The latest double-header of qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is upon us this weekend, so with my head now sufficiently back on track after two weeks back home, it seems as good a time as any to have a look at what our boys abroad have been doing this weekend. We’re concentrating on members of Diego’s squad this weekend. Here goes…
We’ll start, for a change, in Mexico, where new goalkeeping call-up Federico Vilar had a disappointing day for Atlante, conceding the game’s only goal on Saturday night to Puebla’s Uruguayan Alvaro González. That rounded off a bad week for him all round – his side also lost last week in the CONCACAF Champions League, 2-1 to Santos with Colombian Darwin Quinteros scoring twice. As an aside, also in Mexico, ‘Chacho‘ Giménez struck a hat-trick of absolutely magnificent goals for Pachuca in a 3-0 win over Necaxa. You can see all three goals (albeit not very well) here.
England next – the Premier League is providing Diego with three players. Carlos Tevez probably had his reputation enhanced by only spending the last 20 minutes on the pitch given the absolute dross Manchester United served up in losing 2-0 away to Fulham. Argentina captain Javier Mascherano turned in a typically solid performance the day after to help Liverpool cut the champions’ lead to just a point (with a game in hand) as they thrashed Aston Villa 5-0. Jonás Gutiérrez didn’t get off the bench for Newcastle United, who lost 3-1 at home to Arsenal. One Argentine who was on the pitch, and demonstrating perfectly why he’s not in the squad for the qualifiers, was Fabricio Coloccini, who almost gifted the visitors a goal with the score at 0-0.
In Serie A, Lazio goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo will be going into the qualifiers cold as he remained on the bench following criticism of his performances a few weeks ago. His team-mates lost 1-0, with Macedonian striker Goran Pandev missing a penalty handed to him by a foul from former Boca defender Matías Silvestre, before being replaced by Mauro Zárate with 21 minutes left. In Genova, Diego Milito grabbed Genoa’s second in the 90th minute as his side beat Udinese 2-0, whilst also on Sunday Ezequiel Lavezzi‘s Napoli held Milan 0-0 in the San Paolo. Milan’s city rivals Internazionale beat Reggina 3-0, with Esteban Cambiasso getting the ball rolling early on. Javier Zanetti also featured, as incidentally did River Plate’s former Colombian centre-back Nelson Rivas.
In Portugal, Porto duo Licha (Lisandro López) and Lucho (Luis González) had a mixed day in their side’s 2-0 win over Naval. López couldn’t score and got booked after half an hour before being replaced by compatriot Ernesto Farías, whilst González scored his side’s second late on. In Lisbon, Ángel Di María and his team-mates (among them Óscar Cardozo and Pablo Aimar) fell 1-0 at home to Guimarães. In Germany, Martín Demichelis featured in Bayern München’s 1-0 win over Karlsruhe, and forced a great save from Markus Miller at a corner just after the hour mark.
And finally, to Spain, where there were four sides in action who’ll have representatives in the selección at the weekend. There were wins for Real Madrid, Getafe and Barcelona, and a loss for Atlético de Madrid. For the latter, both Sergio Agüero and Maxi Rodríguez (as well as Leo Franco) played the full 90 minutes, but it was no use as Real Mallorca beat them 2-0 on the island. It’s surely no coincidence that Agüero’s been criticised for looking a little sluggish and tired almost exactly since he became a father. Ever Banega came on with just over half an hour to go in that match.
For Madrid, Gabiel Heinze was the only Argentine involved, at left back, as Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuaín (not in Maradona’s squad) were rested on the bench. In spite of Heinze’s presence, Madrid won 3-0 over Almería. And there was a return to league form for Barcelona, who demolished Málaga 6-0 in Camp Nou. Lionel Messi made it 2-0 in the 25th minute with… wait for it… a brilliant solo goal. And back in the capital, Daniel Díaz‘s Getafe beat Recreativo de Huelva 2-1. Recre’s goal was scored by Cristian Maidana, who was later replaced by Sebastián Nayar, a name Boca fans might not want to remember. Former River man Marco Rubén came off the bench for the visitors at the same time, with 21 minutes left.
And that’s yer lot for this week. Argentines Abroad will be back to something approaching normal service after the international break.
Belated thanks, as usual, to Tom Clark for being my eyes and ears in Mexico, and I’ll try and remember to say that when AA first goes online in future…