Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Spain seeks to relieve woes in Argentina friendly

Spain hopes to avoid its fourth defeat in six games when it hosts two-time World Cup champion Argentina in a friendly on Wednesday.

The home team and its beleaguered coach Luis Aragones badly need an encouraging result from a match which will inaugurate La Nueva Condomina stadium in the southeastern city of Murcia.

Aragones' problems increased on Saturday when Spain lost 2-0 to Sweden in a European Championship qualifier, leaving the team languishing fifth in the seven-team Group F.

The veteran coach, who has received backing from the country's soccer federation, said Wednesday's game will have no bearing on his future.

"I'm staying on whether we win or lose against Argentina," Aragones told the federation's Web site. "The result won't change anything because ... we have enough work, attitude and time to reach the Euro 2008 finals."

Saturday's setback, without dropped Real Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez, followed a 3-2 loss in Northern Ireland in a qualifier last month. Spain has lost two straight games for the time in 15 years.

"I know, in sporting terms, it's a difficult time for me, but I feel strong and OK," Aragones told the Web site of sports daily As on Tuesday. "Tomorrow's is a big game against an exceptional team which was one of the best at the last World Cup."

Argentina coach Alfio Basile will also seek an improvement after last month's 3-0 defeat to Brazil in London. The game was his first since he returned to the job in place of Jose Pekerman, who quit following the quarterfinal loss to Germany at the World Cup.

"It's the perfect opportunity to remove the bad taste the defeat against Brazil left us with," Basile said.

Basile says he respects Aragones and that the press shouldn't "dramatize" soccer.

"Let's hope Luis continues to work after the game and for as long as his contract runs," he said Tuesday. "I like his idea of soccer."

Basile, who led Argentina to two Copa America triumphs during a four-year spell in the early 1990s, has recalled Zaragoza's Pablo Aimar, Villarreal's Rodolfo Arruabarrena and Valencia's Roberto Ayala to a squad comprising only European-based players. Striker Hernan Crespo and defender Gabriel Heinze are injured.

If central defender Ayala plays he will equal Argentina's record of 106 appearances held by former midfield captain Diego Simeone.

"I don't mean to disparage the Spaniards, but we are about passion," Ayala said. "It's something which the veterans transmitted to the youngsters when we arrived at the national team and which we now try to pass on to the newcomers."

The game will be Argentina's first since playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme announced his retirement from international soccer last month due his mother's health and criticism of his World Cup performance.

Basile is expected to hand Riquelme's role to Aimar, although Borussia Moenchengladbach's Federico Insua is also in the frame.

"Insua and Aimar's style are the same, and the team won't differ much from when Riquelme played. Perhaps there will be more acceleration in midfield, but there will also be pauses," Basile said.

Aragones will again omit captain Raul, Spain's all-time leading scorer with 44 goals from 102 appearances, together with Valencia winger Joaquin Sanchez.

Raul has been replaced in the squad by Valencia's attacking midfielder Miguel Angel Angulo, who at 29 is the oldest member of the squad, while the new captain is Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Spain is without three injured Valencia players — defender Asier del Horno, defender Carlos Marchena and midfielder Ruben Baraja — along with Madrid forward Jose Antonio Reyes.

Argentina has won five of the teams' 10 previous meetings. Spain has three victories and there have been two draws


At 5:48 AM , Blogger clomer said...

I love him the same as you.
Could you live me your hotmail?
Mine is clomer_Ma@hotmail.com


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