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2010-04-07

The most Latin of Brazilian soccer teams

Argentine Guiñazú has been a fixture in Internacional's starting lineup since his arrival in 2007. (Courtesy of Internacional)

Argentine Guiñazú has been a fixture in Internacional's starting lineup since his arrival in 2007. (Courtesy of Internacional)

By Alexandre Corrêa for Infosurhoy.com—07/04/2010

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – Internacional is based in the southern town of Porto Alegre, but it has much more of a regional look, as one of the country's top professional teams boasts a roster that has six Uruguayans and three Argentines.

Defensively, the squad features Boca Junior goalkeeper Pato Abbondanzieri of Argentina, Uruguayan defender Sorondo, who played in World Cup 2002, and defender Bruno Silva, who will wear the Uruguayan national jersey in World Cup 2010.

At midfield, Inter starts Argentine Guiñazú – the team's most popular player in recent years – at center halfback, where the captain teams with fellow Argentine D’Alessandro, a former star of Argentina's famed River Plate club and several European teams.

But the foreign flavor of Internacional doesn't end there, as four Uruguayans run the team: Coach Jorge Fossati, fitness trainer Alejandro Valenzuela and technical assistants J.J. Rodríguez and Leonardo Martins.

The foursome was hired by Internacional after leading LDU Quito of Ecuador to two major championships: the Winner's Cup and South American Cup.

It's hard to argue with the team's tendencies to sign players from neighboring countries, as Internacional is leading Group 5 of the prestigious Libertadores Tournament with eight points. The squad, which placed second behind champion Flamengo in the Campeonato Brasileiro, has maintained its momentum in Libertadores 2010.

The squad is coming off a 2-0 win over Uruguay's Cerro in an event that features the top teams from South America and Mexico. Internacional, which has two wins and two draws in four games, has ascended to the top of its group by also fielding one of the tournament's best defenses, as it has allowed an event-low two goals, along with São Paulo (Brazil), Libertad (Paraguay) and University (Peru).

Internacional, the last Brazilian squad to win Libertadores (2006), has upcoming games against Emelec (0-0-4) in Ecuador on April 14 and against visiting Deportivo of Ecuador (2-1-1) on April 22.

“We were unbeaten in the Libertadores and we intend to remain so in the future,” Inter midfielder Giuliano said. “We always aim to score goals in road games, and at home, we have to make it our game and we're backed by our fans. This is a great winning formula.”

But the team's best players aren't all imports. Forward Kleber, defenders Índios, Nei, Bolívar and Fabiano Eller, midfielder Sandro and of course, forward Alecsandro, who has scored 40 goals for in the past 15 months, are all Brazilian.

“We have to stick to our plan that has been in force since the beginning of the year,” Nei says. “When we play at home it is our duty to win. I am sure this group can get to be Libertadores’ champion, as it has everything necessary for this: unity and commitment.”

INTERNACIONAL'S TOP IMPORTS

ABBONDANZIERI

Name: Roberto Carlos Abbondanzieri

Date of birth: Aug. 19, 1972

Place: Bouquet Santa Fe (Argentina)

Position: Goalie

Games for Inter: 9

Inter debut: Inter vs. Emelec (Feb. 23, 2010)

Did you know: Roberto Carlos Abbondanzieri was named in honor of Brazilian singer Roberto Carlos, an idol in Argentina since the1960s. But he is better known by the nickname “El Pato” or simply “Pato”(Duck), as it came to be written on the back of his shirt at Boca Juniors. He returned to Boca Juniors in 2009 after playing for Getafe, Spain, since 2006. For Boca, he played 339 matches and won 14 titles: three Copa Libertadores; two Copa Intercontinental; two Copa Sudamericana; one Recopa; and six Argentine championships. He also played for Rosario Central (Argentina), where he began his career in 1994. He debuted on the Argentine national team against Paraguay in 2004 and was a member of the nation's World Cup squad in 2006.

He's played for:

1994 – 1996: Rosario Central (Argentina)

1997 – 2006: Boca Juniors (Argentina)

2006 – 2009: Getafe (Spain)

2009: Boca Juniors (Argentina)

Since 2010: Internacional

SORONDO

Name: Gonzalo Sorondo Amaro

Date of birth: Oct. 9, 1979

Place: Montevideo (Uruguay)

Position: Defender

Games for Inter: 45 Goals for Inter: 5

Inter debut: Sept. 23, 2007

Did you know: The defender began his career a dozen years ago with Defensor Sporting of Uruguay and was playing professionally in Europe by the age of 22. He played in the 2002 World Cup, but a few years later, he suffered a serious knee injury that sidelined him for nearly a year before playing for Internacional the second half of last season.

He's played for:

1998 – 2001: Defensor (Uruguay)

2001 – 2003: Inter Milan (Italy)

2003 – 2004: Standard Liège (Belgium)

2004 – 2005: Crystal Palace (England)

2005 – 2006: Charlton Athletic (England)

2007: Defensor (Uruguay)

Since 2007: Internacional

BRUNO SILVA

Name: Bruno Ramón Silva Barone

Date of birth: March 29, 1980

Place: Isidoro Noblía (Uruguay)

Position: Defender

Games for Inter: 11

Goals for Inter: 1

Inter debut: Jan 31, 2010

Did you know: The defender had two great seasons earlier this decade for Uruguay's Danubio, where he played under current Inter coach Jorge Fossati. He was promoted to the national squad in 2004. After playing in the Netherlands in 2005, he returned home to play in the World Cup in 2006 and is expected to play again this year. He joined Inter shortly after Fossati was hired.

He played for:

2000 – 2003: Danubio (Uruguay)

2004: Rostov (Russia)

2004 – 2005: Danubio (Uruguay)

2005 – 2008: Groningen (Netherlands)

2008 – 2009: Ajax (Netherlands)

Since 2010: Internacional

GUIÑAZÚ

Name: Pablo Horacio Guiñazu

Date of birth: Aug. 26, 1978

Place: General Cabrera Córdoba (Argentina)

Position: Midfielder

Games for Inter: 147

Goals for Inter: 4

Inter debut: Aug. 5, 2007

Did you know: The team's most popular player arrived from Paraguay and has been a staple of the starting lineup the past three years. The man known as “El Cholo” is the team's captain, gets in shape by wearing a heavy, canvas shirt that increases the intensity of his workouts.

He's played for:

1996 – 2000: Newell's Old Boys (Argentina)

2000 – 2001: Perugia (Italy)

2001 – 2003: Independiente (Argentina)

2003: Newell's Old Boys (Argentina)

2003 – 2004: Saturn (Russia)

2004 – 2007: Libertad (Paraguay)

Since 2007: Internacional

D’ALESSANDRO

Name: Andrés Nicolás D’Alessandro

Date of birth: April 15, 1981

Place: Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Position: Midfielder

Games for Inter: 77

Goals for Inter: 17

Inter debut: Aug 14., 2008

Did you know: The outstanding midfielder has played with professional teams in Germany, Spain and England. The man nicknamed “El Cabezón” (Bighead) was on Argentina's squad that won the gold medal in 2004 Olympics. His arrival to Inter is regarded as one of the team's biggest signings in franchise history.

He's played for:

1998 – 2003: River Plate (Argentina)

2003 – 2005: Wolfsburg (Germany)

2006: Portsmouth (England)

2006 – 2007: Zaragoza (Spain)

2008: San Lorenzo (Argentina)

Since 2008: Internacional

COACH JORGE FOSSATI

Name: Jorge Daniel Fossati Lurachi

Date of birth: Nov. 22, 1952

Place: Montevideo (Uruguay)

Did you know: The 16-year veteran began his career with River Plate in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1993 before moving on to guide Peñarol (Uruguay) and Cerro Porteño (Paraguay), winning national titles with both teams. He also coached Danubio (Uruguay) and Colón (Argentina) before his first spell with LDU (Ecuador), in 2003. In 2004, he coached Uruguayan national team, Al-Sadd (Qatar) and subsequently the Qatar national squad. Back with LDU at the beginning of 2009, he led the Quito team to victory at the Recopa (South-American Cup-Winners Cup) – beating Inter – and the South American Cup after beating Fluminense (Rio de Janeiro) in the final match. The native of Montevideo played goalie for 20 years, including for the Uruguayan national team. His contract with Inter runs through the end of the year.

J.J. RODRÍGUEZ

Name: Juan Jacinto Rodríguez Araujo

Position: Technical assistant

Date of birth: Nov, 27, 1958

Place: Melo (Uruguay)

LEONARDO MARTINS

Name: Leonardo Favio Martins Maricha

Position: Technical assistant

Date of birth: Dec. 28, 1968

Place: Montevideo (Uruguay)

ALEJANDRO VALENZUELA

Name: Alejandro Valenzuela Pérez

Position: Fitness trainer

Date of birth: Dec. 13, 1964

Place: Durazno (Uruguay)

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3 Comments

  • henrry valenzuela | 2011-06-22

    Hi.. I would like to know where coach Jorge Fosati is currently , and for now, thank you very much

  • Victor Córdoba Panameño | 2010-04-27

    Truly this gathering of international players has strengthened this team there is enough experience they are from several important leagues I hope for a response really I am a fan of good soccer no matter where it's from

  • Angela | 2010-04-08

    How strange...and Brazilians are what???? "latinos" just like all our neighbors...The subject shows prejudice or if not, ignorance.