Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Looking back 60 years at grainy footage of his playing days, it is hard for us to get a clear sense of how good a player Alfredo Di Stefano, who turned 85 on Monday, really was.
Those who were privileged to see the Real Madrid great performing in the flesh say he was one of the most complete footballers to have graced the game.
An accomplished defender, a midfield workhorse, a playmaker and a prolific striker rolled into one, he could be seen covering back in defence, charging forward through midfield, laying on goals for the forwards and smashing shots into the net all in the same game.
Known as “La Saeta Rubia” (the blond arrow), Buenos Aires-born Di Stefano remains in robust health, regularly appears at club events in his capacity as honorary president and has a lively newspaper column in Marca sports daily.
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.
Diego Maradona is spending his 50th birthday on Saturday far from the two things that have dominated his life — soccer and being constantly in the public eye.
That leaves Argentina’s greatest player at a crossroads a few short months after a humiliating 4-0 defeat by Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals cost him the job as coach of his beloved Argentina.
from Left field:
With Sergio Batista at the Argentina helm, Lionel Messi has the chance to develop into the truly great footballer his talent has promised since last year’s exploits with Barcelona.
It could be that when the Argentine Football Association make their choice of coach for the 2014 Brazil World Cup cycle, they opt for a different candidate from Batista – Alex Sabella of Estudiantes for instance.
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.
Lionel Messi, no longer the forlorn figure of the South American qualifiers, might have been back with the under-20s such was his influence and sheer enjoyment in Argentina’s opening World Cup match.
Messi’s demeanour and mood at Argentina’s World Cup base in South Africa is a world away from what it was at their training camp outside Buenos Aires during the qualifiers last year.