated and not precisely world class (e.g. Demichelis, Heinze, Gutierrez, Gago, Diaz). I think Maradona could do better by introducing a system and then adapting his players to it, and not vice versa.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hi tim,
    Good to hear you on sky sports news the other day commenting on equadors valencia.

    Post 31, I agree salas was class and great in the air as i remember too.

    Cant wait to see christian benitez next season, he looked like he had bags of potential when i watched him in the last set of qualifiers. He looked a real raw talent. How do you rate him?

    Where football came from!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    29 - "they have no world-class players, nor does anybody except us and Argentina."

    I suppose Golden Boot winner Uruguayan Diego Forlan is no world-class player, right? Salvador Cabanas and Roque Santa Cruz also have very strong claims at being world-class players. Ask billionaires Man City.

    Neither Paraguay, Uruguay, nor Chile have a shot at winning the WC. However, I do see at least one of them being strong enough to squeeze their way into the quarter-finals.

  • Comment number 35.

    24 - beautiful :) Especially as 22 and 26 were not comments on the blog either + as you point out mohtechnix has asked plenty of questions himself. And the good thing about asking questions here, provided they are somewhat related to the topic, is that anyone can chip in. Whether Tim himself has the time and patience to answer all or any of the questions is up to him. But enough of digressing and wasting space now...

  • Comment number 36.

    Chile outplayed us all over the park on Saturday. We haven´t really performed well in the last 3 games, and for this one we were missing 5 first teamers in da Silva, Morel, Santana, Santa Cruz and Cabañas. I thought this mean that Oscar "Tacuara" Cardozo would finally show his worth in the Albirroja, but sadly this wasn´t the case. Yet again he looked lethargic, and once the boos started his confidence drained to the point that when he was passed the ball it would just bounce off him. When will start to see the sort of form that he has shown in Protugal and argentina?

  • Comment number 37.

    #36, The thing with Tacuara is that in Paraguay long gone are the days when Chiqui Arce, Jorge Campos and Chilavert would put the balls in your head to score. Remember how bad was Jose Saturnino Cardozo treated by the paraguayn football public? Likewise with Tacuara.

  • Comment number 38.

    Agree with you on Forlan, one of the best strikers in the world now. But Santa Cruz and Cabanas, I don't think they are world class. Above average, I would say.

    Uruguayan defense without Lugano is a mess, and I can't see Usuguay doing well in the WC. Sure, a striker like Forlan can do a hat trick, but if the goalkeeper take 4, 5 goals, what's the point?
    Paraguay may do better in that sense, not a lot of well known players in Europe, but they're strong as a team.

    And I don't think that City showing interest in a player is a sign that he's good. I mean, they signed Robinho, and they were linked with Doni, 2 players I would hardly consider world-class(and I'm brazilian).

  • Comment number 39.

    Yes, that´s true. I think morel is the only one in the team who seems to know how to cross, and we missed him. Why didn´t they play Miguel Samudio? I thought he played very well in his first game. And why does Edgar barreto play so badly now.

  • Comment number 40.

    picking up some of the points on Chile
    if the opposition come with wingers - ie a front 3, then Bielsa will go with a back 4. The idea is to have one more defender than they have strikers. But Bielsa will keep his front three, always with the intetnion of creating 2 v 1 situations down the flanks, as high up the pitch as possible.

    Striker Humberto Suazo makes the mostof what he's got - I like the way he drops and interchanges with Mati Fernandez - it shows bielsa using the system with ore flexibility thn with Argentina, when his own centre forward tended to be squeezed high up the field with little room to move in.
    As fr Suazo personally, at the highest leel I have my doubts. Whenever Chile play Brazil Lucio usually puts him in his pocket.

    Claudio Maldonado is a player I rate very highly - excellent defensive midfielder. Has had injury problems, and for some reason his international career has neer really taken off. Has been out of contention for a while - last played, I think, in a friendly away to israel last year - before that had a game in World Cup qualifying (3-0 defeat at home to Paraguay) which didn't go well. if he can stay fit i don't see why he can't come in with late run and get in the World Cup squad - it would be a shame if he's ignored.

  • Comment number 41.

    Post 11 pp1752, I asked Tim on Saturday morning World Football Phone In about Christian Benitez. 8 weeks ago I also enquired about Benitez he ran the Brazil defence namely Gilberto Silva [ex Arsenal player] and Brazil were lucky to draw 1-1 with Ecuador.Imentioned his unusual hair cut and his work rate and he was at a Mexican club,but had premiership potential and Wigan were mentioned.

    His father Ernen played in 80's the first Ecuadorian to play in Europe for Spanish 2nd division. Junior is injured at the moment so will not play against Argentina on Wednesday.

    Benitez is a £9 million Birmingham record signing, Tim rates him very highly not a centre forward like his Dad,more like a 2nd striker squat little figure not bad in the air went to 2006 World Cup only on the subs bench.Physically strong and developing a real growing force and at 23 has a great potential and has scored 9 goals in 28 international matches.Tim said he has a few injuries but should cope well in the Premiership,he makes goals as well as scores them.

    Birmingham had their fingers burnt with an Argentinan striker Luciano Figuero who was not up to it physically, Good buy for Birmingham we hope look forward to seeing him play Arsenal.

  • Comment number 42.

    41 - many thanks for the insights. Yes, I remember when BCFC signed Luciano Figueroa we were all very hyped about this young prospect, but despite scoring a few goals for the reserves he never really even got in to the team. And my understanding is as well that it was the physical side of the English game that stopped him shining for the Blues; talent he most certainly had, just not the right signing for us. Lets hope your positive views on Benitez prove right!

  • Comment number 43.

    Hear it straight from the horses mouth on the podcast of BBC R5 live World Football Phone World Phone In.

    Live S America qualifiers on Wednesday check out Sky Sport 1

    10.00 pm Ecquador vs Argentina 1-1 when they met last June.altitude at Quito we all know what happened April Fools Day against Bolivia.Not tremendous against Colombia.

    12 midnight Colombia vs Peru.

    1.45 am Brazil vs Paraguay top of the table clash,Paraguay won 2-0 last time they met all to play for

    On free view BBC 3 are featuring all Confederations Cup starting on Sunday,oh dear clash of dates with U21 in Sweden,

    Same thing happened 2 years ago with the Copa America and the U20 WC in Canada,not enough women on FIFA and UEFA we would sort out their calenders.

    Tim was stumped by a caller wanting to know about Falkland Islands football,but the new Asian football expert Mani Dizami [regular listeners to the progamme for visually impaired will reconize his disticive voice] knows his stuff talked of the Island games feature Isle of Man Guernsy and Jersey and the Shetlands. Martin Clark was the Falkland Islander who had a trial for Boca back in 2002.

  • Comment number 44.

    #32 - He does need the support, but make no mistake: he's capable of making great things on his own. As was Maradona.
    Also, I can't say anybody else is truly class in Argentina, except the two I mentioned before, and maybe Mascherano who I'd say is the best holding midfielder today.

    #34 - Diego Forlan scored more goals than most this year, that is true. But I don't rate him in the same ground as Messi, Aguero, Mascherano, Kaka, Pato, Julio Cesar or Daniel Alves(and Maicon!).

    And if Diego Forlan isn't world-class, why Cabanas and Santa-Cruz would be?

    And I completely agree with your claim that they can squeeze themselves to quarter-finals, or even semi-finals. I just don't see them winning it.

  • Comment number 45.

    44- "Diego Forlan scored more goals than most this year, that is true. But I don't rate him in the same ground as Messi, Aguero, Mascherano, Kaka, Pato, Julio Cesar or Daniel Alves(and Maicon!)" and "Diego Forlan isn't world-class"

    Hahahaha... you're funny lad.

    Forlan is a two-time golden boot winner and two-time La Liga's pichichi. His first golden boot was shared with, well, Thierry Henry (don't know if Henry qualifies as world-class for you). This season (08-09) he was simply the best striker.

    Atletico de Madrid made it to 4th in La Liga thanks mostly to Forlan. Aguero had a little more than half of Forlan's goals (17 to 32) and was marginal in several games. Kun himself has admitted he was below par at times simply because he didn't feel like putting more effort into it (check El Pais). The only reason why Kun is more hyped and sought-after is because of his age. But ask any fan in the Vicente Calderon and they'll tell you who their best player is.

  • Comment number 46.

    I share your views on Leonardo's appointment at AC Milan.
    Can't really imagine him doing a "hairdryer treatment" to any player.
    He's such a nice guy. He personally gave me a SPFC shirt with all players authograph when I went to visit the training ground.
    No one can question his intelligence, but to succeed at managerial level you need to show toughness and leadership, features that we haven't quite seem in him as a player. I just hope he can prove me wrong by going on to win the Champions League as Guardiola has just done.

  • Comment number 47.

    45 - Thierry Henry once was world-class. I don't feel he is anymore.

    And Diego Forlan, first to score 30 goals in La Liga since Ronaldo? One did it with 18 and the other with 29? Very good strikers, but Ronaldo were creating his chances and all the games I watched from Atletico Madrid this year(not many, I admit, must be 3 or 4) Forlan was acting like an out-and-out striker, who couldn't create his own chances.

    Now I said Mascherano is a world-class holding midfielder, but he can't create chances either, so would be useless to the comment I've made earlier on. My mistake.

  • Comment number 48.

    46 - I can't see him handling the big stars. But perhaps the "everybody likes him" attitude will work if someone there keeps the big stars on the bay? (Berlusconi could do good for Leonardo by selling Ronaldinho to Japan)

  • Comment number 49.


    About your comment on Chile. Claudio Maldonado hasn't have any fitness problems lately, but he has not been considered at all by Fenerbahce former coach Luis Aragones. However, that fact didn't hrt his chances at Chile's squad, it was his lack of movility which ended up frustrating Marcelo Bielsa. I can tell you (as a sports journalist of Chile's El Mercurio) that there is no chance of Claudio Maldonado making Chile's squad for WC. At that position Bielsa rates very highly Reggina's Carlos Carmona, U de Chile's Manuel Iturra, U. Catolica Gary Medel and, after Chile's Kirin Cup participation, Colo Colo's Rodrigo Millar. Even Arturo Vidal could play at center midfield. You are right on how Bielsa would defend if a team has three forwards. He has said repetedly on press conferences down here that he only defends with 3 players because most of the teams attack with 2. However, on friendly matches Chile has been seen with a 4-2-1-3 formation, using Beausejour (probably the most overachieved player in Chile squad and a trully physical freak, right there with Alexis Sanchez) and Carmona as defensive midfielders.
    About Suazo, he was world's top scorer a couple of years ago and he was almost sold to Deportivo La Coruña last year, but Monterrey put him a price tag of 20 million dollars, which was out of the price range for Depor. While playing at Colo Colo and Audax Italiano, he used to struggled to cope physically with trainings and matches. Since moving to Mexico he has improved his stamina and overall physical condition, which could lead him to take an opportunity in Europe. I don't agree, though, he always looks bad against quality opposition: he scored against Brazil in 2007 Copa America in Venezuela with a "lob" over Julio Cesar, after passing the ball thru one defender legs.
    Everyone here in Chile is pretty psyched about Marcelo Bielsa's team performance, they have certainly overachieved. The downside seems to be when Chile plays in Santiago: it's very difficult to find space around visitor's defenses, which is not a problem when Chile plays abroad. And Bielsa's phylosophy starts hurting without space. That's a problem that Bielsa hasn't managed to solve yet, and the team showed it against Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay at home.
    Still, the overall feeling is that Chile will qualify for South Africa 2010 and over there, it could reach to, at least, 2R.

  • Comment number 50.

    Charlwy King Rangers in comment 13 is incredible European arrogance."step up to playing in Europe.Yhea right.As Juanpi Sorin says the only thing an Argentine player has to learn in Europe is how to organize his finances.This coming from a continent where "Alfredo Di Stefano has been voted the best "EUROPEAN player of all time

  • Comment number 51.

    47. Forlan is a world class player.

    He carried Atletico into fourth place with some simply brilliant performances in the last ten games. He did score over 30 goals, but he also has 7 assists to his name. Not only this he scored several sublime efforts from well outside the area with his left foot. A naturally right footed player, he is able to shoot with either foot, and scored over 12 of his goals with his left foot.
    He did in fact miss two sitters, which were unbelievable if I'm honest. But it is ridiculous to say he is not world class and that a player like Pato is. Only reasons I can think why you would say he isn't are that he isn't from Brazil or Argentina and is 29.

  • Comment number 52.

    Argentina despite the loss at Ecudador,played better than on Saturday against Colombia.

    Tevez missed penalty and Messi hitting the post,will Maradona have to review his tactics,

    Walter Ayovi,25 yard cracker,in the last 20 minutes .as Argentina fading my MOM was Elizaga the Ecudorian goalie.Add insult to injury was borin Argentina and is a naturalized Ecudorian.

    Ask Tim on BBC R5 World Football Phone In how does altitude affect the ball Tevez penalty kick was awful.

    September 5th key date when Argentina face nemisis Brazil,Ecuador only 2 points behind them.

  • Comment number 53.

    51 - Age, definitely. I'd prefer to say that an Uruguayan is a world-class player than an Argentinian. That's also the reason I say Pato will be a world-class player, he was impressive when playing against players of his age, and if he develops to his potential he can be as good as Romario once was.

    Which isn't the case of Forlan, who wasn't much of a promise when playing for Independiente, but earned a move to a big club(when 23? he was old), where he failed to perform. From there he went to have more impressive statistics, being 2 times the top scorer of the La Liga. But where is the technical brilliance and the ability to do the unbelievable? I haven't seen it in him, from the games I've watched. But I guess I didn't watch him well enough. I'll have a closer look on him this season.

  • Comment number 54.

    53. In Spain, they were calling him superman. Simply he's dragged Atletico to fourth place by himself, in games against the likes of Barcelona, Espanyol, Real Betis, Villareal are examples of games he has done it all almost on his own and won Atletico these matches.


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