Q&A with Argentina star Agüero
Sergio Agüero is one of Argentina's biggest stars heading into World Cup
Diminuitive striker is married to Argentina coach Diego Maradona's daughter
Agüero is one of several undersized attackers for underachieving Argentina
World Soccer's Dan Brennan caught up with Argentina and Atlético Madrid star Sergio Agüero to discuss his country's World Cup chances and his very famous father-in-law.
World Soccer: What does Argentina need to do to improve ahead of the World Cup?
Agüero: I think the main problem is that we've had very few days training together. Normally, we'd get together on a Tuesday and play on the Saturday, which doesn't give us time to do very much. Now, ahead of the World Cup, we will have plenty of time and we can work on various aspects, like combinations and how we use the ball. If we can make the most of that, with the players we have, we should do well. But I think the most important thing is that we need time.
World Soccer: One of the criticisms of the Argentina team is the height of the players. Some say that when you, Carlos Tévez and Lionel Messi play, the team is unable to impose itself in attack when a more physical game is needed. Is that so?
Agüero: Not really. There are coaches who like a center forward; others prefer to play with two attackers out wide and someone in the hole. Each coach decides how he wants to do things. We know that in Argentina today, apart from Martín Palermo, who is a target man, the rest of us are of "normal" height [smiles] but Diego Maradona wants us to play the ball on the floor, to play with more mobility. Now we're also going to see Gonzalo Higuaín and myself playing further up front. I think we have players to score lots of goals.
World Soccer: How do you handle your relationship with Maradona, given that he's not just your national-team coach but also your father-in-law?
Agüero: Our relationship is really good. I know when I'm with the national team, he is not my father-in-law but the coach. I think he knows that I respect him as a coach. Outside football, he's my father-in-law and we act more like family. On the national team, though, I have to work in the same way I did with the previous coaches. Also, I don't want the other players to think I'm getting preferential treatment. Obviously, we also talk about football in private, but about general things, not so much the national team.
World Soccer: Does that mean that when you and Maradona are together within the family you never speak about the Argentina national team?
World Soccer: Was that a rule that you agreed on from the start?
Agüero: We never needed to agree a rule. Anything that he has to say about the national team, he says to the group. I don't talk to him about it in private.
World Soccer: So you never know in advance if you are going to be included in the squad for the next game?
Agüero: No, not really. In any case, I live in Madrid, and he is in Buenos Aires, so we don't have much of a regular dialogue.
World Soccer: Moving on to Atlético Madrid, why do you think that, despite spending so much on new players in recent seasons, the club has not enjoyed any notable success and always seems to be in crisis?
Agüero: That's nothing new. Things have always been like that at the club. In recent years, Atlético Madrid has been a team that is capable of winning five games in a row and then losing the next four. It was the same before my arrival; the only difference is that now people say we have a world-class squad and we should win every game. But I do not think this is so. The Spanish league is very difficult and it also depends on the morale and confidence of the players. I think we're going through a bad patch, but if we can win three games on the bounce we will come out of it and move forward.