Hasta El Gol Siempre is back, ladies and gents. I apologise for the long absence of any posts on here since the Copa América final, but I’ve been just as busy working as I was during the Copa itself, if not more (more of that in a short while), and it’s been quite pleasant in some ways to put the blog to one side for the best part of a couple of weeks. All the same, you didn’t really think the silence on HEGS would last into the new season, did you? Hand Of Pod’s pre-season preview, featuring Joel Richards, will be online on Friday, but first we’ve got a bit of stuff to catch up on. So read on…
Uruguay won the Copa América, of course. I never got round to posting the goal videos for that because I was writing my post-final thoughts up for ESPNSoccernet and the new issue (out now in the UK and available as a digital subscription online) of When Saturday Comes, but congratulations go to the Celeste. The thoughts of the Hand Of Pod crew the day after the final are available in a special episode, for which we were joined by none other than Jonathan Wilson, award-winning football author and journalist, and co-founder and editor of online football magazine The Blizzard.
As you’ll hear in the opening minutes of that pod, which was recorded on Monday 25th July, the day after the Copa final, there was also an almighty fuss last week at news that the Asociación de Fútbol Argentino had voted overwhelmingly to introduce a new-look top flight starting in August next year which would consist of 38 clubs, formed from the current top two divisions. Those plans have since been shelved after Julio Grondona and his AFA underlings realised they’d misjudged how furious the public backlash would be, but still lurk in the background. Mine, Aussie Dan’s and Joel’s thoughts on them will be heard on the upcoming episode of Hand Of Pod, but you can also read this piece by me on ESPNSoccernet when the whole thing looked like it was actually going to happen, as well as a few words on the actually very good decision to replace Sergio Batista with Alejandro Sabella as national team manager.
As I may have mentioned in passing in the above paragraphs, the Hand Of Pod pre-season special will be available on Friday, and will cover our thoughts on as many of the clubs as we were able to talk about in the buildup to the new championship. If anyone’s wondering why Seba’s and English Dan’s names don’t appear above, incidentally, it’s because they’re both on holiday at the moment getting some respite from a chilly porteño winter; don’t panic, they will still be regular HOPers once they return from (respectively) Rio de Janeiro and southern England.
HEGS’ coverage of the Torneo Apertura will also be complemented this year by a new regular writing gig for me. I’m going to be providing previews of every single match in the Primera this season to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and part of the contract involves me making predictions as to how each match will go, as well. As such you can check their website for a jolly good laugh. My first couple, for Friday evening’s season-opening matches, are already online: you can read the Unión v Argentinos Juniors one here, and the Banfield v Atlético Rafaela one here. Both are also available in Chinese, if that’s easier for you (you can change the language at the top of the page).
I won’t be linking to every individual preview on the HKJC site right here on the blog (well, probably not, anyway), but will be doing so on Twitter, along with live and legal links to most of the matches on each weekend in the top flight, so of course if you don’t already follow me then what better way to start the new season than by finally doing so.Follow @HEGS_com
I’d like to say a thank you to all regular readers of HEGS since I started the site back in February 2007, because for the first time since I took the decision to become a football writer, I’ll actually be able to live off what I earn from the job now, and won’t have to dip into the savings I accrued through a few years of living with my parents before making the move out here to Argentina. I hope you’ll enjoy the HKJC previews (although I hope you don’t have too much to laugh about regarding my predictions of perhaps the most unpredictable league in any major footballing nation), and of course the rest of the Torneo Apertura. And if like me you’re a River Plate fan, don’t desert HEGS! I’ll still be following my side through the season, and no doubt I’ll be updating you all on how they do as well, perhaps not every single week, but on a semi-regular basis.
Pre-season ends here, and so does HEGS’ silence. Batista has gone, a proper manager has been installed for the selección, and Grondona might just have misjudged how much he was able to get away with, for once. It’s going to be another fascinating season here in Argentina, both on and off the pitch, and it’ll be a pleasure as ever guiding you all through it.
You can follow the latest news from the selección and Argentina’s foreign legion of players, as well as the domestic championship, River Plate’s first second division campaign in over a century and the ever entertaining/tragic/infuriating capers of Julio Grondona & chums 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. And remember to bookmark Hand Of Pod, our Argentine football podcast, or if you prefer you can subscribe to it on iTunes here.