INVASION ALERT! Ahead of the crucial Clasico qualifier between Argentina and Brazil, Celso de Campos Jr Ã¢ÂÂ writer of FourFourTwo.com blog The Noise From Brazil Ã¢ÂÂ gives his view from the other side. Including how Maradona's men can beat the SeleÃÂ§ao...
I know, I know...
You Argentina lovers out there are asking, what the f*ck is this Brazilian b*stard doing here in the sacred Argie Bargy territory? Right on the eve of SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs ClÃÂ¡sico?
Chill out, hermanos... I come in peace, invited by FourFourTwo.
Since the Albiceleste have been struggling lately in crunch-time professional matches against the SeleÃÂ§ÃÂ£o (by the way, kudos to the youth and Olympic squad's recent triumphs), I thought I would pop in here to offer some advice to help Diego Maradona beat Brazil in this crucial World Cup qualifier.
I know the red alert light is flashing for Messi and his mates. There's a real threat of watching next year's World Cup on TV, and I honestly think thereÃ¢ÂÂs no point in rooting for Argentina falling short of the ultimate football party.
Besides the titles I celebrated in 1994 and 2002, some of my fondest World Cup memories are related to the arch-rivals' defeats!
And there is hope, of course.
Just because Brazil routed Argentina in the 2004 and 2007 Copa America finals and in the 2005 Confederations Cup, it doesnÃ¢ÂÂt mean you canÃ¢ÂÂt beat us when it really counts.
See, last year in the Belo Horizonte qualifier match you held us to a goalless draw.
WHACK! Baptista goes boom in 2007
So, seriously, letÃ¢ÂÂs get down to business.
First, the basics. Brazil line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with a reliable defence despite JuanÃ¢ÂÂs absence on Saturday Ã¢ÂÂ BenficaÃ¢ÂÂs LuisÃÂ£o will join captain LÃÂºcio, the true owner of the team, whether we like him or not.
On the wings, thereÃ¢ÂÂs high-flying Maicon and newcomer AndrÃÂ© Santos.
Then thereÃ¢ÂÂs two defensive midfielders, Felipe Melo on the left and Gilberto Silva on the right, behind a trio of offensive men feeding a lone man up front (Luis Fabiano).
During the Confederations Cup, Ramires (right) won a place among those three, alongside stars Robinho (on the left) and KakÃÂ¡ (in the centre).
But for this particular game Dunga has announced heÃ¢ÂÂll field Elano Ã¢ÂÂ a wise decision, since itÃ¢ÂÂs sure going to get physical and Ramires must weigh 40 kg tops.
Also, with defensive-minded Elano on the right, MaiconÃ¢ÂÂs Usain Bolt-like sprints to the attack will be covered.
Having said that, hereÃ¢ÂÂs the five keys to an Argentinian win Ã¢ÂÂ just donÃ¢ÂÂt tell Dunga you heard it from me.
1 Ã¢ÂÂ Go right. Brazil's defensive left side is the weak spot of BrazilÃ¢ÂÂs team. Veteran Kleber, the coachÃ¢ÂÂs first choice, has proved himself a flunk Ã¢ÂÂ he lost his place to Andre Santos in the Confederations Cup and itÃ¢ÂÂs safe to say heÃ¢ÂÂs history.
The new starter Andre Santos, who recently left Corinthians to Fenerbahce, is a fairly good player, but rather inexperienced internationally Ã¢ÂÂ so much so that Dunga, with an eye on 2010, has already tested right-back Daniel Alves on the left side in the Confederations Cup.
Besides, Andre Santos is best known for his attacking skills, so expect an avenue wider than Buenos AiresÃ¢ÂÂ 12-lane 9 de Julio down BrazilÃ¢ÂÂs left side. With Messi and Tevez there, I donÃ¢ÂÂt even want to think about ArgentinaÃ¢ÂÂs counter-attacks.
2 Ã¢ÂÂ Eyes on the 9. The Battle of Rosario Reloaded is one of those close games that are likely to be decided by an implacable centre-forward who doesnÃ¢ÂÂt forgive that one slight defensive mistake. (Remember, the original one, in the 1978 World Cup, ended in a bloody 0-0.)
Brazilian Luis Fabiano shone in the recent Confederations Cup Ã¢ÂÂ not to mention that heÃ¢ÂÂs the teamÃ¢ÂÂs top scorer with seven goals and usually grows in big games.
Double-teaming him is mandatory, especially when one of your defenders is SebÃÂ¡ Dominguez Ã¢ÂÂ who embarrassed himself in Brazilian football during his brief stint with Corinthians in 2005.
I havenÃ¢ÂÂt seen him since, and I donÃ¢ÂÂt want to be unfair, but I donÃ¢ÂÂt believe the 29-year-old veteran can have learned in the last four seasons what he hadnÃ¢ÂÂt already gleaned in a quarter of century.
(Oh, and donÃ¢ÂÂt even think about handing the infamous Ã¢ÂÂHoly WaterÃ¢ÂÂ to Luis Fabiano. If something happens to him, thereÃ¢ÂÂs Adriano behind him Ã¢ÂÂ I wonÃ¢ÂÂt be mean enough to remind you what the Emperor has done to Argentina in the past.)
The Emperor: Waiting in the wings
3 Ã¢ÂÂ Hit us. You canÃ¢ÂÂt let the Brazilians Ã¢ÂÂlike the match,Ã¢ÂÂ as we say here. In our last game, against Uruguay at Centenario, the opposition was soft and we rolled them over 4-0.
So Ã¢ÂÂ and I canÃ¢ÂÂt believe IÃ¢ÂÂm suggesting this Ã¢ÂÂ Argentina can stop Brazil with a spot of violence towards the brain of the squad, our offensive midfield.
If they're made uncomfortable, Robinho, KakÃÂ¡ and Elano tend to disappear from the game. Unfortunately.
(Note: This doesnÃ¢ÂÂt apply to Luis Fabiano, whoÃ¢ÂÂd be delighted to engage in a quick fight. Stay away from him.)
But, please, keep violence at a reasonable level Ã¢ÂÂ and since Mascherano is out, weÃ¢ÂÂre half-way there.
4 Ã¢ÂÂ DonÃ¢ÂÂt tease us. The old Argentinian catimba [provocation] has lost its power. Clubs may still fall for it in the South American tournaments, but the SeleÃÂ§ÃÂ£o is experienced enough to dodge it Ã¢ÂÂ and will actually take advantage of it.
DonÃ¢ÂÂt forget the lesson of the 2004 Copa America final in Lima.
With minutes to go, Argentina were 2-1 up against Brazil's B squad Ã¢ÂÂ Ronaldo, Ronaldinho & Co. were sipping caipirinhas at home Ã¢ÂÂ when Tevez and DÃ¢ÂÂAlessandro began to tease the Brazilians, doing little tricks with the ball.
It enraged the SeleÃÂ§ÃÂ£o, who went forward, tied the game and took it home on penalties.
5 Ã¢ÂÂ Pray. Since the Argentina coach is himself a god, according to the straight-edged fellas of the Maradonian church, this one should be already covered.
But, just in case, the gaffer took his army on Thursday to a private chat with the almighty of the Christians too, in the AFA chapel, in the Ezeiza facilities. Wise man...
So good luck to Argentina! Hope to see you in 2010...
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