Argentina

Argentina hammer Mexico; Euro-based players update

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Mexico were thrashed 4-0 by an Argentina side missing several of their key players.

La Albiceleste were 4-0 up at half time in San Antonio, Texas as Lautaro Martinez scored a hat trick and Leandro Paredes scored a penalty kick.

El Tri had beat the USMNT convincingly in New Jersey last Friday but Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s men were humbled by an Argentine side which didn’t have Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero or Angel di Maria in the squad.

Despite the defeat, their first in 12 games since Tata took charge, Mexico’s coach seemed pretty happy with his players, as the likes of Raul Jimenez, Hirving Lozano and Edson Alvarez all started after being rested against the USMNT.

“I don’t think the game against Argentina shows our reality and I don’t think 11 games without losing was our reality,” Martino said. “This is the second ‘A game’ we’ve played. Argentina and Chile. The difference versus Argentina is that today we committed errors.”

Martino also confirmed that although he needs to spend more time with the players who didn’t feature at the Gold Cup this summer, his European-based players would not be called up for the CONCACAF Nations League games and friendly against Trinidad & Tobago, Bermuda and Panama next month, plus the games against Panama and Bermuda in November.

That is good news for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Napoli, as their stars Jimenez and Lozano will now have to focus solely on club action until next March. Jimenez especially needs the break after leading Mexico to the Gold Cup this summer, then heading straight back to Wolves to take part in their UEFA Europa League qualifying campaign.

Overall it has been a very positive year for Mexico, with plenty of youngsters making their name under Martino in the Gold Cup and established stars stepping up in Europe.

There is now a clear playing identity under Tata but the same question remains after this heavy defeat to an understrength heavyweight: Are Mexico capable of getting past one of the big boys in the World Cup knockout stage?

Beckham in talks to bring Messi to MLS

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Reports from Spain state that David Beckham has reached out to Lionel Messi about joining Inter Miami CF.

Ahead of their arrival into Major League Soccer in 2020, Beckham’s Miami franchise have been linked with several big name signings, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to name just a few.

Beckham previously stated he wants to bring Messi and Ronaldo to his new franchise and refused to rule out the possibility of signing Messi when asked about in March.

Messi, 32, has played for Barcelona his entire career but according to reports from Radio Cataluyna, Beckham has opened up talks with Messi’s representatives and there is a huge financial package on the table for Messi to come to MLS.

Per the report, Barcelona are monitoring the situation and the interest seems to be very serious as Messi is said to have a yearly exit clause in his contract.

Messi has never really come close to leaving Barcelona, as Manchester City were linked heavily with him when Pep Guardiola took over but the Argentine superstar has never really shown any desire to leave his adopted home.

After arriving in Barcelona from Argentina at the age of 13, Messi’s entire family is settled and this would be a shock move.

Can we see it happening? Of course. Will it happen anytime soon? Probably not.

Messi’s talents are so magical that he could continue to play in La Liga until the age of 36 or 37 and still rip it up each and every week.

It is only then that he would consider heading to MLS. Could we see Messi and Ronaldo linking up for Inter Miami CF five years from now?

Stranger things have happened, and given their recent warmness towards one another at the FIFA Best awards, it would be quite incredible to see two of the greatest players of all-time who battled against one another for close to two decades finally play on the same team.

We know Beckham has big plans for Inter Miami CF, but making those plans a reality will be tough. He’s found that with the stadium deal in Miami, but once the team is up and running it will not be that tough to attract the world’s best players to South Florida.

Diego Maradona named new Gimnasia boss

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Diego Maradona has returned to Argentina as a manager.

Maradona, 58, has been named as the new boss of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, who are struggling at the wrong end of the Primera Division.

The legendary Argentine player left Mexican side Dorados de Sinaloa in June, citing poor health, but he is now ready to coach again and this should be interesting.

“Finally it’s now official. I am very happy to be the new coach of Gimnasia. I want to thank the president Gabriel Pellegrino for this opportunity and say to all the fans that we are going to work with our hearts and souls for El Lobo.”

Nicknamed El Lobo (the Wolf), Gimnasia have one point from their first five games and Maradona will now be tasked with pushing them up the Argentina top-flight and away from a relegation scrap.

After leading Argentina to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup as La Albiceleste’s manager, Maradona had two stints as a coach in the Middle East with Al-Wasl and Al-Fujairah.

His spell as Dorados boss was eventful and Diego isn’t shy in sharing his opinion.

If he can make a success of this, who’s to say he can’t return to take charge of his beloved Boca Juniors one day?

Chile, Argentina play to 0-0 dud in Los Angeles

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Chile and Argentina, in front of a crowd one writer described as “seventy-three people and a few dogs,” played to a 0-0 stinker at the LA Coliseum on Thursday night.

In what was billed as a matchup between two South American giants lost its luster when Lionel Messi, yet to play this season for Barcelona, withdrew from the Argentina squad days ago due to injury. No one was able to rescue the match, with the two teams combining for just two shots on target and 21 fouls in the first half. The second half was marred by mass substitutions commonplace in new-age friendlies, sapping the match of any flow it hoped to construct.

Both teams produced strong lineups, although Argentina rested a few first-teamers like Franco Armani, Marcos Rojo, and Manuel Lanzini. Still, the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Paulo Dybala, Giovani Lo Celso, and Charles Aranguiz were powerless to inject the game with any kind of cohesion or beauty.

All told, the two teams each shared 50% possession, there were four total shots on target, 39 fouls, and 10 yellow cards. There was one excitable moment in the final five minutes of the match as River Plate center-back Lucas Martinez – on his international debut – rose to head a corner off the crossbar, but that was as close as either side would come to an unlikely goal.

Next up for both teams, Chile takes on Honduras in San Pedro Sula, while Argentina meets Mexico in San Antonio on Tuesday.

Rematch: Boca to meet River in Copa Libertadores

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The best rivalry in all of South American soccer will be coming to the Copa Libertadores for the second-straight year.

After last year’s drama on and off the field in the Copa Libertadores final, River Plate’s aggregate win over Cerro Porteno of Paraguay ensured there would be another Superclasico, this time in the Copa Libertadores semifinals. River Plate tied Cerro Porteno, 1-1, on Thursday evening in Paraguay, advancing to the semifinals 3-1 on aggregate. Boca Juniors advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 aggregate win over LDU Quito of Ecuador.

[READ: UEFA Group Stage Draw Revealed]

It’s the first time both teams will be playing each other in an official match since last December’s Copa Libertadores final.

Last year’s Copa Libertadores final, which was being used by the Argentine football authorities to prove that they could host a future Copa America or World Cup, was a spectacular disaster, at least regarding security.

The first leg had to be delayed 24 hours due to torrential rain, and then ended up being a wild, 2-2 affair at Boca Juniors’ La Bombonera Stadium. The second leg was initially postponed one day, then two after Boca Juniors’ bus was attacked by River Plate fans on its way to the stadium, injuring some players and making the game a complete farce. Somehow a CONMEBOL doctor decided the players were good enough to play, even though one suffered temporary optical damage.

Eventually, CONMEBOL came to the conclusion that the game couldn’t be forfeited, but also couldn’t be played in Buenos Aires. A decision was made to move the game to Madrid, where security was in place, there were no issues, and the game finished with River Plate winning after extra time. Even prior to the final, CONMEBOL had announced that it was getting rid of the traditional two-legged finals in place of one in a neutral setting.

All of that is the backdrop to the next Superclasico this year. Suddenly, it’s yet another two-legged affair to take place in Buenos Aires, though perhaps Argentina’s security apparatus can take this opportunity to learn from last year’s mistakes. The first leg is scheduled for October 1 at River Plate’s Estadio Monumental, before returning to La Bombonera on October 22 for the second leg.