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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 09:08 GMT 10:08 UK
The Carlos connection
By Tim Vickery

Boca Juniors coach Carlos Bianchi
Boca coach Bianchi has four Copa titles to his name

Argentina's Boca Juniors won South America's Copa Libertadores in style, winning their last seven games.

They were too good for their opponents both home and away following an appearance of being so pedestrian in the early group phase.

When the knock-out stage began, they even lost at home to Paysandu, of Brazil, and seemed to be staring elimination in the face.

But everything changed with the introduction of Carlos Tevez for the return match.

From then on until the title was won, the 19-year-old from a Buenos Aires shanty town was the best player in the South American game.

However, without coach Carlos Bianchi, Tevez would certainly not have shone as brightly.

Tevez made his breakthrough last year as Boca were preparing to sell playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme to Barcelona.

With his ability to pass and dribble, create and score, Tevez was seen as the man to take on Riquelme's duties in a rebuilt side.

But Bianchi was not so sure. After 12 months' absence he returned to take charge of Boca at the start of the year.

Riquelme had been at the heart of Bianchi's side which won the Libertadores in 2000 and 2001.

Bianchi took a look at Tevez and soon decided that he was not another Riquelme.

He was a different player, with different characteristics. The youngster was not even included in Boca's 25-man squad for the group phase of the Libertadores.

He came in for the knock-out stage, by which time Bianchi knew exactly what to do with him. Tevez was pushed further forward.

He learned about life and people wandering the streets and buses of Buenos Aires selling newspapers
Vickery on Boca coach Bianchi

With his strength on the turn and tight dribbling skills, the thinking was that he could do most damage as close as possible to the opposing goal.

And it worked to perfection.

It was a typical Bianchi masterstroke. Making the change needed the clear thinking of a man who must now be regarded as a football legend.

The ever-methodical Bianchi has now become the first coach to win the Libertadores four times - first with Velez Sarsfield in 1994 and now three times with Boca.

With his tuft of white hair, Bianchi gives off a studious, almost professorial appearance. But, in fact, he has little in the way of formal education.

He learned about life and people wandering the streets and buses of Buenos Aires selling newspapers - and before long he was appearing on the back page himself, with his feats as a talented and aggressive centre-forward recorded for posterity.

Bianchi would love to hit the headlines once more by leading Boca to victory over AC Milan in the annual Tokyo clash between the champions of Europe and South America.

It is a quest in which the participation of the young Tevez will be vital.

But this week directors of Bayern Munich are flying to Buenos Aires, and hope to return with the young man's signature.

Fans of South American football will hope that they are unsuccessful - so the Bianchi-Tevez double act can ride once more against Milan.




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