As the selección converge on Ezeiza from all corners of the world (well, western Europe) for the final, must-not-balls-up-this-time double-header of World Cup qualifiers against Peru (Saturday in El Monumental) and Uruguay (a week on Wednesday in Montevideo’s Estadio Centenario), it’s heartening that some of them have had more auspicious weekends than Carlos Tevez, who was substituted in the second half of Manchester City’s 1-1 draw away to Aston Villa on Monday evening. Yep, I’m back from Spain, and that means Argentines Abroad returns.
Spain’s top flight leadership was finally opened up a little after Gonzalo Higuaín’s Real Madrid lost their perfect record at the start of the season and Lionel Messi’s Barcelona kept theirs, to move three points clear of their rivals. Barça ground out a 1-0 win on Saturday at home to Almería to keep the pressure on Madrid, in spite of the Cataláns’ struggle to find top gear in recent matches, and although Messi played the whole match, he had a relatively quiet one. The main news on his front this week is that Barça’s underspoken former player and manager Johann Cruyff reckons it’s silly of the club to give him such a long contract. Madrid, on Sunday, lost away to Sevilla, 2-1, with Higuaín introduced in the second half and Diego Perotti playing the whole match for the hosts.
Elsewhere in La Liga, Daniel ‘Cata‘ Díaz scored at the far post from a corner to open the scoring for Getafe as the Madrid club beat Osasuna 2-1 at home. Former Boca defender Juan Forlín was sent off for Espanyol (managed by Mauricio Pochettino) early on for bringing down Guisseppe Rossi. All the same, Espanyol managed a 0-0 draw. And there was controversy as former Banfield and Independiente man Emiliano Armenteros appeared to bring the ball down with his arm before scoring for Xerez in their 1-1 draw with Málaga. The sherry-drinkers won’t care too much though – it was the newly promoted club’s first goal in 497 minutes of play.
In England, aside from Monday night’s match in which Tevez and Pablo Zabaleta featured for Manchester City, Javier Mascherano and Emiliano Insúa travelled to London on Sunday with the rest of Liverpool’s squad to take on Chelsea, but couldn’t stop a 2-0 defeat, in which Mascherano was tackled by Frank Lampard at the start of the move which led to the first goal. Franco Di Santo, on loan at Blackburn from Chelsea, played in the 6-2 defeat his club suffered away to Arsenal.
Serie A, meanwhile, is becoming a home away from home for former Huracán playmaker Javier Pastore. He set the first goal up for Uruguayan Edison Cavani, and was fouled shortly before half time to give Palermo a free kick from which Fabio Simplicio doubled the lead in Palermo’s 2-0 win over Juventus. Five minutes before the end he was brought off to a standing ovation from the home crowd. Rodrio Palacio was sent on a sub and Hernán Crespo and Luciano Figueroa both watched from the bench as Genoa beat Bologna 3-1 away, whilst Mauro Zárate couldn’t break the deadlock which saw his Lazio side draw 0-0 away to Fiorentina.
Palermi 2 – 0 Juventus (Pastore assist for the first goal)
France saw Lucho González and Gabriel Heinze’s Olympique Marseilles slump to a home defeat at the hands of Monaco. Heinze – quelle surprise – was partly at fault for what transpired to be Monaco’s winner, letting Park Chu-Young get the better of him to end up one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Franco Sosa was booked as his and Gabriel Peñalba’s Lorient side beat Toulouse 1-0 away.
Portugal next. River Plate’s former playmaker Fernando Belluschi set up one of River Plate’s former Colombian striker Radamel Falcao García’s (who scored with a lovely backheel in the European Cup group stage last week) two goals, as well as another for Bruno Alves, and was replaced by Tomás Costa with eleven minutes to go as Porto beat Olhanense 3-0 away. Mariano González also started. Leandro Grimi played the whole match in Sporting’s 0-0 draw in the derby against Belenenses. For Benfica on Monday night Pablo Aimar was rested, Javier Saviola replaced late on and José Shaffer played the whole match. The reds won 3-1 away to Paços da Ferreira.
Olhanense 0 – 3 FC Porto (Belluschi assists for first & second goals, Radamel Falcao García scoring first & third goals)
Embarrassment of the week has to go to an Argentine in Portugal as well, unfortunately: Leixoes beat União de Leiria 3-2, but Leixoes’ defender Nélson Benítez scored an own goal for the visitors’ second, and was dragged off with twenty minutes remaining.
In Saudi Arabia (hey, AA might go missing now and then, but it’s because when I do it I like to be thorough!) Gabriel Calderón’s Al-Ittihad, who are the defending champions, beat Al Hazm 2-1 with recent signing Luciano Leguizamón scoring the champions’ second.
In Brazil Maxi López scored twice as Grêmio drew 3-3 with Sport Recife. Grêmio’s city rivals Internacional, meanwhile, played Pablo Guiñazú from the start and sent Andrés D’Alessandro on as a second half substitute, during a 2-0 loss away to Curitiba.
Grêmio 3 – 3 Sport Recife (López scores Grêmio’s second and third goals – third and fourth on the video)
And finally, to cover the Mexican Primera, over to Tom Clark, with thanks as ever for his contribution and apologies for not letting him know in advance that I wouldn’t be running AA last week… take it away Tom.
The weekend of the eleventh round of fixtures in Mexico’s Apertura began on Friday night with Monarcas Morelia going down 2-1 at home to Atlante despite a goal by Mauricio Romero, who has increasingly figured as a key man for Monarcas, scoring for them too last weekend as they crushed lowly Querétaro 5-0 at home.
On Saturday ‘La Gata‘ Fernández scored again for Tigres in a 2-0 home victory over Cruz Azul. The Argentine goal of the day – and the weekend – was Christian ‘Chaco‘ Giménez’s free kick sizzler to put Pachuca on the way to a 2-1 home win over América (whose cause was not helped by the 36th minute expulsion of Daniel Montenegro as just reward for a rash two-footed tackle in plain sight).
Maybe somebody ought to show Maradona some video of Chaco‘s dead ball skills, if there is another Argentine player who is as deadly at free kicks I don’t know who that would be. It’s the first goal on the video below, and Rolfi‘s red card follows soon after.
On Sunday the inexorable Alfredo ‘Chango‘ Moreno scored again, a penalty that gave San Luis an unexpected away win at Toluca in the Diablos Rojos‘ high-altitude cauldron, whence few ever come away with points (or even a point).
The Argentine extravaganza of the previous weekend [for which Tom sent me this report which I didn’t get round to putting up – Sam] came later on Sunday the 27th September when Santos, en casa, overwhelmed Pachuca 4-0. Matías Vuoso tallied one and Walter ‘El Llorito Jiménez put in a brace to lead the Laguneros to victory in this one. The day before Dario Botinelli had scored a precious goal for Atlas in a 2-1 victory at home to fellow strugglers Tigres.
Thanks as ever Tom.
And finally, one Argentine who’s not been playing lately is Bayern München’s Martín Demichelis, but due to Fabricio Coloccini’s injury elsewhere he was added to the selección. On Monday he was in the press saying that in spite of lack of recent practice, he still felt 100% ready to feature in the upcoming matches. ‘If I was the coach, I’d always pick me,’ he grinned to reporters. Let’s hope he’s not the only Argentine smiling come Saturday night.