As the clock ticks towards 2015, I present here not one but two best XIs of Argentina-based players during 2014. The reason it’s two is simple: the sides who won the main trophies (the two domestic leagues and the two continental cups) dominate the actual best XI, and I felt sorry for the others. At first I thought I was leaning too heavily towards River Plate players, until El País announced their official annual awards this morning and it turned out all three of the players on the South American Player Of The Year podium were River players (Teo Gutiérrez, Carlos Sánchez and Leonardo Pisculichi), and two more (Marcelo Barovero and Leonel Vangioni) made it into the continent’s Best XI.
Argentine club football Best XI 2015 as picked by me
M. Barovero (River Plate)
G. Mercado (RP) — R. Funes Mori (RP) — M. Cetto (San Lorenzo) — L. Vangioni (RP)
C. Sánchez (RP) —- M. Kranevitter (RP) —- I. Piatti (SL)*
T. Gutiérrez (RP) — D. Milito (Racing) — G. Bou (Racing)
On the bench: S. Torrico (GK, San Lorenzo); J. Buffarini (San Lorenzo); L. Lollo (Racing); L. Ponzio (River); L. Pisculichi (Argentinos Juniors/River); R. Mora (River); M. Matos (San Lorenzo)
* Piatti moved to Montreal Impact of MLS between the first and second legs of the Copa Libertadores final, but was key to San Lorenzo getting there, so he edges Pisculichi out of my starting XI.
And the best XI from the other sides, because they deserve some representation too (this bit, I admit, is rather biased towards the second half of the year, because the Torneo de Transición’s easier to remember than the Torneo Final)
F. Monetti (Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata)
F. Oreja (GELP) – J. Schunke (Estudiantes) – V. López (Newell’s) – M. Casco (Newell’s)
M. Rodríguez (Newell’s) — D. González (Lanús) — V. Ayala (Lanús)
F. Mancuello (Independiente)
J. Ayoví (Godoy Cruz) —- S. Romero (Lanús)
On the bench: A. Orión (GK, Boca Juniors); E. Goñi (Estudiantes); O. Barsottini (Gimnasia); L. Somoza (Lanús); D. Montenegro (Independiente); J. Furch (Belgrano); L. Pratto (Vélez Sarsfield)
The second XI is limited to players who reached at least double figures appearance-wise during the Torneo Final, and to a certain extent by how well players did in comparison with expectations, which is part of the reason Boca Juniors only have one representative (I’m not entirely happy with having three Newell’s players in it, but all three significantly outperformed their team-mates).
Go on then, tell me who I’ve forgotten.