This weekend sees Argentina face the United States of America in a friendly on Saturday, so this week’s Argentines Abroad acts as a bit of a prelude to that, in many ways. One player not included in Sergio Batista’s squad for the friendly is Gabriel Heinze, who scored a cracking free kick for Marseille. Another – Carlos Tevez – is among a trio of Argentines supposedly being targeted for an end-of-season transfer swoop by Juventus. All this and more, right here.
We’ll begin in France, where Gabriel Heinze got a goal for Marseille in their 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain with a long range free kick which makes one wonder, why doesn’t he take them more often? Heinze put Marseille 1-0 up after sixteen minutes, and Lucho González came off the bench for them just after the hour mark with the score already at 2-1.
In Italy, Mauro Zárate got the only goal of the game as Lazio beat Cesena, but was the only Argentine goalscorer of the weekend. According to Olé, though, there might be a sizeable increase in the number of Argentines playing in one of the country’s biggest clubs next season. Juventus apparently have decided that no Argentines is not enough for them, and that three would be far more preferable. Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano and Sergio Agüero are reportedly the three they’re looking at, with rumours ongoing about Tevez’s commitment to Manchester City, Mascherano not playing regularly for Barcelona, and Agüero not enjoying very consistent form at present at Atlético de Madrid. We’ll have to wait and see how much staying power this story has.
Having just mentioned Agüero and Mascherano, it seems as good a time as any to say hello to Spanish Football Info contributor David Cartlidge, who can tell us what El Kun et al were up to over the weekend in Spain.
Despite not scoring, Lionel Messi still provided several moments of brilliance as his Barcelona side beat Getafe 2-0. Messi seemed to just want to run & run on Saturday evening, he made several darting drives forward taking several defenders out of the equation, each time incredibly managing to keep control of the ball showing strength and determination. He did actually manage an assist, albeit a simple layoff for Bojan to score. Javier Mascherano got in a full 90 minutes for Barça, doing the basics well including keeping possession and intercepting when needs be.
Another Messi compilation
Nonetheless Saturday night saw the Madrid derby, and a mildly entertaining counter between Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid. As usual, any product that Atléti were to come up with, would prove to have Sergio Agüero central to it. He was Real Madrid’s main tormentor, and had no less than three decent shots on goal before getting a late goal for his side while 0-2 down. Kun played a neat one-two on the edge of the area, before getting one on one with Iker Casillas and slotting into the bottom corner. Ángel Di María got 15 minutes or so for Real Madrid, but at the time of his arrival they were happy to sit back on their lead, thus not seeing Di María get on the ball too often.
Sevilla went to Valencia on Sunday, and came away with a 0-1 victory. After several weeks of immense performances, Federico Fazio was off his game here. Several times he was caught out at the back by pacey wingers when covering for his fullback, and there was one occasion in which he was fortunate not to concede a penalty with some blatant shirt pulling after being beaten for skill and pace. Diego Perotti got 90 minutes, and was always a danger on the break for Sevilla – especially in the second half as his side offered more in the way of an attacking threat.
Villarreal got an excellent result away from home too, as they travelled to Athletic Bilbao and won 0-1. The single goal came via an Argentine, with Marco Ruben scoring a powerful header not too long after half time. It proved to be a vital goal. Villarreal’s defensive pairing was an all-Argentine one, with Gonzalo Rodríguez and Mateo Mussachio. The former was strong as ever, with some good headed clearances and resolute marking of his man. Mussachio meanwhile got beat a few times for pace when coming out of defence, but he still had a solid game in which his distribution out of the backline was never anything but tidy.
Tom Clark is next up. You can read his blog here, and he’s filling us in on the wild land that is Mexico (apologies, Mexicans; I’ve just started re-reading Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.
Anyone who’s been following these reports will know that the fortunes of the cementeros of Cruz Azul in the present campaign have ridden largely on the backs of two great veteran pamperos, winger Christian Chaco Giménez and centre forward Emanuel Tito Villa. Chaco‘s ability to penetrate down the left and cross into the box for Tito is no secret to opponents, who base their game plans on defending against it. The Diablos Rojos of Toluca, never to be taken lightly, adopted a direct approach: if denying Chaco the ball fails, foul him hard, and when he goes down, put in the boot for good measure. This tactic backfired last week when it cost Club América an embarrassing defeat en casa. This time around, Toluca defender Gonzales drew red just before half time for treating Chaco like a kicking-bag. On the ensuing kick another (this time accidental) collision cost Toluca their keeper, Alfredo Talavera, and Cruz Azul a defender, Horatio Cervantes.
By the sixty-eighth minute, the dust had barely settled when Chaco controlled nicely down the left, crossed into the box for Christian Bermudez – and when Bermudez’s point blank effort was repelled, Tito Villa was there to bang in the rebound for the only goal of the day.
It was Villa’s seventh (most of them provided by Giménez), leaving him, at the end of the weekend, tied at the top of the league scoring table.
Ben Shave, author of Cahiers Du Sport, is filling us in on the action Portugal, down ol’ South America way, which is of course, due south. A metaphorical prize to the first commenter who can tell me which sitcom I’m referencing there.
Marco Torsiglieri notched up another full 90 minutes for Sporting, and once again had a fairly quiet time of it as the Lions laid siege to União de Leiria’s goal, but were unable to break through. 0-0 it finished at the Alvalade.
Fernando Belluschi and Mariano González were in the squad for Porto’s home fixture with Académica, Nico Otamendi handed a rest after his midweek exertions. Belluschi started and had a quiet first half, along with the rest of his colleagues. However, the Dragons turned up the heat during the second half, and whilst Belluschi didn’t get on the score sheet, he exerted a noticeable influence on the midfield as Porto ran out 3-1 winners. Mariano came on for the final nine minutes, contributing little.
Pablo Aimar, Nico Gaitán, Franco Jara and Javier Saviola all started for Benfica as they travelled to Paços de Ferreira. José Luis Fernández was on the bench. The Eagles started superbly, winning a penalty after Saviola was struck in the penalty area. The second goal was an all-River affair, with Saviola sending in a delightful chipped pass for Aimar to run onto, and the number 10 finished from close range.
But the best was yet to come. Benfica’s third goal was one of real beauty, with Gaitán serving as both architect and executioner. Showing why he is expected to be the long-term replacement for Aimar as Benfica’s creative fulcrum, the former Boca man wove a string of quick passes with teammates, before curling a sumptuous finish beyond the despairing dive of Cássio. Wonderful stuff. Benfica ran out 5-1 winners, with O Clássico to come following the international break.
And finally, Boaz Magal runs the Biting Flea blog, and is here with the latest update on Pedro Joaquín Galv- I mean, on the Argentines plying their trade in Israel. This week, with an actual YouTube video!
Pedro Joaquín Galván (Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv) keeps scoring. His twelve goal for the season. This time an equalizer, but his team still lost. Here is the link. Beni Yehuda are in their traditional orange.
You can follow the ins and outs during the 2011 Torneo Clausura, as well as 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. You can also join the official HEGS Facebook group, to keep up to date with the latest posts on the blog and discuss things with other fans. You’ll find it here. Also remember to bookmark Hand Of Pod, our Argentine football podcast, or if you prefer you can subscribe to it on iTunes here.