Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Mascherano is captain, but Messi must play the Maradona role

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When Carlos Bilardo began his job as Argentina coach in January 1983, the first thing he did was to visit Maradona in Spain where he was playing for Barcelona.

Bilardo told Maradona he wanted him as Argentina’s captain, that he was the only player sure of his place and that he would build a team around him to win the World Cup.

Maradona, who had had an unhappy first World Cup in Spain six months earlier, reacted by promising himself nothing would stand in their way.

“The first thing I resolved in that moment was to create something, a conscience: to play for the national team had to be the most important thing in the world,” he said many years later in his autobiography.

Argentina ‘in the hands of God’

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“We’re in the hands of God,” some Argentine newspapers said after Diego Maradona was appointed coach of Argentina, a move that has just been confirmed.

Much has been made of Maradona’s lack of experience as a coach but, as former Napoli president Corrado Ferlaino pointed out last week, Maradona was a coach on the pitch during the Italian club’s glory years.

Forget Maradona, the real surprise is seeing Bilardo back

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Amid all the furore over Diego Maradona’s imminent appointment as Argentina coach, an equally surprising and significant development has been all but overlooked: the return of Carlos Bilardo to the national team set-up at the age of 69, and after an 18-year absence.

Affectionately known as Narigon (Big Nose), Bilardo is one of the most controversial figures in Argentine soccer.

Maradona to coach Argentina — your views

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Incredible but apparently true — Diego Maradona is to be the new coach of the Argentine national team.

That is according to reports running on Argentine TV at the moment and the news has apparently been confirmed by the 1986 World Cup winning coach Carlos Bilardo, who may be signing up as part of Maradona’s staff.

Gilardino handball goal ban sets interesting precedent

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Imagine the scenario. FIFA decides to use post-match video evidence at the 1986 World Cup. After Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-final, the Argentinian is banned for two matches and the course of football history changes.

Belgium beat West Germany in the final in Mexico City.

A two-game ban is exactly what Alberto Gilardino has received for deliberately scoring the opener with his arm in Fiorentina’s 3-1 win at Palermo on Sunday.

Let’s scrap anthems before international matches

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Do all Honduras fans dress like that?French politicians were outraged after the Marseillaise was booed by the large contingent of Tunisia fans before Tuesday’s friendly at the Stade de France.  

Sports minister Roselyne Bachelot said that France matches must be stopped if it happens again and French Football Federation chief Jean-Pierre Escalettes was summoned by President Nicolas Sarkozy for a meeting.  

Riquelme whips up another storm

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RiquelmeLess than a year after being forced out of Villarreal, who tired of what they said were his excessive privileges and lack of commitment, Juan Roman Riquelme is at the centre of a similar storm at Boca Juniors.

A sequence of listless performances from the enigmatic number 10 prompted public criticism from team mate Julio Cesar Caceres. And it all sounded very familiar.

King Kun? Messi shows him who’s boss

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Don’t Mess-i with me!

It was the battle between the young pretender and the crown prince but there was to be no revolution, just wonderful football.

Atletico Madrid’s hot-shot striker Sergio Aguero has stolen all the headlines in recent months and has quickly been compared to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. A match-winning display in March’s 4-2 win over Barca further boosted Aguero’s profile. (more…)

Argentina’s romantic commitment facing a test

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Basile watches as Tevez walks offTake a look at the standings in the South American World Cup qualifying group and it seems that Argentina are making steady progress towards South Africa. After seven of the 18 games, Alfio Basile’s team are third with 12 points, two points behind the leaders, and only four goals conceded.

On paper, Argentina and their elegant playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme are a purist’s dream, weaving neat patterns around the field with their passing and refusing to resort to the long ball or the physical approach.

Can Argentina enjoy a change of fortune against Brazil?

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Aguero celebrates with MessiAmid all the Euro 2008 fuss, it has nearly been forgotten that one of the world’s great fixtures will be played on Wednesday when Brazil meet Argentina in a World Cup qualifier in Belo Horizonte.

Incredibly, Argentina have lost the last three meetings by three-goals margins — 4-1 at the Confederations Cup in 2005, 3-0 in a friendly in 2006 and 3-0 again in last year’s Copa America final.

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