BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for April 2012

Support still swells for Suarez

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Tim Vickery | 11:38 UK time, Monday, 30 April 2012

Gus Poyet was recently remembering the advice he received when he joined Chelsea 15 years ago.

"I had a team-mate at Zaragoza who had spent four or five years in England and he told me all the things that I shouldn't do," he said to the Uruguayan press.

"'Don't dive in the area, trying to get a penalty, don't score a goal with your hand, don't try to cheat the ref, don't try to pressure him to give a yellow card to an opponent'. At that moment I wondered where I was going. I thought I was on my way to another planet! But I adapted."

Football might be a universal language, but we speak it with different accents - one of the reasons that bringing in a player from a different culture always contains elements of a gamble. Not only is he a human being who has to adapt to life in a new country, he may also have to change some aspects of his behaviour on the field - or face the consequences.

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How the away goals rule counts double in South America

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Tim Vickery | 09:52 UK time, Monday, 23 April 2012

Imagine if Didier Drogba had missed that chance against Barcelona last week at the end of the first half.

It was Chelsea's only shot on target in the match. Had it not gone in, would their approach in the second half have been bolder?

I am inclined to doubt it. From a Chelsea point of view, scoring was great - but even better was stopping Barcelona get on the score sheet.

The away goals rule was introduced to encourage adventure from the visiting side and, for a while, seemed to be successful. But there is a sense now that it often has a very different effect - giving the home side in the first leg a powerful incentive not to concede.

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End of the road for Ronaldinho's Flamengo

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BBC Sport blog editor | 10:25 UK time, Monday, 16 April 2012

While Europe's Champions League is down to the last four, the South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, is whittling down its field to the 16 teams who will go into the knockout phase.

Twelve places have so far been filled, with some high drama along the way.

For a few sweet seconds, for example, Flamengo of Rio thought they had saved themselves from elimination.

Fielding the likes of Ronaldinho and Vagner Love, they should have strolled through, but a disappointing campaign left them needing a combination of results to go their way in last Thursday's final round.

They had to win at home to Lanus of Argentina - the relatively easy part, since their opponents had already made sure of qualification. The hard part came in the other game, which kicked off at the same time. Olimpia of Paraguay and Emelec of Ecuador had to draw.

The winner in Asuncion would go through with Lanus.

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Santos continue to punch above their weight

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BBC Sport blog editor | 08:35 UK time, Monday, 9 April 2012

If the Titanic was too big to sink, then Santos FC would be too small to shake the world - flawed logic on both counts.

On 14 April, 1912 - the very day the Titanic hit an iceberg which caused it to sink - Santos were founded, beginning their rise to become one of the most remarkable clubs in football history.

Santos represent a relatively small city, with a population of a little more than 400,000, which grew to prominence as the port through which much of Brazil's coffee was exported. An hour's climb away is the metropolis of Sao Paulo, South America's biggest city, with more than 11 million inhabitants.

Santos are the reigning champions of South America - a title that Corinthians, Sao Paulo's biggest club, are still waiting to win.

Corinthians are the current domestic champions and are a major force. Sao Paulo FC have been Brazil's most consistent club over recent times and another local giant, Palmeiras, have a glorious history of their own.

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Benfica's Brazilian import-export connection

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Tim Vickery | 11:11 UK time, Monday, 2 April 2012

If they were unable to do it in front of their own fans, can Benfica manage to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this Wednesday?

Some might make the point that they were hardly at home last week.

The Lisbon giants kicked off without a single Portuguese player - and with an extraordinary complement of nine South Americans in their starting line-up, plus another on the bench (alongside a Brazilian-born Spaniard), and one more ruled out by injury.

And that is not even the half of it. Benfica have a further 17 South American players out on loan with other teams.

Of the four big clubs here in my adopted city of Rio, three have a midfielder who is on the books of Benfica: Airton at Flamengo, Felipe Menezes at Botafogo and Fellipe Bastos at Vasco da Gama - who also have right-sided striker Eder Luis.

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