D'Alessandro Inspires Internacional To Copa

In the end, it was a bit too much to hope for. Guadalajara - a.k.a. Chivas - had a first-leg deficit to overturn and were playing away from home in Wednesday night's second leg of the Copa Libertadores final. The first leg defeat in their brand new Omnilife Stadium was only by two goals to one, and with away goals not counting in the final there was always going to be hope, but in the end Internacional outclassed their opponents just as much as they had in the first leg a week before.

Even more impressive, though, was Andres D'Alessandro. Any Argentine playing in Brazil has to have some backbone, and he's shown that in abundance, especially in a magnificent Copa campaign which culminated, on Friday, in a recall to the Argentine national team by interim coach Sergio Batista for the friendly against Spain on September 7.

He (and Inter defender Pablo Guinazu) was almost Argentina's only interest in the competition since Inter put last year's winners Estudiantes out in the quarter-finals, and after Juan Sebastian Veron's key role in last year's triumph for Estudiantes, another Argentine playmaker has pulled the strings for the new champions. It's a reminder that the Copa can be a great stage for some of football's more maverick players to perform on.

From Juan Roman Riquelme in the early part of the decade (and his glorious return in 2007), through Rogerio Ceni's unorthodox, penalty-taking approach to goalkeeping for Sao Paulo - winners in 2005 and runners-up the following year - and Veron stepping out his father's shadow last year, there's a place for you in the Copa if you've got talent, even if, as is certainly the case with Riquelme and D'Alessandro, you might not have the most level head in the world.

Premier League watchers might well struggle to understand, after his half-season cameo for Portsmouth helped them avoid relegation in 2006, why D'Alessandro found it so hard to pin down a regular place for a European club, but he once frequently found it difficult to get on with managers and even club directors. In that respect, he's more than a little like Riquelme. Back in South America, though, he's been great first for San Lorenzo and now, for the last two years, for Inter. He's a delightful player to watch when in the mood, and his recall to the Argentina set-up is thoroughly deserved.

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