December 22, 2009
Both call-up lists have been announced for the friendly taking place Dec. 22nd between Catalunya under new coach Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona's Argentina squad.
LISTA DE CONVOCADOS DE CATALUNYA.
RCD Espanyol: Ferran Corominas, Joan Verdú y Moisés Hurtado.
FC Barcelona: Víctor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernández, Gerard Piqué, Sergi Busquets y Bojan Krkic.
Deportivo de La Coruña: Sergio González y Albert Lopo.
Getafe: Jordi Codina.
Valencia: Bruno Saltor.
Sevilla: Fernando Navarro.
Racing de Santander: Oscar Serrano.
Real Betis: Sergio García.
Villarreal: Joan Capdevila.
Arsenal: Francesc Fàbregas.
Ajax: Oleguer Presas y Gabriel Garcia 'Gabri'.
Call up list - Argentina (I had to go to the Spanish-language blogs to find this, I couldn't find it in English but do you really need a translation for "defensores"?)
Arqueros: Diego Pozo (Colón) y Mariano Andújar (Catania).
Defensores: Nicolás Pareja (Espanyol), Martín Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Nicolás Otamendi (Vélez) y Cristian Ansaldi (Rubin Kazan).
Mediocampistas: Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodríguez (Atlético Madrid), Jesús Dátolo (Nápoli), Angel Di María (Benfica), Pablo Aimar (Benfica), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Mario Bolatti (Huracán) y Cristian Alvarez (Arsenal).
Delanteros: Gonzalo Higuaín (Real Madrid), Sergio Agüero (Atlético Madrid), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Martín Palermo (Boca) y Ezequiel Lavezzi (Napoli).
Despite being a charity friendly, the call ups have not been without drama before the game even starts. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he will not allow Cesc Fabregas to go. It looks like Cruyff isn't bothered because he called him up anyway. In addition, the Argentina squad was forced to exchange Javier Mascherano for Esteban Cambiasso when Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez also refused to allow his player to go.
The match comes close on the heels of a resurgence in a call to change Catalunya's unofficial nation status, capped off this week by an unbinding voting referendum in which 94% of those voting (although only about a third of the eligible voters showed up) ticked the 'yes' box to show their support of the region becoming a separate nation. A Turkish airline that FC Barcelona has just signed a contract with even got in a spot of bother over it when their Barcelona-based director ended a speech aboard a flight carrying the Barcelona squad with "Visca el Barça y visca Catalunya Lliure," or in English "Long live Barcelona and long live free Catalonia," although later when criticized for his words the director admitted his ignorance of the political situation and claimed he had only said it to please Barça president Joan Laporta.
Sources: El Mundo Deportivo, GeoFutbol, Goal.com, Daily Post, Hurriyet Daily News
So. Thoughts? Does the Prem sound a little Grinchy for not allowing time for charity Christmas matches? (Yes, a little.) Is Wenger a big meanie for not letting Cesc go visit his lulzy BFFs in Barcelona? (OH GOD YES.) Is Rafa Benitez afraid that if he lets Masch travel to Barcelona without putting ink on a fresh contract for Liverpool that he won't come back? (Probably yes.) Does anyone think Pep will probably flip when he sees how many of his first-teamers are expected to play so close to Club World Cup? (Uh. Yeah.) Also does anyone think there will be any political ramifications to the match itself?
UPDATE: There is a newer list of the Argie squad with Ever Banega in place of Mascherano instead here, thank you neapeaikea!