Javier Saviola (Buenos Aires, 39 years old) played 50 games and scored 12 goals for the Albiceleste. In 2001, the Bunny became the record transfer of Argentine football: 36 million euros. From River to Barcelona, Saviola played for Madrid, won the Europa League with Sevilla and was a key player in Málaga, which surprised Europe in the 2013 Champions League. Few times, however, did he have as much fun on a soccer field as when He played alongside Pablo Aimar, Ariel Ortega and Juan Pablo Ángel (Medellín, 45 years old) at the Monumental (1998-2000).
The Colombian forward jumped from River to Aston Vila and went through MLS before retiring from the club of his life: Atlético Nacional. He signed eight goals in the 32 games he played for his national team. The last time Ángel met Saviola was at the World Cup in Russia. By then, they were no longer short. They wore a jacket to talk about football on television. “I like what I do now, but nothing compares to playing football. I’m not just talking about Sunday’s game, I’m also talking about all the week’s work, ”argues the Colombian. “I enjoy commenting on games, but I love playing ball,” replies the Argentine. From the Monumental to the Red Square, Ángel and Saviola cross again via Zoom.
Juan Pablo Angel. I remember perfectly the day you appeared on the scene. It was an afternoon-night at the Monumental and Ramón Díaz decided to do some minced. He raised several young people, among whom were you, and joined us with Pablo [Aimar]. Was a robo. The rest of the players stayed to see our team. When the training ended, I asked Ramón: Who is this boy? You did everything right. Few times I connected with two players like you and Aimar.
Javier Saviola. With Pablo we always talked about you being the ideal striker for our game. A striker of those who no longer exist today. You set the center-backs, a great finisher. That was a great team. We played one touch, with a lot of mobility. We could have played as equals to any European team.
JPÁ. Offensively we were very tough; but, at times, we are separated from the rest of the team. In football at that time, we would have played any team a match. Today, I think we would have been unbalanced.
JS. Soccer has changed a lot. Before there were slower players, but much more technical. It was a more colorful football. Now, in South America, you see more frictionless matches. There are not so many goals. There is a lot of speculation.
JPÁ. Every day the difference between Europe and South America widens more. There are many reasons: grassroots football, infrastructure and training of trainers. The information given to children in their different stages is very important. It is not the same what a 12-year-old player and a 16-year-old need.
JS. Training is the most important thing. We had had Pékerman. He was the foundation of our generation’s success.
JPÁ. Europe understands that human resources are very important and that together with technology, science and infrastructure has given them a great advantage.
JS. In Europe, all teams go out to play. Denmark, Czech Republic … Switzerland left out France. Nobody speculates. They are brave teams. And they hold the whole game. In the second half of the extra they are with the same energy as at the beginning of the match.
JPÁ. In general, European teams are more vertical and speculate less. They always have the ambition to seek the opposite goal. And, when they back off, they close well back and are hard to break. But when they come out, they do so in a tremendous frenzy.
JS. The speed of the game. How fast the ball goes!
JPÁ. The courts have a huge impact on the speed of the game. The ball rolls differently in the Copa América compared to any of the playing fields in which the Eurocup is played. You look at our courts and you think: really? There are teams more tiresome than others, but if we put Brazil to play on a European pitch, they will play at a different speed. And Argentina, too.
JS. It has been a totally different Cup. He has not left much football.
JPÁ. I see Brazil superior to the rest. It is a serious team that knows the superiority it has and assumes it. He understands the pressure and hugs her. I like Argentina, it has been growing.
JS. Argentina has found its roof, but has found a base. And it has what we have always looked for: tuck Leo in [Messi].
JPÁ. I’m glad to see Leo’s body language. Enjoy and it looks good.
JS. Hopefully this Copa América will be given to him. It has already reached many finals.
JPÁ. Colombia’s first turn.
JS. It is going to be a tough, difficult match. Colombia plays physical games and has fast players who can hurt them. Argentina will have to take the initiative.
JPÁ. Colombia has found some defensive solidity, which was one of the difficulties that this coaching staff had encountered when it arrived. He creates situations, but it costs him the goal. But, in these instances, anything can happen.
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