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Argentina - Road to Russia

Try to make my national team win everything with a Bielsa-ish kind of football
Started on 16 June 2015 by tonythfc
Latest Reply on 18 June 2015 by tonythfc
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tonythfc's avatar Group tonythfc
9 yearsEdited
Hey guys, first time here! I wanted to tell you how this goes with the Argentinian national team, trying to play a 4-3-3-1 or 4-2-3-1 very similar to what Bielsa does to his teams.

I hope everyone enjoy it!

The first day in charge I get that we need to win the Superclásico against Brazil to make the board happy..but come on guys..we all know that all argentinians wants is trophies, Copa América its on my horizon

The first thing I do it's to setup some friendlies and change some backroom names, specially this guy: Humbertito Grondona. A disgrace. So, new u-20 manager in the hunt.

Please, follow me in the next chapter, where I make my first list of 23 and Argentina plays Serbia


Quickly, I have a new name in the u-20's, which is not so much new actually, Francisco Ferraro, the guy who won the u-20 world cup with Lionel Messi in Canadá.

August 29 - First list of 23
For the first friendly against Serbia, I've decided to stick with most of the guys who were with the World Cup squad, specially the centre-backs. I was tempted to add some youth like Emmanuel Mammana there, but I think it's too soon for them. We will see how things goes. For the 3-3-3-1 formation, I think that Tevez or Agüero as forwards are a good choice instead of Gonzalo Higuain, and I will play Lionel Messi on the right with some freedom to change positions

August 29 - Mascherano out
As soon as I got the list, Mascherano got injured. I've picked up Bruno Zuculini as his replacement. It's a bit of a gamble but I trust the ex- Racing man

September 3 - First game (Friendly vs Serbia - 1-2)
For this friendly against Serbia, I've started up with this team and instructions

It didn't started as I wanted, with a quick goal for Serbia in the fifth minute scored by Matic. And things got worse when in the seventh minute, Marcos Rojo got a red card. Things seems to be quite difficult in this first game. Changing to a 4-4-1-1 with Santiago Garcia replacing Fede Fernandez, the experiment with the Bielsa approach didn't last very long in this friendly.

In the 32nd minute, Ljajic extended the Serbia's lead, but one minute later Javier Pastore put us back in the game with the 2-1. The second half found me in the 62th minute making some substitutions (got Pereyra, Lamela and Peruzzi in) with Tevez and Fazio coming in later.

However, the team couldn't grab the equalizer, ended 2-1 for Serbia. The performance in the first 10 minutes was awful but the guys tried the best and it should have been a draw.

We are looking for the next match with our heads up.


October 1st - Getting ready for the Superclásico de las Américas
Ten days before the clash against bitter rivals Brazil, I have a few bad news: Erik Lamela, Marcos Rojo and Pablo Zabaleta are out due to injury. Thinking of a replacement, specially for the Manchester City right back is a headache.

October 5th - The call-up
With so many injuries plaguing the team, and with the intention of keep using the 3-3-3-1, I have some hard decisions to make. Romero, Rulli and Marchesín will keep their places as goalkeepers. With Rojo out, Orban seems like a good selection for the left side with Santiago García. Added Pareja and Roncaglia as center backs, I've decided to give the chance to Vélez youngster Leonardo Rolón as right-wing back with Peruzzi and Zabaleta unavailable.
I thought of Gago's return in the midfield to give some balance, and with Lamela out, I've decided to give Lucas Ocampos and Joaquín Correa a chance to show what can he do in case they got some minutes against Dunga's team. I would had added Higuaín but I've sticked with Agüero and Tevez with a squad limit of 22
This call-up seems to upset Ezequiel Lavezzi, who didn't liked to be out of the team

October 8th - More and more injuries
Good things doesn't last forever and apparently I cannot have a squad without injuries before the game. This time is Javier Pastore, who will be out for 7 days. After trying to convince Lavezzi, with no luck, I picked Rodrigo Palacio as the replacement for the PSG playmaker.

October 10th - The clash
With a sell-out stadium in China ready for the showdown, we face Dunga's Brazil. With Garcia and Rolón being a gamble as the wing-backs, Brazil may have an advantage there. Anyway, our 4 of the front (Messi, Agüero, Di Maria and Tévez) pose a big threat for the brazilian defense. This time the ones swapping positions are Apache and Kun, instead of Messi.

The pundit's prediction says that we are going to penalties, but it would be good for my heart if that doesn't happen. Brazil is going to the pitch with a strong midfield (Hernanes, Luiz Gustavo and Fernandinho), with Neymar as a striker, without going hard on the wings. Even Maicon is playing as a right back.

And again we start with the wrong foot. After a nervy begin, Fernandinho puts the ball past Romero in the 20th minute. But seconds later, the boys shows their resiliance with Kun Agüero equalizing just after the brazilian goal. The first half ended with both teams looking for the advantage, with a number of dangerous situations but the scoreline it's 1-1.

The second half started in a great manner for us, with Santiago Garcia setting up again for Sergio Agüero, after a Diego Alves mistake, for the 2-1 with almost half an hour to go. The Garcia's gamble is definitely paying off, assisting both goals.
And just when I thought that the game was closed, with 12 minutes to go and the three substitutions already used, Ezequiel Garay picked its second yellow. Two red cards in two games. And as you might imagine, Brazil got the equalizer with Maicon in the 82th minute.

The referee gave 3 minutes of added time and my head is starting of thinking who would be on the list for the penalty shoot- out when Palacio and Rolón combined on the right and the Velez youngster falls in the box..and yes! a penalty! in the 92th minute we have a penalty!
And with only seconds to go, Carlos Tevez puts the 3-2 for us and I feel a big relieve after what I thought, it would be another game without a win.

After all, both wing-backs, who were our soft spots, ended up creating our 3 goals. Also, great performance by Kun Agüero with a brace. Also, Javier Mascherano had a terrific game, with 6 interceptions, 10/10 in tackles and only 3 missplaced passes

Like the stats shows we were in total control of the game, being clearly superior to Brazil


October 27th - Copa América's group draw
We will face Jamaica's and Mexico's U-23 and Venezuela in the group B. On the paper, it's an easy group, that should see us qualify with no problem at all. First game will be on June 14th in Valparaíso.
Meanwhile, the next friendly against Australia is next month

November 12th - Squad decision for the friendly against Australia
Being a friendly against a not-so-hard opposition like Australia, I've decided to experiment a little.
First, with Agustín Marchesín injured, I've chose to give Augusto Batalla (River's youngster set to go to Real Madrid) his first time with the main team, along regulars Romero and Rulli.
In the defense, García and Rolón deserve to be call-up again for their performances against Brazil, and I will give Sporting's Jonatan Silva a go as left wing-back. Musacchio and Mammana are new names as CB. In the middle in the park Bruno Zuculini, Héctor Villaba and Maxi Rodriguez are the new names and in the front, with Lionel Messi injured, I wanted to give Eduardo Salvio y Mauro Icardi a run.

November 14th - Need for replacement
I wanted to give Batalla his first cap, but hell, he got injured. Willy Caballero will replace him

November 18th - Friendly against Australia
With Rolón and Salvio out due to injury, we face Australia with 21 men instead of 23. Emmanuel Mammana wins his first cap with Argentina, as his starts the game.
The game started in a comfortable fashion for us, dominating the possesion and the goalscoring oportunities, without being able to concrete any of them. Near the end of the half, Nicolás Otamendi opened up the count after a corner. The second half started with a different team basically, due that many of the players have the instruction to play only 45 minutes. That way, Héctor Villalba gains his debut with the argentinian national team.

In the 81th minute Agüero doubled the lead for us, closing a game that wasnt a challenge.
Santiago García is starting to win his first team status with a really good game, being the player with most passes, tackles and interceptions against Australia.

This comfortable win, with even experimentation in the squad can only help us to be stronger to face the next opposition, only 7 months away from the Copa América.

Have enjoyed these opening posts mate, very detailed with stats which is always good to look at. Argentina have arguably the best attacking line-up in world football so will be interesting to see how you get on :)
Thank you very much! My english can be a bit rusty, but im trying haha!
March 20th - Squad selection for the Friendly against Algeria
Heading quickly into the Copa América, we face the talented african side, and there's little room for experimentation now, with only two friendlies left before the continental competition.
Sergio Romero is injured, but even if he wasn't he wouldn't be selected. He just played 1 game in 2015, a calamitous defeat against Fiorentina, where he conceded 3 and ended with a 3.50 rating. Rulli, Marchesín and Batalla will be the goalkeepers for this fixture. There's almost no changes in the defense, just the inclusion of Cristian Ansaldi to cover up as right wing-back.
Ever Banega returns to the NT, while upfront I've decided to reward Juan Iturbe (with a 7.00 rating this season) and Gonzalo Higuaín returning to join Tevez as the strikers, while Agüero is out due injury.

March 21th - Musacchio out - Goltz in
With the former River and Villareal player unavailable, I've trusted Paolo Goltz from América (Mex) to step up and fill the place in the squad

March 27th - Friendly vs Algeria
Somehow, I've survived the week before the game without injuries in the squad, which is obviously good. However Di Maria, Messi, Banega, Lavezzi and Lamela can only play 45 minutes.
The XI was pretty much, the main team I've had in mind since the start of the campaign, only with Rojo playing as centre-back and Lavezzi in Pastore's place and Tevez in Agüero's.

As expected, we started the game with the possesion and the goalscoring situations, but Algeria set foot as the game goes by, with Feghouli and Slimani being a threat for Rulli's goal. The first half ended with a bitter taste where we should be superior in every term to Algeria. We had trouble to create chances and keep the ball.

Salvio, Iturbe and Lamela got into the pitch at halftime to replace Messi, Di Maria and Lavezzi. Despite those players have the instruction to play 45 minutes, it weren't their best display, not creating chances for Tevez upfront or being a threaten for themselves. I hope the young trio can put some spark in the final third of the field.
The second half started a lot better, with the team being quicker and creative. With Gonzalo Higuain replacing Tevez in the hour-mark we started to be a threaten in the air too, and the most clear chance came in the 75 minute when Lamela shot a volley and it hit the post.

Only minutes away for the final whistle, Lamela picked up a loose ball after a Higuain's challenge and slot it home to score his first ever goal with the National Team. In the additional time, Otamendi headed a corner to Lamela's feet who fired a powerful volley past M'bolhi and doubling his figure and Argentina's.

The game came to and end, and after a dissapointing first half, the changes payed off, with Lamela, Higuaín and Jonathan Silva (who won his first cap alongside Juan Iturbe, both as substitutes) being key for the win. The team improved in the second half, playing a very attractive football and being solid in the back.

On the downside, Lionel Messi seems demotivated, and its bad news as he is, well, of course, a key part of the team. Also we missplaced too many passes but it was also Algeria's merit.
However, we are looking forward for the last friendly against Japan, in 73 days

April 6th - Japan friendly cancelled
Well..lovely. The friendly has been cancelled and I can't arrange one before the Copa América. That's just perfect

April 26th - u-20 WC Draw
Our u-20, who won with flying colours the Sudamericano and qualified for the World Cup, including a 5-2 against Brazil in the finals, have their group drawed for the event. And it's gonna be a very interesting and difficult contest to make it into the next stage with Germany and United States in the same group, alongside South Africa. We all know that playing against the Germans it's like a classic for us, so Ferraro have a really tough but interesting job ahead. The best wishes for our under 20's


May 2nd - Superclásico de las Américas location
The pick for the next Superclásico against Brazil is the PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union of the MLS. The game will be hold September 5th

May 13th - Preliminary squad for the Copa América
The deadline came to give the 26-man squad for the Copa América. Ferraro gave the U-20 list days ago and the only player I was thinking of use in the tournament was Augusto Batalla, so I'm free to pick Rolón as RWB if necessary.
With Marchesin out, Romero, Barovero and Caballero will fight for two places and join Rulli, who will be my goalkeeper for the tournament. However I can choose 2 keepers instead of 3.
In the defense, Lucas Orban is who I pick for the WLB substitute, in the middle Allione, Romero and Banega will fight for a place. Other than that, everyone else are the usual suspects.

May 18th - Di Maria out
Talking about major blows, Ángel Di María can't be part of our team in the Copa América. The Manchester United winger suffered a hip injury. I've decided to call Lucas Ocampos as his replacement.

May 25th - The cut
I've to cut 4 players, and it's really difficult to decide who will miss this Copa América. Marcelo Barovero and Sergio Romero are out, Jerónimo Rulli and Willy Caballero will be our goalkeepers. I hope this gamble of bring only 2 GK's works out. Allione and Banega are also out, I'm gonna trust Lucas Romero's ability if needed to back up Mascherano.
This is the 22-man squad, even if I got critics of chosing Lucas Orban. A few days after the team meets in Philadelphia in order to prepare for the continental tournament.

Please join me and Argentina in the Copa América in the next post, where the group stage will be detailed


June 8th - The U-20's goes to the next round in the World Cup
Despite a trashing 4-0 against Germany, the "pibes" beated South Africa 4-2 and 2-0 United States, claiming the second spot in the group. The Ferraro boy's will face Austria on June 10th.

June 10th - Argentina qualifies for the next round in the U-20
A very epic 5-1 win against Austria see our youngster qualifies for the next round. Congratulations!

June 14th - Start of the Copa América - vs México U-23
Our road starts with México, in beautiful Valparaiso.
The line-up for the game is something you would surely expect, with the 3-3-3-1 im applying since the start.

The game started with both teams studying each other, without no goal threat at all. Only a Fazio finish giving us the lead (and his first ever goal in the NT) was the only real clear cut chance in the first half, but at least was ours and we seize it. 1-0 at the break.

In the second half we start applyng a lot of pressure of front, trying to avoid Mexico playing from the back. After one hour, Ezequel Garay jogged off for Marcos Rojo due to a knock. A few minutes later, Lio Messi is replaced by Lucas Ocampos. Sad to say, but Lio it's still anonymous with us, not giving an assist or scoring a goal. A few minutes before the end, Arellano put the ball on his own nead, giving us the 2-0 advantage that sealed the game. In the 91th minute Agüero slots it home after a Zabaleta cross, putting the 3-0 on the scoresheet.

Erik Lamela, Javier Pastore and Javier Mascherano both impressed. The former Liverpool midfielder played 85 passes with a 90% accuracy while the Tottenham winger had a 95% accuracy with his 56 passes. The PSG man played 90 passes (!), 93,3% of them were correct.

A solid win, that saw no chance for Mexico to put up a fight. Nice way to start the Copa América.

June 14th - The U-20 qualifies to the semifinal
Oddly enough, the kids beated México 2-0, which seems to be a good day for Argentina to play Mexico, innit?

June 18th - U-20 semifinal against Portugal
A win 2-1 against the Europeans see our u-20 get to the finals, that will be played against Brazil

June 20th - Second game of the Copa América vs Venezuela
We face the Vinotinto with the hope to get a win and start thinking on the quarterfinals.
With many players in need of a rest, Lucas Ocampos will start for Javi Pastore, just lo let him have a break.
The game started really well with Kun Agüero sloting the first after only 43 seconds. 15 minutes later, Lucas Ocampos extend our lead. So far, the game is completely dominated by us, letting no room for Venezuela to breathe. Three minutes later, Ocampos makes it 3-0. A few minutes before the halftime whistle, Paez brought Venezuela into life beating Rulli and making it 3-1.

5 minutes into the halftime Ocampos rounds a great performance with his hattrick, he has been excellent today. 2 minutes later, in the 52th, Lamela picks up a lovely assist by Lio Messi (the second of the game, he finally appears) and puts another nail on the coffin, 5-1 for us.
In the 55th minute, Messi ends his goal drought with the National Team, scoring a classic Messi-esque freekick, and it's 6-1.

The game come to an end, with time for Iturbe and Lucas Romero to win their first minutes in the National Teams, coming from the bench alongside Marcos Rojo.
It was definitely the best performance of the team since I took charge, with Messi finally pulling the strings of the team, a very creative Erik Lamela and incredibly sharp Lucas Ocampos.

Also, Sergio Agüero scored his 25th goal with Argentina. Now with the place in quarterfinals secure, we will face Jamaica in the final game of the group stage with a different team to let the key players rest

June 22th - Brazil's revenge
The scratch got a sweet revenge, beating our U-20 in the World Cup 5-2. It's a hard thing to swallow, but the run of the kids was marvellous and they deserve a lot of credit.

June 24th - Final game of the group vs Jamaica
With kind of a reserve XI, we face Jamaica's U-23.

The first half hour were played in the middle in the park, where the only real chance was in the 32nd minute with Lucas Orban hitting the crossbar with a marvelous left strike from outside the box. A minute later, a cross by Ocampos its put in Jamaica's net by Nugent. That's how the halftime meet us, with a minimal advantage but with the dominance in every aspect of the game.

In the hour mark, Rolón makes a great play on the right and finally assist Roberto Pereyra who only have to tap it. Ten minutes before the end of the game, Carlos Tevez makes it 3-0. In the 83rd minute Javier Mascherano sets up Pocho Lavezzi who puts the fourth of the count.

The end comes with a categoric 4-0 win, with Jamaica not even having a shot. Total dominance to win the group from coast to coast.

Lucas Romero had an incredible game dominanting the middle of the pitch.

The draw see us playing against Uruguay in a couple of days for the quarterfinals. These are the standings of the group, once finished.

Please join me and Argentina while we keep searching for the Copa América title, the first for the country since 1993.
June 27th - Quarterfinal of the Copa América vs Uruguay (3-0; Agüero 43', Garay 48', Zabaleta 74')
For the QF in the "Rio de la Plata Clásico" I've picked the same players as the start of the tournament, with Lucas Ocampos replacing Pastore as the only change. I think the Monaco winger deserves it. It will be the 60th appearance for Agüero with the NT, the 110th for Mascherano and the 10th for Lamela.

Looking for a place in the SF, the game started with Uruguay being aggresive in their approach, as I thought. Lots of fouls, not letting us play fluidly. With the possesion and a lot of shots, we tried to break Uruguay's defense and we finally did it in the 43th minute, with Kun Agüero beating Muslera. Uruguay didn't shoot in the first half.
In the 48th minute, a Lionel Messi's corner finds the head of Garay who extends our lead. In the 74th minute Zabaleta pounces a rebound after a save by Muslera. We totally dominated this game and after the second goal we just pass along, defend the result with the ball, leaving no room for Uruguay to try a come-back.
As the match stats says, we had 15 shots on target, so Muslera had a lot of work to do to avoid a trashing. With our head very high and two new players who got their first goal with the NT (Zabaleta and Garay), we go to the semifinals where we will face Equador!

June 30th - Semifinal of the Copa América vs Ecuador (2-1; Agüero 30,65)
After a few quiet days with the high spirits of being close to reach the goals (and with Brazil out of the tournament being eliminated by Colombia), we face Ecuador. The team is a bit tired, so I made a few chances: Pastore for Ocampos, Pereyra for Garcia, Rojo for Garay and Musacchio for Otamendi.
We start confidently, playing our game however Ecuador put their money on the counter, giving up a headache with their speed. After a few missed chances, Agüero changes one for goal in the half an hour mark. With the dominance of the ball and the situations we reach the halftime 1-0 up in the scoreline.

The second half started with Ecuador putting some pressure and stealing us the ball, our players are starting to feel jaded so I need to control again the midfield, and Lucas Romero is the guy in my mind. And as soon as the Velez player got in the pitch, he recovers a ball, pass it to Lamela who assist Agüero for the second of the game, 2-0 after 65 minutes. Caicedo put one back for Ecuador after 75 minutes, giving them a lifeline, but the victory is ours and we are in the finals!
The team is tired, but surely a last effort to lift the cup will be worthy. Javier Pastore was key in this game, making 71 passes. Also, congratulations to Lucas Orban on his first game with the National Team.

We will face Colombia in the final, which should be interesting, with Agüero and Bacca leading the goals charts with 5 goals each.

July 4th - Copa América final vs Colombia (6-1; Messi 16', Agüero 29', Pastore 34', Messi 38', Rojo 44', Iturbe 89')
With only Rojo replacing an injured Fazio, we meet Colombia with the same team we beat Ecuador. Im a bit nervous about the game, specially with the firepower the Cafeteros got upfront. Today is a good day for Messi, who plays his 100th game with Argentina, to click on and perform.
And as I say that, after a good start shaking off the nerves and playing well, Lio Messi finds the net in the 16th minute assisted by Santi García. Agüero give us the second goal in the 29th minute, after a total spell of domination. Colombia didn't even shoot to Rulli's goal. Just 5 minutes later ,Agüero assist Pastore for the third of the night. By then, I thought that the job was done. The show continued when in the 38th minute Messi beated Ospina with a penalty after a foul over Zabaleta. In the 44th Marcos Rojo got his name in the scoresheet. 5-0 at halftime. The cup MUST be ours, we cant let it escape.

After one hour, I have the luxury to let Messi and Mascherano rest, Lucas Ocampos and Juan Iturbe are called to get into the pitch. Fueled by desperation, Colombia started to attack wildly and they found the reward in the 81th thanks to a goal by Jackson Martinez. In the 89th minute Juan Iturbe tried his luck from distance and put it pass Ospina to score his first goal with La Albiceleste. 6-1, and the game ends! Champions! We won the Copa América! That first half showing was enough to claim our 16th Copa América and be the nation that won it more times.

After that great achieving, it's time to look back a little

BEST PLAYER - Kun Agüero

With Lio Messi anonymous for long part of the tournament, the Manchester City striker led the team, with 6 goals on his name, to the continental glory. Winning also the Golden Boot, he showed a different commitment than in the World Cup


This guy came in for Di Maria, injured days before the start of the Cup, and scored a hattrick to open up a really hard game, and showed a lot of hints of his potential. Picking him wasn't a wrong decision.

July 1st - First in the World Ranking
Our great run in the Copa América allowed us to move up first in the Ranking
Great run in the Copa America. Congrats on the Superclasico win! I know what it's like to be involved in one, especially as your long time rivals;)
2015-06-18 18:22#215000 AaronHJFT96 : Great run in the Copa America. Congrats on the Superclasico win! I know what it's like to be involved in one, especially as your long time rivals;)

Thank you very much!
Well done in the Copa America! Next is the World Cup, hopefully? :)
August 30th - Squad Selection - Superclásico de las Américas and South Africa
A new edition of the game against Brazil takes place this year, this time in the PPL Park at Philadelphia. With the intention of add new blood to the team looking forward to Rusia 2018, with the qualifyers around the corner, I've chosen to give some young lads a chance: Jonathan Silva, Cardozo, Piovi, Di Plácido, Kranevitter and Gil Romero. After all is a friendly. Not everyone will feature but It'll be a nice chance to see how they react to be in the Main squad
This is the squad list

September 5th - Superclásico de las Américas vs Brazil (3-0; Messi 34', Di Maria 42', Gaitán 47')
Not many surprises in the starting XI for both teams

The superclásico started with a split share of possesion but with our players having the best goalscoring opportunities, with no luck thou. In the 34rd minute Mario Fernandes tackles Di Maria in the box giving us a penalty! Lionel Messi calmly slots it pass Jefferson and makes it 1-0. Lio, in the 42rd minute assisted Di Maria who puts it in the top corner to give Argentina a 2-0 lead at the break. Nico Gaitán replaces Lamela who suffered an injury.

Two minutes into the complement, Nico Gaitán makes his first goal with Argentina and it's 3-0. After that both teams had good chances, but it was David Luiz, 7 minutes before the 90 minutes mark who seize one of them, putting Brazil one goal closer.
Without being amazing, the team fullfilled the expectations, beating and being better than Brazil.

September 8th - Friendly vs South Africa
Sadly, before the game Kranevitter and Garay are ruled out due to injuries, anyway I have my mind set on experimenting a little on this game.

Even with a "B-side", we put South Africa against the ropes, playing most of the time in their part of the pitch. Rojo collected a rebound of the keeper in the 21st minute and scored the first. Playing an attacking (thou not that perfectly dominant) style we found the halftime with a deserve lead.
In the 55th minute a nicely build counter attack by South Africa ended with Parker beating Caballero to tie a game, undeservedly. Not even throwing Messi, Di Maria and Agüero into the pitch was enough to break the Southafrican defense, who fought hard and found the draw. It might be unfair for us, but it was a nice game to try a few players.

One good note was Gastón Gil Romero's performance, who seemed to blend quick into the team and the tactics, so it's a nice backup plan for Javier Mascherano in the future.

The next for us are the start of the qualifiers
2015-06-18 18:34#215003 Glenn T : Well done in the Copa America! Next is the World Cup, hopefully? :)

Yep, I won't stop until I win the World Cup haha

You are reading "Argentina - Road to Russia".

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