With less than 2 weeks for his debut against Brazil, Alfio BASILE is one of the busiest men in the World of Football right now.
He has a crucial game against Independiente on Saturday (his Boca Juniors side and Independiente are both leading the league with 6 points after the first two weeks of the season) and hours before that match, he has to name the full list of players he will call up for an attractive international friendly against DUNGA’s Brazil.
He is not publicly speaking about it, but sources from both sides (the AFA and the players) are spreading rumours that help us to make an initial approach on the names that will be on that list. It is a known fact that, not being a FIFA date, teams from South America and Mexico are not forced to let their international players to join Argentina.
In this particular scenario, Carlos TEVEZ and Javier MASCHERANO could both miss this friendly as they are vital for Corinthians, Brazil in their fight against relegation. Both of these players are in BASILE’s mind.
Speedy winger Cesar DELGADO is in the same situation but his club -Cruz Azul, Mexico- could let him make the trip to London.
COCO is also taking note of the amount of minutes the top Argentine stars have in their legs. Spain and Italy are yet to kick-off their leagues, while England will do it this coming weekend. That’s another obstacle for him to define his list.
So far, this is the probable starting eleven (according to different sources and rumours):
Roberto ABBONDANZIERI (Getafe) on goal. BASILE knows him very well when they both were at Boca.
It’s a known fact that BASILE likes to play with 4 at the back, with two traditional full-backs and two central defenders. So the return of one of the most capped players in the history of Argentina is a huge possibility: Javier ZANETTI (Internazionale) will fight for a place at right back with up and coming star Pablo ZABALETA (Espanyol).
Leandro PONZIO (Zaragoza) is running a little bit behind these two, but Hugo IBARRA (Boca Juniors) is COCO’s favourite and looks like he is going to be our future regular right back.
Gabriel MILITO (Zaragoza) will play in central defense with one from Gonzalo RODRIGUEZ (Villarreal) or Nicolas BURDISSO (Internazionale).
Gabriel HEINZE and Roberto AYALA will remain on the manager’s mind but he will pass on them for this one because he thinks they need more time to get fit (HEINZE is coming back from a World Cup played before reaching a 100% level of fitness and his season with Manchester United will be just started at the time of the match against Brazil. AYALA is fighting a long fight against the Valencia’s staff and his future is uncertain). Gabriel PALETTA could be a surprising call for COCO.
PEKERMAN’s skipper, Juan Pablo SORIN, is still waiting for his mobile phone to ring. But BASILE is very unlikely to dial his number. He is another player with his future on hold (unwanted by Villarreal and yet to secure a move elsewhere) and COCO is not a fan of him. The left-back position will be covered by Clemente RODRIGUEZ (Spartak Moscow).
If MASCHERANO is not allowed by Corinthians to play on this game, then we’ll see the full international debut for Leandro SOMOZA (Villarreal). The former Velez Sarsfield player will step up and play in a central midfielder position. However, for the big picture in the future, MASCHERANO and Fernando GAGO (Boca Juniors) will be the two men fighting for that position.
And now is when things get really interesting:
Maxi RODRIGUEZ (Atletico Madrid) will give the team his usual 90-minutes-non-stop-running and will be helping the team on defense and offense. I like the idea of Maxi becoming a key player for Argentina.
Juan Roman RIQUELME (Villarreal) will again be our playmaker. Up until this point there are no major surprises, but the thing I welcome with joy is the fact that Federico INSUA (Borussia Moenchengladbach) will also feature in the starting eleven. That means we’ll have 2 playmakers instead of just one. INSUA is faster and helps out a little bit more on defense and I think they will play well together. For those who never saw INSUA playing, I can tell you he has an incredible touch with his left foot and he is a player of great finesse. This midfield looks impressive!
Lionel MESSI will start!!!! FINALLY! The FC Barcelona star is one of BASILE’s favourite and there are no doubts he will become our icon from now on!
But the Atomic Flea needs a partner. Who will he be this time?
Carlos TEVEZ! He is another of BASILE’s soft spots and just the thought of having Carlitos and Messi together looks like a dream for him. BUT, if Corinthians want TEVEZ to stay, we’ll use one of our luxuries: a substitute like Sergio ‘KUN’ AGÜERO!
The Atletico Madrid’s star is on fire this pre-season and will become another vital player in our quest to become the next World Champions.
I think BASILE is sending out a message. He will ‘gamble’ with the little fellows. Forget about having a player like Julio CRUZ only because he is tall. I don’t have anything against CRUZ, I’m just giving an example. I don’t want to listen to a manager that gives height more importance than technique or first touch. If there is a tall player with flair, then I’ll welcome him. If not, then give me a ‘midget’ with magic feet and I’ll be a happy man.
And just to point out, I’ve used the word ‘gamble’ when referring to the use of the likes of MESSI, TEVEZ and AGÜERO. I apologise for using that word. With players like those, it’s not called ‘gamble’ it’s simply called ‘strategy’.