Suarez – Fitness concerns

Well, this just sucks massive donkey balls.

Suarez has gotten injured during training sessions with Uruguay, reportedly twisting his knee and incurring meniscus damage.

Enough doc talk, but does that even mean, you ask? Well, meniscus are some form of fibro-cartilage strips that we have in our knees, which can get damaged or ruptured. That’s what our Luisato has  right now.


Well, the conservative treatment through physical therapy is out, unless Uruguay is looking at getting Suarez ready for the next Copa America.  Surgery is probably the route taken, with an option to remove some of the torn meniscus tissues and allowing the knee to function without them.  Of course, all this depends on the extent to which his meniscus is damaged and the call the docs take.  Recovery time has been stated to be anything from 15 days to about  4-5 months in the worst cases!


What options do Uruguay and Tabarez have?  I’m guessing that Suarez will still be included in the final squad. He is an emotional leader for the team, and his sheer presence alone should give them a lift.

If Uruguay take the field without Suarez, I’d imagine that they’d deploy Cavani as the lone striker up front.   He’d play in front of  Gason Ramirez (Southampton), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), and Stuani (Espanyol) could be drafted in, giving them the verve and industry they need going forward. The other option is to bring in the old warhorse, Forlan.  Something tells me though that  he’d want more energy and work-rate in a group with England and Uruguay.

Here’s a shout-out to La Celeste , an excellent blog  . Be sure to check them out and follow them!


Sabella culls the list to 26- Argentina world cup squad – 2014

And then there were 26.

Sabella announced that he has chopped off 4 from the list of 30 released last week. A couple of call up were strange in the very first place, and now their omission, even before the start of camp seems even more bizarre. The 4 players released are Franco Di Santo, Gabriel Mercado, Fabian Rinaudo , and Lisandro Lopez.

About the sacrifices

Franco Di Santo , the striker from Bremen, being out would warm the cockles of many Albiceleste fans hearts. With an imposing frame of 6ft 2″ and little else to offer in terms of actual footballing ability, Di Santo was called into the squad a few times by Sabella. Though it was a known fact that Sabella would stick to 5 strikers in the squad of 23 (Higuain, Aguero, Messi, Lavezzi, Palacio), Di Santo briefly threatened to spoil the party by literally being the tall kid amongst dwarfs demanding a ride.

Gabriel Mercado was a curious call-up into the preliminary list, having never been summoned by Sabella prior to this. A right-back plying his trade with River Plate , Mercado was a back-up option for Zabaleta. A bit of internet snooping revealed what one needed to know – Mercado was a former Estudiantes player, which now makes perfect sense, given Sabella’s fetish for players from the aforementioned club. Sabella probably feels comfortable with the form and fitness of Hugo Campagnaro as a back-up option, and hence has done away with The Merc.

Fabian Rinaudo was next to come in and go. This lad is a direct substitute for Mascherano, playing the destroyer role with aplomb for Sporting in the Portugese league before promptly getting injured. Earlier this year, he was loaned out to Catania, which is seemingly where many Argentine back-ups ply their trades. Of course, there can only be 1 Mascherano. This also indicates to me that Gago and Banega’s fitness levels may be improving, and hence Sabella doesn’t feel the need to include another defensive midfielder.

Lisandro Lopez- the defender- is the last to get the cut. This young man shot to fame as a tall, fairly competent CB with Arsenal (of the Argentine variety). Not to be confused with his name-sake, who was once immensely popular, and high on the fan’s list to be called up, but is now hanging about in Qatar.


All this implies a couple of things:
1. As stated before, the news about Gago’s and Banega’s injuries could be greatly exaggerated.
2. This opens the door for Martin I-am-not-as-fast-as-a-snail-but-fuck-it-I-won-the-EPL-bitches Demichelis to make his way back into the WC team! Sabella stated here that he was supremely impressed with the season that Demi had with the EPL champs.  I wouldn’t bet against it.

The Demi God

The Demi God

Is Peter Forrest the answer to the Aussie middle order?
Argentina Squad (courtesy: WallpaperTv)

The Calling

The Calling

Finally, the much anticipated squads were announced by Sabella. 2 lists, 1 a locally based team for the 2 games against Brazil, and the other list, the squad comprising of foreign players considered as the motherlode of all lists!

Love thy neighbor : Squad against Brazil

A brief review of the squad selected for Brazil . You’ll find the complete list anywhere so I am not going to harp too much about it

  • Squad of 24 (2GK +8 DEF + 8 MID + 5 FWD)
  • Average age: 27.5
  • Club break-up: 6 Estudiantes + 6 Velez + 4 Boca + 4 Racing + 4 from Lanus, San Lorenzo, Arsenal
  • Key inclusions : Riquelme, Veron, Valeri (Midfield), Pillud, Botenelli, Castro, Chavez

It seems like a fairly balanced squad with a slightly higher average age than what you’d expect normally. Of course, guys like Veron and Riquelme would heavily skew it J.  It looks like Sabella would favour mostly proven performers/experience at the domestic level

Half the squad consists of players from Estudiantes and Velez, giving us an insight that Sabella could start off with the comfort zone of familiarity (Estudiantes) and a winning mentality (Velez)

Sweet taste of India and Bangladesh

Let’s look at the team to India, and importantly, compare it to the infamous Copa America 2011 team (last team assembled by Batista):

Face off : Sabella vs Batista

Face off : Sabella vs Batista

Quick hits

  • It’s a 23 (Batista) vs 26 (Sabella) Squad
  • Using historical data and analyzing player performances for the last 10 games and dynamically using predictive methods  mindless intuition, we’ve Red-fonted the players that could have been excluded if the squad were to be trimmed to 23 (Demi, Sosa, Salvio – sorry folks)
  • Average age of Sabella’s squad = 24.7
  • The players in yellow cells are what we call Flexi-Players- who’ve played in different positions or have the ability to do so if the need arises. Eg – Otamendi can play RB (no matter how ineffectively J )
  • We’ve split the midfield into 3 groups – Defensive Midfield (DMF), AMF (Attacking Midfield/ Enganche) and Midfield or Wingers (MF/WING)


  1. Attackers : Batista 6 vs Sabella 4. As highlighted before, this was too skewed in the Copa. Sabella immediately took the opportunity to offload Tevez, Lavezzi , and Milito, and brought the in-form Lopez in
  2. AMF: This is key. While Batista and his predecessor, Maradona, had only Pastore as a true player in that position without any real back-up, and hoped that guys like Banega/Gago would provide additional support, Sabella provided an excellent option by adding Lucho Gonzalez  to this segment. Lucho has the creativity , experience and skill to fill the immediate needs , or support and mentor Pastore into the role as we had highlighted in our previous post
  3. MF/WING :  This is another CRITICAL area. While Batista had enough defensive cover , he gave himself very little options for flexibility and width with only Di Maria capable of it. I’ve included Biglia in here , but you could make a case that even he was chosen as a DMF! Contrast this to Sabella who has Sosa, Gutierezz, Di Maria, Salvio and Alverez for this position. Even if we were to drop Sosa and Salvio, there are still 2 options- 1 with a defensive midset width (Gutierrez) and 1 with a creative bent (Alverez).


The true head-scratchers are the inclusion of Demi, Gutierrez  and to an extent , Sosa.  I remember Demi stinking up the defense akin to a public loo back when I saw him last , at the world cup, where  South Korea, and then Germany too tore into him. It looked like Bayern weren’t too impressed with his massive flop show during the WC and promptly offloaded him this season to Malaga, the new rich kids in down in the Spanish league. I’ve never seen Demi play well for club or country in recent times to give me much hope.  The  Spiderman, as Gutierrez is more popularly known in Toonland, was also the subject of much criticism during the WC for his miserable slalom runs and prompt propensity to give the ball away to opposition.  To be fair, he was played out of position by Maradona, and I have seen him fare decently when playing for Newcastle. I’ll refrain from saying much about Sosa since I haven’t seen him play much in recent times.

Kudos must be given to Sabella for selecting Ansaldi, who needs to definitely prove and nail down his position at LB,  Otamendi (he has stepped it up in recent times with Porto), Sick-Rick- who was one of the flavours of the transfer season, Lucho , and Lisandro, who has been extremely consistent at Lyon.  I’ll also be watching Rinaudo with curiosity, as he has the work-rate and consistency that Sabella loves from his players.


The positives far outweigh the doubts at this stage, and I look towards the immediate future with cautious optimism!


Riquelme (courtesy: footballpictures)

Argentina – AMF and the “Enganche Position”

The Enganche Position

Historically , the Albicelestes have had some tremendous players  playing this key role.  In the more recent past, The Legend himself (1994), to Ortega(1998-2002), Veron, Aimar,(1998, 2002)  (The FANTASTIC ) Riquelme  (2006) have all been the owners of the keys that drives the beast.  Shockingly, Maradona himself gave himself very little options to choose from when he took charge of the NT in 2010. Batista went one worse by trying to mimic the Barca system and magically hoping against hope and time that two of Banega/Gago/Cambiasso would magically turn into a Xavi and Iniesta combo for Messi and the false no. 9 experiment.

Sabella’s Dilemma

There’s very little to go by when it comes to predicting what Sabella would do.  Stressing on defensive and midfield solidarity, there’d be place for a sole attacking midfielder to play a True Enganche role.  Veron, the Estudiantes legend , is familiar with Sabella, but it’s not set in stone that Veron would be the choice.  Let’s take a look at the candidates:

AMF Comparison

AMF Comparison


From the above table, it’s quite obvious that Riquelme is (or was in a league of his own ) when compared to the other candidates. Riquelme is probably the DEFINITION of an Enganche.  Riquelme’s class beyond question. However , he has been injury prone of late.  Other than Riquelme, Veron and Pastore, 2 intriguing options are Lucho Gonzalez and Diego Valeri.

Lucho has been in good form of late in the French league. On his day, he can be extremely effective (the Brazil WCQ comes to mind), and on others, just absolutely fade away. Compared to the other 2 established stars from the past, Lucho still has age on his side to help the team for the next couple of years.

Valeri is another interesting option.  He’s a player with a lot of undelivered promise, but is probably the closest to a natural Enganche role after Riquelme in that list. He takes a lot of set-pieces for Lanus, giving us an option from corners and indirect free kicks. He also has age , pace and stamina on his side, something that the other seniors cannot guarantee just yet.

Pastore is the future without a doubt. He has made a big money move to PSG and the pressure is on him to live upto the billing and take PSG to the upper echelons of Europe. Burdening him with the Enganche role with the NT could be a high risk –high reward situation.  Something tells me that he still needs a little bit of burden sharing or mentoring .  I am a big fan of his personally, but I’ve never seen him take dead ball situations with his limited time with the NT or with Palermo in the past (maybe someone can correct me on this).


We  believe the following will happen:

  1. Pastore will be selected as part of the squad. He has done nothing wrong so far, and has shown immense potential, and understanding with Messi. The only doubt in our minds is that he may not be a true “Enganche”. He’s in fact more like a Messi himself – a CF.
  2.   Veron disqualifies himself because of his age. He is an extremely short term option, and going with him adds very little to the future
  3. .  As much as it hurts me to say this, but Riquelme  may not be an option either. I am one of his biggest fans, but this is the time to move forward. Riquelme’s inclusion often demands a system to be made with him at the core, and I am not sure if he provides Sabella the flexibility that the latter typically loves.
  4. Valeri as mentioned is a definite option who might see his name called up for the local NT games against Brazil. He might need to prove himself there as a stepping stone to the NT
  5. Lucho Gonzalez is the one player who may need to return to the NT and be the perfect stop gap for this role. He just turned 30 and can provide a good 2-3 years more.  He has the vision and sting in his shot. He also has leadership abilities , and can transition the NT to the future.  Though Sabella might not consider him, Lucho Gonzalez should be picked for the NT.

Our Squad pick for Enganche and AMF: Lucho Gonzalez and Javier Pastore

Runaway Train

The return of the Stat Turd: A look into the Indian bowling

In the aftermath of the India vs England game,  many questions were raised about the dismal Indian bowling attack.  Having personally witnessed Strauss tear apart the bowling like cheap toilet roll,  it was time to call upon the STAT TURD again to investigate the stain remains.

MTJAG had mentioned in it’s preliminary diagnosis that the bowling and fielding left much to be desired. A feeling was that outside of Zaheer Khan, the rest of the Indian bowling left a lot to be desired, and especially more was expected from Bhajji – who is supposed to be our primary strike bowler along with Zaks.

STAT TURD took the controls from there and here are the basis for comparison:

1. The data taken was for the performance of the bowlers in the home conditions ( eg Indian bowler in India, SL bowler in SL, and neutral bowler in Asia). This is because- well the world cup is going on in these conditions,  isn’t it?  STAT TURD feels that the performance in the in the host nation alone would still be sufficient even if India or SL plays in the other nation. This should be reasonable enough an assumption

2. STAT TURD has essentially taken 3 key indicators – Average (Runs given per wicket) , Economy Rate, and Strike Rate ( Deliveries bowled per wicket) as points of comparison

3. Bowlers in consideration are Bhajji, Murali, Steyn, Vettori, Zaheer and Munaf.   All bowlers (except Steyn) had close to 20 or more games in the home conditions. Other spinners such as Swann were not considered because of 2 few games.

Bowler Comparison-

Bowler Comparison-

Do Click on it to get a larger view .  Basic Summary:

1. Bhajji has a higher Average AND Strike Rate than all the other bowlers he has been compared to. That means he gives away more runs per wicket and needs more deliveries per wicket

2. Bhajji has a middling Economy Rate – but wait- it’s the highest when you compare him with the other 2 spinners.  He has a better Economy Rate than the pacers, but that could be understandable as the pacers often end up bowling during the powerplays.

Now , STAT TURD decides to check on the performance of the 3 Indian Bowlers under MS Dhoni.  Let’s see how that turns out:

Captain's Bowlers?

Captain's Bowlers?

What are our findings , ye ask?

1. Bhajji seems to have a more significant dip in his performance with MSD as his captain when compared to his overall career!  Is it age or field placements?

2. Munaf’s economy rate has drastically increased during his stint under Dhoni. This could be because he used to be employed more often as a 1st change bowler before, but now used as a new ball bowler under Dhoni – hence exposing him to the Power Plays.  Would it make more sense to keep him 1st change? Only time will tell.

STAT TURD, while finding these numbers , also took a quick peak at under which captain did these aforementioned bowlers bowl better under. The answer? Surprise, surprise — it’s RAHUL DRAVID!  Yep, all 3 bowlers were significantly better in all 3 categories under Dravid compared to Dhoni. Don’t get too frustrated though – it could be because the PPs have been in full force during Dhoni’s time as a captain from 2007.  However , that is a topic for another day.

What do you all think?


8 Facts about Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga-  Toe Crushers Inc

Lasith Malinga- Toe Crushers Inc

Fact #1 : Lasith’s first words as a toddler was not “Mommy” . It was,  “Who’s your Daddy.”

Fact #2:  Lasith grew up in a village where every other child grew up on crutches. He friggin yorked them all.

Fact #3: There was one child though who feigned a leg injury. Lasith ate him. Alive.

Fact #4: Contrary to popular belief , Lasith does NOT have a foot fetish. He just hates toes.

Fact #5: Lasith once went 2 games without ever taking a single wicket with a toe-crushing yorker. He then destroyed that damn  Playstation 3 box.

Fact #6: Lasith was actually fit for the first 2 WC games for Sri Lanka. The team supervisor misplaced the keys for Lasith’s cage. Gunatunga , the team supervisor, will be missed.

Fact #7: Lasith once bowled a bouncer.  No really.  The ball bounced , dipped back into the batsman’s toes and crushed it, planting the batsman’s feet permanently into the pitch.  He can still be spotted on the field near Gale.

Fact #8: Lasith actually used to date a middle stump in high school, which could explain his desire to “smack ’em” every time he sees one.

What an insane performance against kenya!

Post Mortem: England Vs India @ 2011

MTJAG was back in action . This time, we sneaked into the stands at the Chinnaswamy Stadium @ Bangalore to witness the crazy run feast. Here are the diagnostic results:


Oh it’s just a Common Cold , silly:

1. It was widely believed that fans going to the game would be facing a nightmarish ordeal. NOT TRUE.  We got there pretty early after the usual  3S (shave, $hit, Shower), had a pretty heavy breakfast and got to the gate entrance by 12 noon. We were  at our seats within 6 minute 28 seconds (give or take a few seconds).  I heard that some of the other stands had a much tougher time, but I’d say a majority of the crowd got into the stadium (and out of it too) without too much of a hassle.  There were also  KSCA folks who guided as many people as they could to their seats.  Well done, amigos.

2. Fear of Tendulkar’s form not carrying onto the world cup – DISPELLED.  Sachin was pure awesomeness.  His innings was pretty well paced (started slowly but caught up soon), and his hits were clean.  His 2nd wicket stand with Gambhir was excellent, and they handled Swann very well.

3. Strauss ‘s ability in the ODI game –  Rarely does Sachin score a century and yet get overshadowed. However, Levis Andy Strauss ensured just that with his fantastic display, possibly his best so far. The captain signaled his comfort in these conditions in their first game against the Oranje, and this time, he  almost took England all the way on his own, and he seemed to find the boundary at will too.  18 boundaries and 1 six (compared to Sachin’s 10 and 5  respectively) tells you that he seemed to find the gaps really well , or, well  more on that later.


You might want to get a 2nd Opinion on this:


1. The Indian Middle order : Normally, 339 would be a monumental total for any side to post and the opposition to overcome. However, with India’s bowling , any amount of extra runs would be welcome.  The last 2 overs in the Indian innings resulted in 5 wickets and 13 runs.  Yusuf or Kohli or Bhajji need  to understand that  you don’t have to swat every ball over the boundary like a fly but maximize whatever you have to get those crucial runs.  I feel we missed out on a few runs there, and 1 of the middle order batsmen needs to stand-up and learn how to end an innings with the tail,  while batting first.

2. Yuvraj to the Party:  With the score at 180 when Gambhir was dismissed , India  correctly brought on Yuvraj Singh to the crease.  The thought process was 2-fold , continue the left-right combination at the pitch, and see if one of the crucial middle order batsman for India could get into some rhythm as the cup continues. The move paid rich dividends  with Yuvi scoring a 50+. Let’s wait and see if his form and confidence continues to soar up.

Um..You might want to call your relatives..:

1. Indian bowling and fielding : can we say *FAIL*??!  The bowling and fielding really went hand-in-hand (or butt-to-butt considering the abysmal lows).    In the larger context of things, our key spinner Bhajji was economical but not penetrative. He just didn’t seem to be in it yesterday.  The 2 sixes off Chawla’s final over was a death blow, but it would be too unfair to hold it against him , a relative newbie, when so many other things were going wrong. Zaheer was brilliant in his last spell, and extremely ordinary in his first. Munaf was back to his meh self.  Perhaps a little more variety, a few more yorkers in his armor would help!  The 2 part-time spinners gave up 61 runs in their 10 overs, which was 10 less than our front line bowlers!

And the fielding…good Lord… I’m really not sure what would help other than just sheer passion for it.  Kohli fluffed a chance at slip, Bhajji let Strauss off early in the game (this was a killer).  Raina had a few mishaps.  More importantly, it’s just the lack of effort. In such a flat oupitch which doesn’t assist the bowlers too much, you need to raise your game collectively and give them hope, give yourself a chance, and give the fans to raise their voices even more to lift you up!  I don’t recollect seeing 1 attempt at the stumps (granted, half the time there was nobody backing the stumps up!) . When the ball went towards Munaf at deep mid-wicket – it was a granted 2 runs for England.  Sloppy sloppy sloppy!! When England were fielding,  I remember us fans being amazed at how many times Pietersen just threw himself saving numerous boundaries!

2. Field placements/Bowling : These go hand in hand as well. How did Strauss manage to find more holes than swiss cheese through our fielding formation is beyond me.  Or was it the bowlers who simply possibly refused to adhere to the field given to them??  Oh how I miss Kumble!   3 tight overs in the middle  are so important. Having that happen around the 42nd over might sometimes be a little too late, as we found out.