Buenos Aires: Mes qúe Boca y River

By Andrew Misra

A month of delirium rolls on in Argentina after the 2-2 draw in the first leg of Boca Juniors v River Plate in the Copa Libertadores Final. Unsurprisingly, all eyes in South America and beyond have been fixated on the biggest clash in the history of arguably the most intense footballing rivalry – the Superclásico. Bookies were quoting 1/250 for more than two yellow cards in the first leg. Off the pitch, these fixtures dodged security issues and the G20 Summit. While not expected to dazzle on the pitch, the first ninety minutes weren’t a damp squib in the end, despite rain postponing the match by a day. Boca can still win the trophy with a lap of honour in River’s El Monumental stadium on 24th November. It would be easy to focus on these two great superpowers from Buenos Aires (pronounced “Bwenos I-res”) who play out the battle of the continent. But to ignore the pedigree elsewhere in the capital would be to do an injustice to the city of “fair wind”. Greater Buenos Aires is home to 14 million people or one-third of the country’s population, and no fewer than 24 professional football teams. This includes the ‘Big Five’ teams in the country. This remarkable city has a profound influence on South American football.

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Quique Setién, the far from traditional tactician who loves chess and Johan Cruyff

By Lewis Steele

“Before I signed for Betis, I asked them ‘Why do you want me?’ You’ve seen how my teams play, how I play. Are you clear this is what you want? Do you agree with this or not, because be clear that I am not going to score. If not, you better get another manager.’”

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Madagascar: Big population, but no longer small in football terms

The island nation have qualified for the African Cup of Nations for the first time, after a convincing qualifying campaign.

By Kieran Ahuja

Madagascar have typically not had much luck in the footballing world. In a continent where teams such as Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa often qualify for the world cup, the island nation has been both metaphorically and geographically on the periphery. In the six decades that the AFCON has been running, the competition has been held 31 times – with Madagascar, until now, continually failing to qualify. They’ve had more success looking eastwards, being the winners of the Indian Ocean Island games in 1990 and the runners-up in 2007. But, these wins are against teams who you’ve probably never heard of (Comoros? Mayotte?), most of whom come from islands with sub-million populations.

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Why Marcelo Bielsa’s tactics are so well respected worldwide

Marcelo Bielsa is quickly winning praise in England for his fast start with Leeds, but who exactly is ‘El Loco’ and why are his philosophies so lavished in the footballing world?

To the shock and delirium of many English football fans, Leeds United appointed ‘El Loco’ Marcelo Bielsa ahead of the new season. Literally translating as ‘the crazy one’, Bielsa adopts an innovative, fast moving style of football that has won him global plaudits from some of the best coaches in the game, including Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino.

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