Tag Archives: Vinotintos en el Exterior

Venezuela’s Friendly Internationals – November 2014 Preview

14 November 2014 – Estadio CAP, Talcahuano.

Chile vs Venezuela

18 November 2014 – Estadio Hernando Siles, La Paz.

Bolivia vs Venezuela 

How the Teams Rank

FifaRankings

FIFA Rankings Comparison Graph for October 2013-October 2014 (FIFA.com)

Venezuela come into this friendly double-header having been demoted in the FIFA rankings from August’s record-high 29th to a lowly 85th in the space of a mere two months. During this period, they played away in September to two Asian nations that featured at the World Cup, losing 3-1 to South Korea and drawing 2-2 with Japan.* A largely overseas-based contingent then spent October’s break at the Ciudad del Fútbol de Las Roza training complex in Madrid, after a total of four friendly matches had been scheduled and then cancelled for varying reasons (though presumed to be primarily financial in nature).

Given the lack of games played by the national side, it is certainly tempting to dismiss the rankings. Indeed, some Venezuelans – not least Noel Sanvicente, the new coach installed in July – may even glance at them with a wry smile, acknowledging that the historical placing of 29th was somewhat dubious, given that two months prior they were 40th and had only played one game in the entire year – a 2-1 away loss to Honduras.

Yet, however misrepresentative these rankings may be, they can not be ignored as the current placements were recently used to determine the seeding of the sides competing for next summer’s Copa América ahead of the upcoming draw. Venezuela, despite finishing 4th in 2011’s tournament and 6th out of the nine CONMEBOL sides in the 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign, found themselves ranked 10th out of 12 sides, thus consigning them to the fourth and lowest-seeded pot with Bolivia and CONCACAF-invitees, Jamaica. Consequently, a slightly more difficult group than may have been anticipated looks to be on the cards for La Vinotinto.

Defensive bulwark Oswaldo Vizcarrondo as well as Sanvicente himself have both publicly criticised these organisational methods and their raw sense of injustice may well be harnessed by El Chita to instil a siege mentality into his troops ahead of their upcoming games against Chile and Bolivia.

Squad News: Absentees and Opportunities

Playing to, and galvanising, the emotions of his squad may be necessary for Sanvicente as much of his long-term tactical plans have been adversely affected by a long list of absentees, all of whom play outside of Venezuela and thus, it is not too disrepectful to say, are amongst their most important players.

Two key individuals to have succumbed to injuries are converted right-back Roberto Rosales (Málaga) and new captain Tomás Rincón (Genoa), both components of Sanvicente’s planned defensive-midfield pairing that was first given its debut against Japan. Also sidelined are Fernando Amorebieta (Fulham), Vizcarrondo’s regular partner in central defence under former coach César Farías, as well as Alejandro Guerra (Atlético Nacional). Furthermore, though Guerra’s fellow Colombia-based midfield colleague Luis Manuel Seijas (Santa Fe) will be reporting for duty, he is unlikely to play in the Chile game, having played less than 48 hours prior in his side’s Copa Colombia final defeat to Deportes Tolima.

Another player not making the trip is forward Juan Falcón (Metz) who has had a promising start in Ligue 1 (4 goals in 8 games) and would have hoped to quickly establish himself as a more common fixture of the national side with his former Zamora manager now at the helm. Following on with the problems in attack, perhaps the most internationally renowned player not joining up with his compariots is striker Salomón Rondón (Zenit St. Petersburg), who is suspended following a straight red card he received while on the bench against South Korea. In his absence, young prospect Darwin Machís (Granada), who has had several chances with the first team in La Liga this season, will unfortunately not be able to demonstrate what he can do up front, having picked up a lengthy injury in October that will likely rule him out until next year. Sanvicente’s attempts to find someone to partner Mario Rondón (C.D. Nacional) have been further thwarted as Germany-raised Christian Santos (NEC Nijmegen), the man the coach said he wanted to trial in this role, has been temporarily unable to join up with the national side due to documentation issues. Indeed, this is a similar situation former Barcelona and Spain Under-21 international Jeffrén Suárez (Real Valladolid) finds himself in, having finally agreed to commit himself to La Vinotinto last month.

With so many players unavaible, Sanvicente has called up a squad that while not lacking in quality, features more players from the domestic league than would ideally be the case (9 out of 23) as well as several who have been languishing on the bench of overseas clubs (i.e. of the five forwards, only Mario Rondón can be said to be a regular starter for his club). However, one morale-boosting inclusion is the return of the iconic Juan Arango (Xolos de Tijuana) who had asked not to be called up for Sanvicente’s first two squads as he attempted to settle in Mexico’s Liga MX.

Nevertheless, with several regular starters missing and a coach still attempting to implement his ideas on the squad, Venezuela can certainly expect some tough encounters against a largely full-strength Chile, followed by Bolivia and the altitude of La Paz. Thus, what is detailed next are several things to look out for from a Venezuelan perspective in these two games.

What to Look Out For

How the Team Copes Defensively

Early reports suggest that the probable starting line-up for the Chile game will feature five out of the seven defence-minded players (goalkeeper, four defenders and two defensive-midfielders) who began against South Korea. In this 3-1 reversal, La Vinotinto at times looked porous, being repeatedly overran in the middle with their left side also offering weak resistance and the organisation in the middle often disintegrating into chaos (as can be witnessed on the third goal).

Édgar Jiménez (Mineros de Guayana), who made a rare start partnering Rincón in front of the defence, came in for some criticism for allowing the likes of Son Heung-Min to routinely bypass him and was one of only two players to be dropped for the Japan game. Given the noted injuries in this position, he is said to be likely to be paired with club team-mate Rafael Acosta (Mineros de Guayana) and both men, along with the defence behind them, will surely have their work cut out in the first game against the direct, rapid attacks of Sánchez, Aránguiz, Vargas, Vidal and the Venezuela-born Valdivia. Indeed, they may well be best advised to try to force them wide at all opportunities and goalkeeper Dani Hernández (Real Valladolid) – another player to come in for some criticism, largely due to some questionable handling and decision-making – will be anticipating a busy night. Time will tell how he copes with such activity, following a season largely playing second fiddle in Spain’s Segunda División. Ultimately, the defence will want to come out of this game having conceded fewer than the five goals that South Korea and Japan collectively managed to get past them.

The Role of Juan Arango

It was noted last month that he has sometimes been allocated a less advanced role for Xolos in the centre, as opposed to the position he is more accustomed to further upfield either in the middle or, more commonly, on the left. It will be interesting to see if the 34 year-old will still be able to impose himself with as much attacking threat as he used to as, with the noted absences in the forward line, many will be counting on his his set-pieces, defence-splitting passes and/or long-range screamers. Given his advanced years (in footballing terms, at least) it is also common for him to complete less than 70 minutes for his club so he may well be withdrawn after a similar amount of time in these two games. If this proves to be the case, expect to see an injection of youthful pace and creativity from the likes of either Yohandry Orozco (Deportivo Táchira) or Rómulo Otero (Caracas FC), the latter of whom will be especially eager to take over set-piece duties.

The Role of Mario Rondón

Having not featured a great deal under César Farías, Mario Rondón was unquestionably the most notable performer on September’s Asian tour, having scored two goals and showing some potential in a future forward partnership with Salomón Rondón. Now the only Rondón in the side, he will be in the curious position of either playing in an attacking partnership with someone he is unlikely to feature regularly alongside in a competitive match or being moved back to one of the flanks, where he sometimes plays at club level. Either way, as his goals came from first a goalkeeping error (though was rather well-taken) and then a penalty, he will want to prove that he can be just as effective in regular open play and maintain the momentum he has built up.

Injuries

All Venezuelans will be hoping to avoid witnessing any more of these!

Surprises?

Ultimately, there will doubtless be plenty more aspects in these two games to look out for and yet with all the pessimism that has certainly prevailed in many quarters, this is just the right backdrop for La Vinotinto to spring a surprise or two. Indeed, irrespective of the Chile result, expect changes in the Bolivia game as this is still very much an experimental phase in the Sanvicente reign and with so many players receiving unexpected chances who knows what these new on-field partnerships and combinations will bring?

Whatever happens, Sanvicente will be eager for his Venezuela side to show the entire continent of South America that they can compete with the likes of Chile and have also moved on from being lumped in with the likes of Bolivia, regardless of what the rankings currently say.

Venezuela Squad

Goalkeepers

Dani Hernández (Real Valladolid) & Rafael Romo (Mineros de Guayana).

Defenders

Wilker Ángel (Deportivo Táchira), Francisco Carabalí (Caracas FC), Gabriel Cichero (Mineros de Guayana), Alexander González (FC Thun), Grenddy Perozo (Ajaccio) & Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Nantes).

Midfielders

Rafael Acosta (Mineros de Guayana), Juan Pablo ‘Juanpi’ Añor (Málaga), Juan Arango (Xolos de Tijuana), Frank Feltscher (Aarau), Édgar Jiménez (Mineros de Guayana), Franklin Lucena (Deportivo La Guaira), Yohandry Orozco (Deportivo Táchira), Rómulo Otero (Caracas FC), Luis Manuel Seijas (Santa Fe) & Franco Signorelli (Empoli).

Forwards

Fernando Aristeguieta (Nantes), Nicolás ‘Miku’ Fedor (Al-Gharafa), Josef Martínez (Torino), Emilio Rentería (San Marcos de Arica) & Mario Rondón (C.D. Nacional).

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

*UPDATE: 15 November 2014 – The 2-2 friendly draw with Japan has since been changed by FIFA to a 3-0 victory for Japan due to Venezuela illegally fielding Salomón Rondón, despite having been sent off in the previous game. This fact went completely unreported in the Venezuelan media and was actually first reported on this site’s Twitter account.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

…but it has been a while, hasn’t it?

This Happened

Those who have followed this site since around the time of its mid-July inception will know that The Ball is Hispanospherical started out, like many a half-baked online project, with some rather nauseating, reality-denying enthusiasm. Over time, this was tempered by the struggle to write updates that adequately reflected, and did justice to, the sizeable scope of interest outlined in the inaugural proclamations. Possessing the requisite time to write these articles has been, unsurprisingly, the chief underlying obstacle and, despite having reluctantly sacrificed certain topics in order to provide at least some substantial, albeit reduced, coverage, personal dissatisfaction with this state of affairs lingered. Consequently, in mid-September a rather hastily written post was published that alluded to a ‘fleeting moment of joy’ being partially responsible for the time-constraints and forewarned readers that updates may be even less forthcoming in the foreseeable future, as proved to be the case.

However, that temporary spell on loan to society has expired and, having traipsed back to seclusion, an abundance of free time has now become available. Thus, having spent the last few weeks doing some essential catching-up, the moment has finally arrived for us all to become reacquainted and, hopefully, for some new readers to become ensnared, willingly or otherwise. Before any new articles are written however, allow me first to clarify, having acknowledged the aforementioned experiences and given consideration to potential problems, what the refined focus of The Ball is Hispanospherical will be.

This is Happening

Although this site and its aligned Twitter account were created at around the same time, it was not originally anticipated that the latter would be used as much as it has been, as it gradually assumed a superior role to the former. Addictive, isn’t it? This imbalance needs to be redressed somewhat, though Hispanospherical  will very much be proceeding with both the site and Twitter being used in cahoots with one another. Anyone who has followed on Twitter (@DarrenSpherical, since you asked), particularly when no updates to the site were being published, may have been unsure as to what exactly they had stumbled upon. Indeed, as time progressed with the noted problems becoming more apparent, the social networking page was exclusively covering a lot of areas that were originally designated for this site. Given the transient visibility of most tweets, the average follower may have been none-the-wiser about the account’s precise purpose, which would have been further understandable as the stated scope – football coverage of Spanish-speaking nations and wherever Spanish-speakers are playing – is evasively and generously broad.

Therefore, to clear things up to some extent, what follows is a list of topics and themes that, for the foreseeable future at least, I intend to cover on Twitter and, when possible, this website:

Venezuelans Abroad

Visitors to either the site or the Twitter account will know that this has been the most common subject. Venezuela currently have several dozen players scattered around the globe, with some of the most talented plying their trade in top Europeans leagues such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and Russia. Others can be found playing crucial roles for their sides in countries such as Colombia, USA, Mexico, Qatar, Thailand and elsewhere. It is hoped that tracking these players over the four continents in which they can be found will not only interest those who wish to know more about one of the least mythologised nations of CONMEBOL, but also appeal to like-minded individuals who share a global perspective on the game.

While the Twitter account will continue to track the club games which feature players either in or on the cusp of the national side, this site will no longer be devoted to providing match reports. No doubt some more will appear in the future, but most likely only for very big encounters, such as title-deciding matches and cup finals. Instead, to make this area more manageable, I will be dedicated to writing features that are not quite so time-contingent and either relate to an individual player or several of them collectively. Ideas for articles have long been threatening to come to fruition and will hopefully all be fleshed out and up on the site by the end of the year.

Venezuela’s National Side (La Vinotinto)

Inextricably linked to the above area of interest, though thus far not given as much prominence simply due to only two international games having been played since the start of the season (both in early September). However, with two friendlies lined up this month against Chile and Bolivia as well as next year’s alluring twin stand-up-and-be-counted attractions, the Copa América and the commencement of the long road to qualification for the 2018 World Cup, expect in future to see some extensive pieces concerning the Noel Sanvicente era. Match reports will continue to be posted for this area of interest and, wherever possible, match previews and catch-up summaries should also make an appearance.

While it may have not seemed the case thus far, the Venezuelan national side is the central, guiding topic of this website though as with most matters of the heart, I would struggle to give a rational explanation as to why.

Venezuelan Domestic Football

Much as the Liga Movistar offers quality, intrigue and much else besides, with so many other leagues competing for the attention of fans, coverage on both Twitter and this site has been intentionally limited. Indeed, though part of the motivation behind starting this site was to shine some light on areas hitherto off the radar of the average English-speaking football fan, it was never the intention to be writing primarily for the benefit of insomniacs, contrarians and/or online gamblers (though these groups are very much welcome!).

Thus, so far, while a couple of thinking-while-typing articles did appear on this site in early August, Twitter has been the main preserve of this area. The focus of the coverage has largely been on the following: leading players (national team members, emerging youngsters, experienced ex-Vinotinto players etc.), the top sides involved in the title-race as well as those who had a brief spell in the Copa Sudamericana (most notably, Caracas FC), as well as any stories of interest (such as the Copa Venezuela run of second-tier Arroceros de Calabozo, who are preparing for a semi-final tie, having defeated top-flight sides Tucanes, cup-holders Caracas and Metropolitanos).

I will continue in this vein on Twitter, though am hesitant to make any commitments regarding articles on this website. Gaining comprehensive access to the Venezuelan domestic game is seemingly impossible for even those who live in the country, so irrespective of the miniscule Anglophone audience for this league, providing substantial coverage is rather problematic. Nevertheless, if any articles do emerge on this site, they will more than likely be concerned with the battles for the Apertura, Clausura and the Gran Final in May, as well as the progress of the three teams (Zamora, Mineros de Guayana and Deportivo Táchira) who have qualified for the Copa Libertadores.

International Teams and Players from Latin America 

According to the broadest definition of Latin America, the region constitutes just over 25 nations. Understandably, one person can not cover all of these and I do not intend to. Instead, given the primary interest in Venezuela and the desire to provide substantial coverage of the Copa América as well as the South American World Cup Qualifying process, when the international breaks occur attention will turn (as it has already) largely to the nine other nations in the CONMEBOL region (Brazil may not be Spanish-speaking but it seems churlish to ignore the one exception). If time allows for it – as it did in October – then some of the other Spanish-speaking nations from CONCACAF, such as Mexico and Costa Rica, will also be featured to varying degrees, though I am very conscious of spreading myself too thin.

For the majority of the year when players are with their club paymasters, I will endeavour to draw attention to Latin (primarily South) American footballers wherever possible, whether that be in games I am watching or in news articles I have read.

How all of this transfers into articles on this site remains to be seen, as it is probable that the first time a substantial number of words are expended on a Latin American nation other than Venezuela will not be until at least the Copa América.

Spanish Domestic Football

Followers on Twitter may have noticed me taking advantage of the near-200 top-flight games that are being broadcast in the UK this season, often giving updates of matches whenever time permits. Attention has largely been focused on ‘Los Otros 18’ sides as there is no shortage of coverage of the other two. The two teams that have featured the most are the ones that have Venezuelans in their ranks: Málaga (Roberto Rosales and Juan Pablo Añor) and Granada (Darwin Machís). All the other teams are very much of interest to me – particularly the two less-fancied sides of the Comunidad de Madrid, Rayo Vallecano and Getafe – but again, time is a barrier.

Thus, while on Twitter I will continue to provide match updates and news as well as venturing some opinions of my own, if any articles appear on this website, they will more than likely be rather general in nature relating to the league as a whole or, possibly, lengthy research pieces on Málaga and/or Granada.

Miscellaneous

No doubt other topics will emerge as potential candidates for articles. As can be gleaned from this update, I do have a habit of writing at length so am rather keen on undertaking some considerable research and then constructing extensive, and hopefully insightful, longform pieces. Ideas are welcome though I do already have some of my own that may or may not see the light of day.

Nevertheless, regardless of what does and does not come to fruition, I hope you now have a better idea of what my intentions are and feel curious enough to return to this site from time to time or at least follow me on Twitter. While there will not be one person who is attracted to everything that will be covered (if there is, I’m not sure even I would like to meet them), I hope that I can provide at least something of interest to everyone who passes by. I look forward to continuing what is, effectively, as cringeworthy as it sounds, language-driven football coverage and hope to get into contact with as many varied people as possible.

Darren

@DarrenSpherical