BUENOS AIRES - A friendly between world
champions Spain and Argentina at the River Plate stadium on
Tuesday could be the start of a new era in visits
from high-profile teams with an eye on the 2014 World Cup in
The last time there was a wave of visits by the likes of
England and the then West Germany was in the build-up to the
1978 World Cup in Argentina, the last finals to be held in
An exception was when Franz Beckenbauer brought his young
side to Buenos Aires for a friendly in December 1987, a year
after Diego Maradona's Argentina had beaten the Germans in the
Mexico final and three before exacting revenge in Rome.
Guillermo Tofoni, a FIFA agent who organises Argentina's
friendly calendar, said he had a remit to bring top teams to
"We're working on that idea with level A national teams, to
arrange South American tours including Argentina and Brazil
from here to 2014," he told Reuters.
He said he was talking to national team coaches and
national association officials to find out how interested they
were in such tours given that the World Cup will be played in
Tuesday's friendly, arranged before Spain were crowned
world champions in South Africa in July, appears a first step
in that direction, reigniting the interest of top sides to
visit South America.
Argentine ace Lionel Messi said his Barcelona team mates in
the Spanish squad were excited at the prospect of playing in
Buenos Aires, where they have requested to train on Sunday and
Monday at the legendary Bombonera (chocolate box) stadium, home
of Boca Juniors.
With Brazil looking to meet quality opposition at home
before their World Cup since they will be deprived of the
competitive football provided by the qualifiers, Argentina are
hoping for a knock on affect of being included in tours by
Italy could play in Buenos Aires in June before Argentina
host the Copa America.
Since Germany's 1987 visit, the only leading sides to have
come to Argentina were Denmark in 1993 when they were European
champions and the former Yugoslavia in 1996.
Spain will be Argentina's second opponents since their
World Cup elimination by Germany in the quarter-finals in June
after which Maradona was not retained as coach.
Under Olympic gold medal coach Sergio Batista, Argentina
beat Ireland 1-0 in Dublin last month.
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