BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for January 2012

South American superstars wind down on home soil

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Tim Vickery | 10:55 UK time, Monday, 30 January 2012

I have often mentioned the single greatest pleasure of covering South American football -spotting a future superstar on the way up, spying on the early steps of someone with the talent to become a household name all over the world.

Another pleasure comes from following some of those big names at the end of their playing days, when they come back from Europe to wind down their careers.

One of the fascinating aspects here is that they can fit into so many different categories.

One is exemplified by Juan Sebastian Veron, who came back from Italy when still at the height of his powers, motivated by a genuine love for Estudiantes and a burning ambition to bring the glory days back to the club where he first started - and where his father shone so brightly in the late 1960s.

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Insecure coaches set a cynical tone

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Tim Vickery | 12:03 UK time, Monday, 23 January 2012

When Pepe, Real Madrid's Brazil-born defender, steps on the hand of Barcelona's Lionel Messi, the blame is not his alone.

A coach has three main tasks. He selects the team, prepares the strategy - and he also sets the emotional tone for the work. An uptight coach usually produces an uptight team.

When the opposition is Barcelona, Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho appears to get carried away with the importance of the occasion, with some personal questions and with his own frustration at losing so often.

He has crossed the line and behaved in a manner inappropriate to a sporting contest and it is no surprise that one of the more hot-headed members of his team commits the same error.

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Jose Pekerman takes Colombia back to the future

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Tim Vickery | 09:11 UK time, Monday, 16 January 2012

Pep Guardiola as coach of Argentina's national team? It was an idea floated recently by Argentine FA boss Julio Grondona, but as nothing more than a pipedream.

It is very, very hard to imagine Argentina having a foreign coach. Same with Brazil.

The idea was debated briefly in the Brazilian press just over a decade ago. But that was in exceptional times, when the national team were in danger of not qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.

Over recent decades there have been very few foreign coaches in Brazilian or Argentine club football - those that took the plunge were usually gone sooner rather than later.

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Messi: The best is yet to come

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Tim Vickery | 20:22 UK time, Monday, 9 January 2012

Seven years ago, at the start of 2005, I was covering the South American Under-20 Championships in Colombia's coffee-growing region when I came across something that gave me a far bigger buzz than the local produce.

It was a short, shambling 17-year-old with the air of the pigeon-toed runt of the litter. His name was Lionel Messi.

Messi had already been at Barcelona for nearly four years and had played one friendly for the senior side but he was an unknown in Argentina. Yet from the first time that he picked up the ball, it was obvious that he would not remain unknown for very long.

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Football is a class act

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Tim Vickery | 09:57 UK time, Monday, 9 January 2012

Over the festive season many South American players celebrated their break from football – by organising games of football, often for charity.

With all the complaints about too much football, this might seem like strange behaviour.

But these Christmas and new year kickabouts have none of the pressure of their normal professional careers.

Most top footballers seem to agree that they got more enjoyment from playing when they were kids when everything was more care-free.

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Vargas and Neymar battle for player of the year accolade

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Tim Vickery | 08:28 UK time, Monday, 2 January 2012

In the last competitive game of the South American season, Eduardo Vargas scored a goal that made sure Universidad de Chile won the domestic title, and also highlighted why Napoli are taking him across the Atlantic.

Vargas broke from the halfway line. Cobreloa defender Sebastian Roco, worried about his pace, kept backing off. Vargas' control of the ball at pace was so good that he was able to do two things.

First, make a little change of angle to give himself more room. Second, look up and appreciate the situation unfolding around him. He had seen that keeper Nicolas Peric was a few metres off his line. Without breaking stride, Vargas unleashed a beautifully precise chip, over Peric but under the bar.

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