BUENOS AIRES - Argentina hope to see
themselves in a Spanish mirror when they take on the world
champions in a friendly at River Plate's Monumental stadium on
Coach Sergio Batista has made key changes from Diego
Maradona's World Cup side for the match against Spain, who were
crowned world champions in South Africa in July.
Batista, who played alongside Maradona in Argentina's 1986
Word Cup-winning side, is looking to stamp his authority on the
team after their quarter-final elimination by Germany in Cape
"In both national teams there are good ball players,
attackers of a similar standard," Batista told reporters at
Argentina's training camp last week.
"The style is similar. This Argentina could play like
Inter Milan midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, recalled by
Batista after being overlooked by Maradona, said: "(Batista's)
idea is for the team to have that (Spanish) identity...
holding possession as much time as possible.
"We have to try that, we have the players to achieve it.
One shouldn't die before trying to play like Spain," he told
Batista looks set to hand a playmaking role to Andres
D'Alessandro, who last month inspired his Brazilian side
Internacional to victory in the Libertadores Cup and is back in
an Argentina squad for the first time in five years.
For South Africa, Maradona turned his back on 2006 World
Cup playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme and took Juan Sebastian Veron
as a creative force in the middle only to keep him on the bench
in the defeat by Germany.
Lionel Messi sees the match, part of the South American
nation's bicentennial celebrations, as a chance to show off his
country's footballing culture to his many Barcelona team mates
in the Spain side.
Spain are in Argentina for the first time since the 1978
World Cup and meet their hosts on Argentine soil for the first
since a 1-1 draw in a 1974 friendly.
The sides last met in Madrid last November, with a 2-1
victory for a Spain team who managed to keep Messi on a tight
"We have players who know him perfectly well but, however
much you control or know him, he's capable of finding solutions
to any problem he faces," Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said.
"He's an extraordinary player who, at the World Cup,
without scoring a goal, showed he could have scored seven or
eight in the group games," he told AM650 radio before Spain
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