Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
River Plate have won 23 of the last 35 competitions.
In the tournaments they didn’t win, they either ended second, or plummeted to the unheard depths of a disgraceful third place.
The last five trophies on offer have all ended up at the Monumental. True to the legendary 1950s side’s nickname, the team are a machine.
"It is basically because we have the best players," offers the coach by way of considered opinion and ingenious insight into the team’s success.
Pablo Sanitowski went on to explain more about why his team was doing so well, but by then people had stopped listening.
He may be in charge of River Plate, he may have been a legendary player back in the day, but his discipline of choice isn’t exactly the most important sport that River Plate put a team out for.
Mr. Sanitowski is the River Plate handball team coach.
While River Plate wipe the board at handball, and celebrated winning yet more silverware just last week, the situation for the real River Plate – i.e. the football team – is catastrophic.
Despite claiming to have ‘big enough balls’ to deal with the dismal situation just two weeks ago, and despite having enough confidence and faith in himself to pull off a hair style – a luxuriant mattress of springy curls – not seen since the 70s, Néstor ‘Pipo’ Gorosito decided that enough is enough, and quit as River Plate coach.
It wasn’t the weekend’s result that made up his mind, however. He decided to leave last week.
He even told his players that the clásico against San Lorenzo would be his final game.
Perhaps he thought that by telling his squad the news just 24 hours before the clásico would inspire them to win.
All of a sudden passes would go to feet, chances wouldn’t be comically blasted wide, tackles would actually win the ball and the team would take three points. It would be the perfect adiós.
What’s more, the team would avoid setting a club record for consecutive away matches without a win.
Much like his stewardship of the club, however, things didn’t exactly go to plan.
1-0 up and the game entering the final quarter of an hour, River’s centre-back Gustavo Cabral decided he’d had enough of his opposite number, the equally thuggish Jonathan Bottinelli, and landed him a full-blooded haymaker in the area.
The spot kick was duly converted, and the predictable winner for Diego Simeone’s side came just three minutes later.
The defeat to San Lorenzo was the 16th away match without a win for River Plate.
Club record to his name, Gorosito informed the press he was leaving, which everybody already knew, and he made for the nearest exit.
Since taking over the side last December, Gorosito managed to win just 38 percent of the points on offer in the league, while also failing miserably in the Libertadores and the Sudamericana.
The worst part of all this is that the end of the nightmare is not yet in sight.
Presidential elections at the club in December mean that whoever replaces Pipo will probably only be given a two-month contract.
Unable to sign players, confidence at an all-time low… the gig is hardly what Gorosito described it as just 10 months ago – a dream job.
Elsewhere, beyond Estudiantes suffering their first defeat of the season and Huracán winning their first of the campaign, the big story was at the Bombonera.
Not only did Vélez fail to go top of the table, not only did Boca put a miserable run of form to an end, not only did the half-fit Riquelme score a brilliant equaliser, but the winner came via a an outrageous 40-yard header from Martín Palermo.
The win was made all the sweeter, needless to say, by the news from down the River…
Colón 0-0 BanfieldIndependiente 2-1 TigreHuracán 3-1 RacingArgentinos 1-0 EstudiantesArsenal 1-0 Rosario CentralNewell’s 3-0 Atlético TucumánGimnasia 2-0 ChacaritaSan Lorenzo 2-1 River PlateBoca Juniors 3-2 VélezLanús 1-0 Godoy Cruz
The weekend’s goals, along to some Spanish ska, here.
STATS: Argentina results, fixtures and table
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