The new season is now a few weeks old in Europe, so I thought it was about time we had a look at the contributions of some of Argentina’s foreign legion in the European leagues. So far Sergio Agüero and Gonzalo Higuaín have enjoyed great starts for the two Madrid sides in Spain, whilst in Italy ‘Argentine’ Inter have just lost the Milan derby to ‘Brazilian’ Milan, and Mauro Zárate is scoring by the bucketload for Lazio.
Higuaín was named last week in an online poll of Real Madrid fans as their first choice for the centre forward position, ahead even of club demi-god Raúl, so much has he impressed over the last twelve months. He’s spoken of his hope that his form will lead to a full call-up for the selección before long, although bafflingly he’s been left out for the upcoming matches against Uruguay and Chile by Alfio Basile. One man surprisingly included, though, is his clubmate Gabriel Heinze, and it was the defender who scored against Real Betis on Saturday as the champions won 2-1. Elsewhere in Spain, Lionel Messi scored a late penalty to help Barcelona to a 2-1 win away against Espanyol in the city derby, and Agüero’s and Ever Banega’s Atlético de Madrid lost 1-0 at home to Sevilla.
In Italy, Nico Burdisso was sent off as Inter lost ‘away’ to Milan by a single goal. Ronaldinho – who played alongside countrymen Alexandre Pato and Kaká – scored the only goal of the game against an Inter side which also included Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti in the starting lineup. Better news for Argentines elsewhere, though: Mauro Zárate scored twice for Lazio – one a penalty – away to Torino as the Rome side won 3-1, and he is now the highest-scoring Argentine in a big European league this season with six goals (Raúl Bobadilla, of Grasshopper Zurich in Switzerland, has seven). Germán Denis scored the only goal late on as Napoli won away against Bologna, whilst on Saturday Diego Milito was left on the bench as Genoa lost 1-0 away to Fiorentina.
And the other leagues: Manchester United beat Bolton 2-0, but only after Carlos Tevez had been withdrawn for Wayne Rooney in the second half; Fabricio Coloccini continues to be referred to as ‘Fabio’ by the Daily Telegraph, I can only assume because of the popularity of England’s current manager, and was mentioned by them this time for being beaten in the buildup to one of Blackburn Rovers’ goals as Newcastle lost 2-1 at home. Pablo Aimar came on for Benfica in the second half of the Lisbon derby against Sporting, and set up José Antonio Reyes for the first goal in a 2-0 win. Angel Di María also came on late on. Fernando Cavenaghi scored the equaliser for Bordeaux as they drew 1-1 at home to St. Etienne. Cavenaghi has four goals from seven matches for Bordeaux so far this season, continuing his excellent form of the previous campaign.
Continue to appreciate your industrious evangelism for the Argentine footballing diaspora, but wished you’d dropped a word or two for the nomadic 25-year-old former bricklayer of Mercedes, Juan “El Zurdo” Culio (aka “Coolio” in Transylvania) in honor of his rare night of glory two weeks ago for CFR Cluj against AS Roma. Admittedly Juan didn’t make it at Independiente and hasn’t done much in the Romanian league either, but his two wonder goals certainly struck terror into the heart of Rotella Sensi, president of Roma, who was heard to shriek “I didn’t believe it could be as bad as this!” (After some of the humiliations Roma has endured in the Champions League in recent years, that’s saying something.)
Otherwise, fine coverage as always.
I might contribute a few notes on this year’s Argentine presence in the Mexican league, significant as always.
At América, Federico “Pocho” Insua has returned after a bad knee injury that cost him the 08 Clausura and played well again, scoring three and making several others. The three important Argentines at Atlante, the keeper Federico Vilar, defender Javier David Munoz and forward Gabi Pereyra, remain close to the heart of the club. Atlas lost Bruno Marioni to Pachuca and Diego Colotto to La Coruna but have brought in Dario Botinelli, the Argentine midfielder last seen at U. Catolica (Chile), and he has played brilliantly, perhaps the best of this year’s crop of Argentines in Mexico. Marcelo Carrusca at Cruz Azul and now Martin Bravo, both forwards, have been playing regularly with Cruz Azul and Pumas respectively. Defender Pablo Quattrochi is still a mainstay at Necaxa. Pachuca, perennially the “Argentine club” of Mexico, now has Marioni playing and scoring up front, while Christian “Chaco” Gimenez, now age 36, is up among the league leaders in goals; fellow fountain of youth sippers Damien Alvarez (39) and Gabriel Caballero (37) are also still playing regularly. The midfielder Eduardo “Chaco” Coudet is a big reason why San Luis stands at the top of the league table. Midfielder Lucas Lobos has already scored three times for Tigres and another midfielder Martin Romagnoli is playing regularly at Toluca. And for last season’s champions Santos, two Argentines remain midfield mainstays, Walter Jimenez and Daniel “Hachita” Luduena (now back from injury after playing a critical role in last season’s title run), while Vicente Matias Vuoso has been playing at his highest level, showing real intensity and scoring four times in the last month or so; this is perhaps the best he’s played yet in Mexico. (I should mention Vuoso has been “nationalized” at the behest of Eriksson and called up to the Seleccion–just as, it seems, may now happen with Coolio the Transylvanian Terror in Romania).
Anyway, thanks again for your very useful site and keep up the good work. Cheers,
Thanks for the comment Tom. To be honest, I started out on this post after typing up all the league results last night, and had the intention of being a bit more wide-ranging, and then realised it was 2:30am and I was shattered.
Thanks for your update on Mexico, I’ll be trying to cover Argentina’s less heralded footballing ambassadors across the Latin American leagues this season as well.
Any news on how Cesar Delgado is doing at Lyon?
And another baffling decision is that Gonzalo wasn’t called up for the qualifiers. The guy is one of the top defenders in Europe as far as raw defending goes. I’m not too disappointed though considering the mileage involved and the amount of other South Americans in our squad.
Lucas Lobos, what a player! One of my favourites, his 2005 Apertura season was legendary, hope he continues to do well in Mexico. Shame he had such a poor side to play with in Spain. He wasted months of his career in the Spanish second division.
As for Vuoso, what a star he could have been in the Prem had he been handled properly by Kevin Keegan. Bought for five million on a whim, then treated very poorly – he was even behind converted midfielders in the pecking order for a spot up front at MCFC. And these Newcastle fans think Keegan is a good manager?!
You might think Lobos was wasting his time in Spain, Matthew, but if so you clearly haven’t been to Cádiz. They don’t have the best football team going (I actually saw them, including Lobos, last season in the Copa del Rey at home to Granada 74 – they lost 3-2) but he spent a little while living in an absolutely gorgeous city. I’d have probably done the same…
Ha ha, I might have gone to Cadiz to watch Lucas Lobos : )
Then I just put Cadiz into the image search on Google and see what you mean! Maybe LL did this before he agreed to the transfer from Gimnasia ;-)