The first thing to do, of course, is remind everyone that nominations are open for the HEGS Award for Best Argentine Football in a Foreign League. Email your chosen one to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘HEGS Award’ in the subject line (unless you already have, obviously).
There were two major triumphs for Argentine players in the weekend just gone. Carlos Tevez, already a champion in Argentina and Brazil, has added England to his list as Manchester United beat Chelsea to the Premier League title on the last day, whilst Sergio Agüero and Maxi Rodríguez’s Atlético de Madrid confirmed a European Cup place for next season.
None of the late or vitally important goals Tevez has specialised in for United this season were required of him on Sunday, as the Manchester side eased past Wigan Athletic 2-0 away from home, Cristiano Ronaldo (from the spot) and Ryan Giggs (on his record-equalling 758th appearance for the club) scoring the goals, whilst Chelsea – who had they won would have required a twenty-goal swing in their favour to boot – conceded a last-minute equaliser to Bolton at Stamford Bridge. Tevez and co. now face the runners-up a week on Wednesday in the European Cup final.
There was sadder news for the Premier League’s other Argentine representatives. Birmingham City’s hopes of signing Mauro Zárate permanently must surely now be doomed following their relegation in spite of their 4-1 thrashing of Blackburn Rovers; Emanuel Villa’s Derby County had a final humilation as they were beaten 4-0 at home by Reading, who were also relegated after Fulham’s win at Portsmouth. Julio Arca – whose Middlesbrough side thrashed Manchester City 8-1 – and Javier Mascherano, who played in Liverpool’s 2-0 away win over Tottenham, at least ended their seasons on happier notes.
In Spain, Agüero and Maxi, along with Leo Franco, confirmed their participation in next season’s Champions League qualifying round as their Atléti side beat Deportivo de La Coruña 1-0 with a goal from Diego Forlán, the Uruguayan striker formerly of Independiente. Andrés D’Alessandro’s former team-mates at Real Zaragoza, meanwhile – including Diego Milito, Juan Pablo Aimar and Roberto Ayala – are in the final relegation spot with one match remaining, but have survival in their own hands. That’s thanks to the fact that two of the other relegation battlers, Recreativo de Huelva and Real Valladolid, are playing each other on the last day and thus can’t both finish ahead of Zaragoza if the latter can win away against Jonas Gutiérrez’s Real Mallorca next weekend.
In Serie A, there was a high-profile cock-up as Argentina A / Internazionale failed, for the second straight week, to effectively wrap up another Italian title, as they could only draw 2-2 with Udinese in the San Siro. With 77 minutes played, Inter were awarded a penalty which Marco Materazzi insisted on taking ahead of Julio Cruz. The Italian defender’s kick was saved, and Inter and their 1,453 Argentines now lead Roma by only a point going into the final match.