Argentines Abroad: a new correspondent, & Agüero scores his 9th in 7 games (video)

HEGS is a family website, so I can't tell you what Pep Guardiola is doing to Lionel Messi in this picture.

We’ve a new correspondent on Argentines Abroad this week, to give us a more in-depth view of Italy’s Serie A, in which there was some decent Argentine action this week. In Spain, Sergio Agüero scored yet again for Atlético Madrid, closing in on a century, and there are also contributions in Portugal, France and Mexico to tell you about. To read about them – and watch them – just read on.

In England’s Premier League, there were two Argentine goalscorers. Following his hat-trick the previous week, Maxi Rodríguez got a fourth goal in two games for Liverpool, with a volley that took a big deflection but still ended up in the net for the Reds’ opener in a 3-0 win over Newcastle United (who featured Fabricio Coloccini and Jonás Gutiérrez). On Sunday, Pablo Zabaleta notched one for Manchester City, and proved a vital one; it was their second goal, and as West Ham United pulled one back later on, it proved to be a winner of sorts, City running out 2-1 victors.

In France, the only Argentine goal of the weekend came from Mauro Cetto, formerly of Rosario Central but who’s played in France first for Nantes and then for Toulouse for nearly a decade now, who scored Toulouse’s opener 28 minutes in in a 2-0 win over Olympique Lyonnais. Toulouse started the match placed precariously above the relegation zone, but ended it in mid table, such is the tightness of the French top flight this season. César Delgado and Lisandro López both played the whole game for the visitors, who had two men sent off.

David Cartlidge contributes to Spanish Football Info, and is here to fill us in on the action in Spain as well as Tuesday night’s clásico between Barcelona and Madrid in the European Cup semi-final.

The La Liga weekend got off to bang on Saturday night, when Real Madrid were beaten 2-3 by Real Zaragoza. Jose Mourinho opted to put out a ‘B’ team of sorts, meaning a start for Ezequiel Garay in defence. Despite the goals shipped Garay made some timely interceptions at the back, and was competent throughout. Ángel di María was again frustrating when he made an appearance from the bench just before the hour mark. He made some decent runs, but all too often overdid things. He also continued to blatantly dive, something that is agitating even his own fans.

Barcelona also succumbed to defeat on the same evening, going down 2-1 to Real Sociedad. Gabi Milito started for Barça; he had a rather poor game and was caught out several times at the back. He had a goal disallowed too, which probably should’ve stood. An injury ended his evening 10 minutes early, and later it was confirmed his season was over too. Javier Mascherano came off the bench to replace Gerard Piqué on the hour mark, and apart from a silly yellow card he was tidy as ever. Lionel Messi got a full 90 minutes in, somewhat surprisingly given the news he was carrying a slight knock. Despite showing his usual array of nice touches and darting runs, he was well covered by Sociedad who nullified him before he could get into the danger areas.

Messi full performance

The final game on Saturday evening saw Atlético Madrid and Deportivo La Coruña clash, and the boys from Madrid triumph thanks to a sole Sergio Agüero goal. His late strike was his 9th in 7 consecutive games – he’s also just 2 goals away from reaching a century for Atléti. Aside from the goal he plugged away to little avail, as the home defence stood strong. That Deportivo defence contained Diego Colotto, who had a solid game, tackling well and clearing his lines without hesitation. He also probably had his side’s best chance later in the game.

Agüero goal

On Sunday, Sevilla travelled to Almeria, and came away with three points, winning 0-1. Federico Fazio started for Sevilla, as did Diego Perotti. Fazio had a little to do throughout the match, but was there when called upon. Perotti meanwhile was quiet in attack. He plugged away in wide areas but had little joy, eventually tiring towards the end of the game and being substituted with around 20 minutes to go. Pablo Piatti could do little as his Almería side lost, and their relegation is as good as confirmed. Piatti was asked to stem the flow of Sevilla attacks by operating on the counter, but the service to him was poor. Hernán Bernadello featured for Almería too and put in a tireless shift, looking to nullify the Sevilla attacks before being replaced late on. Leo Ulloa also made an appearance, coming off the bench, but like Piatti he suffered from poor supply up front.

Villarreal were next up, and they achieved a 2-1 victory over Osasuna. Mateo Mussachio featured for Villarreal and gave a competent display at the back. He tracked runs well, and made plenty of clearances; good to see him back on form after a poor showing against Porto midweek in which he got caught out for ball watching at times. Marco Ruben came on with plenty of time to spare off the bench, adding some muscle to the Villarreal attack which was much needed and did little wrong.

On Tuesday night, although a 1-1 draw on the night, Barcelona overcame Real Madrid 3-1 on aggregate to confirm their place in the European Cup final. Javier Mascherano was controlled throughout for Barça, as he made a few key interceptions and offered composure on the ball. He did come in for fierce criticism for his alleged diving, producing several rolls on the turf which agitated viewers all around. Despite not getting on the score sheet, Lionel Messi will remember the clash fondly for his outstanding second goal in the first leg; he worked tirelessly this evening and opened up Real Madrid on several occasions with his intelligent running and trademark close control. Gonzalo Higuaín was the shock name on Real Madrid’s team sheet, and despite showing signs of being back to fitness in recent weeks it appeared a step too far for him in the Camp Nou; his strides were tiresome, and his touch deceived him on several occasions – though he did give his best efforts while on the field. Same old story for Ángel Di María, aside from the odd moments of clever feet he once again showed poor decision making on the ball, and ran into groups of opposition players. His shot which cannoned off the post was well recovered though, as he laid on the assist for Marcelo.

Nick O’Doherty is our new boy, and will henceforth be providing us with the lowdown on Argentines operating in Italy’s Serie A.

Saturday was a quiet game in the Serie A fixture list with only two games being played, however both games did contain a handful of Argentine stars.

Internazionale trio Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiassio and Diego Milito completed the full 90 minutes against struggling Cesena and left it late to keep up the pressure on leaders AC Milan with a Giampaolo Pazzini double in injury time for a 2-1 away win. Cambiasso and Milito in particular looked off the pace throughout the game and put in very average perfomances. If rumours are to be believed this is the end for Milito at Inter, with Arsenal and Tottenham as well as a host of other clubs chasing his signature in the coming months. Zanetti on the other hand was not at his imperious best yet his work rate and endeavour remained top class throughout. Maximiliano Pelligrino put in an impressive perormance for Cesena, keeping Samuel Eto’o and Milito quiet for much of the game.

Cesena 1 – 2 Inter

In the day’s other game between Napoli and Genoa, Ezequiel Lavezzi threatened for Napoli throughout, creating some good chances in the first half with his set pieces and having the opportunity to score himself, but was somewhat wasteful in front of goal. Nevertheless, Lavezzi was one of the key performers as Napoli won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Marek Hamsik. They look set to be playing Champions League football next season. Hugo Campagnaro gave a solid performance at the back for Genoa as they kept a clean sheet, while José Sosa missed out on the match altogether.

Napoli 1 – 1 Genoa

On Sunday, a thrilling encounter between two struggling sides Sampdoria and Brescia saw six second half goals, with the spoils shared at 3-3. Fernando Tissone was on the scoresheet for Sampdoria as he drew the teams level at 2-2. Heavily Argentine-influenced Catania – managed by Diego Simeone – beat Cagliari 2-0, and featured no fewer than 8 Argentines in their starting XI. The Sicilian side were reduced to ten men with just 16 minutes to play as Pablo Álvarez was shown a straight red card. Matías Silvestre opened the scoring for Catania in a goalmouth scramble from a set piece with 12 minutes remaining, while the second on 82 minutes from Gonzalo Bergessio sealed the game.

Catania 2 – 0 Cagliari

Javier Pastore scored in vain for Palermo as they lost 3-1 away at Parma. Pastore was impressive throughout, and duly deserved his goal but could not prevent defeat. Ezequiel Muñoz also featured for Palermo.

Tom Clark, whose blog is here, is here as ever to fill us in on the Mexican action.

The seventeenth and final round of the Mexican Clausura opened with a Friday night fightback by Santos Laguna at Guadalajara; Estudiantes Tecos (UAG) opened up an early lead with Mauro Cejas‘ sixth goal of the campaign, then looked on as the visitors put in three unanswered goals. The goal that turned this one around was Santos’ second, a zapotazo tremendo from outside the area in the 21st minute by marksman Daniel Emanuel El Hachita Ludueña.

On Saturday 1 May a resurgent Tigres secured a tie with Pumas (UNAM) for the superlider position, cruising into the liguilla. Lucas Lobos put this one away with the felinos’ second, a magisterial first-time strike in the 46th minute.

The weekend closed with the Águilas of of América clawing their way into a place in the liguilla with an impressive (and surprising) 2-0 win away to powerful Pumas. In the the 59th minute the Águilas opened their account on the day when Daniel Rolfi Montenegro supplied Vicente Matías Vuoso, who converted his sixth of the torneo.

And last but certainly not least, Ben Shave, of Cahiers Du Sport, is here to let us know what’s happening in Portugal.

Marco Torsiglieri completed ninety minutes for Sporting as the Lions ran out 2-1 winners at home to bottom side Portimonense. The former Vélez centre back continues to grow quite nicely into the Liga, and appears to be the frontrunner to partner Daniel Carriço next season.

Benfica’s usual slew of Argentines were reduced to just Nico Gaitán and Franco Jara at Olhanense on Sunday evening, with club priorities now firmly fixed on the Europa League. The pair had an instant impact; Gaitán sending a clipped through ball over the Olhanense back line for Jara to run onto. The ex-Arsenal forward steered his shot home via a deflection. José Luis Fernández made another cameo appearance, replacing Gaitán for the last twenty-five minutes. Benfica conceded an injury time equaliser, with the final score in Olhão 1-1.

With Porto also now concentrating on Europe, André Villas Boas drafted the veteran wide man Mariano González into the side, with Nico Otamendi also starting at Vitória de Setúbal. The former has been heavily linked with a return to Racing Club, but showed on Sunday that he could still do a job in the Liga, delivering an energetic display. Otamendi netted his fifth of the campaign on the stroke of half time, converting what is fast becoming a trademark well-taken header. Porto ran out 4-0 winners.

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.

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Photo taken from ole.clarin.com

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