It was another packed weekend in which Argentines around the world had a big say in footballing matters, so here’s another dose of Argentines Abroad. Sergio Agüero hit a hat-trick for Manchester City, Fernando Belluschi for Porto and Javier Pastore for PSG scored crackers (Pastore’s was his first for his new club), and there was plenty more besides. Read on for the action, and videos…
In the Premier League, Agüero’s hat-trick was by far the most impressive Argentine contribution. Kun provided all three goals as Manchester City kept up the heat on champions Manchester United with a 3-0 win at home to Wigan Athletic, ably aided and abetted by Spaniard David Silva’s excellent performance (and two assists). Back in the starting lineup was the previously unhappy Carlos Tevez, all sunshine and smiles again, until he took a dreadful penalty eighteen minutes in and saw it saved. Unhappy memories of Argentina’s elimination from the Copa América were inevitable for those of who saw it. Pablo Zabaleta didn’t feature for City. For Wigan, Franco Di Santo missed one half chance, and saw another well smothered by City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Elsewhere in the Prem, Alejandro Faurlín did his fair share of the work for Queens Park Rangers on Monday night, but couldn’t help them make the breakthrough as the drew 0-0 with Newcastle United; Faurlín saw one deflected attempt go close, but that was it. As usual for Newcastle, Jonás Gutiérrez and Fabricio Coloccini both played the whole game. Denis Stracqualursi was an unused substitute for Everton, who drew 2-2 with Aston Villa, and Mauro Formica a fairly peripheral figure as his Blackburn Rovers side drew 1-1 away to Fulham. (Incidentally, is it only me who’s irritated by how Blackburn manager Steve Kean’s mouth moves in post-match interviews? He seems to move his lips and cheeks far more than necessary.)
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In Serie A, there was no shortage of Argentine goals across the league. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Hugo Campagnaro both weighed in with goals – the first and second for Napoli, respectively – as their side got a convincing 3-1 away win over Cesena. Lavezzi scored as early as the third minute, taking advantage of some woeful defending from a long throw in. Late on, Lavezzi was replaced by defender Federico Fernández as Napoli sought to shore up their lead. Lazio, with Juan Pablo Carrizo on the bench throughout and Cristian Ledesma playing the full game, drew 2-2 away to Milan. Gabriel Paletta had a part in Parma’s collective defensive nightmare, losing 4-1 to Juventus (Hernán Crespo was an unused sub for the visitors), and three Argentines (plus one-time Argentine and now Italian Pablo Osvaldo) featured for Roma in their 2-1 home defeat to Cagliari. Gabriel Heinze and Nicolás Burdisso both played in defence, whilst Fernando Gago was introduced from the bench with fifteen minutes remaining.
Cesena 1 – 3 Napoli
Catania appear to be rationing their Argentines a little more this season; only four featured this time in a 0-0 draw with Siena. Goalkeeper Mariano Andújar made a hash of one cross but was bailed out by his defence, whilst Nicolás Spolli, Sergio Almirón and Maxi López all played. Pablo González, once-upon-a-time of Racing, played up front for Siena. There was also a stonking match between Palermo and Internazionale, eventually won by the Sicilians 4-3, in which Diego Milito scored twice – the second a penalty – for Inter. Mauro Zárate, Esteban Cambiasso, Walter Samuel and Javier Zanetti all started for Inter, and Ricky Álvarez replaced Cambiasso with twenty minutes to go. For Palermo, Matías Silvestre played the whole match, but Nicolás Bertolo and Mauro Cetto failed to get off the bench.
The star turn in Italy, though, was from Maxi Moralez, who joined Atalanta from Vélez Sarsfield during the transfer window. He scored twice in a 2-2 away draw against Genoa, playing alongside Germán Denis. Moralez equalised just two minutes after Genoa’s opener, which itself came six minutes in, and then put the visitors ahead two minutes before the break. Matías Ezequiel Schelotto, a 22-year-old forward who came through Banfield’s youth team but has never played first team football in Argentina, also featured for Atalanta, whilst Rodrigo Palacio and Lucas Pratto formed an ex-Boca Juniors strike duo for Genoa.
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Tom Clark blogs here, and is Our Man In Mexico for AA purposes.
Albicelestial action in round 8 of the Mexican league Apertura began with two goals scored by three Argentine players on Saturday 10 September.
The first was Franco Niell’s conclusive goal in Querétaro’s surprising 4-0 home demolition of Pumas (UNAM).
The second was given to stalwart defender Mauricio Romero of Atlas in the rojinegros’ 1-1 draw at home to San Luis; fair enough in an eternal-justice sort of way as Romero had just minutes earlier lost an apparent goal to a questionable offside call; but not quite accurate, as you will see from the following clip, in which it is evident that another Argentine defender, San Luis’ Aníbal Matellán, deserved the dubious honour: an obvious autogol, with his hand.
On the same day an in-form Tigres club who’ve been a pleasure to watch all through the early stages of this campaign overwhelmed Pachuca 5-0 at home, with a hat-trick by the masterful Chilean goleador Héctor Mancilla standing out on the scoreline. On the pitch, though, as the home club poured forward relentlessly, it was plain that Damián Alvarez, flying upfield and crossing from the left wing, and Lucas Lobos, steering brilliantly from the middle, deserved equal credit for the day’s outcome. Just savour the first two goals on this clip, Damián providing the first for the opportunistic Mancilla and the second for his compatriot Lobos:
The dramatic finish to the weekend came on Sunday the 11th. The Red Devils of Toluca, always formidable at home, appeared to be cruising to a 1-0 victory over recently-promoted Tijuana, when the visiting Xolos’ late substitute, José Pepe Sand, ruined the entertainment for the locals by banging in this cabezazo to equalise at the death.
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Barcelona were held to a 2-2 draw with Real Sociedad as the weekend’s action kicked off. Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano both started on the bench for the game, with only the former making an appearance. Messi was introduced with 30 minutes to go and a minute after Sociedad had levelled, but he was unable to influence proceedings as the opposition closed him down quickly and negated any free space the Argentine could run into.
A match being played at the same time was between Villarreal and Sevilla, which also ended 2-2. Villarreal started with Gonzalo Rodríguez and Mateo Mussachio in defence, and while the former didn’t stand out and looked lethargic, Mussachio impressed. He was strong at the back with some important tackles and interceptions, as well as using the ball well when passing into midfield. Marco Ruben came on as a substitute with plenty of time to spare, and he took the chance by scoring a sensational left footed drive. Sevilla meanwhile started with Diego Perotti, who as usual was extremely lively. He made the odd decent run and was heavily involved in all his side’s attacking play. Perotti was a little careless at times with his passing but always looked like he wanted the ball and attempted to be a positive influence. Federico Fazio stayed on the bench, as it appears new coach Marcelino isn’t a fan.
Real Madrid took advantage of Barcelona’s slip-up by beating Getafe 4-2 in a Madrid derby. Ángel Di María featured for Madrid and the less said the better really, as he continuously frustrates fans and opponents alike with his poor use of the ball. When in possession Di María excels in the art of running into blind alleys, as defenders nullify his seemingly only way of playing – the simple thing to do would be to distribute the ball to a team mate but his decision making is suffering right now. In happier news Gonzalo Higuaín came off the bench to good effect, and was sharp to gather a pass from midfield and use his body strength to hold off two defenders before finishing low. Getafe meanwhile started with Daniel Cata Díaz, who made some decent tackles and headed clearances. He was unlucky to also concede a penalty; the foul was outside the area.
Valencia enjoyed a narrow 1-0 win over Atlético Madrid later in the evening, with Pablo Piatti continuing to take time to settle in the team. He’s been asked to do more work from a team point of view than he had at Almería and the system is new to him, but he showed the odd glimpse of his ability. Éver Banega was rested after his jet setting with Argentina – he’s an important man these days at Valencia and was kept under wraps for Champions League action midweek.
There was an interesting managerial battle on Sunday night that garnered quite a bit of interest from an Argentine perspective. Mauricio Pochettino’s Espanyol faced Marcelo Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao, and the game saw Espanyol beat Athletic 2-1. It was a victory for the pupil over his master, after some pre-game press conferences in which both coaches explained their admiration for one another after their time together at Newell’s Old Boys. Pochettino spoke of admiration and affection for Bielsa, insisting all he knows today is down to El Loco. Bielsa returned the compliments too, praising Pochettino for his sound work at Espanyol and speaking of ‘a great respect’. It’s early days for Bielsa with Athletic but signs are it’s going to take some work adapting a young side to his methods. Given the level of changes he looks to implement, patience and understanding will be required from the Basque support.
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Vítor Pereira omitted Nico Otamendi from his squad to face Setúbal on Friday evening, in order to ensure that the former Vélez man was fully rested for Tuesday’s meeting with Shakhtar Donetsk. That left Fernando Belluschi to fly the Albiceleste flag alone, a task the midfielder rose to with aplomb. In Porto’s best display for some time, Belluschi was a darting, inventive presence, orchestrating the move that led to James Rodríguez’s second, and sealing the 3-0 win with a low drive from just outside the box. With Fredy Guarín suspended in midweek, Belluschi ought to see more action as Porto kick off their Champions League campaign.
There were a trio of Argentines lining up for Benfica against Guimarães on Saturday: Ezequiel Garay, Nico Gaitán and Javier Saviola. Pablo Aimar came off the bench for the final half hour. In a half highlighted by three penalties for the home side, none of the Argentines shone, though Garay continues to trouble reporters scrambling for an alternative to ‘duck to water’ when describing his acclimation to the Liga. Benfica prevailed 2-1.
Sporting boosted their Argentine contingent on the final day of the summer transfer window with the arrival of Emiliano Insúa, and the left-back slotted immediately into Domingos’ starting XI, alongside Fabián Rinaudo. Insúa caught the eye throughout an entertaining 3-2 win with his marauding raids forward, and already appears to be a considerable upgrade on Evaldo.
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Two names dominated the French press this weekend. Belgian Eden Hazard was the toast of the media on Saturday night after his superb solo goal against Saint-Etienne but on Sunday the spotlight was fully focused on the nation’s capital and El Flaco didn’t disappoint.
After a insipid first half from Paris Saint-Germain against Brest it was up to Javier Pastore to provide the only goal of the game – his first for his new club. After a solo run down the left he managed to cut the ball back across the box, leaving fellow Argentine Santiago Gentiletti for dead with a superb first touch.
With the expectant eyes of 40,000 Parisians waiting for the €42 million man to fire the ball past Steve Elana, Pastore had other ideas and chipped the ball in the opposite direction. The ‘keeper, rooted to the spot, could only watch the ball nestle in the top corner.
In his first start in his new home the fans who’d paid to be entertained were certainly given a show by the Argentine talisman, and a few PSG fans would have had wonderful dreams of the exciting times ahead in hands of Señor Pastore.
Unfortunately the rest of the Argentines in Ligue Un didn’t have the same luck. Lucho González played reasonably well for Marseille, but couldn’t find a way past an excellent performance from Rennes ‘keeper Benoit Costil, and Stade Rennes eventually won 1-0 to continue Marseille’s poor start to the season.
Elsewhere former Independiente defender Lucas Mareque continued to impress Lorient fans with his solid performances at left-back. After going 1-0 down away to Sochaux, it took an astute substitution from Christian Gourcuff, bringing on two of his new signings, allowing Innocent Emagara level. The final score was 1-1, and Mareque & Co. left with a valuable away point.
Down in the south of France, Nice travelled across to face high flying Montpellier. Unfortunately Fabián Monzón couldn’t stop his side going down 1-0 to Montpellier, with Souleymane Camara’s late winner sent Montpellier to the top of the table.
Lisandro López is still recovering from his ankle injury, and could be out for at least another week. His Lyon side did manage to win without him, beating Dijon 2-1.
Over the past two seasons Lisandro has been the top Argentine performer in Ligue Un, but if Sunday’s performance is anything to go by Javier Pastore is the new sheriff in town.
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