BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for August 2012

Aguero & Messi - Argentina's perfect partners

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Tim Vickery | 08:34 UK time, Monday, 27 August 2012

Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini was frustrated when his striker Sergio Aguero was called up by Argentina for a friendly against Germany two weeks ago.

And he is exasperated to see Aguero's name in his country's squad for the coming World Cup qualifiers.

The trip to Germany came just a few days before City began their defence of the Premier League title. And Aguero's injury means that he has limited chances of being fit in time to play for his country next month. A journey across the Atlantic is quite possibly not an ideal part of the player's recovery. Mancini's position, then, is totally understandable.

But so too is that of Argentina boss Alejandro Sabella.

His complaint is that of all those in charge of contemporary national teams - the lack of time with his players means that he can hardly function as a coach. He becomes a selector. In the quest to form a cohesive group, any time he can spend with his players has to be utilised.

It hardly matters to Sabella that Aguero is unlikely to be ready for Argentina's next game, at home to Paraguay on 7 September - the player is suspended. But everything will be worthwhile if four days later Aguero is able to come off the bench and make an impact on the tricky tie away to Peru.

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Neymar must leave comfort zone to fulfil promise

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Tim Vickery | 08:41 UK time, Monday, 20 August 2012

On Wednesday Neymar helped Brazil to a morale-boosting 3-0 win away to Sweden. The next evening he was back in action on the other side of the Atlantic, in Florianopolis in the south of Brazil, where he played the starring role as Santos came from behind to seal a 3-1 victory against Figueirense.

The punishing schedule is reflected by a glance at the league table. The Brazilian Championship is approaching the halfway stage, but Neymar has hardly figured. He has been away on international duty, and Santos have struggled in his absence.

A defeat last Thursday would have left them just one point clear of the relegation places - and it looked a distinct possibility at half-time, when bottom of the table Figueirense were a goal up. Neymar put a stop to the panic with a superb solo equaliser, and laid on the clinching third goal. He also added another assist on Sunday as Santos came from behind once more to beat old rivals Corinthians. Suddenly the league table does not look so frightening.

Clearly, Santos need Neymar.

But does Neymar still need Santos?

It is an interesting question.

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Brazil's Menezes under pressure after Olympic defeat

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Tim Vickery | 09:56 UK time, Sunday, 12 August 2012

In the culture of Brazilian football, there are few crimes more serious than losing in a final.

The celebrations have been planned and the champagne is on ice. Then, when things go wrong, everyone sees it and the humiliation is complete as you fall from a great height.

What kind of landing awaits coach Mano Menezes after Brazil lost 2-1 to Mexico in the Olympic final? When Brazil win the players get the credit. When they lose the coach gets the blame. It was ever thus.

Going home with the gold medal would have solidified Menezes' position as the man to take Brazil to the next World Cup. In defeat nothing is solid. If the new president of the local FA wants to play to the gallery, then getting rid of Menezes is the easy option.

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Inspiring a generation

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Tim Vickery | 09:05 UK time, Monday, 6 August 2012

When I fly back to Rio - the host of the 2016 Olympics - my enduring memory of London 2012 will be that of Great Britain women's football team beating Brazil.

Included in a Wembley crowd of 70,584, sitting directly behind me, was a young girl of around seven or eight who had gone along with her father.

She sat - or mostly stood - enraptured as he patiently explained what was going on. After a minute and a half they had a GB goal to celebrate.

Towards the end, dad was cheering hard for a second, mainly because it would give him an excuse to leave early and beat the rush.

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