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Argentina Switches Onto West Ham

tevezmascherano Argentina Switches Onto West HamBy Dan Horlock, EPL Talk Correspondent
From Cordoba, Argentina

The arrival of two World Cup stars to an English team renowned for work ethic and devoid of any big name players came as a huge surprise to the majority of football fans around the globe.

Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano have had a little over three weeks to acclimatise to the hustle and bustle of the English Premier League but already they have shown an indication of their quality, even if results have not gone their way.

The interest generated by the Argentine pair when they put pen to paper in London was extraordinary, as the media scrambled to catch a glimpse of the duo. Press conferences were full and rumours were rife as to the intricacies of the deal.

However, the new fascination the English press and English Premier League followers have with Tevez and Mascherano is nothing in comparison to the response back home in Argentina.

Already the West Ham shirt has become a must have item for those following Argentine players overseas, as Villarreal, Corinthians and Barcelona proved before.

But for the major impact one need look no further than the television channel Fox Sports, the host of English Premier League football in Argentina.

The coverage in the pre-Tevez/Mascherano era was comparable to a 1970’s version of Match Of The Day, a presenter with dark, shaggy hair, Juan Manuel Pons, fronting a dark blue background with white spots that regularly gave the viewer a headache.

The show was produced on a tight budget and as a consequence English football in Argentina – against its Spanish and Italian rivals on ESPN – undoubtedly appeared inferior.

However, since the arrival of the Argentine pair in London, Pons, and his co-commentator Christian Bassedas, the former Newcastle player, have been given, amongst other things, a professional news desk from which to work.

The studio is now decorated in a modern, light blue colour and the commentators are surrounded by plasma screens showing action from previous games that would not look out of place on Sky Sports – highlighting the channel’s expectancy of higher viewing figures.

In regards to the coverage, ‘Bambino’ Pons, as he is more commonly known, still likes to sing tribute songs to the scorer after each goal and provides an irritatingly biased account of the game on behalf of his countrymen; his insistent begging of Jose Mourinho last season to bring Hernan Crespo into the action mirrored that of a child pleading for their parents attention.

But his behaviour is merely representative of a country that is desperate to see their players achieve in football’s upper echelons.

For example, in the newspaper ‘Ole,’ the country’s biggest selling football daily, they scoffed at Alan Pardew’s reasoning for Carlos Tevez’s substitution against Newcastle United, when he said, ‘We needed goals.’ An entire page was allotted to the apparent ludicrousness of the statement.

Argentine media and fans alike share a fierce sense of loyalty towards their players, demonstrated by the fact that in both quarters West Ham has become known as Tevez and Mascherano’s team.

This season, the satellite provider, DirectTV has also introduced a new channel that provides exclusive footage of all the Premier League’s major games with English commentary, featuring the likes of Alan Parry and John Champion. Together with Fox Sports, the two channels have English football completely covered.

The weekend’s action generally begins on Saturday at 8.45 (12.45 GMT), followed by the 15.00 kick-off (11 AST) with the day’s football concluding at 13.15 or (17.15 GMT). Fox Sports usually broadcasts two of the three matches.

Depending on the quantity of games, Sunday and Monday’s action normally sees just two matches. Sunday at 12.00 (16.00 GMT) on DirectTV and Monday at 16.00 (20.00 GMT) on Fox Sports.

However, while English football has changed beyond recognition in Argentina a glance at ESPN’s coverage of the Champions League first fixtures demonstrates that there is still much to do for the most popular league in the World to win over Argentine and South American audiences.

While Liverpool were visiting PSV Eindhoven and Chelsea were playing host to Werder Bremen, Argentine viewers were being treated to Barcelona’s 5-0 demolition of a very poor Levski Sofia side or as an alternative, Sporting Lisbon’s 1-0 victory over Inter Milan.

The same was true on the second day of the Champions League. At the same time as England was enjoying the thrills and spills of the Battle of Britain between Manchester United and Celtic, ESPN in Latin America preferred to screen AC Milan’s 3-0 thumping of AEK Athens and Real Madrid’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Lyon.

In this continent, Spain’s La Liga is King and to replace it as the most popular European League, the English Premiership will have to change its language, culture and history.

However, overtaking Italy’s Serie A, which has been relegated to ESPN + with only the major games being shown, the English Premier League is at last beginning to show its teeth in this part of the world.

Tevez and Mascherano may well be household names in England now but their impact over the other side of the Atlantic reaches far beyond a few more West Ham shirts being sold on the streets of Buenos Aires.

Courtesy of the ‘Hammers,’ the English Premier League has finally arrived on Argentine television.

This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

7 Responses to Argentina Switches Onto West Ham

  1. Anonymous says:

    A fascinating account, many thanks.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A further bloated assessment of over hyped underproducing talent. Argentines, with rare exception, follow their english counterparts and come up short on the international stage consistently, both for club and country.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ll think you’ll find anyone who reguarly watches Spanish or Italian football in complete opposition to that statement, ‘Argentines, with rare exception,…come up short on the international stage consistently, both for club and country.’ – Villarreal’s run to the semi-final of the Champions League (the World’s best club competition) with a squad dominated with Argentine talent is just one recent example.

    Added to that, the best four leagues in Europe were won with at least one Argentine in the squad, as was the Uefa Cup and Champions League.

    Enough said.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well I guess if ONE semi final run and a trophy marking you as the 33rd best team in europe is the objective then argies r for you then.

    I also wouldnt define success as “being on a squad”. If you want to examine the impact look at the brasilian exports, they have a far great impact on many more leagues and on many teams, and mainly as the featured set of players. The argies are talented, that wasnt my point, but like england and their over hyped national teams over e past 50 years, en masse, the argies dont live up to it, and 1 semi with a largely dominant argie squad and a speckiling of roster spots througghout europe isnt a smashing success.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yes, let’s look at those Brazilian’s who adapt so well to European Football, starting with the most famous of them all, Pele…hmmm no, okay but he was outstanding for the New York Metrostars or was it Cosmos in those days I hear you say. And then there was World Cup ’94 goal machine Bebeto – no he sunk without a trace, or another world cup winner Kleberson at Manchester United, or maybe the man who was once the most expensive player in the world, Denilson when he played at Betis (now touting himself for a game around clubs like Portsmouth – unsuccessfully) or how about Roque Junior that World Champion, that defender of such prime talent who doubled so successfully as a clown when Leeds United brought him in on loan to solve their defensive crisis.

    Now let’s compare with Argentina and their most famous player, Maradona, yes when he was in Napoli he single handedly won the Serie A…okay but maybe his success was an exception. No because then you remember legends such as Batistuta in Fiorentina, Ardilles at Tottenham, DiStefano and Redondo at Real Madrid and Kempes at Valencia. Javier Zannetti and Esteban Cambiasso in Inter, Veron and Simeone in Lazio, Crespo and Ortega at Parma, Heinze at Manchester United, Aimar and Ayala at Valencia, Sorin and Riquelme at Villareal, Maxi Rodriguez and Sergio Aguero at Atletico Madrid, D’Allesandro in Portsmouth. And now the player who will rival Rooney as the best young player in the world for years to come, Leo Messi at Barcelona.

    No other country apart from possibly France exports more proven players and does so with more success than Argentina.

    The comment about Brazilians is bewildering and shows your very limited World football knowledge – any small European teams ridden with mediocre Brazilians making a big impact on the biggest club stage…no, I didn’t think so.

    Brazilian’s are notoriously bad imports for their failure to adapt to Europe’s weather and culture where as Argentine’s are renowned for their versality – Crespo has now become an Italian citizen where as ‘Fatty’ Ronaldo can’t wait to escape back home to the Brazilian league to end his playing days much like his predecessor Romario.

    And come February when the Rio Carnival comes round even ‘The Pretty Boy’ Ronaldinho disappears back home for a knees up – you may also note that Emerson at Middlesbrough was having such a good time that he disappeared only to emerge a month later.

    Yes, you can list a lot of Brazilians making it big in Europe right now but you can name more who have failed – and more importantly you can name more Argentines plying their trade in the world’s biggest leagues and clubs.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Look at the WOrld Football PLayer of the year list. Then count the brasilians and then the argentines. Count the World Cups won.

  7. Anonymous says:

    No one has ever doubted Brazilian talent – just their ability to adapt – what has winning World Cups got anything to do with an individuals ability to move to a new continent and become a success? – Of course players like Ronaldinho, will overcome language and cultural barriers to do it on the big scene but for every Ronaldinho a Denilson, Kleberson, Roque Junior and Alex exists.

    Your initial comment was that Argentine players come up short consistently for both club and country with rare exception…the statement is wrong…give it up…Brazilian players with rare exception come up short in European club football – fact.

    Argentina exports more footballers to Europe with a better success rate than Brazil and thats the bottom line.

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