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Argentina Preview: 10 Players to Watch
by Paul Kennedy, August 3rd, 2007 6:45AM

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Argentina's 2007-08 season begins Friday with the opening game of the Torneo Apertura.

San Lorenzo won last spring's Torneo Clausura. Boca Juniors, winner of the 2007 Libertadores Cup, is the favorite, though it begins the season without star Juan Roman Riquelme, who returned to Spanish club Villarreal, which owns his contract.

Promoted Tigre has signed former U.S. U-17 and U-20 goalie D.J. Countess, who is believed to be the first American-born and -raised player to sign with an Argentine First Division team.

10 PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Daniel Bilos (San Lorenzo).

After a year abroad, first with French club St. Etienne and then Mexico's Club America, Bilos returned to Argentina. He turned down a chance to represent Croatia at the 2006 World Cup and got his wish last season to play for Argentina.

Jesus Datolo (Boca Juniors).
Finished strong in last spring's Torneo Clausura and impressed on Boca's long U.S. summer tour.

Maximiliano Moralez (Racing Club).
Tiny ball wizard won the Silver Ball as the runner-up in MVP balloting at the U-20 World Cup with Argentina.

Juan Ojeda (River Plate).
With the sale of Juan Pablo Carrizo to Italian club Lazio, Ojeda takes over in goal for the Millonarios.

Ariel Ortega (River Plate).
Considered Argentina's top young player in the early 1990s, Ortega now hopes to find a place in the River Plate lineup after returning from Chile, where he was being treated for alcoholism.

Rodrigo Palacio (Boca Juniors).
At 25, Palacio is considered the top striker playing at home. Skipped Boca's U.S. tour following his stint with Argentina's national team at the Copa America. Was rumored to be headed to English club Arsenal.

Sixto Peralta (River Plate)
Left Mexican club Tigres to return to Argentina, where he will fill the vacancy left by playmaker Marcelo Gallardo's departure last January.

Bernardo Romeo (San Lorenzo).
Key acquisition for the 2007 Torneo Clausura champions, arriving from Spanish club Osasuna.

Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes).
La Brujita helped Estudiantes win last fall's Torneo Apertura and has been rumored to be headed to MLS. Won't be able to play this weekend with Estudiantes against Banfield because the English FA is holding up his final transfer certificate from the deal that sent him from Chelsea.

Victor Zapata (Velez Sarsfield).
After eight seasons at River Plate with one year in between at Spanish club Real Valladolid, Chapa moved to Velez Sarsfield.



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