The candidates to replace Sergio Batista as Argentina coach

As Batista ends a short spell at the helm of the national team, Goal.com looks at the three men tipped to succeed 'Checho' in time to qualify Argentina for the 2014 World Cup
ANALYSIS
By Daniel Edwards in Buenos Aires

The news that everyone was expecting was delivered in the late hours of Monday morning, relieving Sergio Batista of his position at the head of the Argentine national team. The 1986 World Cup-winning player and champion trainer of the 2008 Olympic Games had been held up as the scapegoat for the team's disastrous showing in the Copa America, and after just eight months officially in charge was out of a job.

The search now begins once more for a successor, leaving Argentina in exactly the same position as one year ago when Diego Maradona parted ways with the board in less than amicable circumstances. Goal.com introduces you to the early front-runners in the race to replace 'El Checho', and evaluates what they could bring to an Albiceleste side which needs an instant boost ahead of the World Cup Qualifying campaign in just over two months time.

CARLOS BIANCHI


Age: 62

Previous sides: Velez, Boca, At. Madrid, Roma

Major titles: 16

Team: Retired

Nickname: 'Virrey' (Viceroy)

Interested: Hasn't said no

Coaching Mentor: A legend in his own right
Candidate or also-ran: Difficult due to Grondona feud

Nothing really needs to be added about this man's credentials to lead the national side, as for the last 15 years Carlos Bianchi's name has been mentioned whenever there has been a vacancy for the top job. The fact he never coached the Albiceleste says more about his position as an anti-establishment figure, but any fan of Velez or Boca will testify that in terms of coaching quality, this Larry David lookalike cannot be matched.

An incredibly prolific goalscorer as a player - Bianchi is the 10th highest scorer in Argentine league history, with 206, and ninth in France with 179 - the 'Virrey' continued his golden touch as a coach. He led both Velez and Boca to the most successful spellls in their history, and was responsible for the Fortin's unforgettable victory over Milan in the 1994 Intercontinental Cup, defeating the team of Maldini, Baresi, Boban and Donadoni 2-0 in the greatest night of the club's history.

It is difficult to see Bianchi tempted out of retirement with his grandchildren to take over from Batista, but there is no man more highly qualified for the post.

GERARDO MARTINO


Age: 48

Previous sides: Libertad, C.Porteno, Colon

Major titles: Nine

Team: Paraguay

Nickname: 'Tata'


Interested:
Has kept cards close to his chest

Coaching Mentor: Marcelo Bielsa
Candidate or also-ran: Not the first-choice

This talented trainer is a faithful disciple of the school of 'El Loco' Bielsa, founded in the Rosario institution of Newell's Old Boys where 'El Tata' is recognised as one of the greatest players ever to walk down the halls. Martino though has cut his teeth in Paraguay with brilliant spells at Libertad and Cerro Porteno, and after revamping the Guarani national team is regarded almost as a native son by the people of the land-locked republic.

Watching a Martino team cannot help but remind you of his mentor. Fast, mobile forwards are the name of the game, usually in a 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 set-up which favours hard pressing across the pitch and quick distribution. Having just made the final of the Copa America with Paraguay, it is unclear if the 48-year-old would be willing to give up his place in Asuncion in exchange for the pressure-cooker of Buenos Aires and the Albiceleste. His time may come to lead Argentina, but it may not be now.

ALEJANDRO SABELLA


Age: 56

Previous sides: Estudiantes

Major titles: Two

Team: Al-Jazira

Nickname: 'Pachorra' (Sloth)

Interested: Yes

Coaching Mentor: Daniel Passarella
Candidate or also-ran: The strong favourite

After so much was said regarding Batista's lack of experience as a top-class coach, it seems almost quintessentially Argentine that Julio Grondona and the AFA would now chase a man with only two years experience on the bench. For Alex Sabella, however, they were two fantastic years; the Copa Libertadores was won within months of taking over with Estudiantes, and he added the 2010 Apertura to the club's trophy cabinet before walking out in December due to a dispute with the board.

Sabella also learned his trade at the side of the great Daniel Passarella, and was the assistant to 'El Kaiser' for years at prestigious sides such as River Plate, Parma and Corinthians; not to mention stints at the helm of the Argentine and Uruguayan national teams. The coach favours a sturdy defence combined with lightning quick attack down the wings, using players such as Juan Sebastian Veron in Estudiantes to release others and arrive late into the penalty area. The early favourite would need to find out if he can rescind a contract in the middle east, but if he is available is the clear choice to take over with the Albiceleste.

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