Sunday, 21 December 2008

Dangerous Relations

In the lead up to Boca's first Apertura playoff appearance yesterday one would have imagined the pre-match press conferences to be concentrating on team matters, injuries and tactics. But with Snr.Riqueleme (JRR) in the squad the meetings with journos at Casa Amarilla frequently touch topics other than flat back fours, groin strains and taking each game as it comes. This is my second post this month on JRR but he's constant source of controversy and genius.

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 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.

Hasta luego!

Thursday, 11 December 2008


...........screamed Ole after San Lorenzo's 4-1 victory over Independiente last Sunday. That grand statement wasn't a reflection on the team's performance, convincing as it was but to the perfect symmetry at the top of the Apertura after 18 matches. With 1 game remaining we're set for the most exciting finish since 1968:

  • 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.

Hasta luego!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Riquelme's Celebration

Having a moan and groan at an over-paid, under-performing pampered professional is one of joys of attending a game. In these days of mega rich players venting our spleen is one of the few ways us fans can show displeasure. Which brings me to last Sunday's 2-1 home victory for Boca Juniors over Racing Club; Juan Roman Riquelme (JRR) emphatically scored a dubious penalty, was having a decent game and popped-up to drill a volley past Pablo Migliore in the Racing goal to secure the points. On celebrating his winner JRR ran half the length of the field and remonstrated angrily with a young fan who had been verbally abusing him all game. What I fail to understand about this is firstly why single out JRR for treatment - one of the stars of what may well be a Championship winning team. Secondly the odd shout or moan at a misplaced pass or an over hit shot is acceptable; but the torrent of verbal abuse must have been loud and consistent enough for for the player to make a mental note of the perpetrator.

Enter the authorities and the ridiculous notion that the player may well be charged and fined for 'inciting violence'. The celebration/confrontation did not involve any opposing fans. Not content in dealing with the actual violence that is taking place at games all over the country the bureaucrats seem to want to make an issue out of this. JRR sensibly highlighted that the country has more pressing problems than his goal celebration. Admittedly there were a few pushes by other fans on the offender, but nothing more. On hearing of the potential fine JRR said that any sanction would 'make me laugh'.

Lets hope this action goes no further and common sense wins.

Hasta luego!

Check the goal and the celebration: