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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old December 26th, 2007, 14:17 Thread Starter
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S Am 2007 Review


2007 South American Football Review

Goal.com reflects on a 2007 in which Argentine clubs dominated South American football at a club level, while Brazil retained the Copa America title with another finals victory over fierce rivals Argentina. The year's main revelation were Sudamericana champions Arsenal...

Copa Libertadores (January 24-April 26)

Juan Roman Riquelme was the inspiration as Boca Juniors won the Copa Libertadores in sensational fashion.

It didn't start well: the Argentines only just managed to get out of their group, edging Cienciano for second place. But in the knock out rounds they proved their worth, beating Velez Sarsfield, Libertad, and Cucuta Deportivo, as they qualified for the grand final.

In the title decider they proved much too strong for Gremio of Porto Alegre, thrashing the Brazilians 5-0 on aggregate, with Riquelme scoring three of those five goals.

Probably the greatest revelation of the tournament was Cucuta of Colombia, while Defensor Sporting of Uruguay weren't too far behind.

Winner: Boca Juniors, who thrashed Gremio 5-0 on aggregate in the final.

Copa America (June 26-July 15)

Argentina were the overwhelming favourites coming into the competition, and they demonstrated that they had enough depth to win their first international title in fourteen years, crushing all opposition, as they reached the title decider against fierce rivals Brazil.

Argentina had it all, and were up against a Brazilian squad who looked extremely vulnerable throughout the competition. But Alfio Basile, and his side, were in for a rude awakening, as the inexperienced Brazilians thrashed them 3-0, to put an end to all Argentine hopes.

The likes of Riquelme, Lionel Messi, and Carlos Tevez, were all shocked, particularly because they seemed to be much too strong for their opponents before the match.

Winner: Brazil, who thrashed Argentina 3-0 in the final.

Recopa (May 31-June 7)

Last year's Copa Libertadores champions Internacional faced a Pachuca side who gave Mexico their first ever South American title after winning the 2006 Copa Sudamericana. In the two-legged final, Pachuca won 2-1 in Mexico, but were then thrashed 4-0 by Internacional in Brazil, as the Colorado cruised to a 5-2 aggregate victory.

Inter, who were knocked out in the first round of the Copa Libertadores earlier in the year, proved that the winner of this competition are always the strongest team of the continent.

Winner: Internacional, who beat Pachuca 5-2 on aggregate in the decider.

Copa Sudamericana (31 July-December 5)

Arsenal de Sarandi made history as they lifted their first international title, beating Club America of Mexico on the away goals rule after a 4-4 aggregate score-line over two legs.

The tiny Argentine club picked up a vital 3-2 win in Mexico City, but then saw themselves 2-0 behind in the return leg in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, with only minutes remaining in the decider. But six minutes before full time they scored an absolutely amazing goal, that will remain in the history of the club for eternity.

Arsenal proved that small clubs can still lift major titles in the modern game.

Winner: Arsenal de Sarandi, who went on to win on the away goals rule after a 4-4 aggregate score-line with Club America.

What to Look Ahead to in 2008

-The "Copa Santander Libertadores" (the new name for South America's most prestigious club competition) begins in late January, with a series of qualification play-off matches before the group stage begins. As always the main teams to contend for the title are Boca Juniors, River Plate, Sao Paulo, and Santos. Other teams that could stir up some trouble are: San Lorenzo, Lanus, Cruzeiro, Flamengo, Estudiantes, Danubio, Nacional, Colo Colo, Chivas, Atletico Nacional, and Fluminense.

-The '08 version of the Recopa will be an all-Argentine affair, between Copa Libertadores champions Boca Juniors and Arsenal of Sarandi, who won the Copa Sudamericana earlier in the month. This two-legged final has gained some more prestige in recent years, and promises to be even more important this year.

-The Copa Sudamericana has played second fiddle to the Libertadores since it was introduced, but Conmebol are likely to change its format next year, meaning that it will be the most exciting version of the competition ever. The fact that pulsating two-legged knock-out rounds are in from the start, means that like Arsenal in '08 there promises to be another revelation club going for the honours.

-Football fans can look forward to the restart of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, which Paraguay lead after four rounds of action. The qualifiers will heat up this year, with a number of mouthwatering clashes, including arguably the world's most important derby: Brazil vs Argentina. The Argentines will look for revenge against Brazil, who have beaten them in three consecutive finals. Fans around the world can expect football of the highest level.

Goal.com will continue to provide readers with all the latest news from the South American continent in 2008. The action will continue right throughout the year, so make sure you stay tuned.

Gregory Sica

Chairman of the BORED © !!!!!& MASTER BAITER ©

In all fairness...if Carson35 IS allowed to copy & paste here..So can I !!!!

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old January 5th, 2008, 11:10 Thread Starter
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Goal.com Profile: Éver Banega

As the latest Argentinean pearl is plucked from South America to be exported back to Spain, Goal.com takes a look at what makes Éver Banega such a coveted piece as Ronald Koeman attempts to reconstruct a decadent Valencia CF with a man after his own heart…

With modern football increasingly dependent on having the right lynchpin at the back, holding midfielders who can combine no-nonsense stopping power with an ability to play the ball out and surprise with off-the-cuff yet accurate attempts on goal are in demand.

Coaches who find themselves exasperated as their team suffers soft goals demand players who can stop the rot - and avoid frittering away points that could mean, at best, a lost title, or, at worst, relegation. Now that a championship may depend more on solidity behind than bite up front this midfield role is key, many pundits seeing the number 6 as more crucial than the number 10 with football faster and more physical than ever.

Éver Banega is the latest midfielder to be charged with the mission of pulling together a team in disarray, Koeman having bitten the bullet and fired players he feels aren’t up to the task. Both veteran David Albelda and ex-SL Benfica promise Manuel Fernandes are set to be ousted with Banega hopefully resurrecting dented Ché hopes of success this season.

Although just 19 years old, the budding star from Rosario rose through the junior divisions at Boca with both speed and aplomb, gaining a reputation as being a man in the mould of previous midfield stars such as Fernando Redondo and Real Madrid’s Fernando Gago (albeit the smallest of the three: Redondo 12 cm taller; Gago 4cm taller) as a player with a cool head under pressure and the skills to enrich a first eleven rather than just a lumberjack ability to hack into rival attacks.

He’s now set to follow Fernando Gago’s footsteps in Spain, although not as literally as in Buenos Aires where Banega was a shoe-in after Gago left for the Merengues. He made his debut in the wake of Gago’s winter move up north in January 2007 - the Madrid man making his Spanish debut almost exactly a year ago on the 7th of January 2007 - and Banega’s first absolute match with Boca was a 4-0 win over Banfield, playing 82 minutes.

His solidity swiftly earned the acceptance of the Xeneize (Genovese; the Boca nickname based on the ethnic background of the Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires) faithful as they gave thumbs up to a youngster who appeared to fulfil the promise that many had seen as the player honed his skills at youth level, both for club and country.

Banega was an integral part of the Under-20 first eleven that won the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada, spotters raving about the holding midfielder with a sweet left foot and a mature sense of team responsibility. Gago’s shadow was cast over Banega from the start, Éver being nicknamed ‘Banegago’, something that may have raised the hackles of more sensitive players who demand their own recognition.

However the easy-going, respectful Banega agreed with the comparison. "I try to copy and play like him, asking for the ball and playing it forward", he admitted as he was promoted. “I also have Fernando Redondo as a mirror for my development and I loved watching him play”, he added to Argentinean football daily Diario Olé.

Boca’s ex-Coach ’Coco’ Basile was enamoured with the youngster‘s game as the tactician is a firm believer in a capable and creative number 6 and gave Éver Banega the chance to play a friendly in Israel in 2004 that convinced the Coach that here was a man for the future. "It was a great feeling to play with the first team in Israel and I felt as home as I do in the youth side”, explained the-then 17 year-old who began playing on the streets of his native Saladillo neighbourhood in Rosario, Banega being the third of five boys who loved football: Luciano, César, Brian, Emiliano and Éver himself.

As Basile - now in charge of the Albiceleste - was prepping him to take over from a Gago who had begun to attract the sort of offers that almost always end up in a sale to a European great, Banega was also gaining ground in Paraguay as the midfielder showed his class under Sergio Batista in the competition that led to an eventual win in Canada. Injured in the Chile match he left the pitch with tears of rage after trying to continue playing on a sprained ankle.

This rage to win by contributing even in pain was a characteristic that had already been noted at a tender age as he played in his first junior team, Nuevo Horizonte, the pride of his neighbourhood, and also at Alianza Sport. His first shot at the big time was a trial for Newell's Old Boys, who rejected him and whose management is probably still kicking itself black-and-blue for their gross oversight. Boca didn’t make the same mistake and only a few years after playing for minnows, Banega had hit the road to the big time at 12.

Boca’s President Mauricio Macri saw the player as a reinforcement for besieged Coach Miguel Angel Russo, but the young gun didn’t flinch at the idea of being a ‘saviour’ as he told Clarín at the time. “It’s natural that a new player is seen as a reinforcement and it’s good that they say these things. It helps me grow in football by giving me something to aim for, by I’m still keeping my feet on the ground and taking things step by step.”

Clarín went on to give quite a prophetic view of the player. “Without a doubt one of the best players in the [Under-20] tournaments this year. Even Chilean defender Mauricio Isla said he played like Redondo mixed with Maradona. That’s part of the story of the boy who started off playing with friends in his local neighbourhood and now [then] is a clear candidate to replace Gago. The Real Madrid player told us months ago that "He plays really well and it‘s true that he‘s like me on the field. He feels football the same way that I do”.”

Soon enough Banega was celebrating silverware as the Xeneizes won their sixth Copa Libertadores title with a win over Brazilians Gręmio (3-0 and 0-2). "Winning my first Copa Libertadores was a great experience, but to play in a world cup and wear the Argentine shirt is the greatest honour and I am keen to make the most of it", he stressed at the Canadian finals where he also showed an ability to play further up field yet retain effectiveness as an individual without ripping the formation apart.

Éver Banega is now, despite his humble mantra of still being a player who’s learning, a fully-matured footballer who has it all to make a mark in Europe. Even being presented halfway into the season with a club that has been increasingly torn apart, Banega is up to the task. As La Nación put it before "he didn’t show a single raw nerve on his debut, showing a strong personality that blended fight with an ability to play the ball out with clarity, precision and intelligence".

If at Valencia he’ll have to step into Albelda’s shoes - and avoid the same fate as a Manuel Fernandes who arrived with the label of young star and now is about to leave without having fulfilled any of the expectations Valencia fans had of him - Banega has demonstrated that he’s got the gift and the guts to carve a deep place in fans’ hearts. At Boca Éver sentenced Sebastián Battaglia to the bench and was cool as a cucumber alongside such stars as Martín Palermo, Rodrigo Palacio and Juan Román Riquelme: the later being thanked for his guidance.

“I’m really happy because Román has been giving me a helping hand and he has such a wealth of experience that it really is something that I feel has made a difference to my game.” Riquelme was absent form the recent CWC that AC Milan won with a 4-2 over Boca in Japan, but Banega was there on the 16 of December 2007.

The defeat was a blow as a win would have put the cherry on the top of a great year, but Banega has age on his side. This year may not see Éver Banega joining his new team-mates and hoisting a trophy, but this young, hungry, talented and highly disciplined player - only one red card - may well be the first building block as Valencia try to cast off the label of habitual runners-up in Champions League finals.

A Koeman rocket did it for Barça at Wembley with Cruyff leaping off the FCB bench: perhaps a Banega blast be able to crown the Chés with a Champions League…and allow another bite at the CWC that means so much in South America. Or maybe he’ll be snapped up by an even bigger team with an even larger bank account. Whatever the future holds in terms of titles, one thing is for sure: Banega is a man that only the foolish won’t want to watch.

Full Name: Éver Maximiliano David Banega
DOB: 29/06/1988
POB: Rosario, Argentina
Clubs: Boca Juniors (2000-2007), Valencia CF (2008-)
Position: Midfielder
Height: 1.74m
Number 6
Preferred Foot: Left (but almost ambidextrous)

Chairman of the BORED © !!!!!& MASTER BAITER ©

In all fairness...if Carson35 IS allowed to copy & paste here..So can I !!!!

Que la chupen., y la sigan chupando !!!!

National Champions. 83 87 89 91 and 2001

Xtratime is FULL of BULLIES, and not enough Indians.

Damos TODO por los Chilenos en el extranjero
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