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  #31  
Old 02-04-2009, 10:58 AM
STEVIEG STEVIEG is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Del View Post
I presume you mean meters. I think La Paz is about 3,600 meters. Apparently an unfit person could function better than a fit person in altitude.
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  #32  
Old 02-04-2009, 11:41 AM
devvy devverson devvy devverson is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Del View Post
I presume you mean meters. I think La Paz is about 3,600 meters. Apparently an unfit person could function better than a fit person in altitude.
have heard that theory before....
i know wiki says its 3600m..... when i was there i can remember the lonely planets and rough guides listing it at over 4000. maybe the figure is varying because of the huge bowl its built in

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  #33  
Old 02-04-2009, 12:22 PM
eire_sai eire_sai is offline
 
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With all this talk of the altitude lets not forget that Paraguay got a valuable point on their away trip to Quito. It sets them up nicely at the top of the group and they should be able to qualify from here.
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  #34  
Old 02-04-2009, 12:40 PM
devvy devverson devvy devverson is offline
 
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well pointed out.... quito could be live or die day for argies in june
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  #35  
Old 06-04-2009, 12:45 PM
ho chi feen ho chi feen is offline
 
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Just a tad tenuous this week, but shur...

Pellegrini finds right blend for Villarreal


Post categories: Football
BBC Sport blog editor | 07:46 UK time, Monday, 6 April 2009


Some years ago there was speculation linking Manuel Pellegrini to the job of assistant coach at Manchester United. Whether or not there was any foundation to the rumours, it didn't happen, and Old Trafford's loss has been Villarreal's gain.

The entire population of Villarreal could comfortably fit inside the Emirates Stadium. But under Pellegrini, the little club has played host to some of the most attractive and effective football in Europe, become a consistent force in La Liga, pushed Arsenal all the way in the semi-finals of the 2006 Champions League, and now meet Arsene Wenger's men a round earlier.
Pellegrini, a 55-year-old Chilean, has been steering the remarkable 'Yellow Submarine' (Villarreal's nickname) since 2004. He is the longest-serving coach in the Spanish first division, and he has shown that, despite some high-profile failures, South American coaches can make a success of European club football.





Pellegrini is a million miles away from the rustic roughness of Luiz Felipe Scolari and has none of the desperately forced sophistication of Vanderley Luxemburgo. Unlike the two Brazilians, who came unstuck at Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively, Pellegrini cuts a suave, collected, urbane figure. He comes across like Roger Moore in 'The Saint' - and Villarreal fans should be willing to supply the halo!

In fact, if he so wished, Pellegrini is the ideal man to work out how to suspend a halo above his head. He is a fully qualified civil engineer. "It's a profession," he says, "that firstly teaches you to think, and secondly, to put things in an order of priorities with a logical sequence to solve problems."
But if the study of engineering has given him an intellectual framework, over 35 years of practical experience in football have moulded him as a coach.



Pellegrini the player was a centre-back, a one-club man who spent 13 years in the blue of Universidad de Chile. As a coach, he took charge of a number of Chilean teams, but his career really kick-started when he moved abroad.


A decade ago he moved up to Ecuador to take charge of LDU of Quito. After taking them to the championship he went down to Argentina to join San Lorenzo. The local press were suspicious and he was irreverently asked if he had come to finish the building work on the stadium.
Instead he led the club to the Argentine title and to the Copa Mercosur, a since defunct Uefa Cup equivalent. It was the club's first international title - and also the first ever achieved by a Chilean coach. He then won the title with River Plate before embarking on his European adventure.
The early months were not easy; Pellegrini believes that "for a coach the adaptation is much more difficult than for a player". But he had arrived at the right club, one small enough not to be hostage to short term pressures and headlines.


"Villarreal is the perfect club to work and develop a project," he says. And the project is one for which Pellegrini is tailor made. In the long term Villarreal are looking to develop their own players. But their short-term strategy was to go South American. Before Pellegrini joined the cub, Villarreal were specialising in bringing players across the Atlantic. With his intellectual curiosity and extensive experience of the game in his home continent, the Chilean has hit the right blend.
"Always putting priority on treating the ball well, we've also added more mobility," he says. "It's a mixture of South American and European football."

In the current team, South American players supply skill but plenty of steel as well. The little Argentine playmaker Ariel Ibagaza is a delightful, twinkle-toed player on his day and Mati Fernandez is a young Chilean attacking midfielder with enormous potential.


He has not found the adaptation to Europe easy - as a player who loves to turn and run at the opposing defence, he has found much less space in which to surge than was the case back in his homeland. But given enough room he can be highly dangerous, breaking forward and shooting powerfully like a junior Kaka.
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  #36  
Old 06-04-2009, 12:47 PM
ho chi feen ho chi feen is offline
 
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At the other end Diego Godin is a Uruguayan centre-back out of the top drawer - unflashy, but hard and classy. And it could be that the key players against Arsenal will be the central midfield duo of the highly rated Brazilian (now naturalised Spanish) Marcos Senna and the fiercely competitive Uruguayan Sebastian Eguren, who will have the task of interrupting the London club's passing.


Pellegrini will be aware that the odds are in Arsenal's favour and has been keen to stress that domestic football is no less important than the Champions League - it is performances in the former that will get them back in the latter next season.


Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Almeria was a blow, but Pellegrini will take it in his smooth stride, absorb the lessons and try to engineer Arsenal's Champions League exit.

Comments on this piece in the space provided. Any other questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmai l.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag:

Q) I expect you watched, as I did, open mouthed as Argentina were thumped 6-1 in La Paz by Bolivia. In truth, the scoreline probably flattered the visitors as Carrizo was incredibly overworked and the woodwork was rattled. To me Argentina looked awful defensively, the left-back Papa was atrocious - I hear he is a fine crosser of the ball and he looked fairly quick, but apart from that his covering was poor, he was weak in the tackle and lost possession on numerous occasions, is he seen as the long term solution at LB - I would have considered maybe Zabaleta from Manchester City as RB and maybe Javier Zanetti on the left. Is Emiliano Insua of my club Liverpool seen as a potential international left back? And Heinze must go. Agree?
Neil Jones

A) I do agree on the last point. I've never been a big Heinze fan, even when he was being lauded in England. To my mind, at the top level he's too slow to be a left-back and not commanding enough to be a centre-back - and he throws himself to the floor all the time (see Bolivia's first goal).
He's undoubtedly a spirited battler - Maradona loves him for this, though says that he won't be selecting him at left-back. Personally, I find the De Michelis-Heinze combination too slow as a pairing, and I think this is an area Maradona will have to look at.

Papa is to my mind more of a left sided midfielder than a left back and I have the same view of Zabaleta on the other flank. Papa is not really a defender - was a bad selection for the Bolivia game, where there was no point in picking attacking full-backs. He is not a long-term solution, but it's a problem position at the moment.

Insua didn't do his chances any good with a rough time recently in the South American Under 20s - he captained the side, played the last few games at centre-back but didn't do well in either position. Monzon played in the Olympics, but I'm not sure if he's the tightest defensively.
Maybe Maradona might be tempted to stick with a back three, the formation he played at home to Venezuela. He has the pace of Angeleri at sweeper, or he could have a look at Boca's highly promising Forlin in the back line, then he can go with the lung power of Jonas Gutierrez at left wing-back.


Q) Having watched most of the South American qualifying matches last week, I was struck by how fast, frenetic, and physical every game was. In fact, if the TV screen didn't tell you the names of the team, then you could quite easily have believed you were watching matches from Europe in my opinion.

Would you agree with me that South American football, more than ever, is losing it's identity in terms of style of play, at least at international level?
Neil Clack

A) It's an interesting point. The nationalism factor and the level of competition mean that South America's World Cup qualifiers have a tendency to be frenetic affairs. But there is a wider style point, and it has to do with the physical development of the game and its impact on the old style, foot on the ball playmaker.

The consequences of Holland 74 continue to ripple through South American football - that pressure they put on the ball, depriving the opposing playmaker of the time and space to choose his options. I saw an interview with Pellegrini (see above) where he was talking about this as the last great tactical innovation, and it's a widely held opinion over here.
I recall when he was in charge of Ecuador, Luis Fernando Suarez arguing that the physical development of the game meant that these days anyone can complicate matters by packing the midfield. So, in his view, playing well meant attacking and defending well down the flanks. So Ecuador, who used to have an old style number 10 in Aguinaga, became a side that secured the centre of midfield with two battlers, and looked to break quickly down the wings. Colombia these days have no Valderrama - Macnally Torres is a fine player, but his task is to slip through the killer pass, not dominate the rhythm of the game from centrefield.

These changes have taken place in Brazil, too. A couple of weeks ago 1970 great Tostao wrote that "the games in Brazil are increasingly truculent, tense, rushed and of lower quality. Exchanging three passes has become a synonym of slowness. The strategy is to get the ball forward quickly and win a set piece. The problem is not just the lack of individual talent. It's also the lack of understanding of what it is to play good football".
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  #37  
Old 18-04-2009, 09:47 AM
eire_sai eire_sai is offline
 
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Viagra treatment for footballers

Viagra is not on the list of drugs players are banned from using

A Bolivian football team's former physiotherapist says he gave players the sex drug Viagra to help them play at high altitude in the main city.

Rodrigo Figueroa told La Prensa newspaper he had prescribed Viagra, which oxygenates the blood, to at least nine players in his team, Blooming.

The team from Santa Cruz, 400m (1,300ft) above sea level, were playing at more than 3,500m in La Paz.

Players were unaware of what they were taking, the physiotherapist said.

He stressed that Viagra was not on the list of banned drugs.

"We prescribed it for several players, especially those who suffered most from altitude," said Mr Figueroa.

He had, he explained, administered the product by mixing it with fruit juice.

Asked about his former side's results using the product, Figueroa, who is now with Bolivar in La Paz, replied:

"At altitude you win, you draw, you lose. The best results came when the team relied on strong tactical nous."
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  #38  
Old 18-04-2009, 11:41 AM
ho chi feen ho chi feen is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eire_sai View Post
Viagra treatment for footballers

Viagra is not on the list of drugs players are banned from using

A Bolivian football team's former physiotherapist says he gave players the sex drug Viagra to help them play at high altitude in the main city.

Rodrigo Figueroa told La Prensa newspaper he had prescribed Viagra, which oxygenates the blood, to at least nine players in his team, Blooming.

The team from Santa Cruz, 400m (1,300ft) above sea level, were playing at more than 3,500m in La Paz.

Players were unaware of what they were taking, the physiotherapist said.

He stressed that Viagra was not on the list of banned drugs.

"We prescribed it for several players, especially those who suffered most from altitude," said Mr Figueroa.

He had, he explained, administered the product by mixing it with fruit juice.

Asked about his former side's results using the product, Figueroa, who is now with Bolivar in La Paz, replied:

"At altitude you win, you draw, you lose. The best results came when the team relied on strong tactical nous."
Yeah, but unfortunately there's a worry that it can cause players to fail drugs tests.

No real way around this altitude thing... without proper preparation, the majority of players will lose 30% of their athletic capacity. But who can afford the three week's acclimitisation needed?

I'm going to watch the odds on these games in future. Argentina were priced at 4/9 to win in Bolivia, which is ridiculous.
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  #39  
Old 18-04-2009, 11:47 AM
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Latest Tim Vickery Column:

State Championships past sell-by date

Post categories: Football
Tim Vickery | 08:29 UK time, Monday, 13 April 2009

In football administration, democracy is an awkward concept. One Rochdale, for example, clearly does not have the same weight as one Manchester United - even 30 Rochdales together would struggle.


It was the realisation of this basic truth that helped launch the Premier League, on the basis that if the major clubs were creating most attention and spending the most money, the structure of the game should reflect their importance. A decade and a half after its formation, once provincial English football now attracts top stars from all over the world.
Back in 1992 it would have seemed unthinkable - but when the Brazil squad is called up, these days it contains more players with English clubs than with Brazilian.


It is inevitably hard for domestic Brazilian football to compete with the major European leagues. For all its size, with its colossal internal market, Brazil is still limited by the low salaries paid to the majority of its population, which in turn place a ceiling on footballer's wages.




Even so, domestic football in the land which has produced five World Cup-winning teams has considerable room for improvement - and one of the reasons is that the lesson of the Premier League has not been absorbed. The tail is wagging the dog.


The current structure means the big clubs are subservient to the small - or to something more sinister, to those who control the small. The biggest proof is the continued existence of the State Championships, one for each of the 27 states that make up this giant country.

This year's state tournaments are coming to a close, which means big games in front of giant crowds. I'm writing this after returning from a Flamengo-Fluminense semi-final in Rio that drew a near 70,000 crowd, like the Botafogo-Vasco match the day before. In Sao Paulo, meanwhile, there is great interest in their semi-finals between the local big four, Corinthians and Sao Paulo, and Santos and Palmeiras.

Some will take this as evidence that people love the State Championships - and they would be wrong. People love big derbies. When the fixtures come out, the first thing a Manchester City fan checks is the dates of the matches against United, and he doesn't mean he has to endure three months of watching City against the likes of Bolton Sunday Market reserves.

But that's what happens in Brazil. Before the State Championships come to a finale, they throw up week after week of complete guff. The figures from Rio show the point clearly.

Nowadays the Rio State Championship is clearly second in quality to Sao Paulo but historically it is at least as important. This year it has been made up of 16 teams - the big four in the semi-finals, and 12 small ones. In all, those 12 teams have met each other 67 times during the course of the competition - with a combined attendance of 29,261. An average of 436 fans per game.
This is obviously absurd. Professional football without supporters is a glaring contradiction. The small teams bring nothing to the table and yet the big ones, who count their own fans in the millions, carry them along for months.

It is basic. If the likes of Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense and Botafogo are spending mid-January until early May playing teams with no supporters, they are obviously operating massively below their potential.
Why is this allowed to continue? In part it is tradition. Brazil is so vast that a genuine National Championship only came into existence in 1971, so much of the history of the game is bound up in local rivalries.
But more to the point, it is power. The balance of power in the election of the president of the CBF, Brazil's FA, is with the 27 state presidents. Taking away their championship would end their prestige, since typically, their own support base is with the small clubs.



So they don't vote for a reform candidate, and in return they get to keep their championship.

The outcome is two layers of mutually perpetuating bureaucracy. Ricardo Teixeira has been CBF President since 1989 and now has a mandate until 2015, while more than half the state presidents have been in office more than 10 years and some date back to the mid-70s. The big clubs attempted a feeble breakaway in 1987, but continue to participate in a structure that sells them short.

The players know the truth. I first became aware of this in early 1996, when interviewing Branco, who was on the point of joining Middlesbrough. One of the reasons he was keen to get away was to avoid the State Championships, which at the time were even longer.

Recently Flamengo keeper Bruno let the cat out of the bag; winner of the Rio State title in 2007 and 2008, he said that this year he wanted to win something important.

Bad enough in themselves, the State tournaments also have a highly detrimental effect on the National Championship, which kicks off on 10 May and goes all the way through to early December. As any European fan knows, a long league campaign needs a pause before the action gets under way, to whet appetites for the big kick-off.

But retaining the State tournaments means there is no such pause in Brazil - and to make matters worse, it throws the calendar out of sync with the rest of the world, so that the global transfer window rips teams apart in the middle of the campaign.


State Championships may have a purpose for lower division teams, youth and women's football but they have long since outlived their usefulness at the elite level. Scrapping them would be the single biggest step the Brazilian game could take.

Comments on today's piece in the space provided. Other questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmai l.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag:



Q) After watching Porto's 2-2 draw with Man United, I noticed there were many South American footballers on the Porto team, González, López and
Rodríguez all had good games but for me, the two players who really
stood out were a young defensive midfielder called Fernando, who had
great energy and was superb at spotting potential danger and snuffing
it out. The other was a striker called 'Hulk,' who had an
unconventional but effective style of bulldozing through the defence
with the ball. Do you know much about these two players and do you
think Dunga is aware of them? Could Fernando could be a long-term
replacement for an aging Gilberto Silva, who Dunga seems reluctant to
drop?
Lee Walsh

A) It's a tribute to the strength in depth of the Brazilian game that players like this are produced who are hardy known back at home. Problem is, it's hard to get in the national team that way, without a constituency at home calling for your inclusion. Hard, but not impossible - Elber did it, more recently Alfonso Alves was in the squad for a while.


Dunga should certainly be aware of them; I'm sure he sees it as part of his job to follow any Brazilians in the last eight of the Champions League, and anyway, he will have been watching Porto to keep tabs on keeper Helton, who he has called up in the past.

All they can do is keep performing to maintain the pressure - as far as Hulk is concerned, with Adriano out of contention for a while there's a squad place going for a striker.
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  #40  
Old 18-04-2009, 11:47 AM
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Q) I was just wondering if you could enlighten me as to whether you believe there is a wider reaching, and perhaps cultural, reason behind the difference in performance level of Robinho, in part Jo, and Ronaldinho (in his last season at Barca) when it comes to games away from home? Or am I wide of the mark and simply highlighting 3 recent examples who all happen to be Brazilian?
Andrew Bester

A) An interesting point. It's generally true that away wins are much rarer in Europe than South America. In the Libertadores so far we've had 36 home wins to 16 away. In World Cup qualifying it's 31 to 10 - and this ratio of 3 to 1 is not uncommon. I tend to put this down to travelling time, climatic changes, altitude etc, but there may be some psychological factors at work.

In the case of the players you mentioned, I don't think it's true of Ronaldinho in his pomp; one of his finest Barca performances came at the Bernabeu. With Robinho there may be some mental factors. I did a round table debate on Brazilian TV a while back, and the local journos were stressing that he's worked better in support of someone rather than when he is given the responsibility of carrying the side. Perhaps he feels that responsibility more away from home, when the difficulties are greater. I'd like to know what City fans think about it.
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