Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
Today: D'Alessandro returns, admission prices "From the First World", and the rest of the opening fixtures.
D'Alessandro arrives to celebrationsAndrés D'Alessandro landed in Ezeiza yesterday morning to swarms of fans (mostly young girls and press) to take his position in the San Lorenzo squad. As a consequence walking home from work I saw fans lining up around the block for season tickets.
There is certainly the feeling that this could be a huge year for San Lorenzo. Their Copa Libertadores campaign starts against Caracas on Tuesday, and now they have the goalscoring former Real Zaragoza player among their ranks.
"I'm happy to have returned," he told the press. "I needed a bit of air, I needed to return, and I'm ready." And here he is with the token keepie uppies in a San Lorenzo jersey.
Ticket at 'First World' prices
The announcement today that ticket prices for the popular (terrace) will rise from AR$14 (£2.30) to AR$24 (£4) has caused astonishment and outrage among fans.
In 2005, the average daily wage was a mere AR$20 (£3.20) with many fans on much less. Daily sports paper Olé drew immediate comparisions with Spain and Italy but, unsurprisingly, Premier League ticket prices weren't mentioned.
They also pointed to the Venezuelan team Maracaibo who charge nothing for entrance in an attempt to get more fans.
Opening weekend previews
Here are the rest of the fixtures for the opening weekend of the new Argentine football season – see yesterday's blog for the first instalment.
Vélez Sársfield v Colón
Vélez is known as the 'quiet' team of Argentine football, despite a recent survey saying they were the sixth most popular team in the country – something met with coughs and scoffs. On Saturday they take on Colón from the northern town of Santa Fe. Not the most thrilling game of the fixture list it has to be said.
Racing vs Olimpo
It wouldn't be particularly sensationalist to say that Racing Club is currently going through a bit of a crisis. Since 2003, Racing haven't qualified for an international cup, nor achieved anything other than keeping up.
As if things couldn't get any worse, over the last couple of weeks the majority of the coaching staff have resigned, leaving former youth team manager Miguel Ángel Micó to manage. Then their star player Maximiliano 'el Enano' (The Dwarf) Moralez, went to Russia. Olimpo come from the port town of Bahía and joined the Primera last season.
Lanús v Independiente
Last season's winner Lanús take on one of the 'big five' in the opening fixture. See Team Focus 1 for details on Independiente.
Rosario Central v Boca Juniors
Rosario Central, despite being at home, will expect a tough game against one of the best Boca teams for years.
In doubt? We have Martin Palermo a man who somehow has the inability NOT to score in every game he plays. Granted, most are from the Gary Lineker school of goal hanging, except that is for this little beauty from inside his own half.
Then there's Rodrigo Palacio (Happy Birthday by the way) and his much-copied rat's tail. And one Roman Riquelme.
Arsenal v Huracán
After a Copa Libertadores defeat a couple of days ago (though they're still in), Arsenal are still tiny team (see Team Focus 2), but with big ideas. They take on Huracán, once one of the biggest teams in Argentina, who have been in what's best described as a state of flux recently.
Carlos 'El Ingles' Babington, who apart from his name is about as English as Hugo Chavez, has been the chairman since 2005 but linked to the club since 1969. Under his tenure the team returned to the Primera after their shocking relegation in 2003. And after a decent last season, Huracán, under new coach Claudio Ubeda first aim is to stabilise their squad.
River Plate v Gimnasia
We've said plenty about Simeone and his squad. Now is the real test as they actually have something to play for.
Over the summer season their form has been precarious but Ortega & co. certainly attacked their opponents 'with a knife between their teeth' as Simeone told them too – they just forgot about defending.
Gimnasia, from the nearby city of La Plata, finished 17th last season and will have an uphill struggle in River's huge stadium.
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