Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Ten years ago to the day, Lionel Messi stepped off a plane in Barcelona as a scrawny 13-year-old blessed with extraordinary gifts but in need of a big break.
The club’s decision to take a chance on the kid from Rosario and pay for costly treatment for a growth hormone deficiency turned out to be one of the best decisions they or any other club have taken. According to Barcelona legend, his first contract was signed on a paper napkin after Carles Rexach, then Barca’s youth team coach, was persuaded here was a player he could not afford to let slip away.
A decade on and Messi is, in the eyes of almost everyone, the world’s best player and Barca fans should celebrate Sept. 17 like La Diada de Sant Jordi. Consider the achievements:
*Earned his senior debut at the age of 16 in a friendly against Porto in November 2003.
Argentina have not suddenly become world champions after beating Spain 4-1 nor have the Spanish lost the sheen of their World Cup victory.
For Argentine fans, though, the performance more than the result gives them hope for a fresh start, possibly with Sergio Batista at the helm right through to Brazil 2014.
Trying to read anything into Spain’s 4-1 defeat in Argentina is tough considering it was a friendly. Did the world champions take it too lightly? Was Del Bosque right to field Pepe Reina in goal with fringe players Nacho Monreal, Alvaro Arbeloa and Carlos Marchena in the back four for a match that was never going to be that ‘friendly’?
Or was it that Argentina really got it together under new coach Sergio Batista?
Spain started poorly conceding two goals in the first 13 minutes and the third came after an embarrassing slip from Reina in the 34th, but they responded well in the second half and hit the woodwork three times overall.
It is 20 years since their last semi-final, 24 since their second and last title and three successive World Cups in which Argentina have been hailed as playing the best football with some of the planet’s most talented players yet fallen short.
Post-mortems abound in the Argentine media and in coffee bar discussions throughout Buenos Aires about the reasons for continued failure.
A devastated Diego Maradona left his future open after Argentina’s painful 4-0 defeat by Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals on Friday.
Maradona said defeat was like receiving a punch from Muhammad Ali and there will be many who will criticise the coach for his squad picks, team selection and tactics after the country’s heaviest World Cup loss since 1958.
Join us for a look back at the extraordinary first two quarter-finals at the World Cup and a look forward to Germany v Argentina and Spain v Paraguay. Paul Radford, Felix Bate, Jon Bramley and Kevin Fylan argue over the merits of penalty goals in soccer and consider Ghana’s desperate misfortune.
Welcome to our latest Reuters 2010 World Cup podcast, as we follow the lead of the world’s most famous psychic octopus and try to predict what will happen in the quarter-finals. Kevin Fylan is joined by Paul Radford, Jon Bramley, Ken Ferris and Mr Mark Gleeson.
For four years, seven Argentinean friends saved 200 dollars each every month to attend the worlds finest sporting contest, the Fifa Soccer World Cup.
They arrived in time for the match in Polokwane between Argentina and Greece. With their Argentina jerseys and distinct animal hats, Juan, Ramin, Ale, Carlos, Claudio and Ale turned heads as they entered the Polokwane Fan Park shouting “Argentina! Argentina!”.