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Have Argentina, the world’s biggest exporters of soccer players, lost their feeling for the national colours Diego Maradona wore with such pride and passion? Has the ever increasing exodus of players to Europe dented their edge, made them soft?
Fans’ opinions on websites after Argentina’s pale 1-1 draw with Bolivia, the first time their neighbours have taken a point in nine World Cup qualifiers this side of the border, suggest that’s what they are thinking.
Players are accused of being too comfortable with their high salaries at rich European clubs, allowing modest South American rivals to “paint their faces”, a local phase meaning to embarrass.
“A bit of humility, enough caviar,” a columnist wrote in the sports daily Ole. “The time has come for labourers.”
By Rex Gowar
As Argentine Football Association chief Julio Grondona put it, River are not adapting to the second division, the B Nacional is adapting to River.
If, or when, this happens, regardless of their merits as players, the vote could highlight a deficiency in the football played at the tournament.
“I more than anyone want to win something with the national team and I’m going to,” Messi told Ole sports daily in an interview published on the opening day of the Copa America.
“A World Cup?” the reporter asked.
“That’s how it will be. That moment will come and I know I’ll enjoy it. I don’t know why, but something tells me I’ll do it.”
River Plate, Boca Juniors, Independiente, Racing Club and San Lorenzo are Argentina’s Big Five clubs.
Until Estudiantes became the first club outside the elite Five to win a league title in 1967, no other team had lifted the crown since in the professional era began in 1931.
Argentines often talk about how heavy a particular football shirt can be, River Plate’s, Boca Juniors’ or Argentina’s.
“La camiseta pesa” (the vest weighs (a lot).
This is what is happening to the players of River Plate, one of Argentina’s “Big Two”, who could be relegated for the first time this month.
By Rex Gowar
River Plate’s dire relegation situation is the principal talk of Argentina’s TV soccer chat shows, a bigger story than the crisis at FIFA where Julio Grondona, in power since 1979 and fending off corruption allegations, said he will seek yet another term in office as president of the Argentine FA.
River president Daniel Passarella – who like Michel Platini has occupied most of the top positions in the game: club skipper, national captain lifting a major trophy, national coach – attacked Grondona after his team’s defeat by Boca Juniors in the “superclasico” over his appointments of match officials. Passarella said it was a disgrace the number of penalties the referee, who was not suspended, had missed in the Boca box.
Club president Daniel Passarella, a temperamental former River and Argentina captain and coach, exploded at the weekly Argentine Football Association board meeting chaired by AFA chief Julio Grondona.
River Plate are playing two championships in one and until Sunday’s shock 2-0 home defeat by modest All Boys they had as good a chance of winning the Clausura title as they do now of relegation.
In the craziest of Argentine league championships, results are impossible to predict and playing away is an advantage. There have been 50 away wins and 41 at home so far in 13o Clausura matches this term.
Olimpo, a modest team from the port city of Bahia Blanca on the windswept Atlantic coast in southern Buenos Aires province, are doing well in the Clausura championship. They are in fourth place three points behind leaders Velez Sarsfield.
Boca Juniors, one of the big clubs from the capital, are 14th — seven points off the pace.