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Maradona turns to fans for helping hand

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Tim Vickery | 08:00 UK time, Monday, 31 August 2009

I recall an English club chairman indignantly saying some 20 years ago that the fans were mad if they believed their ticket money paid the players' wages.

It was a classic case of someone knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. True, in cold, economic terms he might have been correct. Money pours in from other sources - TV rights, sponsorship deals, corporate boxes and so on, but take the fans away from the stadium and all those other revenue streams instantly dry up.

That is because the football supporter is part of the show. Without the atmosphere created by the fans, the TV rights and the corporate boxes lose their value. The supporter is not a spectator. He/she is a participant, whose actions have an effect on what happens on the field.

This explains why Argentina coach Diego Maradona was so keen to switch the venue for Saturday's crunch World Cup qualifier at home to Brazil.

Argentina coach Diego Maradona inspects the Rosario stadiumArgentina coach Diego Maradona inspects the Rosario stadium

Argentina traditionally stage their matches in Buenos Aires, in River Plate's Monumental stadium. It makes economic sense - it's the biggest ground available to them. But in their current situation - Argentina are by no means certain of making it to South Africa - Maradona has decided that it does not make footballing sense.

"The stands in River's stadium are 50 metres from the pitch," he said recently. "You can shout yourself hoarse and the noise only reaches the area behind the goal. So there are players who feel that they will get more support in Rosario."

And so the game will take place in the much tighter, more compact Rosario Central stadium. At a little more than 40,000, the capacity is over 20,000 below the Monumental, but those fans will be closer to the pitch, creating an intimidating atmosphere and continually reminding the Brazilians that they are not on home ground.
It could work. But it could backfire. History provides evidence for both outcomes.

When they hosted the 1978 World Cup, Argentina were based in Buenos Aires and played their group games in the Monumental. After two wins, they lost the third game 1-0 to Italy, which meant that for the three second round matches they had to move north to Rosario.

This is usually seen as the moment when the players drew strength from having the fans closer to the pitch, and where the team picked up the momentum to go on and win the World Cup. But it could have turned out differently. Their second match in Rosario was against Brazil. It was an emotionally charged occasion, cranked up further still by the stadium architecture. Argentina lost their heads, and were drawn into a war. The game finished goalless, and coach Cesar Luis Menotti was so angry with the way that his side had let themselves down that he was unable to speak to his players for a couple of days afterwards.

Indeed, Argentina were only saved by the tournament's appalling organisation. In the final second round games Brazil played first, meaning that Argentina took the field against Peru already knowing how many goals they had to score to reach the final. Without such an advantage they may have paid a penalty for losing their discipline amid the passion of Rosario.

It is a similar risk they are running 31 years later. Saturday's game is much more important for them than their rivals. Brazil are serene; unbeaten in 17 games, settled and experienced, winners of the Confederations Cup, top of the qualifying table and all but certainly one victory away from guaranteeing their place in South Africa next year.
Argentina's situation is more edgy. Win on Saturday and they should be safe. Lose and they are caught up in a dogfight.

The stakes are high, the atmosphere will be intense. It will be fascinating to see how they react. If they are over-hyped there is the real chance that they will leave themselves over-exposed and play into the hands of Brazil's devastating counter-attack.

Thirty-one years ago Argentina had a player of their own who was as devastating as Kaka at breaking from deep. He was Mario Kempes, who had struggled through their group phase in Buenos Aires, but who suddenly found his form when the team moved north to Rosario.

The change of venue did him wonders. He was not a local boy. But he had made his name in a sensational mid-70s spell with Rosario Central, and going back to his old stamping ground brought out the best in him when it mattered most.
The modern day equivalent, very different in build but similarly left footed, is Lionel Messi. He is a local lad, though he is associated with the city's other team, Newells Old Boys, and, of course, never played professionally in Argentina.

Lionel Messi is the central playmaker for ArgentinaMessi is under pressure to deliver against Brazil

All eyes will be on Messi on Saturday. In 2007 he was anonymous as Brazil beat Argentina 3-0 in the final of the Copa America. Last year he was not too far off inflicting Brazil's first home defeat in World Cup qualifying, but the game in Belo Horizonte finished goalless. This time, in front of his home city crowd, he will be expected to deliver.

Rosario Central's stadium is known as 'Gigante de Arroyito - the giant of the little stream.' If Maradona's switch of venue works, then the energy will flow down from the terraces as one huge river and help Messi turn into a tiny giant on 5 September.

Comments on today's 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) I was wondering what you thought about the potential transfer of Sandro from Internacional to Tottenham.I don't know much about him, and £14m+ sounds a lot of money, though I trust Harry. Do you think this could be a move too soon for the player though? Liam Ablewhite

A) I think it could be a move too soon for his club! Inter have a fantastic production line, and make no bones about the fact that they will be selling their best players, but I'd imagine they'd want to hang on to him for a bit longer - say til the end of the Libertadores next August. There's also the World Youth Cup coming up in a few weeks - he captains the Brazil side - so that's a good shop window. Money talks, though, so we'll see. I think he has a really bright future - I picked him out in World Soccer magazine as one of the stars of the show in the South American Under-20s at the start of the year. He's a tall, holding midfielder, mobile, passes well, perhaps still to develop his defensive awareness. I've been expecting him to be fast tracked into the senior Brazil squad for a while, so wasn't too surprised when he got a call up last week after another midfielder pulled out injured.

Q) Could you tell me a bit about what Chilean Gonzalo Jara from Colo Colo who is joining my team West Brom but I know and have heard little about him.
Steffan Gruffudd, Aberaeron

A) I've been following him ever since the South American Under-20s at the start of 2005, when he was holding the Chile defence together, looking very promising but suffered from lapses in concentration - which seem to have been ironed out. He's a regular in the senior Chile side, fairly quick, solidly built but perhaps not the greatest in the air.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I think this could be a good idea Tim... too many international stadia have the old style running track which makes for a fairly damp atmosphere..

    My only worry for Argentina is having watched a few of their games recently there seems to be a bit too much friendly stuff going on between players and the boss. I'm a great believer in respecting the manager but there being a certain distance between him and his players.

    Do you not think this could lead to favouring members of the squad which could, then in turn, lead to wrong decision making with regards to player selection, substitutions etc...

  • Comment number 2.

    Great blog Tim! Messi will be the star in Rosario!

  • Comment number 3.

    It should be a fascinating encounter - I agree that it is a risk playing the game in a more hostile atmosphere with the history of Argentina players losing their control (like the example Tim mentioned, more recently their loss to Germany in the 2006 World Cup), but one that makes sense. The passion of the Argentine crowd at close quarters should inspire the players and may strike some fear into the Brazilians.

    On another note, I would love to see Maradona succeed as coach of Argentina against the odds. The decision to appoint him seems to be similar to the choice of venue for this game - based purely on the potential to motivate and inspire the players. After all, if the Argentine players can't be inspired to play for the greatest player of their history, and someone as passionate as Maradona, then when will they be inspired?

  • Comment number 4.

    Big game for Messi, who's never performed for Argentina as he does for Barcelona.

    Two of the Argentina squad (Colocini and Gutierez) play in the English CCC!!! - a sign of the times.

    Although Gutierrez is injured.

    This is a massive game for Veron. Can he still conduct the paly at his age, against a Brazil side that has power and pace.

    Brazil will sit deep and hit Argentina on the break, I'm sure of that, and I fear the worse for the slow-coaches in the Argenina defence - Heinze, Zanettii.

    Will be a fascinating clash of different styles:

    The settled, efficient, organised, defence-minded Brazilian versus the chaos of Argentina that will rely on the individual brilliance of Messi and Aguero.

  • Comment number 5.

    Tim - why does Heinze still play for Argentina? He's basically an extra attacker for the opposition.

  • Comment number 6.

    1978 is the first World Cup that I remember. I'd never heard of Argentina, loved their kit and the ticker tape flying from the stands and the excitement that it generated. Didn't they have to beat Peru by 6 goals or something similar? And didn't they beat them 6-0? At the time, I thought how wonderful that was.
    Apologies if this is now common knowledge\old news\whatever, but weren't there strong rumours tha this game was fixed? Perhaps Peru were aleady out of contention, I really don't remember.
    It seems odd that Tim hasn't mentioned it above - a sore\embarrassing subject?

  • Comment number 7.

    My post 6 above. It seems that the backslash character isn't liked and the post has become corrupted, so I've reposted it below:
    1978 is the first World Cup that I remember. I'd never heard of Argentina, loved their kit and the ticker tape flying from the stands and the excitement that it generated. Didn't they have to beat Peru by 6 goals or something similar? And didn't they beat them 6-0? At the time, I thought how wonderful that was.
    Apologies if this is now common knowledge, old news (well it's 30 odd years ago....), whatever, but weren't there strong rumours tha this game was fixed? Perhaps Peru were aleady out of contention, I don't remember.
    It seems odd that Tim hasn't mentioned it above - a sore, embarrassing subject?

  • Comment number 8.

    I've never been a fan of stadium where the pitch is far away from the crowd especially ones that have an running track around the pitch. sure, its more economical to have a multi-purpose stadium but for football, it lessens the effect of the "home advantage" and the atmosphere are relatively less intimidating for the away team.

    And it's about time Messi come out and play for Argentina as he does for Barcelona. I can count the number of times Messi ran riot for Argentina with one hand.

  • Comment number 9.

    What about La Bombonera... :o) - Just kidding.

    The Argies are in a bit of disarray at the moment, with regards the qualifying campaign; anything that can put the required rocket in a quiet place can only be a good thing.

    This epsiode might encapsulate the pros & cons of Maradona's appointment; he may not have the tactical acumen or management experience of various others, but would a more 'proper' coach have considered such a venue change? If it works, then Deigo's thinking outside the box will pay dividends as it did so often in his playing career.

    Whilst I agree that the current Argentina squad is not as strong as previous squads, neither is the Brazilian squad. A sign of the times in more ways than one...

  • Comment number 10.

    As Argentina attempt to qualify, younger players are steadily being blooded in the group games. The older core are unlikely to travel to South Africa 2010 unless sustained good form merits their selection - there are no favourites in Diego's appreciations.

    A quick look at the Wikipedia list of players' appearances over the past twelve months shows that Maradona does encourage younger players and carefully tests and modifies his squad.

    Although he is new to management, he is, for now, relatively fireproof regarding the media and will not be swayed by factional pressures or fickle opinions when preparing and sending out his sides.

    South Africa will, like Argentina, be in winter when the World Cup is played, which suggests an advantage, not only to the hosts and Diego's men, but also for England, Netherlands, Germany and Korea Republic.

    I hope that Argentina qualify. Their traditional style is the kitemark for soccer and stands in stark contrast to what Johann Cruyff labels 'anti-football' - the dominance of athleticism over technique and the tactic of deliberate, repeated fouling of skilful opponents. The final of the last Copa America was a gruesome example.

    Coaching tends to be heavily swayed by successful methods at the World Cup Finals - sometimes for positive reasons - but Heaven help soccer should Dunga's team win in 2010 and his methods be copied far and wide.

    These stiffling tactics already dominate much of the English Premier League and they, not foreign players, are the prime cause of England's difficulties in developing a coherent national side that can respond effectively when facing challenging variations in tactics.

    England's weakness lies in having too few players with Champions' League experience to select. Brasil and Argentina hold a considerable advantage when it comes to picking players who have adapted themselves to playing at that highest level in club competition.

  • Comment number 11.

    I certainly know who I'll be rooting for.

    I really can't stand Brazil's arrogant "We are the best - let's play drums and shake our assess at the cameras instead of watching the game" nonsense.

    Mexico 86 was the first World Cup that gripped me as a child - Paraguay's kit looked smashing, The Soviets and The Danes at times were fantastic, Argentina's play (not just from Diegito, though his one-man destruction of Belgium was incredible) was a joy and the France-Brazil Quarter-Final remains one of my favourite matches ever. Even Scotland were half-decent...

    Sentimental as it may be, I'm sure the real football supporters would love to see El Diego in South Africa, if only to get it right up those sanctimonious suits from FIFA who "cut off (his)legs" at USA 94.

    Mon The Argies!

  • Comment number 12.

    Interesting article as always Tim hope the stadium switch works, hope its a great game and hope Argentina win!

    Number 5 messiisgod come on how can call him an extra attacker? Heinze is prob the best defender Argentina have people ask for him to be not picked but who else is there? no-one! he is one of the leaders of the team and although his form was patchy last season he was performed well since Maradona took over (note nobody played well against Bolivia). I watched him have an excellent game last night for Marseille he organised the defence and made some important tackles.

    Cant believe Coloccini has been called up do they have a specific role in mind for him in this game or Paraguay? I would have had Samuel or Gonzalo ahead of him.

    I too think Zanetti isnt what he was are there no alternatives - Zabaleta? is Angeleri injured?

    Veron needs to be fit no-one else can pull the strings but what is vital is the likes of Aguero/Milito/Lisandro take there chances.

  • Comment number 13.

    Something is very wrong with the Argentina players if they need the fans closer to them to be up for a vital qualifier against Brazil in their own back yard! Not sure that the players available to Argentina are not as good as previous generations, but maybe the supposed weaker nations in South America are not so weak anymore, which is a good thing. Not too sure about the "anti soccer" comments above, aswell as producing good players they also know how to dish out the rough stuff.

  • Comment number 14.

    I am from Rosario and I have been to that stadium many times. There is a lot of history to that stadium like the world cup in '78 or even Queen's concert in 1984. I can see why Maradona is choosing it, however, what I don't know is to what extent the closeness of the crowd will affect the course of the game. Maradona is taking a lot of heat for this in Argentina; people don't believe in many tactics to win other than the obvious skills and shape of the players.

  • Comment number 15.

    Number 5 messiisgod come on how can call him an extra attacker? Heinze is prob the best defender Argentina have people ask for him to be not picked but who else is there? no-one!
    I just can't remember the last time Heinze had a good game for either Real or Argentina, that's all. Of course his form might have improved with the move to Marseille.

  • Comment number 16.

    messiisgod - I agree with you. As a Man Utd fan I've seen many a fine performance over the years from Heinze, but for two seasons now he's been accident-prone and a pale shadow of the player he was (hence Real shipping him out to Marseille). His ego started to far outstrip his ability, and whilst I'm no Argentinian football expert like Tim, I can't believe there aren't more reliable defenders available to Maradona now?

  • Comment number 17.

    I was lucky enough to watch Argentina vs Paraguay this time last year in River Plate's Monumental stadium and the stadium did lack something, although I can't put my finger on what is was. The crowd were passionately singing but the sound never really carried around the stadium. I don't think it was the running track though, I watched a Brazilian league football match in the Maracana stadium which I know doesn't have a running track, but the fans are still the same distance away due to the circle nature of the stadium and even though the ground was only half full the sound was immense and easily on par with any league of international football match I've watched in this country. I need to watch a derby (as in local rivalry, not Derby County) game in that stadium!! So maybe the roof made a difference?

    Tim, why has the Estadio Alberto Armando (Boca Juniors Stadium - for those of you who are wondering what on Earth I'm talking about) been over looked? The fans are extremely close the the pitch and from what I remember the stadium is pretty much identical to the one in Rosario.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi Tim, Can see the logic of moving the Brazil game to Rosario, but I'd nominate Wembley as a prime example of when this doesn't work. The old Wembley might have been a dump but it had unique qualities that the new version just doesn't have. People might be closer to the pitch but there's only a pale shadow of the former Wembley's atmosphere in the new place.

  • Comment number 19.

    Tim, why do you think it is that, despite the fact the English Premier League can financially appropriate pretty much the pick of south american talent, the south american leagues remain so entertaining and vibrant - while the English Premier League continues to serve up a pile of stodgy old dross?

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi, Tim
    Thanks for the replies about the under 17 and 20 world cups on early Saturday morning on the world football phone in.

    The point I wanted to make about the weather, in South Africa was more do with not the African and south american teams under-performing, but instead it was teams like England and Germany performing more to the optimum level with less heat to reduce the pace of the game.

    In such will the south american team (outside of athletic Brazil) not do as well as that have in other non European world cups?

    Sadly as you noted in the program this could play into Brazil hands compared to Spain.


    Richard cheadle hulme

  • Comment number 21.

    Tim, I have a question, can you do a blog every day? I just love reading it!!

  • Comment number 22.

    ...and err, why is Maradona the manager?

  • Comment number 23.

    What do you think of the Argentine keeper Ustari? While there's no denying he's got serious potential, how far do you think he could go? Also, is he good enough to play at the top level at the moment?


  • Comment number 24.

    Hmm Messi went missing in a semi final two years ago against United and was amazing in the final this year. Might be a habbit.

    Any chance you could do McNultys job ?

  • Comment number 25.

    If they want more atmosphere, why don't they play in La Bonbonera, surely an icon of Argentine football?

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I can understand people not liking Dungas counter attacking style. I am Brazilian and i dont....but to suggest that the current Brazil side lacks technically skilled players is crazy.

    We have some of the most skilled players in the world.

    And to the poster up at the top who said about Brazil approach "We are the best - let's play drums and shake our assess at the cameras instead of watching the game"

    It sucks that we can win World Cups and shake our asses at the same time. In other words, win and have fun at the same time!!! Something, England have failed to do since 66. If you can remember the 66 world cup (or look at footage) you will see England fans shaking their asses too and guess what..... you won that year.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Tim,

    Maybe I missed a previous blog, but isn't the situation with TV rights in Argentina, and the possibility of the state owning those rights quite a big story right now? I was expecting to hear something about it from you.

    What's the situation with Argentinian football being "nationalised"?

  • Comment number 29.

    I apologies, the poster up at the top is Scottish and not English..... Cant think of any examples with Scotland mate....

  • Comment number 30.

    well well well with every passing day the expectation is building. it is impossible for argentina to escape the hype, not only their local press, but media all over the world know the importance of this south american derby. with a win brasil virtually secures its place in copa do mundo but argentina has much more at stake here. a loss, or even a draw could see maradona axed. which to be frank, could possibly be the best move for argentina. but if they win he will be hailed from all quarters, for his team management, decision to switch estadio to rosario, and bold claims of beating brasil pre-match. facing this selecao brasileira is easier said then done, and we're going into this match with tremendous form and confidence. i think dunga (even still i am not a big fan of great players = great tecnincos) has transformed this team into a rich blend of youth and experience and they are hardened enough not to be indtimidated by the rosario atmosphere. but as well all are aware of traditionally, all form, talent goes out the window when its brasil x argentina. i look forward to an intense match, and hopefully not a subdued affair where both teams are afraid not to give too much away and play a dour draw. come to think of it practically, that may well suit both teams. i will always root for south america in copa do mundo and to be honest i have no problems admitting that without argentina it will not be the same. all eyes on messi, lets see if he can replicate his barca form. FORCA BRASIL!

  • Comment number 31.

    i also hope dunga was watching serie a last w/e. diego again sent a remind of his world class talent to warrant inclusion in selecao. i know he has been given chances before, but not a consistent run of matches to prove himself. if ramires, sandro type players are given chances, then diego (again) and hernanes certainly should also.

  • Comment number 32.

    Tim, do you think Argentina look a tad lopsided nowadays? Their front line of Messi, Tevez, Aguero and Lisandro seems to be at complete ends with the defence of Heinze, Collocini and Burdisso. Garay and Forlin look like future stars, but it all seems a bit to much in the future.

    You also look at the goalkeeping situation and worry. Romero has undoubted potential but still has yet to make a start for the senior team.

    I just wonder if Maradona is sacrificing a little bit of experience here for the sake of playing his style of football. This is a must win game for Argentina, because their other remaining games (with the exception of Peru at home) are by no means easy! And you don't want to end up in that playoff with Mexico potentially waiting.

  • Comment number 33.

    "Football is nothing without fans" Jock Stein.

  • Comment number 34.

    Not surprised Argentina are in a spot. After their 4-1 win against, I think it was Venezuela, I posted on here that they didnt impress.

    That they desperately needed to have (or have back) a player like Riquelme.

    Many other posters said otherwise.

    Wish I'd had a bet with some of them back then. Could've made a few quid by now...

  • Comment number 35.

    10 - "South Africa will, like Argentina, be in winter when the World Cup is played, which suggests an advantage, not only to the hosts and Diego's men, but also for England, Netherlands, Germany and Korea Republic."

    ..what? I didn't understand, can you elaborate?

  • Comment number 36.

    If you actually believe that Maradona is actually "managing" Argentina, then you probably believe that Roland Reagan ran the US government or Schwarzeneger runs California or, the most ludicrous of all, that Boris Johnson runs London.

    He has advisors. He was the best football player in the world but a manager he is not.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a follower of Paraguay I was delighted at their earlier successes - they even lead the table by some 6 points once. However, they've seem to have gone off the boil recently and are now in 3rd place. What can his be put down to? It can't just be the absence of Roque Santa Cruz, can it?

  • Comment number 38.

    10 - "South Africa will, like Argentina, be in winter when the World Cup is played, which suggests an advantage, not only to the hosts and Diego's men, but also for England, Netherlands, Germany and Korea Republic."

    The whole world plays football in the winter. It is an advantage to everyone and no-one. Doh!

  • Comment number 39.

    River have been using the Monumental for concerts again during the season which has madethe pitch very poor again. Also the fact that Maradona hates River Plate, being a Boca fanatic is the reason for him wanting to move the match.
    As for the atmosphere in the monumental, the cheapest seats, where most of the noise is made, are the ones highest up so some of the noise is lost because its without a roof.
    Until the Bombonera does something about its safety standards, it'll never be fit for an international.

  • Comment number 40.

    hi tim i think that argentina need to strenthen the defence because i have never heard any argentinian defender well thats not true but there not plaing well

  • Comment number 41.

    A couple of stadium stories. Two World Cups ago, Australia's final qualifier was home to Iran; they needed to win. Obviously, they would play in a soccer stadium in Sydney, where support was greatest. No, for short-term financial reasons they would play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a huge oval arena also used for Australian Rules Football (170-yard/156M long pitch); 80,000-odd capacity, and Melburnians will go to any sporting event; more money to be made; but they aren't fans of our footballl. So we had a large but ignorant crowd, a long way from the pitch. Australia went 2-0 up with ten minutes to go, everyone thought "We're in the WC for the first time since 1974!" and began celebrating. A football crowd would have known it wasn't over (cf Man Utd's two added time goals to beat Bayern Munich). Iran scored, the crowd were stunned, didn't get behind the team. Iran scored again, ditto. Goodbye World Cup. I'm sure Aus would have won in Sydney.

    Early '60s, St James' Park Newcastle, against Arsenal. 34,000 crowd. Even game for 34 minutes, then Arsenal scored and it was all over. The whole crowd began chanting "New-cass-ell! New-cass-ell!" the moment the ball hit the net, we kept it up for over eight minutes, until Newcastle scored, when the stadium erupted. Arsenal were visibly stunned, they'd never experienced anything like it, couldn't cope. The crowd scored that goal, and Newcastle cruised to a 3-1 win. One of my all-time sporting highlights.

  • Comment number 42.

    I know Tim needed an intro to his peice on selection of stadia for Agrentina to play in but its reaching to choose 1978 and say that Argentina were saved by appalling organisation.

    1. It was superb organisation. Without it Aregentina wouldn't have known how many they had to score.

    2. Even knowing they still bribed the Peruvian goalkeeper to allow progress. A crime I believe the Peruvian player was fined and/or jailed for a little later.

    It was the biggest fix the world cup had seen until the infamous game of Austria v W Germany 4 years later which took bribery to new heights within the world cup as it actually occurred on the pitch!

    Shame on you Tim. Next time pick a lead that has at least something to do with fact.

  • Comment number 43.

    I will be watching this game with eyes wide open. I recall the last that Brasil came down to Argentina and Argentina put on a clinic with a 3-1 win. The game easily could of finished 4 or 5-1. Couple weeks later in the 2005 Conf Cup Final they murder us 4-1. I believe the next time they played was in a friendly in London and that ended 3-0. Then they got us again in Copa America final 3-0 as well. The last two times the teams have played the Argentina squad has been much better. WCQ in Brasil which ended 0-0(which normally has Brasil winning with a goal margin 2+) and which Argentina was the much better side. The semis in the olympics with both sides having strong players ended 3-0 for Argentina. I do think Argentina will win this game. They have too much to lose.

    Messi will miss the opening game for La Liga. He has been stellar in the preseason and last couple games.

    Kun Aguero- seems to have found his form once again. Has been quite solid with ATL Madrid.

    Licha Lopez aka as Lisandro. From the last few weeks or so I have to say he has been the striker in all of Europe. He has been on fire. Maradona might of found his #9.

    I want to see those 3 up front and maybe Messi playing a bit back to Licha and Kun. We need 4 in the back, 3 in the middle. Let Mascherano and Maxi do their thing. Veron will not start in this game so who knows who will play along side them. Wish we had Cambiasso for this game as well.

  • Comment number 44.

    gogonzola - your submission is a disgrace and I've never agreed with the allegations that the match was fixed. Why? Because I was there!! Were you there gogonzola? Don't believe all you have read.
    I'll tell you what happened at that game. Argentina knew what they had to do, so they basically played a 9 man attack, leaving one player back. They surged forward in vast numbers and left gaps at the back. From one Peruvian attack the ball hit the Argentine post (near disaster so early). From another the ball skimmed the post, before Argentina's superiority showed through. Don't forget that Peru were an old team and playing so many games so quickly caught up with them. I don't think you could say that any of the goals were the fault of their goalkeeper. As far as I can recall they were all unstoppable. I have never heard of this story that their goalkeeper was later imprisoned for throwing the game, but maybe Tim Vickery can throw some light on this.
    But remember one thing gogonzala, I was there and vividly remember the game.

  • Comment number 45.

    Post 36 Badf1sh: good point about Maradona's 'management', I suspect Carlos Bilardo's role in the current set-up encompasses more than choosing DVD's for the team bus.

  • Comment number 46.

    Maradona's managerial career looks like it is going the same way as johan cruyff's. I feel he is tarnishing his reputation by his ineptitude as a manager.

  • Comment number 47.

    I am 99% certain that Argentina with Maradona at the helm is going to fail big style. No doubt he was a fantastic player but that is not enough in the modern game of football management. The only inexperienced football managers that have succeeded are those that have played under top class coaches. Maradona was that good that he did not need management, you could stick him in any team and your % chance of winning would improve (especially with a dodgy ref). So for me he has not even had the benifit as a footballer to learn his trade working under the best let alone no experience after his football years. The guy cannot even find a place in his team for Real Madrid forward Higuain. This is over before it even started which is a shame as Messi should be there to grace any tournament.

  • Comment number 48.

    It must be getting got for Diego right now Win on saturday or else.River may be in a mess but the little Bostero will know of their power if Argentina should lose.Argentina have a fantastic record at the Monumental this was just part of his never ending vendetta at El Mas Grande.As for defence I think he is going to go for a Velez Sarsfield center back combination of Sebastian Dominguez and the very promising Nocolas Otamendi.So I dont think Heintze will play

  • Comment number 49.


    'Maradona's managerial career looks like it is going the same way as johan cruyff's.'

    Cruyff who won 11 trophies at Barcelona?

    La Liga (4 times in a row)
    European Cup
    Cup Winner's Cup
    Copa Del Rey
    Supercopa Espana (3 times)

    Who also won the Cup Winner's Cup coaching Ajax?

    Seems pretty successful compared to Maradona...

  • Comment number 50.

    It will be a tragedy if Argentina fail to get through to the WC finals. The finals will be much poorer without Messi and co.
    However, one cannot help feel that this is a problem of their own making. With so many capable managers around the AFA choose a high risk solution - el Diego. Fashion seems also to have the decision with serval experienced but high profile managers (Dunga, Pepe Guardiola, Leonardo) being selected both at club and country level.
    For every success (Guardiola and Barca) there is also a failure (Shearer and Newcastle). It should also be noted that although Dunga has lasted longer than most would have forecast, it is still early days. If Brazil fail to win the World Cup then it will seem like a failed experiment.
    For Argentina's part it is hard to argue that they don't deserve their position. To this point, Maradona has got both selection and tactics wrong. While Brazil hold the dubious honour of being are Confed. Cup winners, to me they seem some way from being Word Champions. Maradona will have no excuses...

  • Comment number 51.

    Ishtaq - perhaps you'd better check Cruyff's managerial record before comparing it to Maradona's...

  • Comment number 52.


    "While Brazil hold the dubious honour of being are Confed. Cup winners, to me they seem some way from being Word Champions" why is that honor dubious again? and matter of fact as things stand brasil are one of firms favorites to win the copa do mundo. yes, they are not playing the samba football we expect them to, but you cannot argue against their ability to win

  • Comment number 53.

    It can't just be me that thinks Madonna is way out of her depth coaching Argentina?

  • Comment number 54.

    It is good to see (but hardly surprising)that all the attention is on Argentina and Brazil, leaving the door open for Chile to win and go top of the championship. A draw in Rosario is the best result and that is my prediction as they both cancel each other out, with no thought for other teams. Chile are showing a passion and committment at the moment that the prima donnas from Argentina and the show ponies from Brazil have not had for a long time. Go Chile!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Whether or not "the fans were mad if they believed their ticket money paid the players' wages", far more importantly, the fans are mad to pay such inflated prices for tickets to begin with, no matter where it goes. And the fans are even madder to pay ridiculous prices for replica shirts made in Asian sweatshops. And television is more mad to pay astronomical fees for broadcasting rights to saturate the airwaves with such trivial pursuits. And chairman are maddest of all to pay players such insane wages for playing a kid's game!

  • Comment number 56.

    A weird idea 'bout the venue shift. It could only have come from a player the status of Diego who always found the adulation an integral element of his success on the pitch. Unfortunately it also shows he is scraping the bottom of the barrel for frills to bolster his coaching. If this kind of thing happened in India people will impute huge vested inducements to the move.
    To think Brazil could be a team to be shouted down into submission by mere expedients like spectator pull and swing! They are all seasoned campaigners and routinely succeed despite some spectator related adjuncts. Diego seems to have mentally just carried on from his 'hand of God' windfall.
    I cannot imagine his obduracy in keeping Higuain at an arm's length. It will be a personal tragedy if Higuain fails to make the final team.
    As things stand for Maradona, failure to q/f for SA will erase almost everything from the legend. There are many quirks on view; I am not at all impressed by his choice of the captain. I sincerely hope Diego hasn't embarked upon a journey into mediocrity. Its never far from obscurity.

  • Comment number 57.

    A comment from a neutral observer with a passing interest, but certainly no great knowledge of South American football – Argentina have Messi who would walk into any international team in the world, yet have a number of second rate players like Coloccinin, Heinze and Guttierez, who would not be anywhere near the squads of the top European international teams like Spain, England, Holland, Italy etc. – is there such a lack of quality in Argentinian football? I would imagine that if Argentina do make it to the World Cup and, if such players play, they will be ripped apart by the world’s best. Any views?

  • Comment number 58.

    I think that the worst mistakes have ben made by the president of AFA (Argentina football association) Mr. Grondona who should have resigned and left this position long ago. I have the feeling that Maradona as a coach is much improvisation, and if he wins and goes further it will be a mix of player experience and luck . Argentina today has excellent players and many stars, but it needs a team that wins and that has player workers and fewer stars. Even Maradona's 1986 team had workers and only one star worker. The qualification is very uncertain and that maybe the base of the team should have been built using the Estudiantes team that recently won the Libertadores.
    Brazil is strong and talented, but talent for talent Argentina individualy has more than Brazil. Argentina can beat Brazil. If it does the road to South Africa is free for Argentina to make it far. If they lose its the end of Diego and also of this Argentina team. It would be ironic that so much football talent that other teams would love to have cannot make it. I think that God must give Diego another hand.

  • Comment number 59.

    Argentina must and hopefully will play against Brazil in attack. It should do this for 90 minutes non stop with total pressing. Attackers should also double as defenders. Argentina must give Brazil no room to move and no time to think. The players must play as if this were the final of the world cup.The public and supoporters of Argentina must be constantly cheering the team. Above anything else VIOLENCE of any kind should stay out of here for the good of the game. Argentines and Brazilians love soccer so they must honor it playing well and making the whole wolrd admire the two most traditional and classic schools of soccer in the world that together have the made the history of the world cup. I am happy that Brazil will be in South Africa and I look forward to seeing Argentina also.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think the wee man (D.A.M) will come through as coach. He has stared death in the face and if thats not motivation what is?
    added to his obvious aura ... I mean can you imagine a team talk from Diego Armando Maradona, before a game with Brazil/England?
    He has walked the walk so he can talk the talk.
    He's an odd wee man but the 1st player that had me adjusting my set cos he was moving at twice the speed of the rest.Messi wouldnt be able to listen to any other living person telling him what to do, and he is now the best player in the world .. no question!

  • Comment number 61.

    Interesting blog Tim, I was at the Argentine's last home game in the Monumental and the atmosphere was simply shocking. It was so surprising because I had always thought of South American supporters as some of the most fanatical in the world, however the Argentines were silent for large parts of the game and were regularly silenced by the 2000 (or so) travelling Columbian supporters. It was as if the crowd were waiting for something impressive to happen and when it didn't they became aggitated and the whistles started and so on.

    The most surprising thing was, that a week late I went to the Estadio Nacional de Chile to watch Chile sweep past Bolivia and the atmosphere was electric from the start. It was the same at a Chilean friendly I went to see between Everton and Valparaiso Wanderers, flares, singing, dancing, chanting and so on for 90 minutes non stop.

    The change of venues may work for Maradona and the Argies but I feel that it may take more than this for a severly lackluster Argentinian side to qualify. What I would also like to say is that the jury was very much still out on whether Maradona was the right man to lead the national side in Argentina. I would say only about 60% of Argentines we spoke to about him were in full support.

  • Comment number 62.

    41. At 7:09pm on 31 Aug 2009, Faustino

    You sir, are a complete and utter pillock. Firstly, the MCG holds over 100,000 people, and I was at the game we threw away. It wasn't due to the crowd not making itself heard, the atmosphere was amongst one of the greatest i've ever been in, but due to sloppy defending. Secondly, we weren't celebrating like it was over, it was only the first leg. We were giving a strong vocal backing to our team, just like any proud country does, EVEN WHEN THEY AREN'T PLAYING PARTICULARLY WELL.

    Do not act like an authority on Australian football when clearly you have absolutely no clue on what you are talking about. Football is the largest growing sport in Australia and there are genuine fears that other Australian sports such as NRL and AFL will be replaced. So please don't accuse Australians of not been real fans, we fill out every stadium for every Socceroo game, despite the opposition, despite the fact that we aren't a footballer power because we are TRUE fans of our team and our country.

  • Comment number 63.

    "Two of the Argentina squad (Colocini and Gutierez) play in the English CCC!!! - a sign of the times."

    Well England right sided player plys his trade in the might MLS = enough said.

  • Comment number 64.

    There will be some massive players on show, but 1 will dictate the result and that is the monster captain Javier Mascherano. If he is on fire, then Brazil will not be able to counter attack.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think Maradona has too much biased in favour of certain players (messi, tevez, aguero), meaning his forward line is unbalanced (they look better whwn diego milito plays there... when is Higuain gonna be given a chance ?)

    The team look far, far to loose defensively ! they leave so much space on the pitch for the opposition to play its incredible.

    And then there's Heinze ( in my opinion a defensive disaster waiting to happen), and Gago pulling the strings in midfield (looks good against weak teams, looks totally out of his depth in the centre of midfield when playing against quality teams )
    both of whom seem to be regular first 11 players for maradona.

    Brazil are defensively much better defensively, and lethal on the counter.
    Argentina will have too play in a much more compact way to that which they having been playing under maradona to win i think

  • Comment number 66.

    July 16, 1950, Maracana Stadium, the whole world is convinced that Brazil will be crowned World Champions...except that they forgot to tell our lads about it and the rest is history.
    I was 8 years old at the time and to this day I can remember holding my father's hand as he took me to one of Montevideo's grand old avenues to join in the celebrations.
    The people of Brazil have never forgotten that game and for a very good reason, Brazil can be beaten as long as you do not lose your head. One of the secrets to win is to control the mid-field because if you allow them to assemble their attacks without closing them super-fast then your goose is cooked.
    But Brazil is counting on Argentina doing what they do best, fight amongst themselves, carry on with petty little squables to the detriment of the team, I should know I've seen enough of my old country (first cousin to Argentina)to know the dangers of the "infighting". If Maradona cannot control his players then the fans and the venue will mean nothing.
    Remember, Brazil can be beaten as long as you don't beat yourself.

  • Comment number 67.

    Argentina appointing Maradona as manager was like Newcastle appointing Shearer.

    It was an absurd decision, aimed at pleasing the fans, rather than being based on rational footballing decisions.

  • Comment number 68.

    Good article Tim. I honestly think Brasil will beat Argentina this coming Saturday. Their team do not look that impressive, apart from Messi and Tevez, there's not much quality in their squad. Their defence lack quality, skills and phisical strenght. Besides it does not help their cause, when Maradona and Tevez keep saying that the Brazilians will be scared of Argentina, and they will eat our players, and bla bla.... Typical of a team that make a lot of noise, and have no substance. Brasil will play on the counter, and i would not be surprised if we match the same score line when we beat Uruguay (4x1)in Montevideo.
    It is a shame really to see the Argentinians acting this way, they have this bad habit of talking a lot before a match and keeping silent after they get often beaten by Brasil.

    And for the record (of some posts above), the Peruvian goalkeeper in the 1978 worldcup (i was nine at the time and watched all the games in our black and white TV back in Sao Paulo) was Quiroga. He was born in Argentina and went to play his football in Peru (for Sporting Crystal, i guess), he was a decent keeper. But nevertheless, there's lot of talk about his team letting Argentina to score 6 goals in a crucial world cup game, i for one believe that Peruvian team must have been bribed by the Argentinean Junta. Anyway, that makes two dodge world cup wins for the Argies!

  • Comment number 69.

    On this one I have to go with Argentina. Brazil only needs one win to be certain of qualifying and if they cant do that. The dont deserve to be in the WC. Argentina on the other hand needs to win this because they are not certain to beat paraguay away from home. I want Argentina to win but it is going to be very difficult.Brazil have no pressure but Argentina does. I want Argentina to go to the WC

  • Comment number 70.

    68 - Quick correction: Nobody looks class apart from Messi. Tevez's not impressive at all.

    Although Mascherano and Aguero are two players I like to watch, they are impressive. We tend to respect Tevez only because he played in Brazil and english people tend to respect him because he is a trier, and they love that!

    But look as his statistics, both for United and (specially) for Argentina. Is he class? Or is he a good sub?

  • Comment number 71.

    52 - Winning the confederates Cup merits as a "dubious honour" because :

    A.(as has been noted at least once in this blog) Confed Cup winners have never gone on to win the World Cup.

    B. It does not have the depth of the WC, being comprised of only 8 teams and missing some of stronger European and South American challengers.

    C.It was clear that the European sides were half-hearted about the event. Italy seemed relieved to have been knocked out and Spain seemed more concerned about making a good PR impression for the finals next year.

    D. In my opinion, the overall standard of play was poor. Its hard to see that a technically average side like the USA would be genuine contenders for the World Cup. Brazil certainly beat who was put in front of them but favouritism has usually proved to be a poisoned chalice. Remeber they were Confed Cup champions in 2005, and overwhelming favourites for Germany 2006. Look what happened there

  • Comment number 72.

    Anyone can suggest me/tell me if theres someone like maicon in the argentine makes sense.
    The actual difference in the south american derby,as we're supposed to say,lies in deep.see games in south america,if a team wins a game its mostly comes along with a clean sheet and the draws are mostly 0-0. And for that latter 0 brazil are better than any team. It leaked in the finals of confederation cup,but brazil is the only country that puts everything in a pattern and solves it in the most unfashionable but the most yielding way. And filled with all other ingredients the most important ingredient (strategy and factor) in dunga's success is non other than counter attack. They're clinical in it and finish it so subliminally that even their own defence would be terrified to face. As Tim said,brazil are the only team who look to score when the opposition takes a very true.
    Regarding argentine defense,there is no any player there who'd make his presence felt. I like heinze but can he even provide a half what lucios iconic figure stands on the other end? Argentine defence depends more upon shrewdness rather than physical presence.brazilians have both. Can't think mascherano making same type of tackles,steals and fouls as he does against the english clubs playing for liverpool. He can only end up not playing for liverpool for next 3 months.
    In his supposed role Veron clicked on for the libetadores final but we know where his graph records for performance against hope are rather inclined towards. Messi!hopes are high.and hope he can give the edge on the front.

    I don't see much ball going through kaka/centre/midfield in this match.but the LB and RB as brazil have some of the best attacking options and defenders they are.
    Most important and interesting point to watch will be who'll weave the strings for argentina.

  • Comment number 73.

    And Tim i had asked you long before to write something on the difference in footballing cultures,strategies,formations and strength of the squads among south american heavy weights. Time by time u have mentioned them in ur blogs but seeing the whole prospect would satisfy a true football fan much more.thanks.

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    #62 everythingintransit, 2001: "After drawing the first leg 1-1 in Tehran, Australia throw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 in Melbourne, and Iran qualify on the away goals rule." Perhaps you are thinking of a different game?

  • Comment number 76.

    Interesting article. I like Maradona's passion for the game, he may be alot of things in English eyes but this again shows the love and desire he has for Argentina and for football.

    It's a great thought to switch venue to a louder tighter ground. It's an idea that shows common sense, belief and character. If we were on a knife edge in qualification with the Germans coming to town it would be superb to see them crammed in at an intimidating little ground like.......oh hang on we don't have any of those any more!

  • Comment number 77.

    Argentina will not be able to qualify for the World Cup and sincerely it will be a great loss for the tournament.

    Maradona was a class player but he cannot manage. He barely managed to manage himself over the years. Let's get serious here.

    If he really loved football and Argentina he should have resigned after he lost the game with Bolivia 6-1, in April. He is a legend and Argentians can't say no to him. Something like Newcastle and Shearer. However, Diego should have known better.

  • Comment number 78.

    For me, Maradona's appointment illustrates the desperation of Argentina to qualify. I think and hope Brazil will hammer them down on Saturday (with Luis Fabiano scoring) but I honestly cannot envisage a World Cup without Argentina. Also, a WC with Maradona as a manager would be highly entertaining. Are managers also subject to anti-dopping exams?

  • Comment number 79.

  • Comment number 80.

    Its been captivating watching these 2 great nations over the years. When I was growing up Brazil were quite rightly loved for being the masters of the beautiful game; while in stark contrast, Argentina had a reputation for being defensive and cynical.

    How times have changed! - Throughout the 90s Brazil have become the pragmatists, continued to fill their trophy cabinet, but damaged their reputation in the process; and now there clearly is an ever growing anti-brazilian sentiment amongst fans and journalists around the globe. Argentina on the other hand have seen their reputation enhanced; winning hearts and minds but not much else with their intoxicating passing style.

    However, since the Copa America final in 07, Argentina seem to have lost their way and are now relying much more on individual moments than collective brilliance. That leaves the argument that on Saturday it will be Argentina’s artisan passers vs Brazil’s athletic pragmatists a year or so out of date imo.

    The difference between the 2 sides at the moment seems to be more of a question of organization and strength in depth: Brazil are much better as a unit, stronger at the back and have greater depth in both attack and defense. A year or so ago I would of rated Argentina’s midfield way ahead of Brazil’s, but since Riquelme has gone and with the emergence of Melo, I think their now much more even than those clinging to the belief that Argentina are still this wonderful passing team would have us believe.

    Personally though, I still expect an Argentina win, not just because they have home advantage, (which has always been a strong factor in this fixture down the years) but because their need is greater.

    So let the battle commence! Can’t wait!

  • Comment number 81.

    I am sorry Maradona but as much as the crowd helps in football it is BRAZIL we are talking about. A bunch of professionals and mentally strong players(see how they came back against the USA).Argentina could not have done that.Messi may be a star at the highest level but Kaka has shown time and time again(not just against Getafe) that he can deliver when the need arises.

  • Comment number 82.

    For me a person who has extreme interest in southamerican football, i will point out some glaring problems with Argentina that cannot be simply solved with the return of Riquelme(which seems to be everymans answer).
    Team selection; Gonzalo (CB) plays for top 4 side Villareal, Samuel (CB) plays for Inter Serie A champions, Garay (CB) returned for Real Madrid 2nd in La liga, Higuain (S) last seasons top scorer & star player for Real Madrid,Cambiassio midfield keystone Inter serie A champions. Maradona refuses to select any of these players!
    Instead he selects- Martin Palermo, 36yr old, playing for Boca, deemed not good enough way back in 99, Veron, 34 yrs old, finished in european club football, returns to Estudiantes for the twighlight yrs, Burdissio cant get a game at Inter & sold, 36 yr old Roland Schiavi never played for the national team before!
    Messi will not solve their probelms being handicapped in this fashion. Until Maradona is removed and a Manager is appointed who selects Argentinas top players, rather than the 'has beens' and 'never wases' of their domestic league, they have little hope of qualifying. I for an Argie will be cheering Brazil come Saturday, because defeat and sacking of Diego is the only hope Argentina have to qualify!!

  • Comment number 83.

    A win for Argentina is far too crucial. They have the wherewithal but not the vision. With very stilted selection bias rooted in Maradona's mind, I cannot see them winning. The best available attack is not being marshaled. The style of tackling displayed by Mascherano in the Pl will not be very effective on the slick Brazilians. Its more likely to earn him a rest on the bench. Perhaps Diego will only play him one half the game anyway.
    Under the circumstances there is only one ray of hope, the Messi magic. Dunga is no babe in the woods. If Messi gets overawed or taken care of, Diego will be in deep, deep trouble.

  • Comment number 84.

    Argentina don't need help from their fans they just need a proper coach not some 'wannabe' or 'think he is'

    Find a coach that has qualification not a big mouth!

  • Comment number 85.

    Hi Tim, Having read your blog for a while now. I finally have something to ask... What are your thoughts on Stoke City's new Uruguayan signing Diego Arismendi? From the reports I have read he appears to be very much a player for the future, somebody with no little ability but also physically imposing. How do you feel he will fare in the blood and thunder of the Premier League, and have Stoke got a star in the making, or a player who will become another nomad of European football?

    Rob, Stoke

  • Comment number 86.

    Hi Tim, im looking for a little advice please. I'm flying into rio on 17th spetember and will be in Brazil for 4 weeks. I'd love to cacth a couple of football matches while im out there and was hoping you could throw me a couple of recommendations. They don't have to be taking place in Rio, anywhere will do, i just wanna see some of the burgeoning talent! cheers tim,

    Andrew, Edinburgh

  • Comment number 87.

    82 - I agree with your observation about Maradonna's squad selection, with the exception of Verón. I was at the Mineirão for the second leg of this years Libertadores final and he was in inspired form. He may not have the legs for 90 minutes, but he is a leader and a sublime passer of the ball.

    I think for people who have not experienced the Brasil-Argentina qualifying matches, it may be hard to understand the passion built into this 100 year old rivalry.

    I remember in 2000, when Brasil was experiencing a terrible run of form in the qualifications for WC02 what, in my opinion, was the turning point of their campaign. Argentina by contrast, was in imperious form. It was the night that Argentina came to Morumbi Stadium. Despite Luxembourgo's rotating door policy, a porous backline and the eternal search for a camisa 9 - Brasil managed a spectacular 3-1 win. Their fortunes changed dramatically, and they not only qualified (with some difficulty), but of course, won the WC in 02.

    The point is this. These teams have the passion in their blood when they play each other. They could be playing in a farmer's fields and they would still play the same way as if they were in a 100,000-seat stadium. the venue will make little overall difference.

  • Comment number 88.

    82 - Something happened to Samuel. I can't recall him being called by Maradona's predecessor too.

    It's as mysterious to me as Maxwell(Barcelona) never being called to Brazil.

    Maradona appointment is pure marketing, one that will backfire if Argentina don't qualify(which I doubt they won't)

    I think MOST, if not ALL, Brazilians want Argentina to qualify, me including(I'm even wearing an Argentinian shirt at the moment!) and we all agree that Maradona was a stranger appointment than Dunga(which.. worked, even though I hate to say that)

  • Comment number 89.

    @ 71

    no doubt about ure facts there. i too was apprehensive about brasil winning CONFED COPA because of the fact no team has gone on to win the copa do mundo the following year. but that does not mean we stop supporting the team to win? and surely, there has to be a first time for everything. with regards to the competition, i don't buy it that europeans only played half heartedly. CONFED COPA does not merit the value of a COPA AMERICA or copa do mundo maybe yes, but it is still a FIFA international tournament. i will give credit where its due, and USA played well enough to get to the final, and brasil - as you mentioned - beat whoever was put in front of them. sorry to stray a bit off topic here. all i wanted to express is winning the tournament does not overrate the selecao by any means. even if they lose to argentina this w/e. as it is, more pertinent is the fact that teams who are strong contendors but not outright favorites tend to do best in copa do mundo, and this #1 ranking and CONFED COPA win plus (potentially) beating up of argentina i hope will not diminish humility and bring about complacency to selecao brasileira as it heads to south africa

  • Comment number 90.

    Hey guys,an Argie here.Of course we want Argentina to win,but it won't be easy. We are scared.
    We only fear two teams :Brasil and England.That's the truth.

    I hope to enjoy the game and celebrate a victory.

    As for el Diego,if he does not win this match we will send him to Cuba.
    Take care.

  • Comment number 91.

    90 - Most Albicelestes supporters also fear Germany, and for good reason.

  • Comment number 92.

    Should never of let maradonna coach them, especailly as it meant losing the game controller - JUAN ROMAN RIQUELME, controlls the game and gives messi that extra 5 yards space to do his damage, argentina now have no player of which can pass the ball around and dictate the game, its similar to how liverpool play now without xabi alonso, JAVIER MASCHERANO, who plays for both hasnt got the tools in his game to control a match

  • Comment number 93.

    88 - dear galoucura, as a Brazilian, i do agree with you that it would be a great loss if Argentina did not qualify for the WC. However, i would not go to the extreme of wearing their jersey. Or have you got the habit of wearing the main rivals tops, such as the Cruzeiro for instance?

    As for Saturday's match, i reckon Brasil will win, 3x1. Maradona will get the sack, and Argentina will end up qualifying for the WC via the play-offs.

  • Comment number 94.

    I am living in Argentina (BA) and I think this is yet another trick to try and cover up bad management with clever ideas...

    England dont have fantastic players, but some firm management from Fabio has left us cruising through qualificiation stages.

    he appointment of Maradona is a sham - the guy is still up to his eye balls in white powder... he is giving himself another "get out of jail card" like he did with the Bolivia game "ooooo the altitude - we should have arrived earlier and adjusted...", this time it will be stadium.

  • Comment number 95.

    All the talk here is about Messi,Maxi Teves or Aguero but the key player for Argentina not only saturday and if they qualify is another young player who is far more important than any of these.His name is one of the Velez Sarsfield central defensive duo who will start in the Gigante de Arroyito on saturday.Who is this wonderman well his name is Nicolas Otamendi,22 years old, he has I think 4 caps for the seleccion and played a key part in El Fortins triumph in the Clausura.For me he is potentially Argentinas best defender since El Gran Capitan himself Daniel Passarella(including El Raton Ayala).His importance because of the poor level of our defenders right now is greater than Messi so pibe be strong

  • Comment number 96.

    “Players draw strength from having the fans closer to the pitch” – Well said Tim.

    Just a few days ago we had this 21st edition of the Bi-annual International Nehru Cup football tournament at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi. India defeated Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka on the way to the finals. In the summit clash the home side toppled 96th rank West Asian giants Syria in the sudden death shoot out.

    The playing turf at the Ambedkar Stadium is a normal one. But the four viewer stands are closer to the touch lines and the 20, 000 fans do provide substantial help by their constant shouting of slogans and timely words of encouragement. It is a very compact set up and provides the real “home advantage” which is not so, on bigger grounds say the PJN Stadium in New Delhi, PJN Stadium at Fatorda or the other massive but partially filled grounds in the various State capitals in the country.

    A stadium with a sitting capacity of 20, 000 to 30, 000 is easier to fill than those with much bigger sitting capacities. In Delhi bulk of the fans from the neighbouring Red Fort-Jama Masjid area, Darya Ganj, Kashmiri Gate, Mori Gate, Ludlow Castle, Pahar Ganj and from across the river Yamuna are able to establish, sustain and express their connectivity with the home side on account of the conducive proximity. Stamina-wise it’s a healthy and non-taxing set up for fans who love to burst into song now and then during the 90 minutes of action.

    Like many I too am less comfortable sitting 40-50 meters away from the action. In such situations the home advantage is much diluted for the home side and even for the home fans. It’s almost a neutral situation providing plenty of hope for the visiting side and lengthy periods of helplessness to home fans whose shouts and words of encouragement fall on deaf ears.

    In Goa our Duler Stadium in the northern city of Mapusa is a bit like Delhi’s Ambedkar Stadium providing better connectivity among players and their fans but the large sitting capacity at the PJN Fatorda Stadium takes better care of the financial coffers.

    Football manager Diego Maradona would do everything possible to benefit from the home advantage. Hope he gets those points and we get to watch the legendary former footballer with his talented Argentine squad in South Africa.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 97.

    in 94wc, FIFA helped brazil remove agentina(the best team of that wc) to make brazil to win their first real wc as all wc before 1974 don't count during which few ppl know football.
    for wc before 74, no one can watch live broadcast on tv(ppl hv to "watch a game" via radio.most ppl in the world don't know football . plus,politics has great impact on football,in 1934,1938 wc, italy bought agentinians to play for italy who became no 1 of those 2 wc. isn't that funny ?
    the funny thing is maradona was found sth bad soon after agentina showing great possibility to win 94 wc. i understand how bad brazilian felt when seeing agentina was better than brazil in 1994 considering how much they were eager to win their first wc ,fortunately ,leader of FIFA happened to be a brazilian.
    plus ,the match agentina takes seriously is wc only. copa cup is trash in agentinian 's eye. so this is why agentine ever wanted to give up right to attent that kind of competition several years ago. in wc(including qualifying matches), agentina is always superior to brazil.

    i think agentina wl be first country to win wc 3 times in 2010 (wc count after 1974).

  • Comment number 98.

    The quality of the South American football is very average, take away the Brazilians and the rest are nothing (to a degree).

  • Comment number 99.

    Forgot to say, great blogs Tim. I love reading them, easily the best on this website

  • Comment number 100.

    5 nil anyone :O) , Brazil the ultimate counter attack team anything can happen.

    And Brazil actaully have a world class goalkeeper, they'll take some stopping in the WC (them and Spain)


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