The best of times, the worst of times

It’s been a mixed pre-Christmas weekend for Argentine footballers in Europe. On the good side, we had Gabriel Heinze and Fernando Gago included in the Real Madrid side who beat Barcelona 1-0 in the Camp Nou, and the irony of two ex-River Plate players, Julio Cruz and Esteban Cambiasso, scoring to down the side who last weekend had conquered Boca in the Club World Championship. On the other, Gaby Milito lost the Spanish clásico and Sergio Agüero had an absolute ‘mare for Atlético.

Carlos Tevez had a quiet game for Manchester United as they kept up the pressure on Arsenal, beating Everton 2-1 at Old Trafford, but Agüero can only be wishing he’d been similarly quiet. Instead, he picked up his second straight red card, sent off for Atléti as they slumped to a 2-1 home defeat to Espanyol. Atlético boss Javier Aguirre insisted that, ‘what happens in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room,’ but it’s fair to say he can’t have been best pleased with his young forward.

Cruz and Cambiasso scored once each, in each half, as Internazionale came from behind to beat A.C. Milan in a cracking Milan derby. If River fans took pleasure at seeing Milan beat Boca last Sunday, they must have had a wry smile at the fact that two of their own former players proceeded to get one over on Boca’s conquerors, almost reinforcing the rivalry in the eyes of some of the Argentine press. But then if the goalscorers had been former Boca players they’d be calling it ‘revenge’, of course.

Gaby Milito didn’t do very much wrong for Barcelona in Camp Nou, but unfortunately for him the rest of his team didn’t do very much right in the final third, and although Andrés Iniesta gave it a decent go at times, the hosts looked in serious need of Lionel Messi, who watched from the stands as Madrid won thanks to a Julio Baptista goal in the first half. Gabriel Heinze played the whole game for the visitors, whilst Fernando Gago came on for Robinho in the second half and didn’t do very much.

There were celebrations all round, though, for Claudio Borghi and company, as the Argentine manager became the most successful boss in the history of Chile’s most successful team, as his Colo-Colo side won the championship playoff final 3-0 against Universidad de Concepción. Argentine Claudio Bieler scored Colo-Colo’s third goal, and they become the first team in the history of Chilean football to win three consecutive league titles.

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