UPDATED! Argentines Abroad: Messi closes in on a record, and more (videos)

It’s been another lively weekend for the Argentine footballers of the world, with Lionel Messi poised to become the highest goalscorer in F.C. Barcelona’s professional era on Tuesday if he can get two goals against Granada tonight. Before that, let’s recap what Argentina’s representatives – including Messi, of course – got up to at the weekend. As ever, there are some lovely goals to enjoy here. Updated on Tuesday afternoon with Ligue Un added.

In England, there were two competitions in a single weekend. Denis Stracqualursi was used only as a late substitute for Everton during their 1-1 draw in the FA Cup against Sunderland at Goodison Park on Saturday. On the same day in the Premier League, Franco Di Santo was in lively form for Wigan Athletic, with at least five or six efforts on goal, but was guilty of poor finishing and a touch of bad luck in not being able to score any of them. That match, against West Bromwich Albion, also ended 1-1.

On Sunday there was only match featuring any Argentine action, as Fabricio Coloccini and Jonás Gutiérrez were key parts as ever of the Newcastle United side which beat Norwich City 1-0. Coloccini didn’t have an awful lot to do in truth, but Jonás – who started at left back due to injuries to other players – set up the game’s only goal, crossing for Papiss Demba Cisse to score eleven minutes in, and had a lively game in general.

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In Serie A, there was plenty of Argentine involvement as ever. On Saturday Gabriel Paletta was part of a Parma side who lost 2-0 at home to Milan, but there were happier tales from Argentine players on Sunday. Joaquín Larrivey replaced Chilean hat trick hero Mauricio Pinilla for Cagliari during their 3-0 win over Cesena, whilst Catania beat Lazio 1-0 with a goal from Nicola Legrottaglie, one of only four non-Argentines in their starting lineup, which included among others (sorry, it’s tiresome typing them all) Juan Pablo Carrizo and Gonzalo Bergessio. Cristian Ledesma featured for the visitors.

Internazionale, with Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Diego Milito in their side, drew 0-0 with Matías Schelotto and Maxi Moralez’s Atalanta (Germán Denis didn’t feature). Milito didn’t have a good day; he failed to score a penalty in the twenty-third minute. Ezequiel Muñoz scored from a corner for Palermo as they drew 1-1 away to Lecce, whilst Hugo Campagnaro featured for Napoli, who drew 2-2 with Udinese.

On Monday night, Roma beat Genoa 1-0. Gabriel Heinze was very impressive for the hosts (no, honestly), who also featured Erik Lamela, and welcomed Fernando Gago back to their midfield. For Genoa, Fernando Belluschi and Rodrigo Palacio both featured, with the latter hitting the crossbar with a volley in the seventy-first minute.

And now, over to our intrepid correspondents!

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Tom Clark, who blogs here, is here as ever to let us know what’s gone on down ol’ Mexico way.

Round 11 of the Mexican Clausura featured six important goals by Argentines – along with a near miss for the ages.

On Saturday, 17th March Tigres overcame Tijuana at home 1-0 on the strength of a ninth minute Lucas Lobos penalty. Twelve minutes later the marvelous Lobos hit a post from sixty-plus metres, just a few inches off being the goal of the season.

The same day Pachuca saw off Atlante at home 3-2. Mauro Cejas, carrying the Tuzos on his shoulders, notched a hat trick (the goals coming in the third, ninth and ninetieth minutes), the third goal coming at the death to to stun the Potros de Hierro – and win the match.

On Sunday, 18th March Vicente Matías Vuoso’s eightieth minute tally provided the winner in América’s 2-1 win over Pumas (UNAM).

And on the same day Neri Cardozo saved a point for the Rayados of Monterrey away to Toluca with this excellent volleyed goal in the 78th minute to equalise at 1-1:

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David Cartlidge, a co-editor of Spanish Football Info, fills us in on the action from La Liga ahead of the midweek round in Spain.

Barcelona kept the pressure on Real Madrid with a 0-2 victory at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuain, and Lionel Messi continued his staggering goalscoring feats this season with another wondergoal. Messi performed a classy caño (nutmeg) on Emir Spahic before lopping the ball into the net, to complete a fine individual goal. Other than that he was quiet, especially so in the second half as he saw little of the ball. Gerard Piqué’s form is suffering at the moment for Barcelona, so it’s just as well Javier Mascherano is performing at such a high level. He was excellent again in central defence, a strong figure facing Sevilla’s attacks. Diego Perotti made an appearance for Sevilla from the bench, and helped his side find some much needed fluidity in the final third. He’ll be starting games in the upcoming weeks once his full fitness has returned.

Messi vs. Sevilla

Villarreal slumped to a disappointing defeat against Levante on Sunday evening, going down 1-0. Mateo Mussachio was present in the Villarreal defence and had a good game despite the loss. He made several important tackles, and clearances, but it wasn’t enough. Alejandro Martinuccio and Marco Ruben were paired up front together, but their play was limited and they could only get away a few shots on target.

Diego Simeone watched on as his Atlético Madrid side stumbled to their second defeat since he took over. Real Mallorca were winners here, 2-1. Eduardo Salvio started for Atleti and played decently, linking play well on the counter and showing clever skill. Unfortunately, all of Atleti’s attacking components failed to click properly, resulting in just the single goal.

Athletic Bilbao, led by Marcelo Bielsa, suffered their second straight league defeat, as Valencia won 0-3 at San Mamés. Pablo Piatti came on as a late substitute for Valencia, but didn’t do anything of note.

Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Málaga in the final game on Sunday, a result which saw their previous ten-point advantage over Barcelona at the top of La Liga to eight. Gonzalo Higuaín wasn’t sent on for Real Madrid until late, with minutes to go in fact, which was a strange decision considering Karim Benzema had wasted some excellent chances.

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Ben Shave, a contributor to PortuGOAL, is here to fill us in on… yes, you guessed it: Portugal!

Neither Nico Otamendi nor Lucho González made it to the final whistle of Porto’s 2-0 victory at Nacional, which opened Round 23 on Friday evening. The scoreline belied a sluggish display from the Dragons, who head into Tuesday’s Taça da Liga Clássico at Benfica top of the table but in distinctly underwhelming form. Whilst Lucho had undoubtedly run out of puff, the fact that Otamendi was replaced by a fellow centre back with the score at 0-0 was not exactly an encouraging sign for the former Vélez man.

Pablo Aimar and Nico Gaitán both started in a mundane 3-1 home win for Benfica against relegation-threatened Beira-Mar, with the latter getting on the scoresheet just before the interval; latching onto a Cardozo knock-down just inside the box and rifling a low shot into the right-hand corner. With the aforementioned Clássico on the horizon, both midfielders were withdrawn before the end.

(Gaitán’s goal is the second)

The round ended on Monday evening with Emiliano Insúa’s Sporting plummeting back down to earth at Gil Vicente, following their heroic loss at Manchester City that saw them into the Europa League quarter-finals. A 2-0 defeat sees the Lions slip back into 5th place behind Marítimo.

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And finally, Andrew Gibney runs the excellent French Football Weekly, and is here to let us know what’s happened in Ligue Un.

The weekend has come and gone and overall it was a fairly quiet weekend for the Argentines in Ligue Un. Only one goal to speak of, but we’ll come back to that. Let’s start in Lorient. Lucas Mareque was involved as Lorient finally snapped their record run of 12 games without a win, coming back from a goal down to beat local rivals Brest 2-1.

Not such good news for the Argentine duo playing in the Nice back four. Both Renato Civelli and Fabián Monzón played the full 90 minutes as they were beaten 2-0 by fellow relegation candidates Sochaux, the defeat saw Nice drop to 18th position as Sochaux climbed off the bottom and level with Nice. The relegation battle will go all the way to the end of the season; with 10 games left both sides are only four points away from 11th place.

Near the top of the table, Lisandro López started for Lyon as they squeezed past rivals Saint-Etienne in the Rhone derby by one goal to nil. The striker had a tough time against the physical presence of Sylvain Marchal and Kurt Zouma but did manage three shots on goal. It was fellow striker Bafetimbi Gomis who fired Lyon ahead in the eighty-first minute with an excellent long range effort.

Finally we travel to Normandy where Paris Saint-Germain took on Caen. Playing at the same time as title rivals Montpellier, the side from the capital wouldn’t know until the end that Montpellier’s defeat to Nancy would give PSG the chance to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1.

Caen took the lead through veteran striker Pierre-Alain Frau but the lead would last less than two minutes. Javier Pastore began a mazy run through the Caen defence, for a second it looked like the defence would crowd the playmaker out and clear the danger. But Lady luck was on Pastore’s side, a heavy last touch would be intercepted, only to ricochet off Pastore’s legs and past Alexis Thebaux in the Caen net. Caen would take the lead again through defender Thomas Heurtaux and for the second week in a row PSG would need some last minute heroics to save the result. A lovely finish from Christophe Jallet in the last minute saved PSG’s blushes and takes them now two points clear of Montpellier at the top of the table.

Another good week for Pastore, he played well on the left of a re-shuffled PSG midfield, with Nene suspended he was given a free role to cut inside from the wing and is looking better each week. With PSG picking up points when the performances are not at their best, the smart money would be on Pastore picking up a winners medal in his first season.

Caen 2 – 2 PSG

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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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