Wednesday night sees the famous Argentina side arriving at Hampden Park for a ‘friendly’ (if either side could actually have such a thing) against Scotland.
I think I read somewhere that Argentina have got a new manager…?
Anything but uneventful
Yes, the great Diego Maradona has taken over and his spell in charge will, I’m sure, be anything but uneventful. There are already rumours of behind the scenes arguments about his choice of assistant and whether his tenure will be a long one or not remains to be seen. It will be fun while it lasts.
He has already said that he will walk out on the national team if he is refused permission to appoint Oscar Ruggeri as his assistant.
Maradona’s first match is scheduled to be this game but he is threatening not to come.
“I will be the trainer with my technical staff I want, otherwise I will not come to Glasgow,” he said.
Carlos Bilardo, the Argentina FA’s technical secretary, insists Maradona will not carry out his threat.
Argentina FA boss Julio Grondon, who Maradona is reported to be in dispute with, would not reveal the reasons for his dislike of former Argentina defender Ruggeri.
Maradona has already pointed out that he is a bit of a hero in Scotland after his exploits in 1986 and the two countries would seem to share a hatred of us poor old English.
Based in England
Despite that hatred, twelve of the Scotland squad are based in the English league and three of the Argentina squad are also based in England, Manchester United’s Carlos Tevez, Liverpool’s Javier Mascherano and Newcastle’s Fabricio Coloccini. They also include former Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze in their squad.
Apart from Maradona the most notable thing about Argentina is the player who isn’t there. The new boss was unable to persuade Barcelona to release Lionel Messi for the game.
Scotland’s captain Barry Ferguson and Alan Hutton have been restored to George Burley’s twenty-six man squad for the game. Ferguson is physically fit again, but is badly lacking match fitness. Tottenham’s Alan Hutton says he is relishing the challenge of fighting for his place in the Scotland team after four months out with a foot fracture.
Ross McCormack of Cardiff City has also been re-called after impressing with twelve goals already this season whilst Birmingham City’s Garry O’Connor has been left out.
Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon is in the squad, but is struggling with an ankle injury and is unlikely to play. That could mean a second international start for Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
Elsewhere, there is no place for Rangers defender David Weir or of course his team-mate midfielder Kevin Thomson who has a knee injury that will see him miss the rest of the season.
Obviously, as an Englishman I hope both teams lose on Wednesday! As that isn’t possible I predict a narrow Argentina victory. What do you think?
A Touch Of Controversy?
“E quando un giornalista inglese gli ricorda il gol di mano ai Tre Leoni e le dichiarazioni di Terry Butcher – suo avversario all’epoca e oggi assistente di George Burley, c.t. della Scozia – che non intende perdonarlo, d’incanto Maradona ritrova il piglio di un tempo. ‘Non mi interessa dare la mano a Butcher, dormirÃ² anche senza la sua stretta di mano. Nessuno deve giudicarmi anche perché voglio ricordare che l’Inghilterra ha vinto una Coppa del Mondo (1966) con un gol che non aveva oltrepassato la riga della porta’ “.
“When an English journalist pointed out his handed goal against the Three Lions and the declarations by Terry Butcher, his adversary at the time and now the assistant to George Burley, head coach of Scotland, that he (Butcher) didn’t intend to forgive him, Maradona rediscovered a controversy from long ago:
‘It doesn’t interest me to shake hands with Butcher, I will sleep without his handshake. Nobody ought to judge me also because I remember that England won a World Cup in 1966 with a goal that hadn’t passed over the goal line.’ “
Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 18 November 2008. Translated by Steve Amoia.
Goalkeepers: Craig Gordon (Sunderland), David Marshall (Norwich City), Allan McGregor (Rangers)
Defenders: Graham Alexander (Burnley), Darren Barr (Falkirk), Christophe Berra (Hearts), Kirk Broadfoot (Rangers), Gary Caldwell (Celtic), Alan Hutton (Tottenham Hotspur), Stephen McManus (Celtic), Jamie McAllister (Bristol City), Gary Naysmith (Sheffield United)
Midfielders: Scott Brown (Celtic), Kris Commons (Derby County), Barry Ferguson (Rangers), Darren Fletcher (Manchester United), Paul Hartley (Celtic), Shaun Maloney (Celtic), James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion), Barry Robson (Celtic)
Forwards: David Clarkson (Motherwell), Steven Fletcher (Hibernian), Chris Iwelumo (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ross McCormack (Cardiff City), James McFadden (Birmingham City), Kenny Miller (Rangers)
Goalkeepers: Juan Pablo Carrizo (Lazio), Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar)
Defenders: Javier Zanetti (Inter), Nicolas Burdisso (Inter), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Daniel Diaz (Getafe), Gabriel Heinze (Real Madrid), Fabricio Coloccini (Newcastle), Emilano Papa (Velez Sarsfield), Cristian Villagra (River Plate)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Maximiliano Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Jonas Gutierrez (Newcastle), Luis Gonzalez (FC Porto), Jose Sosa (Bayern Munich), Daniel Montenegro (Independiente)
Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid), Carlos Tevez (Manchester United), Lisandro Lopez (FC Porto), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli), German Denis (Napoli)