Diego Maradona announced the home-based players for the France friendly on Monday (surprise surprise, Boca Juniors won’t be inconvenienced by any call-ups…), after another fun-packed weekend for the foreign legion, during which Nico Burdisso rescued a record for his manager in Italy, Lucas Lobos got his first goal of the season in Mexico, Lucho González netted in Portugal and Lionel Messi… oh, for God’s sake. Lio if you’re reading this, would you just have one average game for a change, so the rest of us can feel a tiny bit better about ourselves?!
What Messi did was take to the pitch in Santander with half an hour remaining, with his Barcelona team-mates surprisingly losing 1-0 to their hosts Racing, and score twice, both with his ‘weaker’ right foot, to win the match for the team who continue to set the pace by some way in La Liga, having now won 9 in a row. Better than that, even: his second goal was Barcelona’s 5,000th in La Liga. Messi has scored six in his last four appearances, and him, Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’o combined have provided Barça with 61 goals so far this season – more than any other attack in Europe. It has been asked for the last few seasons just how much of a stride Messi might hit if he was able to stay fit throughout a campaign. We may be getting the answer, and frankly it’s a bit scary.
Elsewhere in Spain, Marco Ruben scored a last-minute penalty away to Espanyol to claim a point for the country’s oldest club, Recreativo de Huelva, where he’s on loan from Villarreal. Fernando Gago saw red late on, but by that point Real Madrid’s game away to Numancia was already won 2-0 – in part thanks to an opener from Raúl which brings the Spanish striker to 307 goals for the club, level with their all-time record held by Alfredo Di Stéfano.
Italy’s Argentine of the weekend was Nicolás Burdisso, who equalised for Internazionale at home to Torino in a 1-1 draw which ensured manager Jose Mourinho is now unbeaten in 109 home matches, stretching all the way through his time at Chelsea and back into his spell in charge of Porto. Ezequiel Lavezzi, on Saturday, put Napoli 1-0 up at home to Udinese, but the match finished in a 2-2 draw.
In Germany Diego Klimowicz scored for Bochum against Karlsruhe as they won 2-0. In Portugal, on Sunday, Lucho González celebrated his inclusion in Maradona’s squad with Porto’s third goal as they defeated Belenenses away to move top of the Liga Sagres. And in Greece, Luciano Galletti scored again for Olympiakos – the only goal of the game – who won away to AEK Athens. The win takes them eleven clear at the top, and Galletti is the leading goalscorer.
In Mexico, there were three Argentine goalscorers. Claudio Graf scored his – and his team’s – second goal of the year in helping Tecos UAG to shock Cruz Azul, whilst in Guadalajara, Atlas and Tigres drew 1-1 thanks to two Argentine goals: Bruno Marioni got a penalty for the hosts to add to the one he got a week ago, and HEGS poster boy Lucas Lobos (maybe I really should try and get a poster for him) got the visitors’ strike.
Finally, Diego Maradona has named the domestic-based players who’ll be called up to his squad for the friendly with France next week. These players will miss the opening round of matches in the Torneo Clausura, and it’s perhaps therefore not entirely surprising that Maradona’s beloved Boca Juniors won’t have to give up any of their players (such as Riquelme, for instance). Not that I’m suggesting nepotism, of course. Oh heavens no.
The players who’ll be added to the foreign-based players already called up are:
Juan Sebastián Verón (midfielder, Estudiantes de La Plata)
Marcos Angeleri (defender, Estudiantes)
Cristian Ledesma (midfielder, San Lorenzo de Almagro)
Daniel Montenegro (forward, Independiente)
Emiliano Papa (defender, Vélez Sársfield)
Thanks as usual to Tom Clark for keeping us up to speed with events down Mexico way, and apologies to him for having forgotten this notice in the first draft of this story…