While there's been a lot of attention paid to Argentine national team coach Alfio Basile's comments concerning his players at West Ham, he had plenty more to say in yesterday's interview. He sat down with Gaston Recondofor and Alejandro Fabbri for the full hour at Estudio Futbol on TyC Sports, covering a wide range of topics. Getting beyond the situation the pair in London find themselves in, Basile talked about building towards the national team's first real test under his charge, next summer's Copa America in Venezuela.
He wants to form the team starting from Argentina, implying that the most recent coaches had concentrated a bit too much on players in Europe. Like every national team coach that has most of his players overseas, he'd like to be able to work with his selections as much as possible. Basile said that he "wants to build his team from here (Argentina), they way I did when we won the Copa America in '91."
The former Boca Juniors head man reaffirmed his selection process later in the discussion. "I plan to form the team with material that is all from here (Argentina) or half and half. It'll depend on who I like at the moment." Concerning tactics, "Everyone in the world knows my ideas concerning formations. I won't try to fool anybody in that respect. If you're going to have (Hugo) Ibarra and (Juan) Krupoviesa, you play with four across the back. And of course I prefer to play with a back-four. I don't like having wing-backs that have to run constantly during a match."
"4-4-2 seems to be what's in fashion these days," Basile continued. "It's in fashion because coaches are afraid of losing. I'm I afraid of losing? Of course, who do you think I am, Tarzan? Regardless, for me I could care less what people think and I'll play the way I want." To put an end to it, he said that "most times you'll see me put out 4-4-2."
His thoughts on other topics:
How will you attack?: "I prefer a traditional number 9, one who scores goals and creates space for the little ones (Leonel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Javier Saviola, and Sergio Aguero). If the 9 is not playing well, he comes off and the little ones play."
On Juan Roman Riquelme's retirement from international soccer: "I'm a bit worried because he his a great player, even though we have (Federico) Insua and (Pablo) Aimar. He's a phenominal player. Before he came out publicly, he came to see me privately. We were in Sao Paulo getting ready to play the second-leg of the Recopa Sudamericana, and he looked everywhere in the team hotel trying to find me. A phenominal person. Could I talk to him (to come out of retirement)? Sure, but for right now the most important thing is his mother's health."
On Messi: "He won't play for me as a right-sided forward/winger. I want to give him some freedom on the pitch, great players cannot be restrained. (Frank) Rijkaard already had Ronaldinho, Eto'o, Xavi, and must of told himself 'this little kid will break my tactical formation. But I've got to put him somewhere.' And he ended up putting him out along the touchline. For me, he has to play at the point of attack."
On Rodrigo Palacio: "He's the best in Argentina's Primera at breaking down a defense. He's a player that does everything 99% right. He's fast, plays off the the shoulder of the last defender, does well to get his teammates involved...he's just tremendous. I see him turning into a (Claudio) Caniggia type of player, but with more goals."
On Fernando Gago: It's true that if he does go to Europe he's going to have to play alongside another holding midfielder because over there, 90% of the teams play that way. Nevertheless, he'll grow into it because he has some exceptional qualities. But for the national team, there will only be one (holding midfielder/number 5)."
On Maxi Rodriquez: "I have to get to know him a little better. If he plays on the left and drifts into the middle, I know that he's got a cannon of a shot. But I feel he works better defensively on the right."
On Aguero: "I want to take a good look at him. He has incredible skill. He came over to train for the Brazil match and wasn't in great shape physically, but I've seen that he's gotten fitter. Thank God he's in Madrid, he'll suffer less culture shock there. Furthermore, the Atletico supporters are great."
On Ibarra: "He's 32 years old and is in great physical shape. I say that he plays now. In 2010, we'll have to see."
On Oscar Ustari: "On the national team, he's the young kid. He is a youth world champion and has exceptional skill."
Basile unhappy, Mascherano responds [CNN]
Alfio Basile interview (in Spanish) [TyC Sports]