Stealing the headlines

Diego Maradona’s side have arrived in Bolivia for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier in La Paz and, although the boss is keeping his cards close to his chest, it looks like there’ll be one or two changes, the most notable of which are Lucho González replacing Newcastle’s Jonás Gutiérrez, and Sergio Agüero starting on the bench. Back home, though, there’s an announcement that’s rocked the Primera A: River Plate, their financial worries apparently at an end following the discovery of oil under the Estadio Monumental, have reached an agreement to strengthen their squad at the end of the Clausura by signing Martín Palermo and Juan Román Riquelme from Boca Juniors, as well as bringing Javier Mascherano back from Liverpool.

OK, so that last bit was an April Fool. Got your interest though, didn’t it?

Gutiérrez is suspended for the match against Bolivia having been booked against Venezuela on Saturday, and whilst Maradona had initially looked at Benfica man Ángel Di María as his replacement, it seems the need for a more physical presence in the high-altitude conditions of the Bolivian capital has inclined him more towards Lucho. Martín Demichelis will replace Marcos Angeleri in the defence, whilst Emiliano Papa will get his first competitive cap at left-back. El Kun, it seems, will be rested to start with.

As such, although there are no guarantees, the starting XI that Olé are predicting, assuming no injuries in the final training session during the day on Wednesday, is as follows:

Argentina expected starting XI against Bolivia in La Paz, World Cup South American qualifiying group, 1st April 2009:

J. P. Carrizo

J. Zanetti —- M. Demichelis —- G. Heinze —- E. Papa

L. González — J. Mascherano (c) — F. Gago — M. Rodríguez

L. Messi —- C. Tevez

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10 thoughts on “Stealing the headlines

  1. Ha Ha ! Yes, I agree, Gago is a monster. As for Cambiasso, a helluva nice guy, fine footballer, but there are other players available with skills equal to those of Cucho. And Higuain ? I think he will eventually get a shot, but hey, the competition is fierce !

  2. Wow ! I didn’t know that Justin. I would think that would be a VERY bad idea. Of course, with hindsight easy to say. I didn’t realize how “tall” La Paz really is. 13,000 and some odd feet. By comparison, I think Mexico City is 7,000 and something feet, and when living in Mexico City awhile back, I used to have some shortness of breath there. As Seba opined on his blog, Bolivia should have the right to play their home matches where they wish, but it is a huge advantage no matter how you cut it.

  3. They’ve been playing away games in Bolivia long enough to know how to prepare by now, Justin. For high-altitude matches, when the players aren’t used to that altitude, there are two ideal methods of preparation: either arrive several days beforehand, giving time to acclimatise fully, or fly in immediately before the match. It’s something to do with the length of time the body takes to adjust – between roughly 36 hours to four days, you’ll feel absolutely screwed, but after OR BEFORE that time, your body has either recovered, or hasn’t yet been hit by the effects.

    This was explained more properly in an article I read a couple of years ago when there was all that fuss about FIFA banning high-altitude matches.

    I only saw the score when I came online to watch the match after the England game – didn’t expect it to already have been played! I’m not sure where to even begin writing this up for HEGS…

  4. In fact, when Argentina defeated Bolivia in the previous qualifiers at La Paz (2-1 with Pekerman as manager), the team also arrived there only a couple of hours before the match.

    There’s no antidote to the altitude but in this case it was impossible to bring a decent enough team with plenty of days to acclimatise. To fly just before the game was the only option.

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