Pierre Boisrond

Pierre Boisrond has followed soccer and the World Cup closely for many years and also writes for other websites. We at PWC are proud to have him as a columnist. He will share his views about the past, present and future of the World Cup.

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Bielsa-Riquelme: A saga nearing its final chapter

    For some strange reasons, Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentine national coach, seems to give a knock out to Juan Roman Riquelme, the Boca superstar and the South American player of the year. Roman is an idol, humble, and the most important of all, he is a great person. It seems that Bielsa is following the path of Cesar Luis Menotti for leaving Diego Armando Maradona out of the 1978 squad.

    It seems that Bielsa does not give any importance to the local championship in Argentina. It seems that he has ignored the accomplishments of Juan Roman Riquelme. Riquelme is actually the best footballer in South America. He has proven it to the whole world. Now, one has to question Bielsa for leaving him out of the squad that will face Germany on April 17th. It does not matter if Argentina do have players such as Veron, Aimar, Gallardo. Today, Riquelme is the best Argentine player on the planet; many sports journalists will agree with me. It seems that for a player to earn Bielsa’s confidence, he must be playing in Europe. This is a nonsense approach taken by the Argentina coach.

    Riquelme has played against the Luis Figo, Raul, and Makelele of Real Madrid. In the 2000 Intercontinental cup against Real Madrid, Roman displayed a magnificent performance and earned Boca Juniors, the championship trophy. In the 2001 Intercontinental Cup against Bayern Munich, Riquelme had given the game to Boca in the first few minutes, but el Chelo Delgado could not finish these golden opportunities. Although Boca lost the championship trophy, Riquelme was up to the task and played very well against the Jeremies, the Kahn, the Kuffour of the Bayern Munich team. Today, It is fair to question Bielsa's decision for not calling Riquelme.

    One might say well, Argentina has many talented players and Bielsa does not have to call Riquelme. If we have to judge based on talent alone, Riquelme is clearly at the top of the list. In Bielsa’s press conference, he stated that the list against Germany does not exclude any player from going to the World Cup that does not get the call today. It seems that Bielsa is playing with people’s intelligence thinking that he is addressing his remarks to an idiotic audience. It is not the time to put a spin on the Riquelme situation. It is time for Bielsa to be honest and let the Argentine fans know that Riquelme won’t be in the World Cup. If Riquelme does not go to this World Cup, Bielsa will clearly do a disfavor to the people of Argentina. In Argentina, Juan Roman Riquelme, does have the status of Diego Armando Maradona. In Argentina, Juan Roman Riquelme, brings passion to the fans of Boca Juniors and joy to the people. In the world, he is praised by Ronaldo, Maradona, Raul, Roberto Carlos, and many others. Roman does not like to talk. He mostly does his talking on the field. He has been playing without a contract for Boca Juniors for more than two years; yet, he has still shown up for practice on time and has given his best on the soccer field.

    Besides being a football player, Juan Roman Riquelme is also a great person. He is humble, responsible, and a team player. He is a joy to coach. What impresses me the most about Riquelme is that the way he comforts himself in public. During the award ceremony for the 2001 South American Football player of the year, Riquelme stated that: “There’s no other trophy more important than the trophy of the people.” Coming from a family of 11, he has also provided for his brothers, sisters and parents.

    It will be quite devastating for Riquelme not to make the World Cup. But, Roman will have another chance, and will move on. After what he has accomplished during his young 23 years, there’s no excuse for Bielsa not to call him. There’s no excuse whatsoever. Yes, there’s Veron; yes, there is Aimar; and yes, there’s Gallardo. Why not a Riquelme? Is that because he is not playing for some European team?. Is that because he is playing in the national league of his country? If this is Bielsa’s hypothesis for not selecting Riquelme, it will be a total disgrace to his country. Don’t think that I don’t applaud Bielsa’s work with the Argentine national team, but there are some players that deserve to be in the World Cup after what they have proved on the field. A player like Riquelme earns that spot. Riquelme earns it, Bielsa! He deserves to be in Korea/Japan.

    Perhaps, I could understand why Menotti did not call Maradona at 17 years old, but at 23, Riquelme shows that he is a mature young man and a football hero in Argentina. Certain coaches are making some decisions that fans cannot seem to understand. It seems that Bielsa is following the path of Scolari for leaving out Romario from the Brazilian squad. Romario and Riquelme are respectively the two best South American players for 2000 and 2001. These two best players are likely not to be part of the 2002 World Cup due to Scolari and Bielsa's decisions. I hope that national pressure will force these coaches to call these players. They earn it on the field and they deserve to be there.

    No matter what happens, these players will continue to support their national team and we will have the opportunity to see Riquelme in 2006, but we may not see Romario again. It is indeed quite a dilemma to many fans in the world and to the people of Argentina and Brazil, but again the decision of the coach must be respected one way or the other. I can’t wait to see the list announced by Bielsa and Scolari. Sooner or later we will find out. I can guarantee you that there will be some injustice. But, it is up to the fans to put pressure on the national coach.

    On the injury of David Beckham, I hope that he does recover in time for the World Cup. It is unfortunate what had happened to him, and too bad that it was caused by an Argentine player. David is a great player and thus the fans from all over the world wish him a great recovery before the World Cup starts. From all of us from worldcuparchive.com, we are looking forward to seeing you defending the colors of England in Korea/Japan. Let’s hope that we won’t hear any of the injuries before the World Cup and the players will play in a precautionary manner to protect their opponents from these devastating injuries.



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