LA PAZ - Argentina coach Diego Maradona is expected to be less adventurous when his team visit Bolivia for a World Cup qualifier at high altitude on Wednesday. Maradona fielded a three-pronged attack of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez on Saturday and was rewarded with a 4-0 demolition of Venezuela in his first home and competitive match in charge. But he is unlikely to repeat his ambitious 3-4-3 formation at 3,600 metres above sea level where his players are going to have to pace themselves. "We can't play the same game as we did against Venezuela, we have to maintain a balance," midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron said in a television interview on Monday. Argentina are second in the 10-team qualifying group with 19 points from 11 games while Bolivia are ninth with nine and virtually eliminated. Before being appointed coach last October, Maradona had actively supported Bolivia's campaign against a ban on hosting matches in La Paz. At one point, he played in a charity match in La Paz in which Bolivian President Evo Morales also took part. "You have to play where you are born, not even God can prohibit this and certainly not (FIFA president Sepp) Blatter," said Maradona at the time. FIFA later overturned the ban. GHOST TEAM In the past, Argentina have tried different approaches to playing in La Paz. In the 2006 qualifying campaign, coach Jose Pekerman fielded a youthful, experimental team and was rewarded with a 2-1 win, Argentina's first in the city for 31 years. The previous win in 1973 came after they formed a so-called "ghost team" of club players who spent one month training in the Argentine Andes especially for the fixture. They were joined days before by a handful of regular internationals. Oscar Fornari scored the only goal of the game and, like several of the so-called Ghost Team, he was overlooked for the trip to West Germany for the finals the following year. On Wednesday, central defender Martin Demichelis returns after suspension while winger Jonas Gutierrez is out after receiving a second yellow card against Venezuela. Maradona is expected to sacrifice either Tevez or Aguero in attack and add an extra man in defence. Bolivia coach Erwin Sanchez is contemplating a number of changes from the team which lost 2-0 to Colombia on Saturday. Strikers Marcelo Martins and Joaquin Botero, who have scored five goals each out of Bolivia's total of 13 in the qualifiers, are both expected to return, the former despite a lack of match practice with his Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk. Probable teams: Bolivia: Carlos Arias; Luis Gatty Ribeiro, Juan Manuel Pena, Ronald Raldes, Abdon Reyes; Miguel Hoyos, Ronald Garcia, Pablo Escobar, Alex da Rosa; Joaquin Botero, Marcelo Martins Argentina: Juan Pablo Carrizo; Javier Zanetti, Martin Demichelis, Gabriel Heinze, Emiliano Papa; Maximiliano Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago, Angel Di Maria; Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi Referee: Martin Vasquez (Uruguay)
31 March 2009
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