Interview with Mascherano: the “puzzle” for the Olympic Games, the 5 Boca players he follows and the record he will seek in Paris

Interview with Mascherano: the “puzzle” for the Olympic Games, the 5 Boca players he follows and the record he will seek in Paris
Interview with Mascherano: the “puzzle” for the Olympic Games, the 5 Boca players he follows and the record he will seek in Paris

Javier Mascherano will be the coach of the Argentine team at the Olympic Games (Alex Avila/Jam Media/Getty Images)

On July 24, the argentine national team will go out onto the stadium field Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint EtienneFrance, to embark on an adventure with an uncertain ending. Morocco will be his first rival for the B Group (shared with Iraq and Ukraine) of the Paris Olympic Games. Over there, Javier Mascherano He will sit in one of the seats on the substitute bench to admire the work that he began planning a long time ago. In a matter of days, he will have to define which will be the 18 footballers who will represent the country in search of the third Olympic gold in football in history. In 2004 and 2008, there was a common denominator with 2024: the little boss.

In a hand in hand with Infobae, Mascherano He immersed himself fully in what will be his craftsmanship to make the squad. There is a question that flutters in the head of any soccer fan: What will be the three over 23 years old? Emiliano has been mentioned as possibilities Draw Martínez, Nicolás Otamendi, Julián Álvarez, Lautaro Martínez and several etc. In the driver’s words, nothing is confirmed: “There is a reality: The only ones we are sure we can count on are the guys who are in Argentine soccer., because the clubs are in a position to give up the players. The rest of the kids, whether older or younger, we talk to each one personally. Also knowing what the opinion of the clubs is.”

The U20 coach defined the formation of the squad as a “puzzle” for two reasons: “The clubs are not obliged to give you the players and they do not have a date to give them to you.” So far, the roadmap has already been designed and, in a conversation with this medium, he confirmed that there is a prelist of 50 playersto which you will have to apply a definitive cut later.

The main novelty of this extensive list is a Boca Juniors figurewhich reinforced the Xeneize in this market since Unión and did not register calls in the recent past: Kevin Zenon. “They are on the list“Mascherano stated about the cases of Zenón, Equi Fernández, Cristian Medina and Leandro Brey. Thus, They could miss the key to the round of 16 of the Copa Sudamericana if the national cast finishes second in the Group D. It is worth noting that the first leg will take place in the week of July 17, one week before the premiere in Paris, while the rematches will take place in the week of July 24: “Our ideal is to try to have the majority of the boys training with us two weeks before the debut at least”.

The former River Plate and Barcelona player, among other teams, left an open door for Nicolás Valentiniwhich is among the options to go to Old continentdespite being marginalized in the squad of the riverbank for not renewing the contract that expires next December. In addition, he referred to the possibility of being the first Argentine in history to win three Olympic gold medals and told what legacy Menotti left in Argentine soccer in the middle of an event organized in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires by Enterprise Rent-A-Carofficial sponsor of the UEFA Europa Leaguewhich had him as a star guest to see the victory of Atalanta in view of Bayer Leverkusen in Ireland.

Javier Mascherano, star guest of the event organized in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Puerto Madero

– From the South American Sub 20 of 2023 to today: did you imagine leading Argentina in the Olympic Games?

– No, because it is a decision that is made at the management and structure level. I am the coach of the Under 20 Team. In this case, I had to lead the Under 23 Team in the Pre-Olympic and now in the Games, but my official role is to be coach of the Under 20.

-What goes through your mind at the possibility of being the first Argentine with three Olympic gold medals?

– Nothing happens to me because I divide a lot from my time as a player to my time as a coach. I was lucky enough to compete and win two Olympic Games, but now it is totally different. I think that the Olympic Games have more to do with the athlete, in this case with the player, than with the staff and the coach.

– What things did you learn from Marcelo Bielsa and Sergio Batista, your coaches in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, respectively, to replicate it in Paris 2024?

– Above all, logistics. The Olympic Games, unlike what a traditional soccer tournament can be, have some different aspects. In this case, Paris is quite particular because it has many venues and we are not going to be in the Olympic Village in principle, but it is a little more complex than normal. I am left with those experiences of how to put together everything that is the stay there.

– Until when do you have time to present the list?

– We have to give the final list in the first days of July.

– Is it going to be before the Copa América final?

– Yes, it has to be before.

– There are 10 days between the final of the Copa América and the start of the Olympic Games. How much work time is being evaluated to choose the seniors?

– We have put everything on the balance…

– It’s almost a puzzle…

– It is a puzzle because, beyond what you say about the Copa América, we must take into account that, first, the clubs are not obliged to give you the players; Second, the clubs do not have a date to give them to you.

– Oh no?

– No, that has to do with the will of the clubs. So, the normal thing is that many of the boys start their preseason both in Argentina and in Europe with their clubs and, then, we have an idea of ​​when to start preparation. We will also have to adapt to the circumstances because, until today, the clubs do not tell you the exact date on which they are going to give you the players.

There is a pre-list of 50 footballers designed by Mascherano (EFE/ Carlos Ortega)

– At Boca Juniors there is a lot of interest in the possibility of playing in the 16th round of the Sudamericana. Are Zenón, Equi Fernández and Medina in your consideration?

– They are on the list, on the big list that we have gone beyond 50 footballers. It is a list that is given these days, from that list, when the final date arrives, you have to cut it to 18 plus 4 reserves, which you have in case one of the 18 gets injured to be able to fish from those 4 Bookings.

– Is Brey also on that list?

– Of course yes.

– If Boca is not obliged to give them up on a specific date, could they play the first leg of the round of 16 of the Copa Sudamericana, which is a week before the debut at the Olympics?

– First, we cannot be guided by what may happen. Today, we are talking about what the final list is. Based on what the final list is, we will start talking to the clubs. Obviously, our ideal is to try to have the majority of the boys training with us two weeks before the minimum debut.

– With respect to the Valentini case, did AFA give you any directive about not calling up footballers who do not renew their contracts in their clubs?

– No, they didn’t give me any. There has been nothing official. Obviously we understand that, if a player is in conflict with his club, we try not to intercede in that conflict. I think it is normal… It is something that we have also done in other categories, such as the Under 20 National Team. We must not forget that the AFA belongs to the clubs, it belongs to the clubs.

– Today, Valentini is on that list?

– Yes, it is on the list of 50, but well… Because it is a situation that is not yet defined obviously. There is still time for it to be defined in some other way. I hope it has a happy ending. Not only for Boca, but also for Nico, because he is a good boy and he has given us a lot. There we will begin to evaluate.

– Have you already decided who the three oldest will be?

– We have not resolved it 100%, we have several options, not just three, and we are defining them.

– Is there a will from the clubs?

– There is everything. Some do; others, no. It depends a lot. There is something that must be taken into account. For many clubs, the season is not over, and for others it is. There are different situations, with clubs that are changing coaches. We are seeing.

– Some time ago, you said that having Dibu Martínez was a wish, but it had to be made reality. Could you talk to him?

– We have spoken with many of the boys, not only the older ones, but also boys who have the possibility of… There is a reality: the only ones we are sure we can count on are the boys who are in football Argentine, because the clubs are in a position to give up the players. The rest of the kids, whether older or younger, we talk to each one personally. Also knowing what the clubs’ opinion is.

-What lessons did he leave you? César Luis Menotti?

– César has been a very important person, in fact he has changed Argentine football. Above all, what is National Teams, with all his project when he had to be in charge of the Senior and Youth Teams. He was a source of inspiration for all of us who are starting our coaching careers, I had the opportunity to meet him personally. Always talking to him was a constant learning experience.

 
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