Argentines Abroad: catching up again

Argentines Abroad has been even more delayed than usual this week, so very briefly, here are updates on last weekend’s action from our intrepid correspondents in Mexico, Spain and Portugal.

Tom Clark, whose blog you’ll find over here, is as ever filling us in on the action from Mexico.

Could Lucas Lobos be the best player in Mexico? The weekend’s action in Round 10 of the Mexican Clausura supported that contention.

In a duel of felinos, Tigres travelled to Chiapas to face Jaguares and came away with a 2-2 draw. But the highlight of the day came early: a twenty-third minute Lucas Lobos golazo. The adroit Lobos drew a foul outside the box, and on the subsequent free kick, once again showed the quality of his educated right foot, swerving a perfect free kick inside the left post from 23 metres out.

On the same day, in Guadalajara, Emanuel Tito Villa scored early for visiting Cruz Azul, with a 23rd minute header following from a wicked Chaco Giménez free kick; but the league’s current overall leader Chivas, a club seemingly revitalized by the recent arrival in an advisory role of the legendary Johan Cruyff, fought back to see off the Cementeros 2-1.

Meanwhile in the regiomontana Monterrey punished visiting Querétaro 4-1, with César Chelito Delgado again a key contributor, his penetrating runs and intelligent passes a consistent burr in the feathers of the suffering Gallos Blancos. The best bit of Chelito’s fine day’s work was an excellent 61st minute goal, putting the Rayados into cruise mode.

David Cartlidge, co-editor of Spanish Football Info, has this to say about last weekend’s La Liga action.

Málaga gained a precious three points in their search for European football, with a 1-0 victory over Levante. Martín Demichelis featured for the club based in Southern Spain, and performed adeptly in defence, winning his aerial duels and dealing with the few signs of trouble. Willy Caballero was in goal as usual for Málaga, made some good claims and a decent saves.

Sporting Gijón also earned three points that will be priceless in their relegation battle, with a 1-0 win against Sevilla. Óscar Trejo put in a selfless performance for Sporting, showing his attacking ability holding the ball up and bringing others into play, while also tracking back admirably, and putting in some brilliant tackles in central midfield. Sevilla had Diego Perotti available after injury, and the young winger looked slightly off the pace. He made a great effort of things however, and troubled Sporting’s full-backs on a few occasions. Federico Fazio was deployed in defensive midfield, and performed well for the most part with some key tackles and interceptions. His physical presence helped as he out-battled several Sporting players. Ugly scenes at the final whistle though, when he got involved in a fracas with opposition players which continued down the tunnel.

An emotion packed Villamarín was the setting for Real Madrid’s 3-2 away win against Real Betis, and Gonzalo Higuaín was the man to get things underway for the visitors. Higuaín made a trademark hard sprint to get on the end of Mesut Özil’s pass, and in the tightest of spaces the ball was squeezed home with an excellent shot while off balance. Higuaín was quiet otherwise, and though he made some smart, incisive running, his end product for the main was poor.

Diego Simeone’s life at Atlético Madrid continues to bring up roses, and a 2-0 win over Granada was their latest success. Granada’s fans decided to abuse El Cholo from the stands, only for the home support to react angrily, while singing Simeone’s name at the top of their lungs. Alejandro Sabella was present at Atleti training during the week, and took time to have a long chat with Simeone and run the rule over Eduardo Salvio. The ex-Lanús player had a quiet game here, and seemed a little out of place with Falcao back in the team.

Valencia started brilliantly, but faded, as they drew 2-2 with Real Mallorca. Tino Costa was on the score sheet for Valencia, albeit via a deflected effort, and he had a strong first half in the double pivote, before failing to produce in the second. Mallorca came into the game more, and hustled in midfield, which was a battle Costa and his team lost. Costa then lost his head, as he was sent off with a straight red card for a wild lunge with 5 minutes remaining. Pablo Piatti made an appearance from the bench as Valencia chased the winner, but he failed to get into the game enough. Drama ensued after the game, as Costa went on his personal Twitter account and retweeted a trending topic in Spain demanding the resignation of Valencia’s president, and of their coach. Ouch. It was all cleared up later, and had been an accident apparently…

Tino goal

Barcelona notched up another routine win, beating Racing Santander 0-2. It was down to one man again, his name… Lionel Messi. You knew that though. Just the two goals for him on Sunday, and not the five he managed in midweek. Obviously he’s slacking. Javier Mascherano also played, and when called upon didn’t make a mistake. His movement out of defence and use of the ball was first class as usual.

Messi performance video

Monday night saw Villarreal beaten by Getafe, and plunged right into the relegation fight further. Gonzalo Rodríguez started, but didn’t last long for Villarreal. His side started defensively, and a poor first half lacked quality. Rodríguez was then sacrificed on the hour mark in favour of a more attacking option, during that time he put in a few tackles, and won his aerial battles.

Ben Shave, contributor to PortuGOAL, is here to let us know what’s gone in Portugal.

Not the best weekend for Argentines in Portugal: only two of those in action ended up on the winning side of things. José Shaffer was not among them; his União de Leiria side slipped to a 2-1 loss at Braga, which left them five points adrift of safety at the bottom. Shaffer was hauled off after the second Braga goal went in with 50 minutes played.

Lucho González had a sub-par ninety minutes as Porto were held 1-1 at home to Académica (Nico Otamendi was an unused substitute). Held is perhaps not quite the right word – the home side needed an injury-time penalty to salvage a point, with Lucho just one among a slew of poor performers at the Dragão.

Víctor Meza had a thirteen-minute substitute’s cameo in the game of the weekend, which finished Olhanense 4-4 Nacional. The forward has done little of note with his time in Portugal, and is unlikely to remain next season, in the top division at any rate. Also on the bench was recently-arrived Jorge Molina, though the former Deportivo Merlo midfielder will have been pleased to have missed out on Guimarães’ 5-0 shellacking at Sporting (for whom Emiliano Insúa was rested ahead of Thursday’s Europa League trip to Manchester City).

So, to the pair of victorious Argentines who, if you’ve yet to figure it out, wore the red of Benfica – though not at the same time. Javier Saviola was one of two players replaced at half time by Jorge Jesus with the Eagles 1-0 down, and the new faces, one of whom was Nico Gaitán, had an immediate impact. It was Gaitán who turned home from close range to level the scores, and Benfica went on to seal the victory that sees them peg back Porto at the top.

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.

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