A tribute match for the late, great Diego Maradona will see Barcelona play Boca Juniors on November 14th in Saudi Arabia.
Barcelona Play Boca Juniors In Saudi Arabia as Tribute to Diego Maradona
Argentine Legends’ Two Former Clubs Go Head to Head
The match between the Catalans and Boca Juniors, the two clubs the Argentine talisman played for before joining Napoli, is set to be held on November 14 in Mrsool Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which has a capacity of 25,000 people. Apart from the Joan Gamper trophy, these two teams have never met in an official competition. The idea to hold a one-off match in memory of Diego Maradona is not the first of its kind this year. The idea of staging a tribute game for the Argentina legend was brought up a few months ago, when Argentina and Italy, the two countries identical to his colorful career, won the continental championship. Albiceleste and Gli Azzurri are scheduled to meet next year. The match itself was eventually approved in the early of October by UEFA and Conmebol as well as to mark their new collaboration against FIFA biennial world cup plan and officially launch their joint office in London.
Maradona’s Brief Stint in Boca and Barcelona
Diego Maradona was only apart of Boca Juniors for three years, split in two stints. He firstly joined Boca in 1981/82 season and helped the team to clinch Metropolitano championship, which was equivalent to league title today, before signing for the Catalan side in the following season. The second spell in La Bombonera was in 1995. He moved there after leaving Newell’s Old Boys in the previous year. Overall, Maradona earned 70 caps and scored 35 goals for Boca Juniors.
El Diego moved to Catalan after the 1982 World Cup for a fee of £5 million, a world record at the time. His time with Barcelona, on the other hand, did not go as well as he had hoped. Maradona only managed to win Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana, instead of La Liga or any continental title. Maradona failed to shine due to suffering illness as well as injuries and serving suspensions which eventually limited his appearance to only 58 matches.
Although his former coach in the national team, Cesar Luis Menotti was at the helm of the team in 1983, Maradona did not really thrive in Spain and was only able to score 38 goals. He even had to deal with some disciplinary issues off the pitch, including a number of disagreements with the management plus the club’s president, Joseph Luis Nunez.
The Exclusion of Napoli
This one-off game has been criticised by the fans since those two clubs did not exactly enjoy Maradona’s peak form. The Argentine wizard was at his best when he was in Napoli. He led them to win their two only Serie A titles, plus one European trophy, UEFA Cup in 1989. Yet, Il Partenopei was excluded in this so-called ‘Maradona Cup.’
It is said that the match was none but for commercial purpose only, considering the venue is in Middle East, instead of in the legend’s home soil. Meanwhile, according to the Italian sources, the organiser did actually offer Napoli to take part but unable to reach agreement on the financial aspect. They asked for £5 million fee while the organiser could only provide £1 million for the team. In addition, Lorenzo Insigne and Co have an objection to travel to Middle East due to the tight fixtures at the same time in Serie A.
In order to compensate for their exclusion from the Maradona Cup, the club is going to organise their own match in order to pay tribute to their irreplaceable legend, whose name has been used for their old San Paolo stadium. They are likely to invite Argentinos Juniors to such a game, which could take place in January.
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