Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Maradona untouchable despite latest defeat

Those waiting for Diego Maradona to resign or be sacked after yet another dismal Argentina performance in the World Cup qualifiers forget that he is untouchable.

Maradona will press on blindly, brushing off criticism with remarks about having always fought adversity and come out on top.

The team he led to victory in the 1986 World Cup forged their solidarity in the them-and-us syndrome: Them being influential people in Buenos Aires, like then government Sports secretary Rodolfo O'Reilly, trying to get coach Carlos Bilardo ousted weeks before the tournament in Mexico when they looked a poor team.

Victory served to increase Maradona's self-belief and aura of invincibility.

Maradona recalled on Wednesday night that Argentina were close to elimination in the qualifiers for the 1986 finals and that they had to play Australia in a playoff for the 1994 tournament.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Brazil look unbeatable but have they peaked too soon?

Ten wins in a row and unbeaten for eighteen games. The run includes 2-0 and 3-0 wins over Italy, 4-0 wins in Uruguay and Venezuela, 3-0 in Chile and, of course, Saturday's 3-1 demolition of Argentina, the first time Brazil's arch-rivals have lost at home for 16 years. Nothing, it seems, can stand in the way of Dunga's Brazil and and a sixth world title.

There's only one small problem: everyone was saying the same about Carlos Alberto Parreira's team four years ago after they won the Confederations Cup with a 4-1 win over Argentina in the final. Like Dunga's team, they were Copa America champions at the time and their so-called Magic Quarter of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Adriano looked unstoppable.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Will Argentina be better off without Riquelme?

Even before this week's outburst and his decision to quit Argentina for the second time in three years, Juan Roman Riquelme's future with the national team had looked uncertain.

Riquelme missed their first two matches under Diego Maradona because of club commitments and, without him in midfield, Argentina shook off the apparent lethargy which had marked their last few displays under Alfio Basile.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

The Ogre breathes fresh life into Argentine football

Weighing in at nearly 100 kilos is the man who has brought some badly-needed charisma to Argentine domestic football.

Popularly-known as the Ogre, because of a supposed likeness to the animated film character Shrek, Cristian Fabbiani has become a cult figure for his ability to alternate moments of brilliance with others of near comedy (such as a missĀ for Newell's Old Boys that became cult viewing on YouTube).