There were not one, but two big injuries to Argentines playing abroad in the weekend just gone. Of course, you’ve all already heard about Marcelo Gallardo’s horrible tendon break on his first start for Nacional of Montevideo, which will rule him out for the rest of the year. But it had no doubt escaped your attention that Lionel Messi, the little-heralded Barcelona star, also suffered an admittedly much less serious injury that will keep him out for – brace yourselves – four matches. In Italy, meanwhile, Javier Zanetti was rushed to hospital after Internazionale’s away win over Javier Pastore’s Palermo with chest pains, but initial fears of a possible heart attack turned out to be wide of the mark. All this and more, right here…
Of course, the really big news came from Madrid, where in stoppage time of Barcelona’s away win over Atlético, the home side’s Czech defender Tomáš Ujfaluši, frustrated by seeing his team finally beaten by opponents they’ve generally had the better of in recent seasons (Barcelona only lost one match in La Liga last season, and it was against Atlético), put in a horrible challenge on Lionel Messi. In spite of the fact he wasn’t even looking at the ball, Ujfaluši has since claimed it was accidental. At any rate, Messi – who apparently has bones in his lower leg which are composed of some super-strong form of diamond – will be out for two whole weeks with a sprained ankle. Oh – La Pulga had earlier scored a goal, and Barcelona won 2-1. Elsewhere in Spain, Ángel Di María opened the scoring for Real Madrid, who in spite of playing poorly beat Real Sociedad 2-1 away.
Atlético de Madrid 1 – 2 Barcelona (Lionel Messi scores the opener)
Real Sociedad 1 – 2 Real Madrid (Ángel Di María scores the first goal with his right foot. Do not adjust your monitor.)
The other injury alluded to above came in Uruguay, where Marcelo Gallardo was making his first start for Nacional on Sunday at home to Bella Vista. The match had started with an emotional tribute to Diego Rodríguez, the 21-year-old Nacional player who died of injuries sustained in a car crash last week. Gallardo’s diagnosis is a ruptured tendon, which will require at least 45 days of rest to recover, and which is likely to rule El Muñeco out of playing for the rest of 2010. Nacional won the match 1-0.
In Italy, Cameroonian striker Samuel Eto’o struck twice to give Internazionale a 2-1 win away to Palermo – Palermo’s first home defeat since March 2009, when they lost 4-0 to Catania – but the big Argentine news was that Javier Zanetti, who took a heavy hit from the ball to his chest during the game, had to be rushed to hospital afterwards with chest pains on the right-hand side of his chest. The initial fears went as far as suggesting a heart attack, but according to Esteban Cambiasso, who spoke to Sky Italia later, ‘we were a bit worried, but it turns out he’s fine, and we’ll all be returning together to Milan.’ Pastore, for his part, played very well for the hosts, whilst Walter Samuel, Cambiasso and Diego Milito all started for Inter along with Zanetti. On Sunday, former Boca midfielder Cristian Ledesma scored the equaliser for Lazio who came from behind to beat Fiorentina 2-1 away from home.
In England, the only Argentine goalscorer was Carlos Tevez, who lobbed the goalkeeper to open the scoring for Manchester City as they beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 away. For the visitors, Franco Di Santo got a start at centre forward ahead of his countryman Mauro Boselli, who after initially struggling somewhat to settle in was an unused substitute.
The Dutch Eredivisie saw Sergio Romero’s return between the sticks for AZ Alkmaar for the first time in six months. In spite of being the selección’s first choice goalkeeper, Romero hasn’t featured for AZ for six months (in fact his last appearance for them had been six months ago today, on the 21st March away to Sparta Rotterdam), but returned to the starting lineup on Sunday as they beat NEC Nijmegan 1-0 away.
In Mexico, the headline Argentine performer was Emanuel Villa, who opened the scoring for Cruz Azul as they beat Querétaro comfortably, 3-0. Maxi Biancucchi – who bears the cross of being Lionel Messi’s cousin – also scored for Cruz Azul. Christian Giménez started for them. In the dugouts, Pablo Marini took charge of his first match at Pachuca manager, but lost 1-0 away to San Luis.
Cruz Azul 3 – 0 Querétaro (Villa scores first, Biancucchi scores second)
Last but by no means least in this month’s Argentines Abroad, we welcome the first of our new contributors, whose job is essentially to keep a beadier eye than I’m able to on lots of leagues. Ben Shave is In Bed With Maradona’s man in Portugal, and will be writing a bit about Argentines in that league for us each week from now. You can read his blog here, and you’ll find him on Twitter by clicking here. Take it away, Ben…
Benfica’s Argentine contingent numbered two in the starting XI for their derby with Sporting CP, and neither Pablo Aimar nor Javier Saviola lasted the full 90. Aimar, who has carved himself an edifying niche as an elegant playmaker for the Eagles, was withdrawn at half time with a suspected knee injury. He was absent from training on Monday and is expected to miss Saturday’s trip to Marítimo. Saviola was his usual energetic self, working well in support of Paraguay’s former Newell’s striker Óscar Cardozo, but was unable to get onto the scoresheet. He was withdrawn after 80 minutes. Summer signing Franco Jara also saw some action, but the former Arsenal man was only given 5 minutes on the pitch by Jorge Jesus, and made little impact on the game.
Sporting’s centre-back Marco Torsiglieri was an unused substitute on Sunday, but deserves an honourable mention for his contribution to Sporting’s 2-1 away victory over Lille in the Europa League last Thursday. Making his first start, the former Vélez stopper was an assured presence in Sporting’s three-man defence, impressing with his composure and confidence in striding beyond the halfway line to join the attack.
Monday’s game saw FC Porto travel to Nacional, and another decent performance from Fernando Belluschi, who struggled to adapt to the Portuguese game last season following his move from Olympiakos. The midfielder was booked for a clear dive, but not before delivering the ball that caused João Aurélio to head beyond his own keeper to give Porto the lead. After an underwhelming debut season, the Newell’s youth product looks set to be a key man for Porto in 2010/11.
Thanks to Ben for that, and if you’re reading this and would like to contribute on a league of your own choosing, please get in touch at the normal address (check the ‘Contact’ page under ‘About’ in the header if you’re not sure of that). I’ve already got Portugal, Mexico and Australia covered, and I myself will probably keep an eye on England and Spain, but all others are open to offers.
You can follow the daily ins and outs during the 2010 Apertura, as well Argentine clubs in the Copa Sudamericana, the country’s vast foreign legion and the latest news from the selección during the 2010-2011 season direct from Buenos Aires with HEGS on Twitter. If you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here.
Photo taken from ole.clarin.com