Talking to Lionel Messi’s youth coach ahead of the Copa América Centenario

In April, I headed up from Buenos Aires to Rosario, Lionel Messi’s hometown, for a feature for ESPNFC ahead of the Copa América Centenario. Whilst there, I talked to Ernesto Vecchio, the youth coach who oversaw Lionel Messi’s childhood development for longer than anyone before Messi moved to Barcelona, and to Nicolás Canessa, an occasional team-mate of Messi’s for Newell’s Old Boys’ youth teams and a friend of his to this day, among others. The article I wrote about Messi, his early footballing development and his relationship with Argentina – or rather, Argentina’s relationship with him – is online here. I hope you like it.

Posted in Argentine football, Argentine national team, International football, Lionel Messi, Other football sites | Tagged , , ,

This week in The Libero: what is the Copa América Centenario, exactly?

On Friday, the Copa América Centenario kicks off in the United States, and in this week’s issue of The Libero, I was asked to preview it. I’ve gone for a piece looking at why although it’s going to be a good tournament, it’s still important to remember it’s not an actual Copa América. To give you a taster, here’s the start of the article.

The Libero is a weekly email newsletter containing four quality articles per week from Andrew Gibney, Adam Digby, David Cartlidge and myself among others. It’s available by subscription for just £3 (about US$4.70) per month, from this website.

In 1980, an odd little international tournament was held in Montevideo to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first World Cup. That word ‘little’ isn’t used to ridicule or demean; it’s how the tournament is popularly known in the Spanish speaking world, where it’s called the Mundialito, or ‘Little World Cup’. It brought together the six nations which at that point had won the World Cup – or was meant to, because England declined to join in and were replaced by the Netherlands, who’d finished as runners-up in the previous two ‘full-sized’ World Cups.

Why mention the Mundialito ahead of Friday’s Copa América Centenario kick off? Because, in essence, they’re the same thing – a celebratory competition to mark an anniversary, but not (this correspondent would argue) a truly ‘canonical’ part of the real competition’s history.

To read the rest of the article, subscribe to The Libero here. Issue five will be sent out at 2pm British Summer Time on Thursday, 2nd June.

Posted in Argentine football, Argentine national team, Copa América, International football, Other football sites | Tagged , , , , ,

Episode 224: Lanús close in, Godoy Cruz win again and Argentina’s Copa América shortlist

Episode 224 of Hand Of Pod is online – get it here!

Hand Of Pod

The two hundred and twenty-fourth episode of Hand Of Pod is short but sweet with plenty of food for thought. Lanús and Godoy Cruz continue to look like the two favourites for the title playoff – indeed, Lanús could confirm their place with two matches remaining depending on results this weekend – whilst last year’s bigger sides all had underwhelming weekends due to Copa Libertadores commitments (Huracán went out on Tuesday night; River Plate and Racing followed them shortly after this episode was recorded). As well as this, we run the rule over Gerardo Martin’s 40-man Copa América squad shortlist, answer listeners’ questions, and predict what results will be like this weekend with the help of a die, to see whether it really is just pot luck…

You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher, and follow us on Twitter.

The Mystic Die’s predictions for round 14…

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A new place to find my writing: The Libero

Today The Libero launches. It’s an online football magazine, and the deal is simple: you get a weekly email containing four articles covering world football, as long as you subscribe. You can subscribe by credit or debit card, or by PayPal, and it costs you £3 per month (about US$4.50 or AR$63).

So for the price of a pint or less, you get sixteen articles per month, and as if that wasn’t enough, two of them will be written by me, as I’m in every other issue*. Issue one goes out at 2pm BST today (Thursday, 5th May 2016), so I assume you’ve still got time to sign up before it does so. Get on board. You can subscribe by following the link on this page.

*If you’d rather NOT read stuff by me then I’m not sure what you’re doing here, but in any case please ignore that sentence and focus on the fact that fourteen of your sixteen articles each month will be written by someone other than me.

Posted in Argentine football, Football, Other football sites | Tagged , , ,

Primera 2016, round 13: all the goals

All the goals from the ‘weekend’ of action which ended on Tuesday evening are here for your viewing pleasure, including a couple of fine diving headers in Mar Del Plata to kick things off, and a wonderful strike from Jaime Ayoví for Godoy Cruz against Arsenal de Sarandí in Mendoza. Enjoy.

Posted in Atlético Rafaela, Belgrano de Córdoba, Colón de Santa Fé, Goal videos, Godoy Cruz, Lanús, Primera A, San Lorenzo | Tagged ,

Primera 2016, round 12: all the goals

The round of clásicos was by a long way the lowest-scoring weekend in an otherwise goal-packed championship, but there were some goals, including a superb free kick from Santiago García for Godoy Cruz against San Martín in the wine region derby, and two beauties for Lanús to beat Banfield in the Clásico del Sur. All of them (and what few others were scored this weekend) are in this video, so enjoy.

Posted in Atlético Rafaela, Goal videos, Godoy Cruz, Lanús, Primera A, Results, San Lorenzo, Tigre, Vélez Sarsfield | Tagged , , , , , ,

Boca Juniors v River Plate April 2016: three links to watch on

Boca Juniors host River Plate in the centrepiece of this weekend’s round of clásicos in Argentina, and it’s being shown in Argentina on three TV channels – meaning you’ve got three official streams to choose from. The game kicks off at 16:15 Argentine time (add four hours for the UK, 5 for Central Europe, and take one off for the eastern seaboard of the USA), and you might (or might not) need a VPN enabled for some or all of the following, but you should be able to see the game on at least one of them…

Click here to watch on América TV.

Click here to watch on Telefé.

Click here to watch on Canal Trece.

The teams

Boca (manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto)


Peruzzi Tobio Insaurralde Silva

Jara —- Gago —- Pérez


Tevez —- Pavón

River (manager Marcelo Gallardo)


Mercado Maidana Álvarez Balanta Casco

Mayada —- Domingo —- Bertolo


Mora —- Alario

Posted in Boca Juniors, Primera A, River Plate, Superclásico | Tagged , , , , , ,

2016 Primera, eleventh round: all the goals

The goals from the eleventh round of action in the 2016 Primera División are right here for your enjoyment, including Atlético Tucumán legend Luis Rodríguez’s hundredth career goal, all the goals from Boca Juniors’ 4-1 thrashing of Aldosivi and a brilliant hit from San Lorenzo midfielder Franco Mussis.

Posted in Arsenal de Sarandí, Belgrano de Córdoba, Boca Juniors, Estudiantes, Goal videos, Independiente, Lanús, Primera A, Results | Tagged , , , , , ,

Primera 2016, tenth round: all the goals

A few days late, this post, but here are all the goals from last weekend’s Primera División action, including two penalty-taking goalkeepers, a hat trick for Huracán forward Ramón Ábila and an amazing late comeback from Vélez Sarsfield to hand Rosario Central their first home defeat since November 2014.

Posted in Estudiantes, Goal videos, Huracán, Primera A, Results, San Lorenzo, Tigre, Vélez Sarsfield | Tagged ,

Primera 2016 preview: round 9

The ninth round of Primera action is almost upon us, and as ever I’ve previewed it for The Bubble. Defensa y Justicia v Arsenal de Sarandí might not be a proper clásico but it could well be an interesting match all the same, and there are plenty more fascinating match-ups elsewhere. You can read the full preview here.

Posted in Arsenal de Sarandí, Boca Juniors, Defensa y Justicia, Godoy Cruz, Primera A, River Plate, Vélez Sarsfield | Tagged , , , , , , ,