The biggest winners of the weekend just gone were undoubtedly Racing Club, who took an enormous step towards securing their place in the Primera División next season as their rivals fell by the wayside. On Sunday night Ariel Ortega had a car accident (he, and the occupants of the other car, are fine), Seba Verón and Ángel Cappa have had a bit of a barney, and Juan Román Riquelme is friends again with Martín Palermo. Possibly. Oh, stop laughing…
The dropped points for Atlético Tucumán and Chacarita Juniors ensured that my prediction last week that they’d both be automatically relegated (I really stuck my neck out there, hey?) did indeed come to pass. The really good news for Racing fans, though, was that in addition to this their two playoff rivals also dropped points. Atlético’s draw with Rosario Central meant neither of those two strugglers were happy, and Gimnasia La Plata were well beaten by Argentinos Juniors. That left the way clear for Racing, whose 2-0 win at home to Banfield now puts them six points ahead of Gimnasia with nine points to play for – and for Racing, three of those points are against now-relegated Chacarita.
Saturday’s match between Estudiantes de La Plata and River Plate provided one of the main talking points from the weekend, after River boss Ángel Cappa opined that Estudiantes ‘didn’t even arrive at our goal once,’ with the hosts’ goal – the only one of the match – having come through an own goal from River’s Facundo Quiroga. Estudiantes captain Juan Sebastián Verón wasn’t impressed with Cappa’s objections, pointing out; ‘if you’re talking on a point of principal, first you’ve got to win the game.’ Estudiantes did that, and go into the last three matches (just) top of the table.
One running thread during that match was Ariel Ortega’s ongoing spat with Leandro Desábato, during which Desábato has admitted at one point calling Ortega a ‘drunk’, but he says, ‘if I saw him in a cafe it wouldn’t even occur to me to say that.’ Desábato also told Olé that ‘[Ortega called me a cuckold… whether I’m a cuckold or not, I don’t know, he just said it to hurt me,’ showing an admirable faith in his wife. Ortega denied that accusation in no uncertain terms, as well as apologising via the papers for his part in the row (something Desábato refused to do on the basis that, ‘I don’t want to turn this into a novel’). In the early hours of Monday morning, Ortega was involved in a minor collision in his BMW, and had to go to the police station to undergo substance tests.
In La Bombonera, Martín Palermo scored his 222nd goal for Boca Juniors and thus – and I honestly haven’t maintained this all along just so I could be there when it happened – really did undeniably become Boca’s all-time top goalscorer. Although the Argentine papers claimed Palermo’s 119th for the club meant he’d overtaken Roberto Cherro, the staggeringly good website Historia De Boca makes clear that he scored 221 in total, of which three were scored in matches that were later annulled. Spanish readers can delve a little deeper here. As such, Palermo’s 222nd goal – which came on Sunday from Juan Román Riquelme’s pass – means he’s now Boca’s all-time top scorer without any cause at all for dispute.
Riquelme was first to congratulate Palermo and the two hugged as La Bombonera went crazy after the goal, a surprising scene given their much talked of recent animosity. Post match, Riquelme explained, ‘I did my job and Martín did his. We returned to playing well. Now, let’s talk about football.’ Team mate Hugo Ibarra, meanwhile, was a little more forthcoming on his opinion, saying the club’s directors had to do everything possible to renew both players’ contracts and that, ‘both of them have to retire at Boca.’
You can follow the Clausura and the Argentine sides in the 2010 Copa Libertadores via HEGS on Twitter (including updates during and between matches and similar stories that might not go up on the site until later). I’m slowly gaining followers, but if you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here.