This will be a very quick roundup, because January always makes me a little lazy with the amount of stuff I want to write, due to the lack of meaningful domestic league action. Still, there were some performances from our boys abroad in the last week, and one perhaps notable absence.
That absence was Carlos Tevez, who jogged up and down the touchline and got an ovation from the Old Trafford crowd, but wasn’t sent out onto the field of play as Manchester United beat Chelsea 3-0. Franco Di Santo did make a substitute appearance for the visitors, but was largely noticeable for losing Dimitar Berbatov right before the Bulgarian stabbed home United’s third goal. Whether this latest lack of action is a sign of that the current holder of HEGS‘s ‘Best Argentine Abroad’ award is really leaving Manchester, we shall have to see. The day before that match, Diego Maradona had been watching Javier Mascherano’s Liverpool stumble to a 0-0 draw against Stoke City. He was at Old Trafford for Tevez’s round of applause, too. Will Carlitos stay in the national setup, when he’s barely playing for his club?
In Mexico’s Interliga, Hugo Marioni gave a stellar performance as Atlas came back from the dead to beat Ramón Díaz’s Club América and win 4-1 on the night for an aggregate victory, whilst Lucas Lobos scored for Tigres as they went down 4-2 to Chivas de Guadalajara. The winners of the Interliga, which is basically a pre-season tournament held in the United States between Mexican clubs, get a Copa Libertadores place, so Atlas, in beating América, may have just cost me my chance of seeing a Copa group game in the Estadio Azteca whilst I’m in Mexico City next month. Muchas gracias, Hugo…
In Italy on Sunday, Juampi Carrizo, Mauro Zárate and Cristian Ledesma all played as Lazio won 3-2 away to Reggina thanks to a Goran Pandev hat-trick, and the day before, el Inter de los argentinos drew 1-1 at home to Cagliari with Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Julio Cruz all starting. Hernán Crespo came on for Samuel with just over twenty minutes to go.
In Greece, former Chacarita Juniors player Sergio Daniel Ponce scored for Panthrakikos to put them 1-0 up, but they ended up losing 3-1 at home to Panathinaikos. Also on Saturday, Olympiakos beat Xanthi 1-0 with a first half goal from Luciano Galletti, who had his countrymen Sebastián Leto and Fernando Belluschi alongside him in the midfield. In France, Fernando Cavenaghi scored – just the once – for Bordeaux as they thrashed Paris Saint-Germain 4-0 at home.
In Spain, one man continues to impress. Roberto Abbondanzieri was sent off as Getafe lost 2-0 away to Numancia; Gonzalo Higuaín didn’t score, for a change, for Real Madrid (who beat Real Mallorca 3-0 away), and nor did any of Atlético’s Argentines. Lionel Messi was key once more for Barcelona, though. In a ridiculously foggy match, Messi went on a mazy run to almost score a brilliant solo goal in the fourth minute, set up Samuel Eto’o with another to put Barça 1-0 up just before half time, and then, after the runaway leaders of La Liga had shockingly fallen behind 2-1 before equalising, he scored the winner by cutting inside from the left and absolutely belting the ball into the far corner from 25 yards. The ball was practically past the goalkeeper before he’d even moved for it.
Thanks as ever to Tom Clark for keeping me up to speed with goings-on in Mexico.