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River Plate v Boca Juniors - where has the magic gone?

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Tim Vickery | 08:52 UK time, Monday, 29 October 2012

The biggest occasion in South American domestic club football was back on Sunday when River Plate met Boca Juniors in a league match for the first time in almost 18 months.

The big Buenos Aires derby is followed all over the continent for a number of reasons. One is the historic role played by Argentina in the consolidation of South American football. The British introduced the game to the South Cone. More than anyone else, the Argentines helped the spread of the game northwards. In terms of playing styles and fan culture, much of the continent takes its cue from Argentina.

The second reason is the content of the derby, the forces which are being represented. Both River and Boca began life in the working class docklands area of La Boca - literally 'the mouth' of the River Plate - where, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century immigrants poured in in their millions from Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Boca Juniors have stayed put. River Plate have long since moved out to the snooty suburbs. Both moved into their current stadiums and consolidated their identities just as Argentine football was entering into its 1940s golden age.

The contrast between them is striking. River Plate is all about space - the wide avenues around the ground, giant corridors inside the stadium, a huge gap between the fans and the pitch. Everything at Boca, meanwhile, is cramped - the narrow streets of the neighbourhood and the stadium so steeply built that it is informally known as the 'Bonbonera' - the chocolate box.

River Plate, then, have something of the immigrant dream about them; Boca have the sweat of working class solidarity. This same fault line - the haves and the have-nots - is a vital component of many South American derbies. The rest of the continent, then, can see itself reflected in the Buenos Aires 'super-classic.'

And there is a third explanation for the popularity of the game - the quality of the spectacle. These are two great clubs who, even allowing for the tendency of any derby to provide more heat than light, can usually be counted upon to come up with a flash of flair along with the fury.

River Plate v Boca Juniors

River Plate's Rodrigo Mora is challenged for the ball by Boca Juniors Emiliano Albin. Photo: Getty Images

Sunday's game was certainly dramatic. Millions mourned the absence of the game during the year that River spent in the second division. Their wait was rewarded with a dramatic finale - River going two goals up with 21 minutes to go only for Boca to fight back and draw level in stoppage time.

But in terms of technical quality it is hard to believe there have been many worse matches in the century of rivalry between these two great clubs. Neither side was consistently capable of stringing three passes together.

The dismal level of play reflected the shock experienced by Maxi Rodriguez a few months ago, when after a decade in Europe the midfielder left Liverpool to rejoin his home town club Newells Old Boys in Rosario.

"The standard of football has got worse in the last ten years," he said of his return to the Argentine game. "The games increasingly lack flow. There is much more running and battling than before. There is huge fear of losing, and aesthetic considerations are no longer a priority."

Much of this has to do with the decline of the old fashioned Argentine number ten, the elegant, foot-on-the-ball playmaker who orchestrates his side's attack. The physical evolution referred to by Rodriguez and the use of two central midfield destroyers have reduced his space and all but squeezed him out of existence.

Neither side in Sunday's derby fielded such a player - though the ghost of the number ten was there to haunt the occasion.

Boca's Juan Roman Riquelme stopped playing for the club in July, but has never really gone away. He always had a strained relationship with club coach Julio Falcioni, who has traditionally favoured a 4-4-2 formation with no playmaker.

The crowd chant Riquelme's name when they want to criticise the coach. Riquelme remains in training, and is linked to a move to Brazil or the Middle East. It has been speculated, though, that a change of coach at Boca might facilitate his return.

River, meanwhile, have a highly promising number ten figure in the teenage Manuel Lanzini. Club coach Matias Almeyda has tried out a number of formations this season but has not found one that is well suited to Lanzini, who was not even on the bench on Sunday.

If it had a choice, the match ball on Sunday would surely have preferred to have been caressed lovingly by one of these players than to be booted back and forth so crudely. And perhaps therein lies the problem.

There should always be room for a player with the ability to dictate the rhythm of the game and split the opposing defence with a surprise through pass. And it is not too much to ask such a player to understand the importance of mobility, and of dropping behind the line of the ball to help out with the marking.

But if the number tens need to evolve, then so do the others. In a perfect midfield, everyone is an all rounder. But it seems that in Argentina the removal of the number ten is exposing all the more the limitations of the other midfielders.
As hinted by Maxi Rodriguez, there is an excess of runners and battlers, and a dearth of old fashioned quality.

Thankfully this is not reflected in the national team, who have played some dazzling football in the last year. Most of these players came through in the golden age of Argentina's youth structure, when they won the World Cup at Under-20 level five times between 1995 and 2007.

But youth specialists in the country have been warning for a while that standards are slipping - and Argentina's Under-20 teams in 2009 and 2011 were very disappointing.

As a huge fan of well-played Argentine football, I hope the decline can be halted and reversed. It would be great to think that occasions such as the River-Boca derby could be celebrated not just for its historical resonance and the intensity of the atmosphere, but also for the quality of the play.

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

From last week's postbag;
Q. Do you see any possibility of Ronaldinho returning to the Brazilian national team? He is looking rejuvenated at Atletico Mineiro.
Martin Raw

A. He is playing well. He has pace all around him and a centre forward in front, so there are plenty of options for him to show his range of passing and he is enjoying it. He was also in top form for Flamengo when he was called up last year - but the problem was apparent in his first game back, against Ghana at Craven Cottage. He hardly touched the ball.

Coach Mano Menezes said after the game that the rhythm of international football was much more intense than that of the Brazilian game, and that Ronaldinho had struggled to make the transition. In truth, this has been a major theme of the Menezes years, with the domestically-based youngsters also finding it hard to step up.

With that in mind, it is difficult to imagine another recall for Ronaldinho. But never say never, especially in Brazilian football. If he takes the Libertadores by the scruff of the neck next year then a recall is not impossible.


  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Great blog as per usual Tim. Although I'm somewhat disappointed it has been hidden away from the main BBC Sport page, not for the first time either. It's a shame because it is the best football blog on this website.

  • Comment number 3.


    Tim, thanks for another informative blog.

    I take it Riquelme has fallen out big style with the coach? - he is too much of a legend to be wasted in what are his twilight years. Metronomic passing ability a la Barca's current crop. Vision, skill and poise all too missing from England's 'stars'. Can England produce such a talent, ideally in my lifetime??!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Excellent article as always by Tim. In fact, the lack of quality of young players has been a big concern for everyone who loves Argentina football. Although Tim has mentioned that the national team has done very well in the last year (which to a certain extent, they have no doubt, as far as results are concerned), but the lack of creativity in the midfield, especially in the away WC qualifying games, has been too painful to watch. My question is: How long will Sabella continue to call up average players like Sosa and Brana? Will the likes of Gaitan and Pastore ever get a chance with Sabella at the helm? What has been the reaction in the Argentina press on this? And Tim, what do you think of Lamela who seems to be doing pretty well for Roma?

  • Comment number 5.

    Boca fans I know in Argentina seem to take it as a given that Falcioni's contract won't be removed in December.

    Rumours (as usual!) of a Bianchi return.

    And Riquelme! (I don't think anyone's really established fully if there were serious diffrences with Falcioni, problems with some of the directors, or he retired simply becasue he was genuinely knackered?)

    I watched the match on a live feed in England, and although these are from classic River & Boca teams, I still thought the Argentina players looked quite skilful - but maybe they're still allowed a lot of space compared to the Prem league, and the standard of defending and goalkeeping didn't look very high.

  • Comment number 6.

    I was travelling in South America in 2004 and made a mad dash from La Paz to Buenos Aires to watch River v Boca at the Monumental. The atmosphere was incredible and the passion of the fans bordered on the insane as tickeless spectators rushed the turnstiles, risking a baton to the head, to get into the ground.

    It was however, comfortably the WORST game of football I have ever seen. The standard from both teams was dire with only Carlos Tevez showing any talent whatsoever. River fans I was chatting with confirmed that both teams were so scared of losing the Superclasico that the matches often played out this way.

  • Comment number 7.


    Thanks for the blog. It offers a few questions that I have hoping you may be able to provide some answers.

    1. You quote Maxi Rodriguez who says that the quality in the league has reduced. I guess there is a large element truth to this given how poorly Argentinian teams have performed in the Libertadores. Why is this the case? Given that there has been an increase in the standards of Chilean, Colombian etc leagues?

    2. Argentina did have a golden period in youth development (which unfortunately was never translated into World Cup success). What has changed now? Surely if the system was effective what has been changed, or rather what has changed now that it is not effective?

  • Comment number 8.

    An interesting blog Tim.

    Hopefully the decline in quality in recent times will not last too long as it is important for football that Argentina have a strong team.

  • Comment number 9.

    Another excellent Blog, Tim, it`s pretty much the only thing i read on this "football" website, Been a fan of yours for many years on World soccer.

    A little question for you.
    With the south American Clubs relying more and more on external financing, what predicament does this leave players in with regards to extending their contracts, for instance with Neymar`s contract due to expire in 2014 is there a any chance of him leaving on a bosman free or would the financial backers never let this happen?

  • Comment number 10.

    I watched the game on a stream and it seemed to be a strange somewhat quiet atmosphere. (It makes me wonder what the Old Firm derby will be like when Rangers finally return to the SPL)
    To be honest i thought the game was over after River's second goal but Boca did well to come back.

    It was a disastrous week in the Sudamericana for Ecuadorian teams (to be fair Tim, you predicted as much). Most disappointing was Deportivo Quito's humbling in Argentina and Barcelona's elimination to Gremio.

    Liga de Loja did well in their first international foray and were also eliminated despite not losing to giants, Sao Paulo.

    I'm not sure about the decision to have the 2016 Copa America in the United States.On the face of it, it looks like a attempt to grab more dollars and possibly outshine the Euro's in the same year.

    Mexico and USA will get a by into the competition and will be joined by the next top 4 CONCACAF teams (i can't see Jamaica, Honduras or even Costa Rica doing much against the CONMEBOL teams).

  • Comment number 11.

    I hate to give credit where it is due (generally) and sound like a brown nose but what an interesting blog. I live in Brazil and realy find your thoughts on South American football to be on the mark and it is obvious that you have a real passion for the game here.

    Wish some of your colleagues commenting on English football had the same, rather than an obsession with anything but the game.

  • Comment number 12.

    I watched the game live on Aljazeera sport..and i totally agree with you. The occasion, the passion of the fans was brilliant but the game was very poor on technical quality..The league position of of 6th and 9th tells you everything about both teams` current prediciment..bring back JRQ10!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    The magic stills there, the problem are the businessmen and the corrupt managers who in every young player see a chance to make money and are already willing to sell them as soon as possible. James Rodriguez, Gaitan, Lamela, Ricky Alvarez, Ocampos, Falcao, Higuain, Aguero, Di Maria, Mascherano, A. Sanchez, Zabaleta, Tevez, Banega, Gago, Pastore, Lavezzi, etc, all products of argentine football in the last 10 years and im sure there will be more in the future.

  • Comment number 14.

    Tim will be pleased to know there was another Superclásico at the weekend that was dominated by a good-old fashioned playmaker. A weakened Cerro Porteño side thrashed Olimpia 4-1 and the key player was Argentine Jonathan Fabbro - I'm sure a lot of Argie clubs would love a player of his calibre but he decided to live in Paraguay to get nationality (and recently scored against Argentina for the Paraguay national team) so it looks like we will be treated to him for a bit longer here.

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

    Thanks to premier sports for televising the superclassico for free in the UK - what an event!

  • Comment number 17.

    From a tactical point of view, the most interesting way of dealing with the number ten question in Argentina came from Tigre last season, when under Rodolfo Arruabarrena they nearly won the title.
    He played with a back three with a pair of midfielders in front giving protection - and providing a platform for his number ten, Diego Morales, to roam about and feed the front two - with a pair of wing backs supplying plenty of thrust, stretching the opposing defence and helping open up space for Morales.
    But, as is always the way in these cases, Tigre wee the victim of their own success - it put their players in the shop window. Morales went to the Middle East, top scorer Luna to warming the bench at River Plate, solid midfielder Martinez to Estudiantes. Results collapsed this season and Arruabarrena lost his job.

  • Comment number 18.

    Tim - that is very similar to how Cerro are playing under Fossati - back three with two holding midfielders and wing backs which allows Fabbro freedom in the final third. They have been incredibly fluid and attacking and were far too good for Colón so I think they can get the better of Tigre this week too.

  • Comment number 19.

    18 - Fossati has always has 3-4-1-2 as his base system - the suprise for me at the moment is the discipline he is getting from Julio Dos Santos in a deeper role in midfield.

    Afficionados of the number 10 had a ball on Saturday with the Junior v Atletico Nacional game in Colombia - veteran Gio Hernandez for the hosts, the wonderful Macnelly Torres for the visitors. Junior won 1-0, Hernandez hit the post with a free kick, but Torres put the ball on a plate so many times for his strikers - a joy to watch.

  • Comment number 20.

    Great blog Tim! I'm increasingly dissapointed with the argentinian league...

    Now, regarding the issue of the number 10 in south american football, it is worth pointing out to the colombian case, as Tim was showing with the Nacional v Junior example. It seems to me that as the level of play is not as highed paced as the argentine league, this has allowed for the use of the number 10 to be an important part in most teams in the league. If you look at the traditional teams in the colombian league you will find that an important number of them still put a lot of the weight of their football on their shoulders, just a few examples:

    Santa fé - Omar Perez
    Millonarios - Mayer Candelo
    Junior - Giovanni Hernandez
    Nacional - Macnelly Torres
    Cali - Alvaro Dominguez
    Envigado - Neider Morantes
    Equidad - Stalin Mota
    Itagüi - Cleider Alzate

    Just to name a few of the most obvious Colombia this position is extremely loved by the fans, perhaps a consequence of the hugely influencial Valderrama.

  • Comment number 21.

    Spot on #13, there has been plenty of talent produced in Argentina, unfortunately it leaves too soon. I look with envy to the growing economic power of Brazilian clubs who often, but not always I know, can keep their players before selling them to European clubs. I wish Argentine clubs had the capability to do the same. Look at Dybala who went from the Argentine 2nd Division to Italy's Serie A several months ago. Ideally he should have moved to another Argentine club in the 1st Division to gain experience before trying his luck overseas, but the 3rd party owners of many of these players, many of whom are directors at the player's club, would rather cash in now for their own benefit rather than seeking what is best for the player's professional growth.

    The power in Argentine futbol has switched from Boca & River to other clubs, look at the current league table where Newell's and Velez are the league leaders. Velez above all clubs have been consistent title challengers for many years now because they are well run, and keep some continuity. I believe their coach Ricardo Gareca is one of the longest serving coaches at his current club in the Argentine league. This stability produces results. My club Newell's are having great results this year because a club legend, former Paraguay coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino has returned home and along with him veterans who started off at Newell's like Maxi Rodriguez, Gabriel Heinze and Ignacio Scocco (scorer of 2 beautiful goals last Saturday BTW) all took massive pay cuts to return home from foreign clubs because of their love of the club.

    And one day a guy in Barcelona who started in Newell's youth system will return to his beloved club to finish his career!

  • Comment number 22.

    Tim, what are your thoughts on Leandro Paredes? Apparently 'The new Riquelme'? any resemblance in playing style? or is it just the usual hype? Is lanzini better?

  • Comment number 23.

    20 - Colombia's thing for the number 10 predates Valderrama - and goes all theway back to Argentina, the footballing 'father' of Colombian football.

    Interesting response in Colombia after the 4-0 win over Uruguay a few weeks back - where Macnelly Torres, one of the 10 breed, came in for Freddy Guarin - one of those 'modern' midfielders who are very athletic, with a kick like a mule but little imagination. Many in Colombia saw the recall of Torres as a recapturing of Colombia's identity - important to stress that the national team coach is the former Argentina boss Jose Pekerman, the big defender of Riquelme.

  • Comment number 24.

    Can't ask too much quality from South American teams when most of their best players are sold to Europe/Mexico/Middle East as soon as they start showing a bit of promise.

    As for Brazilian club managing to keep their players, with the possible exception of Neymar, more than Brazilian financial might, it may simply be a case of Brazil not producing players good enough to tempt the big clubs of Europe as it used to be the case.

    European clubs could easily outbid any Brazilian club financially so I wonder if Neymar's case is more due to European clubs being reluctant to jump in too soon for fear of signing another "Robinho"...(wasn't he called the New Pele at the beginning of his career?) a case of "once bitten, twice shy" I guess.

  • Comment number 25.

    One thought I've had over the years, and not many seem to appreciate where I'm coming from, is that someone always has to lose.

    So what if, instead of Argentina going backwards and not producing the same quality of player that they have over the generations, the other countries (and players alike) are improving to the extent (both in terms of skill and tactical nous) that the Argentinian youth teams just don't look as good as they used to? If this were the case then the youth teams would still be good, but wouldn't look as good.

    If the tactical awareness is improved upon enough then by denying the Argentinians space to play (however this is achieved) actually makes them look worse than thy are because the players don't have the freedom to express themselves. This could all be part of the cycle.

  • Comment number 26.

    Great blog, got to echo the sentiments of the first poster about it being hidden (half expecting Robby Savage will be doing the South American blogs soon...)

  • Comment number 27.

    Tim why is Hernanes not being considered for the brazil national team as he is in terrific form and in my opinion is the better option than Kaka

  • Comment number 28.

    @ Another Fickle Fan

    The problem is that young players are being sold even before their professional debut. The U-20 teams every time looks more like the National team with the players coming from europe.

  • Comment number 29.

    @ rosarino

    The democratization of TV rights promoted by the government has helped the raise of the small clubs and weakened the big clubs. Look at the teams from your city Rosario Central and Newell's, years ago they used to feed Boca and River with the products of their brilliant youth system. Weak small clubs used to feed the big ones with their best players, the big clubs could replace the stars sold to Europe with them and maintain the quality in their line ups.
    Now everything has leveled up, small clubs dont sell their best players to local clubs but to foreign ones.

  • Comment number 30.

    Fickle Fan:

    Technical quality should be judged across the board. While it is true that Europe has come a long way in improving their players' technique (I personally think that this is certainly true of the Dutch and the Spaniards, now joining and surpassing the long standing German and Italian traditions), I do support the idea that the quality in the Argentinian and Brazilian average player has gone down. Of course there are exceptions like Velez Sarsfield, but let's look for example at the way a defenceman controls a pass, feels the ball on his foot, how they deliver a pass, how they come out of the back playing, how they resolve with their faces to the goal line... how they resolve plays under pressure... this qualities have pretty much disappeared. There are also countless goalmouth headers that turn into missed goals because the technical ability to jump, and/or arch your neck and sling your head forward has for the most part deteriorated. For every Dybala or Lamela or Iturbe (above average players, no shining stars really) there are hundreds or plodders that confuse passion for quality. The fans (the real experts, formerly) have gotten accustomed to mediocrity and now cheer defensive hassle as paramount, because with the average-based demotion system every team is in jeopardy of some day going down, chronically, year in and year out... no one is safe and you have to leave blood, sweat and tears to be loyal to the colours.

    Most teams play not to lose, gigantic kicking and wrestling contests, players mistreating ball and referees, there are continual interruptions of play and many players trying to influence referees , inciting their fans to violence... and to that add an obsequent press that would kill to get the one-on-one with the latest fad player... the press even give players gifts at the end of interviews and openly beg them for their used shorts or jerseys so that they can raffle them to their public to push TV ratings up. Hysteria and disorder is the rule, don't let the colourful spectacle in the stands fool you. The 'ball' is, unfortunately right now the last consideration for directors, coaches and players. Witness the 'pressure' barras exert on players during the week, showing up at practice to make 'aprietes' (squeezes, literally) to the players, who in many cases are owed months in salary and fear for their families.

    Brazil is a different story, as violence has not permeated football as much and there is greater economic stability. However, I do think that the players look generic and have lost that very special identity that I grew up with since the 50's and 60's. But somehow I do not think they have yet surrendered to the ugliness that is today Argentina's first division football.

    On a funny aside, Maxi Rodriguez' inlaws were broken into, kidnapped and sacked two weeks ago. Thepolice managed to capture the thieves: one of them is Boca Juniors centre-forward Lucas Viatri's brother, Sebastian who has, with his brother a long record of breakins and holdups...

  • Comment number 31.


    You've missed the point completely. What I was commenting on has nothing to do with players being sold abroad but merely the judgement that the Argentinian youth teams are not as good as previous years because they haven't progressed as far in tournaments. The teams themselves might be just as good as other generations, but because of the relative improvement and greater ability of U20 from other nations (not clubs) then they don't looks as good.

    In other words they have gone backwards by standing still.

    I'm not saying I'm right, it is just a theory.

  • Comment number 32.


    You seem to have gone on a rant about the first teams of Argentinian football, which I'm not saying is incorrect, but isn't really related to the point I made as I commented on the U20 national side of Argentina in comparison to other U20 national sides!! This isn't a reflection of the 'average' player but more likely the elite players for their age groups. My point, merely a theory whether right or wrong, is that the Argentinian sides may not have improved or worsened (at U20, U17 etc...youth levels) but the marked improvement in the nations they compete against has made them look worse.

  • Comment number 33.


    After re-reading your post, do you think Argentinian football is going more the way of good old English football then? (ie playing not to lose, lots of plodders good in the air, not on the ground).

    At the moment however, with managers like Brendan Rogers, Di Matteo, AVB, Michael Laudrup seems English football is destined to follow in the Spanish footprint.

    We've already seen the Brazilians of the 70's and 80's try to emulate the Dutch of that time, and are now trying to reverse this trend and also go the way of the Spanish.

    Which way is Spain going to go?

  • Comment number 34.

    #29 Nicolas makes an interesting point about the government supported TV rights (all first division games in Argentina are available for free on state owned TV channels) helping to democratize the sport. But I am not entirely sure this is the reason why provincial and smaller Buenos Aires clubs are now surpassing Boca and River (and the other traditionally big clubs in the country, Independiente, Racing & San Lorenzo.) because the lesser clubs were starting to do better even before the government financed TV deal came into place.

    But Nicolas is right that Argentine clubs seem to rarely sell rising stars to bigger Argentine clubs anymore. At one time players like Diego Maradona, Gabriel Batistuta and Mario Kempes moved from smaller clubs to bigger Argentine clubs before going overseason, now players like Pablo Dybala, Javier Pastore and Angel Di Maria move directly from small Argentine clubs to Europe. Nicolas is correct this is a contributing factor as to why Boca and River are not as strong as they once were. There are other factors as well, notably the poor management of both clubs, but the cited factor also contributes, as in years past Dybala would be playing for Boca, River, Independiente, Racing or San Lorenzo now and not for Palermo.

  • Comment number 35.

    Tim what happened to Fernando Cavenaghi? He was the natural heir to Saviola but seemed like the move to Spartak Moscow was detrimental to his club and national career. As 18 year olds, he tussled with Tevez for the best player in S.America one time and in my opinion was the more gifted player.. PS bring back Riquelme!

  • Comment number 36.

    AFF: again, I am trying to look at the average, which does not count for superstars like Di Maria or Aguero or Mascherano, but rather the identity of football as a whole, looking at 'big', 'medium' and 'small/provincial' teams. The level of football being played is affected by the two-tournament format and the average-based demotion system, as well as economic and mismanagement factors.

    The net effect is terribly harmful: for instance, coaches are under the firing gun at the 4th or 5th game mark of the fixture, as these tournaments are only 19 games long. The revolving door setup for 'saviour' coaches means that there is no connection between what the head coach does in the first division team and what the development coaches do in the eight divisions below them. I can think of one or two exceptions: Gareca in Velez Sarsfield, maybe Jose Romero in All Boys... these two teams carry on with a system. Arsenal FC's Gustavo Alfaro could be in this list as well, but these clubs have understood the value of continuity and they rarely sell a player too prematurely. Four of the big five clubs have been in trouble for years, especially River Plate (one year in second division and still not out of trouble average wise...), San Lorenzo (one goal from going down last June and again in trouble this season), Independiente (saviour coach has them going now, maybe they will get out of the bottom three), Racing Club (with new coach this season, they seem to be straightening the boat). The level of their play is dismal, but one has to ask... how can there be such a disconnect between the on-field product and what is being done with the juniors at these clubs?

  • Comment number 37.

    @ Another Fickle Fan

    I think that the one that missed the point is you, while i agree that the argentine U-20 is playing worse than they used to, i dont think that the problem is the quality of the youth teams. Other countries have improved their youth systems but so did Argentina, i'll go even further and afirm that the argentine youth system is a victim of it own success. Higuain, Di Maria, Aguero, Lamela, Pastore all sold to europe with 18 -19 years.
    The Argentine U-20 team play the Qualifiers with one line-up and the World Cup with another, as the National Team the U-20 has a lot of europe based players (some players of the current U-20 team, Ocampos - AS Monaco, Dybala - Palermo, Icardi - Sampdoria, Iturbe - FC Porto, Innocenti - Milan AC).
    So as i said i agree that as a team they are playing worse than before but in this context is not easy to build a team that can play actually like one. Pekerman did a great job with the youth teams but he didn't have this problem or maybe back there it wasn't as big as it is today.
    The last poor results are another thing, nothing to do with playing nice or ugly, they are due to poor managers that couldn't solve this problem. Tocalli won the 2007 U-20 WC with really poor games and relying in the individualities.

  • Comment number 38.


    My question wasn't to do with the average, or the league. It's to do with the Argentine, national youth set ups.


    You make some fair points, but I'm trying to factor in the improvement of other nations. If others are better, it makes the Argentinians look worse than previously??

    Also surely there is only so much you can teach and the rest is natural talent? If that natural ability isn't there, then it doesn't matter how good the coaching is does it?

  • Comment number 39.

    Atletico Mineiro should take a chance on Riquelme and offer him the chance to play in Brazil & team up with Ronaldinho/Jo.
    Maybe play a 4-3-2-1 with Riquelme & Ronaldinho feeding the balls for Jo to finish. It would be an amazing team and give the Argentinian legend a final swansong.

    If Maxi is right & the Argentinian league is declining in standard, then why not move to Brazil and play in a country where the economy is growing and the football attracts some top names.

  • Comment number 40.


    Bianchi won't return to Boca so soon. The current administration's directors made his life impossible when he was amongst them. And that president Angelici is a Mauricio Macri's stooge certainly doesn't help his nomination either. The only hope for Boca - as for their "cousins" - is to get rid of shady agents and directors. But it's easier to expect Republican candidates to support abortion and taxes.

    And Marcelão brought a sensitive point. The format of Argentinian league is appalling, there should be one championship a season instead of two. But Grondona (remember: Blatter's best henchman) and the Football For Everyone demagoguery seem to ignore it. They say European League format is unfair to smaller clubs. Typical Latin American, the mediocrity of many dragging the capability of few.

  • Comment number 41.

    I do not understand what you have against the British number 10 South American?, despite being a player who does not usually mark the 10th legitimate causes the team has played in the creation of light and has refined the technique so that most countries around the world besides using a sort of 10, with some modifications, as some Europeans fantasticos baggio Zidane and were similar to the 10 South American. The adaptations made ​​in Europe for European owners that I found most amazing was to Andres Iniesta marking forward with great quality and the frame is extremely sober and despite not using the number 10 he is the true 10 of barcelona. not wanting to be inconvenient but if england had a 10 average would have won the Cup in 2002 and 2006, in 2006 had the best cast in its history but had not a 10 legitim but not the only ones with this capability are Gerard and Lampard who are forced to succumb the 4-4-2 dialing a ridiculous selection where some would not be silly to use in a game where you have more chances of winning than the opponent.


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