Sunday, 21 December 2008
Last Tuesday night he attended a seemingly innocuous charity event/dinner to raise funds for the purchase of wheelchairs and to fund community based eating establishments. No problems there then, all above board - JRR doing his bit for the people; now factor in the evenings organisers: La Doce, Boca's infamous hooligan firm. The event was by all accounts a huge success with 500 fans attending and around £6000 being raised. Chanci Riquelme, Roman's younger brother is a good friend of La Doce's top man - Mauro Martin which is how the star's presence was secured. Obviously no one can refuse a good cause and JRR should be applauded for giving up his valuable time before Xeneize's biggest game of the season, however an event hosted by these guys was bound to attract a certain amount of negative publicity in a season that has seen yet more football violence related deaths. Unsurprisingly there have been questions asked about the destination of the funds raised as running one of the country's biggest barra bravas is a costly business.
When questioned about the evening in a press conference JRR gave an Alex Ferguson-like performance. Insisting that the event was for amongst other things an ill child in need of a wheelchair, he was in a position to help so he helped. 'Do the ends justify the means?' asked one brave journalist 'I'm not interested in talking about this, is that so difficult for you to understand? I was there for one hour as an act of goodwill.....................one can be a Boca fan and not necessarily a bad person..........enough, enough!'. Ouch!
The negativity surrounding JRR's guest appearance didn't unduly effect the team as they ran out 3-1 winners against San Lorenzo in last nights second playoff game, although I've seen Riquelme have better games this season. A result against Tigre will see them secure the title.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
- San Lorenzo P18 Pts 36
- Tigre P18 Pts 36
- Boca Juniors P18 Pts 36
It's also worth noting that Lanus in 4th place are in with a slim chance on 34 points, but will be relying on the opposing teams to aid their cause. So with one match remaining we have four teams who can potentially take the title. I can hardly wait until Sunday and as announced by the AFA the fun now starts 2 hours earlier than originally scheduled with all 3 matches kicking of at 5.20pm Argentine time. Another thankyou must go to the AFA for not using goal difference to decide the destination of the title which lessens the endless permutations we would be faced with given the same scenario in England. I'm also not much of a mathemetician. We're faced with the very real chance of a least two way play-off (17th Dec) , possibly a three and even a four way play off (17th, 20th, 23rd Dec) for the Apertura.
Given the British liking for an underdog it would be good to see Tigre take the prize and confidence will be high after coming from 2-0 down last Sunday to beat Rosario Central 3-2. The team from the Parana delta north of the capital came close in 2007's Apertura and their coach Diego Cagna exclaimed 'We are more hungry than Boca or San Lorenzo'. The Killers as they affectionately known have improved dramatically over the last 3 years and have beaten both of their rivals away from home this campaign. A home game against Banfield should see them take the points. History may also be on the side of them if you believe in such things - in the 1968 triangular play-off 'little' Velez won their first Championship against the might of Racing and River.
'There's no team better than us' proclaimed Carlos Ischia, although anyone who watched Boca's plodding draw against Gimnasia La Plata may disagree. Xeneizes face Colon at home on Sunday and will have the added determination to suceed in memory of their recently deceased President Pedro Pompilio and the sidelined Martin Palermo.
Of the three teams San Lorenzo look to have the trickiest game away to Argentinos although coach Russo declared 'I'm calm' during today's press conference. He also pointed out that the margin for error is minuscule in Sunday's matches adding that it's the same for the Ref's too. Maybe a message in there to all officials. Goalscoring hasn't been a problem for them having knocked in 8 in their last 2 games.
So we're all set - chill a Quilmes, grill a steak and get comfortable.
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Last weekend's other tragedy was the result of clashes that took place over 3 weeks previously. Huracan supporter and member of the El Pueblito gang 27 year old Rodrigo Silvera (Cafu) was shot during clashes with San Lorenzo supporters. On this occasion Huracan and San Lorenzo fans fought outside of a pizzeria. No stabbings this time, however a total of 4 fans received gunshot wounds of which Cafu's was the most serious. He passed away 23 days after the incident.
Apart from the fatalities two other things stand out: Daniel Lopez was most likely killed by a fellow Colon supporter. Cafu was killed on a day when Huracan and San Lorenzo weren't even playing each other.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
For fans of English football there will be a familiar face in the final: Juan Sebastian Veron. The 33 year old midfielder returned to his spiritual home in 2006 and quickly helped his side take that year's Apertura. The classy midfielder will no doubt be forever tainted by his relative ineffectiveness when playing in England. According to many pundits in the UK his lack of success on these shores brands him a failure, full stop and we are subjected to the usual embarrassing array of cliches - 'it's too cold for him over here', 'he can't play in January', 'the Premier League is too physical, too fast'. I acknowledge that Veron never fulfilled his huge potential (and price tag) but lets not forget the long list of British stars who have tried and failed overseas; Paul Gascoigne and Ian Rush to name two.
Veron will be an integral part of Estudiantes first international final appearance since 1971. The defeat to Uruguay's Nacional in the Copa Libertadores marked the end of the most successful period in the club's history. The famous or infamous Los Pincharattas collected 3 Copa Libertadores during the preceding 3 seasons and were crowned Intercontinental Champions after beating Manchester United over two bad-tempered legs in 1968. The goalscorer in England: Veron, Juan Ramon Veron father of Sebastian.
The all important goal that has taken Estudiantes to the final:
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Friday, 7 November 2008
The whole River saga seems to have reached an inevitable conclusion, as I type Buenos Aires TV are reporting that Simeone has or rather will do the decent thing. He will resign after Sunday's home game to Huracan, no doubt satisfied that at least the exit is on his terms and he wasn't pushed. Quite how much longer the board and the fans could stomach the current situation is open to debate but anything other than a win on Sunday would have seen the end of his reign. Without a league win since 17th August, a humiliating home defeat to Boca, and bottom of the pile his days were clearly numbered. Add into the equation the very public exit of Ortega which appears to have had the opposite effect to what was intended and last but by no means least the resurgence of eternal rivals Boca.
Quite a fall from grace - from Clasura winner to job seeker in a matter of months.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Much speculation has turned towards the role of Carlos 'El Narigon' Bilardo, Maradona's manager at the 86 & 90 World Cups. Whilst the AFA insist that Maradona will be the one making all the decisions the influence of the 69 year old cannot be understated. Whether you like or loathe his methods, or give credence to various dubious allegations; he has something that Maradona does not - successful managerial experience.
It's all smiles at the moment, but a clash of egos will make for essential viewing.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
I thought I would try to avoid picking over the bones of La Seleccion's latest disappointment for this post as there are pages and pages of analysis all over the web.
Roberto Colautti is not a well known name in the UK, he was the star striker for Maccabi Haifa in Israel and is now playing for Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany. He is hoping to make more of an impression this term after suffering numerous injuries in his first season. In a recent telephone interview in El Grafico Roberto says he is settling in well and adapting to life in Germany indeed his main problem (by his own admission) seems to have been pronouncing 'Borussia Monchengladbach'.
Argentine players returning to the old continent in days gone by would invariably head for latin Europe for obvious historical and cultural reasons. It now seems to be a case of have skills will travel. The Ukraine, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece and the list could go on and on. The sheer volume of players leaving Argentina never ceases to amaze, during the 2008 summer break 59 players moved overseas. For every Carlos Tevez there is a Gaston Sangoy (currently playing for Apollen Limassol).
Players are leaving for financial reasons and the clubs need the revenue. Simple economics. I am unsure as to how much longer this situation can continue. It cannot fail to have a negative impact on the domestic league and it's popularity with the paying public. Young fans need to see their heroes playing for the shirt for more than one Apertura and Clasura campaign.
So why are Argentine players so attractive to foreign clubs? Obviously the price. In addition they have generally had excellent youth training and posses great technical ability. There is also something intangible - their attitude and dedication. Their ability to adapt to different cultures and countries. Not all of them who travel abroad can become superstars and 'Megacracks' but the overwhelming majority become solid dependable professionals.
For all of the negatives that the exodus has on the domestic game the country should take pride in the way these players conduct themselves in their adopted homelands.
Here are some of Roberto's goals for Boca and Maccabi Haifa:
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
To avoid any future 'will he or wont he play' shenanigans or any potential injury Barcelona have devised unique new approach: Lionel Messi will only play friendly matches when Barcelona say he can. This proposal is not quite as surprising as it first appears. The pre-Olympics tug of war between the AFA and Barcelona meant that Messi could travel to Beijing. However Barca only agreed to release the player on the understanding that they could refuse call-ups for friendly games. A Catalan delegation are in Argentina this week to see if the AFA are as good as their word in an effort to try to make the agreement more formal.
Personally I wouldn't cross the street to watch an international friendly nowadays. Even the commentators struggle to keep-up with the constant substitutions in the 2nd half. Argentina's next international friendly is against Scotland in Glasgow on November 19th and I suspect many tickets will have been sold for this game in anticipation of Messi playing.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
A similar question has recently been raised in Argentina - is it time for la Seleccion to hit the road? Presently and for many years all home World Cup qualifiers have been played at River Plate's home - el Monumental. The AFA insist that's the way it'll stay for the time being but the highly respected sports magazine El Grafico has questioned this decision. One of the main obstacles are FIFA's regulations which state that all WCQ's have to be played in front of all-seated spectators, not necessarily in all-seater stadiums. Consider this - the next biggest stadium after River Plate's is the Alberto J Armando (Bombonera) with a capacity of 55,000 of which only 20,000 are seated, almost two thirds of this great ground would be empty. The AFA's decision to stay-put isn't purely centred on economics, shipping players out to far flung provincial cities in order to play important matches could take it's toll, particularly on those based in Europe. Although I'm sure Tevez and Mascherano wouldn't be flying Economy Class on Iberia via Madrid though.
The precedent for playing away from River Plate isn't good - the last time vital games were played at La Bombonera the team failed to qualify for Mexico 1970. I appreciate the need for fans in the provinces to be able to watch their team in important games. However moving the team from stadium to stadium around greater Buenos Aires would be an odd compromise. Unlike in England where London isn't the centre of the footballing nation (whatever the Southern based media will try to convey), Buenos Aires definately is the life and soul of the Argentine game.
Football Stadiums - Argentina, fantastic site for us anoraks out there detailing capacities, uses and showing piccies (loads of other countries too).
Saturday, 13 September 2008
'Messi sometimes plays for Messi'
'It's Deportivo Messi' (my personal fave).
'He forgets his team mates'
Well, I'll admit I didn't see the games (YOU WRITE AN ARGENTINE FOOTBALL BLOG AND DON'T WATCH THE GAMES!!!), but it seems a cheap shot to single out Messi for the woes of La Seleccion.
Responding to Maradona's comments on his return to Barcelona, Messi conducted himself with dignity and self-restraint, or maybe he was just knackered and jet-lagged:
'Diego always has something to say about me' 'I'm used to it and it doesn't bother me, there's no problem'. He could have a point to prove in his next game - watch out Racing Santander.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
The problem is that on fairly regular basis some fans turn their passion into violence. Most clubs have at least one faction of Barras Bravas (BB), deaths, games abandoned and players intimidated have all helped cement their fearsome reputations. In the UK the Government claims it has sucessfully cured the English Disease. By using methods such as all seater stadiums, extortionately priced tickets and CCTV cameras at our every turn; our grounds are a lot safer (and many would say less atmospheric) than they were 25 years ago.
Changing the dynamic of the football going public isn't an option in Argentina. For all the negatives many of the BB are an integral part of their club and community. Self-policing is the latest method to be tried by the authorities in an effort to bring them into line. Earlier this month an anti-violence summit was attended by more than 160 BB members representing numerous clubs and gangs (Boca, River, San Lorenzo & Velez did not go). Contrary to what you may have feared the meeting passed off peacefully , quite an achievement given the records of those attending. Central to the whole plan is the effort to clean up the gangs with ID schemes and a zero tolerance policy to those who have commited offences. A ten point manifesto has been drawn-up including some of the following:
Preventing fireworks being smuggled into grounds and assisting with the confiscation of those that have.
Informing the authorities of any pre-planned fights, where, when who etc.
Not exhibiting 'trophies of war' at matches. I guess this means not burning other teams flags, shirts etc which have been captured.
Giving the ball back when it goes into the stands.
It's also the responsibility of the BB's to make fans aware that getting a match abandoned will not be tolerated!!!
The press are sceptical about the effectiveness of this new approach and are taking a wait and see attitude. For now though, security within stadia will remain the responsibility of the BB's. If the violence can be reigned in whilst preserving the fantastic atmosphere Argentine domestic football will have found a winning formula.
Check out The Real Football Factories International - Argentina
Stills of various fans set to a rather nice song:
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Anyway that was days ago, step up Independiente Rivadavia from the foothills of the Andes who play in Nacional B - the second tier of Argentine football. Initially the approach was rejected by River but thanks to some top level maneuvering the move finally went through. Ortega is thought to be getting $100,000 per month for the 10 month contract, whilst River will get $500,000. One clause in the contract ensures that El Burrito must restart his treatment for alcoholism. This will take place for 2 days a week at a clinic in Santiago, to make this possible his new club must provide him with a private plane. What his new team mates will think of this is not known at present. Ortega visited this clinic last year - so how successful it was is open to debate given his recent antics. 'The most important thing for me is to play football, it's not important where' which sounds like a big thumbs up for Independiente.
This could be his ideal move with a view to bowing out of the game gracefully. Away from bustling Buenos Aires to the clear mountain air of Mendoza. I just hope he keeps away from the vineyards or it may all end in tears.
Friday, 8 August 2008
Enter Judge Norbato Oyarbide who started investigating some bizarre signatures that appeared on Italian passports issued from their consul in Buenos Aires. The operation which was started on the 11th July involved police raids across the city when 24 suspects were detained. Judge Oyarbide suspects that as many as 150 players could be involved in the scandal which could also include other European nations. The last major incident of this nature was in 2000 when players such as Juan Sebastian Veron, Roberto Ayala and Esteban Fuertes were involved.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Would he be prepared to leave out Messi, or Riquelme? The team comes first, if it has to be done it will be. In the case of Messi this may be taken out of his hands given the protestations of Barcelona and the situation seems to be having an unstabilising effect on the player. There's nothing quite like putting additional pressure on the lad though, he sees Messi as a leader in the same vein as Maradona was in '86. What's more when asked who is currently the best player in the world he responded: Messi, followed by Kaka, Robinho and then Riquelme. Did he forget Frank Lampard Junior??????!!!!!!!!!!
GOLD - always believe.
Monday, 4 August 2008
It's the latest incident in his long standing battle with the demon drink and could well turn out to be his route out of River Plate. Diego Simeone, the coach has left him out of the team for their final pre-season friendly and by all accounts would like to go further. However it's seems as though the board are willing to give him one more chance providing he seeks treatment either in Argentina or elsewhere. The other option is to cut their losses and sell the player, last week an offer came in from Al-mir in the UAE to take the player on loan for 10 months - earning him $1.7m. If the UAE is a 'dry' country he could do worse???!!!!
One thing is clear - he will not play for any other club in Argentina, for El Burrito it's only River.
CHECK OUT THE REVERSE (in Spanish)