In England, there was a clash to bring back memories of when the superclásico was high profile enough to form a Copa Libertadores semi-final, rather than being played between two teams who probably won’t even qualify for the tournament, as Javier Mascherano’s Liverpool took on Carlos Tevez’s Manchester City. Spain saw Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuaín warm up for Barcelona vs Real Madrid next week in very different fashions, and two champions were crowned in Russia. Meanwhile, another Argentine in Mexico has decided to call it a day.
In England on Saturday, in the stadium Spanish-language media always insist on calling Anfield Road, Liverpool were trailing 2-1 to Manchester City but managed to fight back and draw 2-2, a result that doesn’t really suit either team. None of the Argentines were key, though all four featured: Mascherano and Emiliano Insúa from the start for Liverpool, Pablo Zabaleta for the whole game for City, whilst Tevez was a second half substitute for the visitors and played an important part in their second goal.
In Spain, Barcelona host Real Madrid as second meet first this coming weekend. On Saturday, both were in action with Argentines in the mix. Lionel Messi picked up a knock requiring a substitution in the second half of his side’s 1-1 draw away to Athletic Bilbao. Sunday brought the announcement that he’ll be fit for the weekend, though, and probably even for Tuesday’s European Cup match against Internazionale. Gonzalo Higuaín had a much better day: he scored the only goal of the game as Madrid beat Racing de Santander in the Bernabéu to go two points clear. Ezequiel Garay, also a starter, set Pipita up for the goal. Here it is.
There were also Argentine goals in Saturday’s other two Spanish matches: Diego Perotti scored Sevilla’s first (at the end of a week in which he was linked with Real Madrid) to set them on their way to a 2-1 win away to Tenerife, whilst Sergio Agüero, reportedly about to sign for Chelsea for €44 million, scored a well-taken goal in the third minute to give Atlético de Madrid (who also featured Maxi Rodríguez) the lead away to Deportivo de La Coruña. It wasn’t good news for Atleti, though: former Estudiantes defender Diego Colotto equalised after 21 minutes and Deportivo went on to win 2-1. Saturday saw Mauricio Pochettino’s Espanyol, with Juan Forlín and Nicolás Pareja as the centre back pairing, lose 2-0 to Getafe, for whom Oscar Ustari featured in goal and Daniel Díaz just ahead of him. Damián Escudero set up Nilmar to put Villarreal 1-0 up as they beat Real Valladolid 3-1.
In Serie A, Saturday saw two goals for Internazionale provided by Argentines: Diego Milito kept up the brilliant form which, over the last couple of seasons, has convinced Diego Maradona that he’s just the man to be a substitute right winger, opening the scoring after 22 minutes. Esteban Cambiasso scored Inter’s final goal in a 3-1 away win over Bologna, in which Walter Samuel and Javier Zanetti also started. Sunday saw plenty of Argentine participation, but no goals from any of them.
In France, Chelo Delgado scored Lyon’s goal in a 1-1 away draw to Grenoble on Saturday, and on Sunday Franco Sosa scored Lorient’s second, as they beat Saint Etienne (who featured Gonzalo Bergessio and Augusto Fernández) 2-0 away from home. Gabriel Peñalba also played for Lorient. In Portugal meanwhile, Pablo Aimar, Ángel Di María and Javier Saviola all started as Benfica crashed out of the Portuguese Cup after a 1-0 home loss to Vitória Guimarães.
Grenoble Foot 38 1 – 1 Olympique Lyonnais (Delgado’s goal is the first):
Elsewhere in South America: in Chile, Damián Díaz scored for Universidad Católica as they beat Everton 2-0 away from home on Saturday, and Ezequiel Miralles got a late penalty winner for Colo Colo on Sunday, as they beat Universidad de Concepción 2-1 away. Rubén Darío Insúa managed Deportivo Quito, winners of last year’s Ecuadorian league title, to the final of this year’s championship. They beat Macará 2-0 in the crucial group game, with Franco Niell scoring the first goal.
In Brazil Darío Conca scored Fluminense’s third as they ran out 3-0 winners away to Sport Recife. In Colombia, Rodrigo Marangoni scored in the first minute for Deportes Tolima away to Atlético Nacional, but the former Copa Libertadores winners turned the game around and won 2-1, with Ezequiel Maggiolo bagging the winner.
Atlético Nacional 2 – 1 Deportes Tolima (Marangoni first; Maggiolo last)
In Mexico there were no Argentine gritos, but Tom Clark’s here to tell us about another retiree who’ll be sorely missed.
With the end of the Apertura another veteran Argentine native who has been a major force in Mexico for many years, Gabriel Caballero, announced his retirement. Caballero will remain with his club, Pachuca, as a member of the coaching staff. Caballero had continued to perform effectively for the Tuzos through his final season, at the advanced footballing age of 38.
Born in Santa Fe, he played for Rosario Central, Newell’s Old Boys and Central Córdoba de Rosario before moving on to Chile, where in 1993 he became a legitimate star, leading the Chilean top division in scoring with 18 goals.
He arrived in Mexico in 1996, helping Santos Laguna to a championship that year while also leading the league in scoring, and then played with Atlas and Puebla before moving on to Pachuca, where he was a key part of five title winners, including the 2006 Copa Sudamericana championship club. One of the great creative midfielders of his era, Caballero was latterly naturalized in Mexico (2001) and selected for the national side by Javier Aguirre for the 2002 World Cup.
Known variously as El mexicano (the Mexican), El eterno caballero (the eternal knight / gentleman) and El incombustible (The one that never burns), Caballero brought grace, skill and dignity to the Mexican game for a very long time. His presence on the pitch will be missed.
And finally, in Russia two champions were crowned whilst flying the Argentine flag. Alejandro Domínguez and recent selección squad member Cristian Ansaldi gave a lap of the pitch with the flag on their backs after Rubin Kazan were crowned champions for the second year running following a 0-0 draw at home to Zenit St Petersburg.