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A Week's A Long Time In Fútbol:

Dan works in Buenos Aires as a South American football correspondent, reporting on Argentina and beyond for International.

He is also a socio of Avellaneda's famous Racing Club, and every weekend can be found in some stadium suffering through the latest La Academia trauma or triumph.

An Unholy Union Sinks Racing after Eight Measly Seconds

A week may be a long time in politics, and in fact football, but eight seconds really isn’t. Unless, of course, you happen to be a long-suffering fan of Racing Club. Unfortunately, as you well know, I fall into this cursed group of masochists and gluttons for punishment, which made for a very upsetting evening on Saturday.

A couple of week’s absence for this most distinguished of blogs coincided with an upturn for my beloved misfits, as a draw and two victories began the ascent from the nether regions of the table to the shiny peak. Pure coincidence I may add and related to an undesired absence from the stadium, rather than a mere willingness to only talk about the team when they fail. Well, maybe a little of that.

The recent good form led to an upsurge of hope for the team, a fact rather cynically exploited by Racing as they slapped another 50 pesos on the ticket prices for ‘Day of the Fan’. Proving as ever that the La Academia faithful are commendable in their blind fanaticism, 40,000 supporters happily begged, borrowed or stole to cough up the extra cincuenta pé and make their way to El Cilindro. The meeting point as ever was the one and only Lo de Susi, this time with some extra guests; a television crew who had made their way to the local drinking hole to interview the legend herself and see her wise words drowned out by exuberant fans wishing death upon Independiente and San Lorenzo.

Well-lubricated and in the stadium then, we waited with baited breath for the team to appear and deliver another glorious triumph which would lift us near the top and keep the eternal dream of the championship alive. Joy, expectation, hope; all emotions in abundance for the first seven seconds of the match against Union.

The early bird gets the worm

Because after that, it all went wrong. The Santa Fe side pumped the ball up straight from kick off and there was a disastrous mix-up at the back between Sebastian Saja, Matias Martinez and Lucas Aveldaño – henceforth to be known as the Three Stooges. With a flourish of comedy sound-effects and “watch it, chowder-head” exclamations the trio contrived to bump into each other, while Diego Jara calmly ignored the floor show and put his team in the lead. Eight seconds. EIGHT SECONDS!! I usually don’t arrive in the stadium until at least five minutes have gone.

From there, it only got worse. A second goal followed, before on the stroke of half-time a penalty was given to the away team. Enrique Bologna, whose time-wasting from the second minute of play had attracted the ire of the Racing fans, stepped up to take the kick and was denied by Saja, but a penalty-area invasion – to borrow Argentine parlance – necessitated another try. The goalkeeper took a deep breath, started his run-up… and blasted the ball so far over the bar it most likely ended up in Quilmes.

The farce continued after half time when Teo Gutierrez suffered exactly the same fate as Bologna, missing twice from the spot. Sometime after that, a third goal from Union confirmed a humiliating  3-0 defeat. Not that you’d know it from listening to the home fans mind. Seemingly determined to get their money’s worth, the Racing popular exploded in a melody of chants and jumps, wonderfully oblivious to the depressing events on the field. “There is a gang that is different, it’s not the same as all the rest, The one that doesn’t give a shit if you lose, or if you wiiiiiiiiiin,” was the hit of the night, and the one which most succinctly sums up what it is to follow this most cursed of footballing institutions.

It was a torrid evening, seven seconds of excitement followed by roughly 5393 desperately painful seconds (don’t you love calculators?) but still, nothing could deter the fans who were determined to make the most of their 50 peso outlay. Turning to a friend of mine in the stadium, who declared the festivities the loudest and most impressive of any team he has witnessed, winning or losing, just confirmed what all of us know about Racing. Win or lose, and one tends to come more than the other, the support will always be Number One. But if we could still win a few, that would be ok as well.

PS: The obligatory plug is coming. If you haven’t started listening to Hand of Pod, possibly the finest (and possibly the only) Argentine football podcast in the English language, I would strongly recommend it. You can listen to me alongside Sam, Dan and Seba every week waxing lyrical about the General Belgrano Clausura, and there’s even a couple of jokes to enjoy.

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Love Across Borders for the Mighty L’Acade: Argentina & Colombia United (in defeat)

The tribalism of Argentine football, as I’m certain I have alluded to more than once in these hallowed pages, is a sight to be seen. Thousands of police officers are put on duty and armed to the teeth every weekend with one specific goal: do not let the two sets of fans get near each other, or else watch as all hell breaks lose in a flurry of stones, bricks and trips to the local hospital. The faithful of my own Racing Club, although clearly superior in so many ways to the rabble who go to Boca, River or (god forbid) Independiente every week are from guiltless when it comes to demonising the other in the opposite stands – a fact poetically stated by a good friend of mine before a Clasico, when he declared that he “hated Independiente with all his soul.” Quite.

King's cycle of dreams and disappointment is painfully familiar for Racing fans

As a born romantic, however, a lover not a fighter and admirer of the legendary Martin Luther King  Jr, I too have a dream. That fans of
both teams will one day play in the streets together, that a man will be judged not by the colour of his shirt, but by the content of his character. Walking to El Cilindro on Sunday to watch Racing take on Banfield, I rubbed my eyes in disbelief as it appeared my fantastical dream was in the process of becoming reality.

Two men walked in the opposite direction; one bedecked in the unmistakeable celeste y blanca of my beloved. The other was wearing the equally distinctive green and white stripes of the day’s opponents, based in the eponymous city in the sprawling suburb of Lomas de Zamora. Was I seeing history? Was this a seminal moment in Argentine football? Would fans from this point forward be putting down the flaregun, the rocks and the anger to forever more sit in fields and braid each other’s hair before games? Well, not quite.

Upon further inspection, I deduced that the shirt was in fact that of Atletico Nacional, a South American giant based in the Colombian city of Medellin. In Gio Moreno La Academia have one of the Colombian team’s favourite sons in their ranks, and since then fans of Nacional have swarmed to El Cilindro to bring their own colour to the stadium palette. A heart-warming story, if not quite as Kingesque as the one I had first envisaged, but a further sign of how, for a significant proportion of the thousands of Colombians who move to Buenos Aires every year, the shared passion of football brings two fanatical populations together. This is Racing, after all, where on entering our favoured pre-match watering hole you are just as likely to hear a “qué más, parce?” as you would a more porteño form of address: “Qué hacés, vieja?” A lovely bunch.

Fittingly it would be a Colombian star who had the biggest impact on the match, although not completely positive. Not Moreno, but his Cafetero cousin from Barranquilla Teo Gutierrez, a striker whose ability to put the ball in the net is only matched by his talent to put his foot in his mouth, and drive us all insane. Suffice to say he managed both on the weekend.

First, happy thoughts. Our merry band of tipsy supporters had barely elbowed our way into the stands when a penalty was given, and Teo stepped up to slot it home and provoke a mass round of hugs, kisses and other public displays of affection with hairy men you would usually decline to sit next to on the bus. Those readers hanging around from the previous two weeks (cheers, by the way) will remember that Racing had failed to score in their first two outings, and had picked up one measly point. Pay attention, this will all be on the test. And anyone familiar with the mighty L’Acade will know their unrivalled capacity for self-destruction. Yes, it’s another of those stories.

The Racing Barra thanks Colombia for its support, Oscars style

A soft penalty down the other end gave Banfield parity once more, but after Bustamante was sent off Racing surely had to reassert their dominance. No. What followed were 60 frustrating minutes of poor crosses, awful passes, wayward shots and agonised grunts from the terraces. Oh, and the obligatory moment of stupidity from our man Teo: already on a yellow card, for reasons best known to himself he tried to kick the ball out of goalkeeper Lucchetti’s hands, earning himself an early bath no-one could argue with. With that, a draw would have been acceptable, but the visitors had other ideas and three minutes into injury time headed the winner to leave fans perplexed and dumbfounded.

The boos followed, as did the chants referring to a vital anatomical part of the players’ own mothers and a confrontation outside when it was time to get back on the bus. This was accompanied by the brilliant image of coach Basile squaring up to fight each of the disgruntled supporters, only to admit that maybe they had a point after another shocking performance.

Our little group, meanwhile skulked away to begin the post-match dissection of the defeat, and there was perhaps one conclusion that gained more popularity than most. Argentina, England, Colombia: fans of Racing can come from all corners of the globe, uniting cultures and nations with the beautiful game. But for the long-suffering supporters, permanent exile to one of those corners would be welcome for La Academia’s losers. Siberia, anyone?

PS. We still are less than fond of Banfield

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Touring in Mendoza without a Bike or Wine Bottle in Sight

Mendoza. We’ve all heard of Mendoza, right ladies and gentlemen? Most tourists to Buenos Aires will vaguely locate  it as the place where their wine came from during last night’s steak dinner. Longer-term travellers may have visited these lovely wineries at the source, lots of grapes, friendly locals inviting you to sample and share their harvest and so-on, so-forth. My sources tell me there is even a bike trip which is moderately popular, where groups meander round different vineyards on two wheels and then try not to break their necks on the way back. Lovely.

Enticed by these idyllic tales of mountains, grapes and being just over the road from Chile, what better destination for my long weekend (thank you, Carnaval) than this hallowed soil. And of course, the fact that my beloved, my cursed Racing happened to be playing in the same city on the same weekend was merely a happy coincidence. So I begged, borrowed and stole to gather enough pesos, and on Saturday evening found myself in Villa del Parque waiting to leave courtesy of the Pibes de Racing tour company?

One way to spend a Mendozan afternoon

Doesn’t ring any bells? Well, I’ll explain the unique selling point of this little-known – let’s call it ‘off the beaten track’ in guidebook speak – group of tour guides. The discerning client is offered a 60% discount on the usual cost of a long-distance bus, as the tickets are generously subsidised by the club. There must be a catch then, I hear you scream? Well, no, not unless you expect some resemblance of comfort and civilisation on a 1200km bus journey.

Meeting up with the usual ragtag band I accompany to games in Avellaneda – El Pelado, El Maestro (a primary school teacher in Fuerte Apache), the Maestro’s son, about three El Negros – from first glance it was clear this was not be a laidback saunter through the heart of Argentina. The first clue to this was the eight bottles of Fernet and 12 bottles of coke which had already been stowed away on the bus, which for a group of around 10 represented a decent proportion. None of them would be still alive by the time the mountain ranges of Mendoza wound into vision. The night, as well as much of the morning, was spent drinking out of the infamous botella cortada (cut bottle) (which is the only way to really to drink Fernet for your convenience, refer to this instructional video), singing, jumping and basically making a nuisance of one’s self in a haze of cigarette and marijuana smoke. A quick pit stop in a glorious campsite overlooking the mountains served to replenish empty bottles, and on the way we were to Godoy Cruz’s Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.

A quick note before we continue on the relationship between police and football supporters, as this will be important later. They don’t like us, and we don’t like them. Police especially don’t like football fans who arrive to the stadium with a thick haze of beer and Fernet hazing their judgement, speech and movement. Police from outside Buenos Aires like even less uppity Porteños that arrive in the same state to their precious land. All of which, as can be imagined, meant that entrance to the stadium was going to be complicated, even more so due to the presence of the dreaded breathalysers.

Another way to spend the Mendozan afternoon

Myself and Luciano squeezed past the ranks of Mendoza’s finest without having to blow, while El Maestro failed spectacularly but worked his way into the ground by pointing to his 15-year-old son. Three of our group fell at this hurdle, however, and were obliged to spend the duration of the game at a local police station. It must be said that they did not miss much.

It was a poor match, I hazily recall, with Racing enjoying the best of play while only threatening to hit the net sporadically. One man up, however, after a red card for the home side, and hopes were that one goal would be enough to break the deadlock. Anyone who has read this column before or who knows anything of La Academia knows where this is going…

The goal did indeed arrive, but for our hosts. A long ball was fluffed by the Racing defence, and centre-back Leonardo Sigali was on hand to heart-breakingly head the ball past goalkeeper Saja for a winner netted minutes from the end. A devastating end to a fun-filled weekend, and with that it was back on the bus and back to reality. Spirits were still high though, mainly because of the high levels of spirits in each fan’s bloodstream, and the mood was upbeat as the jailbirds rejoined us and the long trip back home began.

Thus ended our little trip to Mendoza, back in Villa del Parque two days after departing and desperately trying to find an open bathroom that did not resemble the pestilence and despair left in the coach’s facilities. Some 30 hours of travel for 90 minutes of football sounds masochistic, and to be fair it is. But the laughs, the invented, semi-coherent and fully-vulgar songs, the stories and the friends made in close proximity to 50 other Racing fanatics are just reward for the journey from hell, and if the price is missing out on the fabled bike ride, for me it’s one worth paying.

PS. A good friend of mine, Rory McClenaghan, was fortunate enough to go to a game which as well as being more entertaining hopefully took slightly less toll on his body and soul than my jaunt out west. Please read his excellent musings on Lanus’ clash with Ronaldinho and Flamengo in the Copa Libertadores, and he might just buy me a Quilmes.

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Reunited and It Feels So Good!

Please don’t take this as a mark of disrespect, my dear readers and fellow travellers through the smoke-obscured labyrinth that is

Hi-ho, Hi-ho | Back off to work goes the Guardia Imperial

Argentine football. It delights me to have the chance once more to regale you with my tales of following the mighty Racing Club across the length and breadth of this fair nation, sharing everything inside the stadiums that’s fit, and not so fit, to publish.

For myself, however, and as I imagine it would be for most enfermos who claim allegiance to the cream of Avellanedan football, my re-entry down the hallowed halls of the Argentina Independent is but the second most important reunion I have enjoyed this week. And anyone with a particularly long memory who remembers my earlier musings on the same subject, will surely by now know just what I am talking about.

That’s right. After two and a half long, agonising months away from the Cilindro, frantically scouring images of sports broadcasts transmitted from impossibly sunny beaches in Mar del Plata in search of just one more football fix to keep me in relative sanity, the Clausura Crucero General Belgrano is in action. And remaining blissfully unaware of the escalating tensions between my nation of birth and my adopted country which could well end with an atomic bomb dropping on my Caballito palace one day, I made my way with a skip in my step to my second home in Argentina.

The routine was reassuringly familiar, like emerging from a coma to find that the sky is still blue, the grass is still green and River Plate are still in the B. Sunday’s lack of traffic meant that myself, Omar and Juan arrived in Avellaneda some two hours before kick-off, leaving ample time to start the previa. For those unfamiliar with the football previa, I can only recommend it as a wonderful activity on a boiling Sunday afternoon. Ice-cold Quilmes? Check. The very best Milanesa sandwich in the whole of Buenos Aires? Check? Raucous singing amongst the faithful who were making up for 10 weeks of shopping and DIY on the weekends?  Oh you’d better believe it.

You see, even by the standards of the famously optimistic, some would say deluded, Racing support, hopes are sky-high for this season. Academia favourite Alfio ‘Coco’ Basile is back on the coach’s bench for a fifth spell with the club that made him a legend. The name may not ring a bell to casual observers, but the voice is unmistakeable. Coco has always been famous for a vocal register that could be used to scare birds away from crops, but after a recent throat operation he now sounds like part of his warm-up exercise consists of gargling gravel followed by a milkshake composed of live bees. Still, he’s an idol, and that combined with the ability of last year’s runners-up to maintain their squad intact meant that the faith was there, ideally to start with a win against relegation-threatened Tigre.

The great Basile deep in pre-season training

Of course, since this is Racing, we saw nothing of the sort. The most exciting part of proceedings was the entrance of the players, the most popular of whom were left beaming by the serenades of the home popular. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got. 90 turgid, uninspired minutes of football were what followed, although for those of us who had engaged enthusiastically in the previa this pain was mitigated by the Quilmes misting sense and sentience to a degree.

So we continued jumping and singing throughout the fixture, oblivious to the 0-0 that was as inevitable as the tides or an insufferable Boca fan following any victory. The draw was fair, mainly because neither team did nearly enough to win, and as we filed out of the stadium along with 40,000 fellow fans, hope of bouncing back with a victory in the following week dominated conversation. On Sunday it did not come, but of course the next 18 games should be a walk in the park.

In the interests of balance, and mainly to protect this blog from claims that it is a platform for the rantings of a one-eyed madman, there were some other games played over the weekend (my sources inform me). Boca of course won again, angering everyone in what we can contrarily dub the Mitad menos Uno who wish nothing but strife on this band of Maradona wannabes. Of course this wasn’t enough for the Bosteros, and as I finish these scribblings coach Julio Falcioni is one his way out due to a refusal to share his toys with the great Roman Riquelme.

So ends a predictably action-packed first week of the Argentine season, although admittedly the action was to be found more often off the pitch than on it. The coming weekend sees Racing making the long trip to Mendoza (the place with the wine) to meet Godoy Cruz, a punishing 24 hour round trip that surely only the most ridiculously obsessed fan would make. The bus leaves at midnight on Saturday, I’ll be the one banging the windows and cradling a bottle of Fernet. Vamo L’Acadeeeeeee

PS. A gratuitous plug for myself seems merited. An article of mine about Racing’s 1967 Intercontinental Cup triumph over Celtic, which made the team the first-ever Argentine world champions, will appear in issue four of the Blizzard magazine. Aside from my scribblings it is a fantastic read which brings together some of football’s best journalists from across the world, and it is available to pre-order on a pay as you like basis via, hard copies and pdfs for those of you who have those fancy space-age reading machines both available.

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Club de Barrio? That’s my Barrio you’re talking about!!

Work commitments in my second life have recently got in the way in the almost full time job of being an enfermo Racinguista, even leading to me missing the last couple of games on the stands and forced through the torture of suffering through television. Considering the last game saw Racing inexplicably thrashed 4-1 away to Lanus, perhaps this isn’t always such a bad thing…

The stadium bug still bites however, and I found myself scouring the fixture lists in order to get the monkey off my back for a few hours at least. Luckily the perfect opportunity presented itself through Daniel Colasimone of Argentina Football World: we would go to see the mighty Ferrocarril del Oeste, in my home barrio of Caballito.

Ferrocawhat, you might be asking at this moment. Cabawho, might be the response from new arrivals to the ‘Paris of the South’. Let’s take a quick history and geography lesson to get up to speed. Caballito is a traditional Porteño neighbourhood located in the centre of the city. No, not the centre tourists know with its pink palace, ‘offbeat’ street performers and phallic Obelisco, but the bullseye on the Capital Federal map which I have called home for the last 12 months.

The glorious Caballito skyline

Ferro meanwhile are one of the teams in the city somewhat disparagingly called a club de barrio, a neighbourhood club. For me this conjures up rather charming sepia-tinted images of fathers and sons taking a five minute walk to the ground from their homes on a Sunday afternoon without having to negotiate the hell of post-match public transport, but here it is shorthand for a little institution who would have trouble filling a shoebox let alone a stadium. The club’s glory days of the 1980s and early 90s are well behind them and now they struggle along in the bottom half of the Second Division, but every two weeks fans come from every corner of Caballito to suffer and celebrate along with their heroes.

The atmosphere was certainly different from the insanity which passes for support on the Cilindro terraces, but it lacked none of the joy and whimsy that can be found in every Argentine stadium on a good day.

The day’s festivities started in Parque Centenario with a couple of ice-cold beers and some local rock music of varying quality, before we made our way down to the Cathedral of the ‘little horse’s’ football fanatics. The differences between my usual Avellaneda haunts and this one hit like a brick in the face before even getting in the ground. Whereas for La Academia we are accustomed to arriving up to 90 minutes early to gain a spot on the terraces between 40,000 people, the 2,000 or so milling on Avenida Avellaneda were only let in to the ground some 10 minutes before kick off- needless to say, finding a suitable vantage point was not a problem!

Then there are the stands, possibly one of the most disconcerting things I have experienced as a football fan and journalist. Not for the Verde this modern business of all seater stadia or even that insidious 19th century contraption concrete. No, in the Ferro popular we were obliged to perch on rows of wooden planks which pass for the standing area, and which buckle alarmingly every time the crowd get rowdy and start bouncing up and down- of course, in Argentina this happens almost constantly.

It took a while to assure myself that I wasn’t going to fall to my death courtesy of a rain and termite-weakened plank finally giving way, although a young boy nearly met a similar fate in falling through the chasm before luckily being saved by a very relieved father- God knows how that conversation would have started on returning home to the wife minus a child. We were left to enjoy the game, and a seventh win of the season for the Green Army which pushed them up to 11th in the Nacional B.

In truth the Caballito kings were on top throughout the game, and deserved to win by more than a header late in the first half which sealed a 1-0 victory. Myriad chances went by the wayside, and common to most Argentine side the home team did their best to throw away the game with some suicidal defending, thankfully unpunished by opponents San Martin de Tucuman.

The occupants of the Ferro popular

The fans were obviously used to their boys snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but amid the suffering the chanting and drums were ubiquitous throughout. As a Ferro newbie it was refreshing to hear some new ditties aside from the classics that belt out from the Racing terraces, and one in particular sticks in the mind. Puerto Rican reggaeton king Daddy Yankee would doubtless be delighted to know that his infuriatingly catchy Despedida has been adapted by the little horse’s finest, with a slight modification in the chorus: “Ooo, tenés que ganar, esta banda va volver a la A”. “You have to win, we’re going back up to the A”, is the simple translation- well, I enjoyed it.

An enjoyable afternoon out by all means, with just one fairly upsetting casualty. My house keys could not survive the trampoline like stands and liberated themselves from my pocket, to plummet to the depths of the Ferro tablon never to be seen again and ensuring me a bill of 22 pesos on Monday for the luxury of entering and exiting my own home.

The grief however was soon soothed by a pair of whiskies around the corner and a return to the reality of the Primera in the sulking form of Roman Riquelme and Boca Juniors on the TV. This day belonged to Ferro though, and with the dulcet tones of Sr. Yankee ringing through my ears I was proud to be a Caballitense more than ever.  “Yo no soy de liniers, yo no soy de Boedo, somos de Caballito porque tenemos huevo, porque tenemos huevoooooo!!!!”

Like Argentine football? You’ll love listening to Dan, Daniel, Sam and Seba on Hand of Pod

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Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde In El Cilindro Vs. Olimpo

One thing that you learn very quickly when you commit yourself to the life of a Racing Club fanatic is that no matter if you’re watching the best team in the league or one of the worst, you are condemned to an existence full of suffering. The 2011 edition of La Academia is widely appreciated as one of the best of the past decade; but judging on an incredible game last Saturday, the suffering will be with us for a good time yet.

After a joyful comeback victory against San Lorenzo the week previously the hopes and dreams of the Racing faithful had been well and truly ignited, which was confirmed by a quick glance around the Cilindro for Saturday’s clash with undistinguished yet still dangerous Olimpo. We emerged from local pre-match watering hole Lo de Susie (translated as Susie’s place, a legendary bar within spitting distance of the Racing home ground) with bellies full of Quilmes, milanesa and fries, and even an hour before kick off had to battle our way onto a terrace which was quickly becoming uncomfortably packed.

With the skilled use of elbows and more than a few toes being trod on though we maneuvered ourselves into position, and were joined on the concrete steps by two of the fellow representatives of the Villa Crespo Racing Club contingent. Sergio, who sauntered into the stand with a hefty Cuban cigar in hand and in good spirits and Maxi, who was already shirtless and happy to let his dreadlocks fly in every direction as he jumped maniacally.

The Guardia Imperial get ready for battle

As always the stand was electric with anticipation and passion, and the Guardia Imperial had prepared a new chant for the occasion that proved to be more like an epic love ballad. “L’Acade, a passion, you’re the joy that is in my heart, L’Acade, I’m always there, this hinchada deserves to be champions” rang out across the massive popular, reaching a crescendo as the heroes in celeste y blanca ran out to rapturous applause.

The team looked energised by the support coming from behind the goal, at least it seemed that way as we were treated to one of the best performances in most people’s memory during the second half. Playing an attacking 3-4-3 formation Racing streamed forward at every opportunity to create chances, with the much-maligned (by me, more than anyone) Pablo Luguercio playing a blinder as the link between attack and midfield.

El Payaso notched the first goal in the opening minutes, before forcing a second with a shot diverted into the Olimpo net by a defender. Every goal was marked by a wall of noise from the terraces and a raucous atmosphere starting to resemble closer a moshpit; after the second goal we would finish a good six rows lower than when the ball hit the net, never to return. The cherry on top of a perfect performance came when Lucas Licht polished off a 12 pass move to hit the third; a voice of caution came at half time though, when the obligatory self-appointed wise man of the tribuna urged caution.

Racing celebrate the first of four goals

How right (and irritatingly smug) he proved to be. After Teo Gutierrez chipped home a fourth in the opening minute Racing decided to fall asleep, and Olimpo bounced straight back with a shocking seven minute spell. The ball zoomed, inched and squeezed past goalkeeper Jorge de Olivera three times in that incredible period, changing the game from a walk in the park to one where fingernails would end up being bitten until somewhere near the shoulder-blades. The songs went silent for a second, replaced by frenzied asking of the same question: ¿Cuánto falta? ¿Cuánto falta? How long do we have to survive?

In reality it was roughly 25 minutes, but it felt like an eternity as Racing held on to the final whistle. Hold on they did however, and the 38,000 odd home fans erupted in unison when the sweet melody of the final whistle sounded. Despite fierce traffic blocking the roads of Avellaneda on the way back and a game which surely provoked more than one heart attack in Argentina the general mood was one of contentment, and joy that unlike previous years this Racing side could be thrown against the ropes and yet withstand the blows without folding.

The weekend finished with a very agreeable sight, that of La Academia looking down contemptuously on the rest of the league in first position- yes, I know that only four games have gone but do you really think that matters right now?! The trick for Miguel Angel Russo and co. will be staying at the summit, starting with a trip to Santa Fe next Sunday which I will unfortunately have to view from the comfort of my own home being unable to make the six hour trip (trust me, it was a tough choice).

The team however are playing with a swagger and verve that is unrecognisable from the XI I first started watching two years ago, and this is matched by a passion and adoration from the stands which is guaranteed to send a warm feeling down the spine. Win or lose, champions or also-rans, this passion is something which will never leave the Racing faithful.

Follow Dan on Twitter at @DanEdwardsGoal, and his ramblings on South American football with

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Singing In Soldati Against The Cuervo

Hola, bienvenidos and welcome to another year of football chat, and I am pleased to announce that this year things will be a little different. Whereas before I (admittedly rather sporadically) posted updates on the week’s football action, for 2011 I plan to concentrate on a subject closer to my heart; the one and only, mighty Racing Club.

Since arriving in Buenos Aires I slowly but surely was bitten by the Academia bug, and now I come to you hopelessly entangled with this most tortured football institution, a socio and season ticket holder who turns up every Sunday for 90 minutes of suffering and afterwards a far longer session of celebrating/sorrow drowning with the aid of copious amounts of Quilmes and wine. I would like to invite the dear readers of the Argentine readers into this most exclusive world of mine: and where better to start than with last week’s immense clasico victory against San Lorenzo in their own backyard.

VIDEO: The Guardia Imperial on A Day Out In Soldati

After the usual backroom machinations and plotting to try and get tickets, all five of our habitual match day crew managed to gain entry to Saturday’s clash: myself, Nico, Luciano, Omar and Juan, friends made from my long stay in the barrio of Villa Crespo. After a quick round of coffees in a local bar we were on the road in Juancito’s trusty Renault Kangoo, and in no time flat we were paying a shirtless, toothless man armed with nothing more than an old rag for the right to park on a sun-baked, pot-holed street down in Bajo Flores/ Villa Soldati.

San Lorenzo's less than salubrious neighbourhood

These names may not mean much to many foreigners passing through the city of Buenos Aires, but it is one of the most notorious neighbourhoods in the capital; a reputation gained largely due to the proximity of Villa 11-14, a shanty town which strikes fear into the hearts of most porteños and which conveniently lies directly opposite San Lorenzo’s concrete bowl of a stadium. Aside from having to neatly duck a flying glass bottle thrown by a Cuervo fan passing in a bus however our arrival passed without incident, and in no time I was jostling for space in the visitor’s terrace, the sun descending behind the villa but still making it rather uncomfortable for the 4,000 supporters in the exposed stand.

Racing have endured a complicated start to the season, an excellent first day win against All Boys followed by a serious injury to El Cilindro’s darling, Colombian Gio Moreno and then a derby defeat at the hands of the Bosteros Boca Juniors. Nevertheless spirits were sky high when the players entered the pitch, to the sounds of the wonderfully romantic tunes which contrast against the mean faces and severe haircuts of those who belt them out: “I love you L’Acade, I’m always with you, you are my life. I will always be by your side, you’re the number one in Argentina”. Heartwarming, and made even more exhilarating by the concrete stand that was swaying alarmingly with the jumping and swaying of the fans.

All the singing in the world though could not stop Racing going down a goal early from a Jonathan Bottinelli header, which had the effect of silencing Racing’s Guardia Imperial barra and their drums if only for a second. The away side were on top however, and striker Gabriel Hauche could have equalled but dragged a one on one chance wide. The equaliser was coming, and it finally arrived just before time thanks to an excellent cross from Ivan Pillud matched by a great header from new Colombian maestro Teofilo Gutierrez (try saying that name after a few drinks). There was pandemonium in the stands as strangers were hugged and GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL was screamed at the top of fans’ voices, and the celebrations continued through the half time break.

Cafetero star Gutierrez thanks Jesus for his double strike

If the first half finished perfectly, the second would only get better as Pillud and Teo combined for Racing’s second in the first few minutes. The stand now felt like a trampoline as you wondered every time on jumping when you would land back on terra firma; like a flan, as Luciano poetically pointed out later in the evening. It was also the cue for the traditional insults and cargadas to be thrown San Lore’s direction. “De qué barrio soooooooos”, where are you from is always a favourite and refers to the supposedly Boedo-based club now playing in the bandit country of south Buenos Aires; much glee was also had in pointing out the lack of a Copa Libertadores in the cuervo trophy cabinet.

The game would finish 2-1 in our favour, and although in Argentina the away fans are obliged to leave the stands first (a running headstart, if you like) we certainly were in no hurry to cut the gloating and celebrating short for the home support’s benefit. The celebrations lasted long into the night in Villa Crespo and the Quilmes was running like water, it was the wrong side of 4am before I rolled bleary-eyed but content into bed. Despite the early season travails Racing find themselves third in the table, and every Academico turned in for the night hoping that their beloved team would still be there or there-abouts come June. Vamo L’Acadeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

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Fecha 17: Blood, Sweat, Tears And A Bit Of Football

Three Points For River And Boca Shock Everybody

The supposed giants of Argentine football have been having a hard time of it lately, but the estimated 70% of the country’s population which professes support for one of the two finally had the opportunity to celebrate together. For only the second time in the Apertura River Plate andBoca Juniors managed to win on the same weekend, something that hadn’t occurred since the sixth round of fixtures way back in September.

River hit first with a feisty comeback victory in Santa Fe  against Colon, a win which further moves them away from the dreaded promocion play-off and lifts them into fifth place in this Apertura. It looked unpromising for the Millo early on when the impressively named Ivan Moreno y Fabbianesi (so good they named him twice) headed in from close range just before half-time. The Millo did not let their heads drop though, and a brilliantly well-worked team move down the centre culminated in young sensation Erik Lamela dinking the ball over Diego Pozo to level things up.

Lamela strikes a pose

The game looked set to finish in a draw, but River still had one more trick up their sleeve. Four minutes into injury time other teenage star Manuel Lanzini dragged the ball back for Mariano Pavone, and ‘El Tanque’ took pleasure in blasting home and taking three points for the Buenos Aires unit.

Boca meanwhile were less than brilliant on Sunday evening against Quilmes, but the good people of the Bombonera will not care a jot after recording a 1-0 victory over the improving Cerveceros. With 20 minutes left neat work between Gary Medel and Martin Palermo sent ‘Pitbull’ through on goal, but his shot was repelled; only to find 20-year-old midfielder Cristian Erbes, who propelled the ball back by instinct into the empty net for his first ever Xeneixe goal. The win drags Boca up to the respectability of midtable, although there remains a lot to work on if they wish for a better campaign next time around.

Flawless Velez Continue To Put On The Pressure

If on paper the game was potentially a banana skin for Velez Sarsfield, one of the team performances of the season ensured that in practice it would be anything but. The Fortingatecrashed Godoy Cruz’s Copa Libertadores celebrations by winning 4-0 in Mendoza, with a double strike from Santiago Silva moving into the position of sole top scorer with 11 for the season.

"No, I promise I'll give it back..."

Pick of the goals was a late thunderbolt from young substitute Jonathan Cristaldo, who has made a habit of elbowing his way onto the highlight reel this term. The 21-year-old latched on to the ball on the left hand side and smashed it first time on the half volley into the back of the net, sealing an impressive win for the Liniers club and netting their 29th goal of the season.

But Estudiantes Refuse To Lose

For all Velez’s efforts they remain two points off the summit of the Apertura, after watching Estudiantes win once again at home to Argentinos Juniors. The Pincha looked vulnerable early on against the Clausura champions, and went one behind thanks to a Ciro Rius strike which had more of a hint of offside about it. Crucially though the La Plata side went in to half-time level, after Gaston ‘La Gata’ Fernandez equalled shortly before the break with another towering header.

The second period was all Pincha, and two further strikes confirmed a 3-1 triumph. Maxi Nunez put the ball between Nicolas Navarro’s legs for 2-1, before Gabriel Mercado notched his third of the season; the right back rising highest to head home a looping free kick.

Best Of The Rest

The Copa Libertadores fight continues to heat up, and this weekend there was a new occupant of the final place as Newell’s Old Boys made way for Racing Club. The Rosario club could only draw 0-0 away to San Lorenzo, while La Academia compounded Gimnasia’s relegation woes with a 2-0 victory in Avellaneda. The highlight of the match was Gabriel Hauche scoring for the fourth game running. ‘El Demonio’ hooked on to a delightful pass from Gio Moreno, and managed to backheel the ball through Gaston Sessa’s legs as the defence closed in.

One team who almost certainly won’t be in the Copa is Banfield, who surrendered their last chance by losing 2-1 in the All Boys fortress of Floresta. The game was overshadowed at the end by a horrific elbow from Hugo Barrientos on Banfield’s Ruben Ramirez, which left the striker’s face a bloody mess but did nothing to cool his desire to cause the All Boys man serious bodily harm – with both teams having to be separated by police later in the dressing rooms.

Full Results of Round 17:

Olimpo (B. Blanca) 1 1 Arsenal F.C.
All Boys 2 1 Banfield
Racing Club 2 0 G. y Esgrima L.P.
Estudiantes L.P. 3 1 Argentinos Jrs.
Colon 1 2 River Plate
San Lorenzo de A. 0 0 N.O. Boys
Tigre 3 1 Huracan
Godoy Cruz (Mza.) 0 4 Velez Sarsfield
Boca Jrs. 1 0 Quilmes A.C.
Lanus 0 0 Independiente

Hero Of The Week

He must sometimes feel like the Jolly Green Giant surrounded by diminutive team-mates ‘Burrito’ Martinez and Maxi Moralez (above on the Tanque’s shoulder!), but massive forward Santiago Silva was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of playing ability too yesterday in Mendoza. The Uruguayan showed his finishing ability for his first goal and his strength and power for the second, to leave himself favourite for the top scorer gong once more.

Zero Of The Week

Hugo Barrientos performed a pre-meditated, cowardly assault on Ruben Ramirez to bust up his opponent’s face, and scandalously he and his All Boys team-mates tried to play down the incident later. A shameful episode for a club who otherwise have won themselves many friends in the Apertura.

"Tell me the truth, is it noticeable?"

Caruso Corner

“I don’t know who he is, what he’s called but he’s a gangster, he steals money from his players and then blames it on me.” How delighted I was when Ricardo Caruso Lombardi decided to stay at Tigre until the end of the season, after bribery allegations from a player caused the bearded one to launch into a wonderfully frenzied rant – including the above choice words for Angulo Villegas’ agent.

This Week’s Action:

Nestor Kirchner’s death put us behind a week, but nothing gets in the way of Argentina’s Christmas holidays so for the only time in the Apertura there is a midweek round to look forward to. Pick of the bunch is Estudiantes’ visit to River Plate on Tuesday, in a game which could see them do the lap of honour at the Monumental itself.

G. y Esgrima L.P. All Boys Tuesday
Arsenal F.C. Colon
River Plate Estudiantes L.P. Wednesday
Velez Sarsfield Huracan
Godoy Cruz (Mza.) Racing Club
Banfield Boca Jrs. Thursday
Argentinos Jrs. Lanus
Quilmes A.C. San Lorenzo de A.
N.O. Boys Olimpo (B. Blanca)

Independiente vs. Tigre suspended due to Copa Sudamericana final

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Fecha Eight- Move Along, Nothing To See Here Folks

Every league has its ups and downs, but only in Argentina can the trajectory of a season so closely resemble a roller-coaster, as the last two weeks of the Apertura demonstrates. From a veritable goal-fest last week Boca, River and the rest of the Primera had a week to forget, with a host of action-free games between them yielding just 13 goals.

With few highlights, the usually madcap atmosphere of the terraces was compromised, as an epidemic of stifled yawns accompanied the usual hangover-inducing drum lines and chanting. Fans of the away teams suffered more than most, managing just three points and two goals across the round. As someone who had the disadvantage of watching one of the more timid, safety-first visitors this week let me assure: it did not make for exciting viewing.

Elsewhere this week fans who appreciate the sartorial side of football were left delighted, as Fernando ‘El Negro’ Gamboa returned to the Primera as the new Colon manager.

'El Negro' auditions for Men in Black III- the Tango Edition

Going for the ‘Argentine Johnny Cash’ look in his distinctive all black shirt and suit trousers, Gamboa’s return gives the Primera a much-needed fashion boost after weeks of enduring the tracksuit and polo-shirt look favoured by Claudio Borghi and Ricardo Caruso. Now we just need Diego Simeone and his impossibly tight trousers to make a return and the fashionistas of the league will be back in the ascendancy. Independiente, are you listening?

Colon Down The Leaders In The ‘Elephant’s Graveyard’

With Antonio Mohamed falling on his sword and the aforementioned Gamboa only in the stands for the visit of league leaders San Lorenzo, it was left to caretaker duo Mario Sciacqua and Roberto Marioni to mastermind an impressive victory for Colon on Saturday. It was only the second win of the season for the Santa Fe outfit.

The Sabaleros took the lead after a cagey opening half hour, impressive number 10 Damian Diaz opening the scoring with a close-range rebound that left Damian Albil no chance. Colon then had to absorb wave after wave of ‘Ciclon’ attacks, Marcos Diaz excelling in the home net after Diego Pozo pulled out shortly before kick-off.

With San Lorenzo becoming more and more desperate for an equaliser holes began appearing in their usually watertight backline. With just seconds to go substitute Joaquin Larrivey took full advantage to put the game beyond doubt. The ex-Cagliari forward found himself free in the area and slotted the ball between Albil’s legs for the second, ensuring a valuable three points for the home side, which gives them a chance of escaping the bottom half in ‘El Negro’s debut next week.

Rojo Thunderbolt Gives Estudiantes All Three Points Against A Lacklustre Boca

In just one of the many games which failed to live up to expectations this week, Marco Rojo woke up earlier than everyone to secure a win for Estudiantes at home to Boca Juniors. The left-back, not known for his goalscoring exploits, unleashed a rocket of a shot into the top corner of Cristian Lucchetti’s net after just 90 seconds – and 88 minutes of tepid football later the scoreline remained untouched to send the ‘Pincha’ within touching distance of the Apertura summit.

Not a happy chappy

Boca were suffocated in midfield by the all-action trio of Juan Sebastian Veron, Rodrigo Brana and Enzo Perez, and barely created a chance until the dying minutes of the game. It was only when the clock struck 90 that Claudio Borghi’s men started to show some attacking threat, but after some fairly chaotic goalmouth scrambling the home side staggered out with clean sheet still intact.

Estudiantes will go top if they can overcome hated neighbours Gimnasia on Wednesday in their game in hand, while Boca remain marooned in mid-table, the dream of Libertadores football next season looking more and more unlikely.

Velez Barely Break Sweat In a Routine Liniers Thrashing

After two goalless stalemates, Velez Sarsfield got their season back on track with a polished 3-0 dismissal of Primera new-boys Olimpo on Friday evening. The ‘Fortin’ never looked troubled as they entertained their home fans, and are the new occupants of the treasured top-spot.

With Maxi Moralez back from injury and looking at his dizzying best, Velez struck twice in six first half minutes to effectively put the game beyond the visitors. Juan Manuel Martinez played a lovely one-two with Moralez to put himself clear of the last defender, and delicately poked the ball past Laureano Tombolini with 23 minutes on the clock. And before the half hour had passed Moralez turned from provider to recipient, benefiting from a barnstorming run from Luciano Vella to double the advantage.

Demoralised by the scoreline at half-time Olimpo lost their heads after the break, and saw defenders Cristian Villanueva and Eduardo Casais both expelled early in the period. Against nine men Velez settled into cruise control, and defender Eduardo Dominguez found himself on the end of a clinical counter-attack to add a third for the home side.

Best Of The Rest

River Plate dropped much-needed points at home to Quilmes with a 1-1 draw, in a game the ‘Millonarios’ really should have walked away with. Mariano Pavone gave his side a lead early in the second half with a well-taken volley, and River went on to waste countless chances to put the game to bed; previously clinical striker Rogelio Funes Mori particularly guilty. They would pay for their profligacy; referee Pompei gave Quilmes a free-kick for reasons only he knows, and Miguel Caneo took advantage of indecision from Juan Pablo Carrizo to level the game.

Elsewhere still coach-less Independiente recorded their first win of the season thanks to defender Leonel Galeano’s effort against fellow-strugglers Gimnasia while Argentinos Juniors upset the form-book by grabbing a first win of their own against unbeatenBanfield – giving Pedro Troglio some much-needed breathing space on the ‘Bicho’ bench.

Full Results of Round 8:

Velez Sarsfield 3 0 Olimpo (B. Blanca)
Independiente 1 0 G. y Esgrima L.P.
Argentinos Jrs. 1 0 Banfield
Estudiantes L.P. 1 0 Boca Jrs.
Lanus 1 0 All Boys
Colon 2 0 San Lorenzo de A.
Arsenal F.C. 0 0 N.O. Boys
Huracan 1 1 Godoy Cruz (Mza.)
Tigre 0 0 Racing Club
River Plate 1 1 Quilmes A.C.

Hero Of The Week

In a week where few players distinguished themselves for good reasons, Maxi Moralez was a welcome exception. The diminutive enganche scored one and set one up as Velez Sarsfield returned to the summit of Argentine football.

Zero Of The Week

Damian Escudero, Boca Juniors. The midfielder had been saying for weeks playing out of position was affecting his game, as he toiled and looked distinctly unimpressive at number 10. Claudio Borghi obliged and put him in his favoured left midfield post, and the ex-Villareal player rewarded ‘El Bichi’ by, well, toiling and looking distinctly unimpressive.

Quote of the Week

“They don’t even know who Batista is in Uruguay!”

Referring to the accepted fact that international football managers have to be playing legends and recognised in even the smallest African village (something that obviously Spain, Italy and Brazil hadn’t heard when they came out on top), Diego Maradona makes a storming return to public life with his first interview in three months.

Caruso Corner

Usually such an angry presence on the Tigre bench, Ricardo Caruso Lombardi came over all soppy and nostalgic on Sunday afternoon as he got hugged by roughly half of his former Racing Club charges prior to the game. The column’s favourite was soon back to his best however, prowling the technical area like a caged, bearded lion and remonstrating with the officials when – as happened fairly regularly – a Tigre player was punished for kicking an opponent very hard in the leg.

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Fecha Seven- Goals Galore As The Apertura Bursts Into Life

Even as a committed follower of Argentine football, I have to admit the start of the 2010 Apertura had not been a classic. But then really we shouldn’t expect it to have been. Wholesale changes had been made since the cracking end to the last campaign, players had been brought in at a volume almost unimaginable over the Atlantic – Quilmes’ 20 player buying spree through the bargain aisles of Argentine football especially brought to mind the opening of a new Primark store with only one customer – and these players need time to settle.

This weekend brought encouraging indications that all is ready to take off in Argentina, with 30 goals over 10 games marking a vast improvement over previous fixtures, and some real crackers amongst the usual defensive calamities to boot.

The flip side of course is that now your team has supposedly settled, fans and directors alike won’t accept any more shabby results. Hector Rivoira, Antonio Mohamed and Dany Garnero all found out this harsh truth this morning, when they jumped in anticipation of the inevitable push. Huracan, Colon and Independiente are all looking for a new manager from this morning.

Cesar Menotti’s ‘Rojo’ managerial post is also up for grabs, and I for one would love to see the job description because for the life of me I cannot work out what he did in Independiente. Live off a past stellar reputation, make bizarre statements to the press and constantly undermine those around you to the detriment of your team, now who could do that job with distinction?

Sorry, no-one springs to mind. Anyway, onto a cracking week of Apertura action and a great week for Banfield and San Lorenzo.

Banfield Batter Sorry Independiente to Seal Dany’s Fate

Hanging on to his job by the thinnest of threads, the last thing Dany Garnero needed was for his demoralised side to visit unbeaten Banfield. And so it proved, as a clinically excellent ‘Taladro’ display demolished the away side 4-0 in what proved to be El Flaco’s last game in charge.

‘Los Rojos’ were fearing the worst after just 20 minutes, when early goals from Ruben Ramirez and Sebastian Romero already left them with a mountain to climb. And the pattern was repeated perfectly in the second period: Ramirez turned in an easy rebound after five minutes to put the game beyond doubt, before Emilio Zelaya completed the rout late in the half. Banfield go third and are still unbeaten, while Independiente are rooted to the bottom of the pile.

Diaz’s Falcon Is Slowly Going Up The Gears

San Lorenzo are by no means the finished article so far this season, but with Roman Diaz in charge anything is possible. ‘El Pelado’ continued his unbeaten run since returning to Bajo Flores, as his team overcame Olimpo 3-1 to go top of the pile.

‘El Ciclon’ started slowly, and found themselves one down early on thanks to David Vega’s close range strike. As the game progressed though the home side started becoming more and more confident, and struck back on the half hour thanks to defender Cristian Tula. Olimpo goalkeeper Laureano Tombolini could not hold on to a header, and Tula gleefully pounced to belt the ball past him and restore parity.

Going into half-time level was a decent effort for the Bahia Blanca side, but they soon found the game slipping away from them. Jonathan Bottinelli connected with a looping far post free kick to put SanLore in the lead on the hour, before Diego Rivero found himself free in the area to put in the decisive third.

Palermo Hat Trick Fires Boca To Victory Over Colon

Martin Palermo is by no means a favourite of this column (that’s Caruso, of course), but even this writer grudgingly admires the glacial movements and incredible knack for goal that the highlighted 37-year-old possesses. ‘El Titan’ had the sort of game only possible for him, scoring a hat-trick which puts him the league top scorer despite having played a total of roughly 30 good minutes all season, and after also missing a penalty.

A Palermo-inspired Boca Juniors downed Antonio Mohamed’s Colon, in a match which would also be El Turco’s last. For most of the first half the Santa Fe outfit matched their opponents, and even took the lead after 41 minutes courtesy of Ivan Moreno y Fabbianesi.

They, like everyone else were thereafter unable to live with ‘The Palermo show’, as the striker equalised on the stroke of half-time and added two more in the second for good measure. After a poor start the ‘Xeneixes’ have climbed to tenth and look better every week; and talk of Claudio Borghi making a swift exit has vanished.

Best Of The Rest

Giovanni Moreno gave Lanus an attacking master-class in the second half of Racing Club’s convincing 4-0 win on Friday. Racing struggled somewhat in the first half, but took the lead minutes before half-time in a goal Lanus strongly contested had crossed the line. The away side then completely self-destructed: two players were ejected as ‘La Academia’ ran away with the game. They were ably assisted by the lanky Colombian, who put away a penalty and was instrumental in two other goals in his best display so far.

Vamo La Acade!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Elsewhere Moreno’s enganche predecessor at Racing Sebastian Grazzini inspired All Boys to an unlikely home win over in form Estudiantes. Grazzini took advantage of an awful clearance from Marco Rojas and chipped the ball delicately over Orion to seal a 2-1 victory, the first defeat of the ‘Pincha’ league campaign.

Full Results Of Round Seven:

G. y Esgrima L.P. 3 0 Huracan
Racing Club 4 0 Lanus
San Lorenzo de A. 3 1 Olimpo (B. Blanca)
Godoy Cruz (Mza.) 1 2 Tigre
Quilmes A.C. 2 2 Argentinos Jrs.
Arsenal F.C. 0 0 Velez Sarsfield
All Boys 2 1 Estudiantes L.P.
N.O. Boys 1 0 River Plate
Banfield 4 0 Independiente
Boca Jrs. 3 1 Colon

Hero Of The Week

Martin Palermo, Boca Juniors: No, I refuse to say anything more nice about him, it is too much to handle. Read again what I wrote at the top and that’s why he is the ‘hero’.
Boludo of the Week

Augustin Pelletieri, Lanus: One act of bone-headedness is understandable – two in five minutes is just silly. The Lanus midfielder handed Racing a first goal with a miscued clearance header, and instead of trying to make amends spent his (fleeting) remaining moments on the pitch berating referee Abal before being sent off. Not very smart.

Well Thought-out Plan of the Week

News from the Casa Rosada, and the word is that Cristina Kirchner is set to offer that calm, sophisticated and politically minded soul Diego Maradona a job in her government. Senior economic advisor? Ambassador to the United Kingdom? Nope, a role in the Sports Ministry is what Sra. Fernandez has in mind- an idea which I’m sure is completely about Dieguito’s skills and temperament for the job, and nothing to do with an election next year…
Caruso Corner

Our favourite tecnico Ricardo Caruso Lombardi faced off against verbal sparring partner Omar Asad of Godoy Cruz, whom last season he memorably labelled a ‘fat drug addict’ in a fantastic pitchside war of words. If you understand incredibly vulgar Porteño Spanish and aren’t easily offended, I recommend you check out this wonderful video of their previous toe-to-toe.

This time there were no fireworks but neither did they say hello before a 2-1 Tigre win; something Caruso attempted to explain away in his best teenage girl impression.

“I didn’t say hello because he didn’t come to say hello to me. If he would have done then I would have as well, but anyway I don’t care if he says hello or not!” Classic.
Hasta la proxima señoras y señores, chauu!!

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