Yes, a dog crapped on the pitch during Rosario Central v River Plate on Sunday. You’ve all seen the pictures and/or videos, so let’s move on, because some other stuff happened during the second weekend of Torneo Final action. Most notably, there was a tentative move – could it be? – away from the heavy home-dominance of the Torneo Inicial; no fewer than four of this weekend’s games ended in away wins. River looked competent once again. Boca, having looked really quite good against Newell’s a week earlier, were awful in the second half on Sunday night, and lost 3-2 to Belgrano in a match they probably should have been 3-0 up in by half time.
San Lorenzo have had a torrid start to 2014, but after two consecutive 2-0 away losses (one on the opening weekend of league action, the other in Rio de Janeiro against Botafogo in their first Copa Libertadores group stage match on Tuesday night), they knuckled down, improved dramatically and got a 1-0 win from their home match against Racing. Godoy Cruz also improved; on Friday evening the round began with them dismantling relegation rivals Quilmes; the final score could have been much more one-sided than the 2-0 they had to settle for.
That Central v River game ended 1-1, in case anyone cares about the result, with Manuel Lanzini scoring a fine opener early on before Carlos Luna equalised and celebrated like crazy – no ‘I won’t celebrate a goal against a former club’ bollocks for him. It wasn’t a huge surprise to see that Vélez had a bit more in the tank than Arsenal after midweek exertions, but it did raise an eyebrow to see the final winning margin as wide as 3-1 to the visitors. Arsenal have had a very strong home record for a couple of years now, but have now lost two home games in a row in the league, and heavily at that, having been thrashed 4-1 by Belgrano in their last home match of 2013.
Gimnasia also claimed a tonking, 3-0 at home over Newell’s Old Boys, who are presumably already regretting the decision not to sign a forward (David Trezeguet’s brilliant, but he’s 36. How did they think things were going to go in a campaign with an incredible number of midweek matches?). The most surprising result of the weekend was Atlético de Rafaela’s 3-0 away win over an experimental Lanús side. Or rather, it would have been, had Colón de Santa Fe, who’d picked up two points from their last fifteen matches and scored twice in that whole run, hadn’t managed a 1-0 win at home to Argentinos Juniors to finally end the wait for a victory.
That Quilmes defeat to Godoy Cruz has forced the first managerial change of the year. Yes, two games into the year. Blas Giunta’s out, and as of Tuesday morning, it is reported, Ricardo Caruso Lombardi is in. I despair, really. Caruso, the relegation ‘firefighter’, is widely lauded as a fine manager for clubs in Quilmes’ position. I can’t help wondering, though, whether the very act of returning to him – he’s managed Quilmes before, as he has seemingly half the ‘smaller’ clubs in Greater Buenos Aires – is the club giving themselves a glass ceiling. In a league in which anyone can beat anyone else and clubs like Tigre have challenged for the title in the last few years – and Banfield won the thing – is treading water really all Quilmes want to do? And wouldn’t a little faith in Giunta, a fine manager for several years in the lower divisions with Almirante Brown, have been a good idea?
Here’s a Fútbol Para Todos video of all the weekend’s goals. Round 3 begins on Tuesday – we’re in for a campaign full of midweek rounds, as the AFA desperately try and get the season wrapped up in time for the World Cup.